Earth 2: The Dark Age Review and Story Recap By Deffinition
If you followed my reviews of the first two Earth 2 books then you know that I absolutely hated the series. Feeling like endless filler it seemed almost torturous to read. Then Volume 3: Battle Cry came along. Ending the first arc rather bluntly, it seemed to be a rejuvenation of the run. Capturing my interest, I thought it was a huge up swing in quality and I could suddenly see the pieces falling into place.
That’s why I’m so excited to jump into The Dark Age. Featuring the Darkseid Superman clone (from Volume 1) now fully grown, I’m really interested to see how his arrival will band the heroes together.
They have the potential to save the world and this book has the potential to save the series. Bringing the score up to 2-2 in quality volumes vs bad ones.
Will it deliver on its promise and take us out of the Dark Ages (terrible pun I know).
Let’s dive in to find out!
Mad Man Of Steel
The book opens with Dark Superman ripping apart cities in the blink of an eye. I absolutely love this take on the last Kryptonian and it’s refreshing to see someone with superhuman strength rip through all that oppose him. More evil than his incarnation in the Injustice series, this is a no holds barred look at what would happen should Superman ever decide to take over.
It’s nail biting stuff to see an evil man of steel set free on the world and the creative freedom given to the writer (Tom Taylor) means that he can pretty much go in any direction he chooses. This allows Taylor to take the plot in interesting directions and when we see a Superhuman Lois Lane enter the fray the stakes rise exponentially.
As Superman unleashes Darkseid’s forces on the planet we see the shadowy new Batman infiltrating a secret laboratory. I absolutely love the mystery surrounding the new Caped Crusader and the enigmatic mystery that envelopes his identity will leave you turning page after page. Sadly he kills the Joker early on which sort of ruins potential for the adventures the adversaries could have down the line. But this showcases that we are in for a dark-er knight, one who doesn’t take any prisoners.
Through his journey his is joined by Aquawoman and James Olsen, a genius level hacker. In the basement of the lab they discover Earth’s last hope, another Kryptonian.
Nicola Scott’s art leaps off the pages in these sections. The Dark brooding Batman directly contradicting the Earth-Shattering Superman, adding to a brilliant balance of colour. When we see Superman hurl the Washington monument the work really leaps from the page and Scott does a brilliant job of encapsulating Earth’s last stand against this unforgiving force.
Agoraphobic Action Comics
One aspect that I loved about the new Kryptonian is that he suffers from agoraphobia. Encased on his journey to Earth and then held prisoner upon his arrival, he’s never been out in the open. This terrifies him. It’s great to see a powerful being that shows such vulnerability and I love that Taylor thrusts a character to the forefront that seems like they come from African American descent.
It’s a true deconstruction of what it is to be a superhero. We all have fears and just because we don’t fit the stereotypical Superman archetype, doesn’t mean that there is no strength within us. Lois confides in the child and informs him that we all feel fear but we can either use it as a shackle or to set us free.
It’s a really positive theme to take away from the story that vastly juxtaposes the haberdashery of ideas from the initial two volumes. Stepping into the sunlight we see a transformation in the new Kryptonian and it’s poetic in its depiction of one coming of age. Brilliantly ending the main storyline we head into the supplementary material.
‘Now I have no one to disappoint’
This section contains heavy spoilers as to the identity of the new Batman. So if you don’t want that revealed, please skip ahead.
Upon hearing that Thomas Wayne was secretly under the cowl, I had a strong feeling of detest. This wasn’t my idea of Bruce’s father. He died in crime alley and this sent Bruce on his never ending quest to defeat crime. In my mind, if his death was faked then Bruce’s entire mission was shallow. Built on a lie and It wasn’t something that I could align with.
I’m happy to say that Taylor completely dismantled my prejudices upon reading it. Presenting a 1970’s world where Thomas Wayne gets sucked into the mob, I found it highly realistic and engaging. We follow Bruce as he tracks down a vigilante who murders mob members. Revealed to be Thomas they have an overwhelming heart or heart and it really adds a strong motive as to why Thomas took up the mantle upon his son’s death in Volume one.
The book really knocks it out the park with the reimagining and it elevates the work, making you completely invested in the character and ready for the next volume.
Earth 2: Volume 4 is brilliant. Breathtaking in scope and characterisation it subverts expectations and delivers upon all of its potential. There were several points that I was blown away by how innovating and ground breaking the work was. Capitalising on several ideas it paints a dark and gritty world, almost devoid of hope. Perfectly balancing tone and drama, this book is a near masterpiece in terms of the New 52. Better than the main Justice League counterpart comic, this belongs on your bookshelf.
That’s why it gets a…