From the ashes of a train smash in China, Alan Scott rises to become the Green Lantern. Rescued by a sentient flame, he's given a mission; to be the Earth's greatest defender when a great evil assails the planet.
In Poland, meanwhile, a woman who calls herself Hawkgirl reveals to the newly super-fast Jay Garrick that she was told where to find him by 'Fate'. She then tests his prowess with an airborne attack, before noticing that all around them, things are dying amid a sea of grey.
And yes, Alan's boyfriend, Sam, doesn't make it out of the train alive. I expected writer James Robinson not to go the obvious route and kill him to spur Alan on to great things ... but that's exactly what we get. The engagement ring he was giving Sam as the train blew up is reforged into a green ring, to focus the energy Alan now carries within him.
Alan barely reacts at all to Sam's death here, seeming more interested in what the 'green, talking bonfire' has to say. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'd be fascinated were a weird creature asking me to embody 'all the power of the earth' - but I'd also be a weeping wreck had my partner, and hundreds of other people, just been fried in an act of sabotage. And very angry, when the green god flickering before me pretty much admits it chose to save only me.
Perhaps this just proves that Alan's made of strong stuff, and is the perfect man for the job, but it's as if he's already lost just a bit of his humanity. There's a heart-wrencher of a panel later, when Alan says goodbye to Sam, but still ...
The scene with Hawkgirl and the yet-unnamed Flash is entertaining, with some zingy dialogue. I'm not keen on how it ends, though, with Nature itself under attack. Yes, it's old Swamp Thing menace The Grey, summoned to new wickedness by the appointment of a new champion of The Green. I'm already a tad bored with a year's worth of Animal Man and Swamp Thing stories having been taken up with the spat between The Green, The Red and The Rot, and I don't want more of the same here. Earth 2 should have its own flavour, not be echoing Earth Prime, or 1, or whatever the main New 52 world is called.
In the merit, column, though, this issue closes with The Grey becoming its own champion, giving a frightening new look to an old Earth 2 character. The spin isn't entirely original, but penciller Nicola Scott produces a fantastic last page.
She also produces a fantastic previous 19 pages, truth be told. While Alan barely mentions Sam in his rebirth scene, look at his face and you can infer that the horror of Sam's death isn't far from his mind. Alan's costume, sadly, is very dull - yeah, yeah, people laugh at the Golden Age Green Lantern's colour scheme, and I can see that red, green and purple is wacky, but I liked it. OK, by all means tweak the colours, but at the very least keep the cape with the magician collar - it's the biggest visual signifier that Alan isn't a member of the Green Lantern Corps.
What does he look like now? Just another member of the Green Lantern Corps, 'the' or no 'the'.
Hawkgirl's appearance, I like for the most part. I'd prefer a feathered headpiece to a helmet that's somewhere between Jay's and Bulletgirl's, but the sleek outfit looks good, and the massive plait could double as a mace. It's gladdening, too, that Scott doesn't shrink the wings, visually, when Hawkgirl's standing on solid ground - they arch upwards, off the floor.
And while I don't know if he hand letters, or uses machine fonts, Dezi Sienty makes the words look good.
Ivan Reis captures the rage Alan should be feeling on his cover, inked by Joe Prado and coloured by Rod Reis, though the image is a little too intense (and that ruddy awful movie ad doesn't help). If she has time, I'd love to see Scott handling the covers.
I didn't enjoy this issue as much as the previous two, but I remain optimistic that Robinson, Scott and company will give us great things on Earth 2. Just, less of the Earth 1, please.