So here's somethng of what happened on Earth 2 before the recent debut issue, which saw Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman die as they forced a retreat by invaders from Apokolips. The narrator is Terry Sloan, 'the smartest man on Earth'. In comics history, Terry Sloane was the original Mr Terrific, Justice Society of America member in good standing. This chap is Mr 8, a self-styled hero working with Earth's 'wonders' to beat back the hostile aliens. He shows us just how bad things are on Earth, with entire nations enslaved by Steppenwolf's 'anti-life' process and the heroes no nearer a win after several years of fighting.
And he thinks he knows what needs to be done - cut out a cancer to save the rest of the body. It's not an easy operation: he's going to wipe Italy, Brazil, Pakistan and South Africa off the map. His reasons are twofold - ensure the World Army doesn't waste time trying to save zombified civilians who are beyond hope, and show Steppenwolf that the people of Earth are willing to do whatever it takes to win. But first, he has to betray his three most formidable colleagues ...
Talk about blasts from the past. Since he appeared briefly in the Earth 2 series, I've been dying to know more about Sloan, and James Robinson gives us a good look here. Incredibly intelligent and more arrogant still, his words are persuasive - of course some countries are beyond saving, of course their people should be sacrificed. And of course, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman - on Earth 2, the Ternion, rather than the Trinity - would never go along with the notion ... they believe that where there's life, there's hope.
One thing that guides Sloan's decisions is an accidental look at parallel Earths (including, perhaps, the world of Kingdom Come), and conclusion that bad as the forces of Apokolips are, something worse is coming. That tallies with what new Green Lantern Alan Scott has been told in the regular series, feeding my anticipation for coming storylnes. A further mystery, one just introduced here, is the identity of a hero Sloan won't name, for some terrible thing they did - what could be worse than his own acts?
A nice touch from Robinson is Sloan's list of Superman's weaknesses (click on image to enlarge).
I doubt artist Tomas Giorello designed it, given DC Editorial's hands-on attitude to such things. I am waving a finger at Giorello for Wonder Woman's chest zeppelins, and at least one utterly grauitous knickers shot (that panel above is both good and bad). Otherwise, I like the artwork; Giorello's storytelling is fine, his characters have grandeur and the big moments are suitably bombastic. There's excellent work, too, from colourist Nathan Eyring, who makes the blockbuster sequences even bigger.
The cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis is, I think you'll agree, stunning.
If you were hoping DC's zero month would be a chance to save money by skipping inessential bits of backstory, you won't like this - it's a compelling chapter in the history of Earth 2 and an essential lead-in to upcoming events.
I can stand it.