A look at two of DC's Second Wave titles.
When DC's Wave 2 was first announced last winter, controversy arose over Earth 2 and World's Finest, a pair of books meant to introduce the multiverse to DC's New 52 and explain what had happened to many characters that had been missing from the rebooted DC universe thus far. From the disappearance of Power Girl's boob window, to the appearance of Jay Garrick's costume, to the casual mention that Helena Bertinelli (the name of the post-Crisis, pre-reboot Huntress) had been killed, several fans were determined to nitpick the two series to death before a single issue had hit the stands.
Despite the somewhat negative hype associated with the two books, both Earth 2 and World's Finest had solid debut issues, proving once again that readers shouldn't judge a book by scant preview and promotional images. Earth 2 #1, written by James Robinson and illustrated by Nicola Scott, is a fantastic first issue that establishes not only how different the alternate earth is, but also provides a great introduction to three characters that are sure to be the stars of the book. While not as strong as Earth 2, World's Finest #1, by Paul Levitz and George Perez, is a distinctly old school series that showcases the relationship between Power Girl and Huntress and provides a brief but thorough origin as to how the two characters are connected to Earth 2, how they became separated from their home universe, and what they've been up to since.
Of the two, Earth 2 is easily the better series. James Robinson, the writer of the critically acclaimed Starman series as well as the universally reviled Cry for Justice, is on his game, keeping his book free of the unnecessary clutter that often plagues his weaker series. Every character, every line of dialogue, and every panel has a point, whether it builds Earth 2, provides characterization to the protagonists, or advances the plot. It even manages to draw parallels to Justice League, all the while exposing what a terrible first arc Geoff Johns and Jim Lee spit out. Had Justice League #1 been even half as good as Earth 2 #1, there might be more of a sense that the New 52 was a fully-fleshed out concept as opposed to a half-cocked scheme filled with ideas thrown up against the wall to see what sticks. Of course, it helps that Nicola Scott's artwork is phenomenal as always. Scott's presence has been missed in the DCnU, so it's good to see her on a book that at least feels somewhat high-profile.
World's Finest isn't exactly a slouch either. It's a throwback series that combines old school storytelling (complete with exposition dumps and pages filled with panels) with fun interactions and characterization. In contrast to the grim and EXTREME characters in other DC stories, World's Finest features two characters that have made the best of their tragic situations and are (especially in Power Girl's case) enjoying their new world as much as they can. Levitz does a much better job of introducing both Huntress and Power Girl to new readers, giving them equal time to shine while avoiding many of the issues that plague his Legion of Superheroes series. While much of the plot is a bit too convenient and the dialogue is wordy at times (Power Girl and Huntress may be the chattiest heroes I've ever read about), Levitz still weaves an enjoyable first issue with enough hooks for readers to come back for more. George Perez is a perfect complement to Levitz's writing and further cements the throwback feel of the book.
The two series are interconnected but distinctly separate. Unlike Superboy and Teen Titans, which are basically connected at the hip, choosing to read only one would not hinder a reader's ability to understand the plots of the other series. However, it's best to read both series, especially as both are enjoyable and will continue to build off of one another to create a complete story.
While at least a portion of the delay in Earth 2 was to give the creative team more time to build a plot, it's a shame that neither of these books were included in the First Wave. One of my worries is that neither book will find an audience, especially since they deal with an alternate earth with characters that aren't exactly mainstream. Much like Animal Man or Swamp Thing, both books could have benefited from some of the New 52 hype and built a strong fan base right out the gate. Earth 2 is as strong as many of the First Wave's best first issues (I'd put it as the fifth or sixth debut issue to come out of DC since September) while World's Finest is easily in the top half of the new DC series.
Regardless, both Earth 2 and World's Finest are great first issues deserving of at least an in-store read. Both books are a breath of fresh air to DC's staling New 52 and have the potential to build into an expansive, universe-wide story arc. If you're a fan of good superheroics and new worlds, give Earth 2 and World's Finest a read!
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer