Monday, July 9, 2012

Thoughts on Earth 2 so far...

Well, despite all the brouhaha over Alan Scott’s new sexual orientation, few have actually commented on the Earth 2 series itself. I have to say; so far it’s been underwhelming. I’ve given James Robinson the benefit of the doubt despite his poor standing with fans, but so far I’m not seeing much of the Robinson who wrote Starman, The Golden Age, and Blades (one of my all-time favorite Batman stories). It hasn’t been a bad series so far, just underwhelming and without terribly interesting characters.
 A lot of people have complained about how Jay Garrick has been re-imagined as a slacker on bad terms with Joan. Eh, not much of a problem for me, that’s how the Golden Age version started, more or less. Still, the specifics of the break-up aren’t really explored very well, and you can’t really tell who was more in the wrong. I also hate the new costume; why update Garrick’s origin so he has a direct connection with Mercury/Hermes if he’s no longer going to wear his iconic winged helmet?
 And don’t get me started on Hawkgirl. Part of me understands the need to include Hawkgirl in this, and as her own solo character; it will avoid the confusion over which Hawk is which that screwed over the originals, and because Hawkgirl/Shiera was treated pretty poorly in the Golden Age. The popularity of the solo Hawkgirl on the Justice League cartoon also probably had something to do with this. Still, even though she’s been getting praised to the sky for being her own entity and for being made into a minority, I’m really not seeing anything to her character so far that breaks the mold of the generic, angry Strong Female CharacterTM stereotype (beautifully parodied here) that readers who care about such stuff usually cry about.
 As for Alan Scott, well, it’s funny. Alan really hasn’t made much of an impression on me so far considering the big deal that’s been made about him. In fact, I preferred his brief appearance in the first issue better, because it gave you a better handle on his personality. His relationship with his boyfriend Sam really doesn’t fill any purpose other than to provide him with a doomed love interest.
 Then again, one could argue this harkens back to All American Comics #16, where Alan’s friend Jimmy died, prompting him to nearly kill Dekker (the villain).
 However, despite the murderous rage Alan displays on the cover of this issue, we see little of that in the story itself.
 One little touch I liked though is that here, Alan’s engagement ring becomes his GL ring. Something could be made of this for future stories.
 On a more superficial level, while I have to say I like the new costume a lot (looks far better than the cover image), part of me wishes he’d at least still have the cape and high collar. It just isn’t an Alan Scott GL costume to me without that improbably big, peripheral vision-blocking collar.
Also, really? Did this origin story need for the ring’s powers to come from some kind of earth elemental? I guess this could also be said to be a reference to the original, where the green flame was said to flame three times in order to bring death, life, and then power. Thing is, it brought power to Alan, not life. It just smacks of an attempt to tie this in with whatever weirdness is going on over in Swamp Thing and other titles (which I haven’t been reading, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).
Also, I at least hope this isn’t an attempt to make Alan part of some sort of Earth 2 version of the GL corps. Part of the reason I like Alan Scott is that he isn’t part of all that cosmic spacefaring crap. Here, there’s the implication that he’s not one of a kind:
 Also, while I’ve just been shrugging off the numerous gay jokes everyone on the internet has been making about Scott’s weakness being wood, and while it makes perfect sense for a train wreck to cause a fire, you really have to wonder if all of these scenes of Alan, a gay man, being surrounded by and drawing his powers from flames is intentional. I love a good little non-PC joke myself, but if this was intended, it automatically cheapens DC’s reasons for using Alan Scott in this. Well, at least the new logo isn’t in flames like the classic one:
 And now let’s talk about Grundy…
This is Grundy:
 Uh, where to begin?
 Here, Grundy is a spontaneous creation of an elemental force called “The Gray” (which embodies death and rot), to counteract “The Green” which empowers Alan Scott.
 The Good: I like how artist Nicola Scott (how fitting) has gone out of the way to make Grundy really look like a zombie, and in a unique way. Too few people do that. I’m sick of albino!Hulk Grundy. Also, as much as I dislike the idea of Grundy being an elemental force created to be the opposite of the Green Lantern (interconnected hero-villain origins don’t tend to work well, as Spiderman: Chapter One showed), it does have precedence, such as Gardner Fox’s suggestion that Grundy was the result of natural phenomena, and Alan Moore’s suggestion that Grundy was a failed Swamp Thing.
 It also ties into my insane speculation that Grundy was meant to be symbolic of death, decay and poverty attacking bourgeois America. Well, he may not be embodying poverty here, but he’s definitely meant to be an embodiment of death, and he’s attacking America’s monuments! Good job.
 The Bad: Errr, what the hell is that thing he’s wearing? Looks like something out of the Hellraiser movies. On one hand, it’s different, I’ll give it that, and it kind of looks like a blacksmith outfit. Maybe Cyrus Gold was a blacksmith in this new origin (A jeweler perhaps? Maybe “Gold” was a nickname or something). The problem is that, well, it looks like an S&M outfit. Now I’m really starting to wonder if someone at DC isn’t laughing about all this.
The Ugly: So, uh, why is he called Grundy? ‘Yep, here he just calls himself Grundy the minute he comes to life, with no scene of him learning the name from the nursery rhyme, or even any indication that it’s a Monday! The whole point of the name is that he’s a shambling caricature of life who technically was never born, but who names himself after a rhyme about being born, as well as the fact that, you know, he’s a ghastly monster named after a children’s rhyme. A morbid children’s rhyme, but still.
 Interestingly however, we never do hear the name “Solomon” used, and in fact, we never even see any suggestion that Grundy used to be human! This might have potential. Maybe Grundy is some kind of centuries old monster that has always plagued the earth and is already a legend (The Batman cartoon had a similar idea), or maybe he was human and was one of the “other” past Green Lanterns that Alan wondered about. The idea of making Grundy into a Sinestro-type of figure could either be brilliant or woefully stupid depending on the execution.
 So, I can’t say I’m too impressed with Earth 2 so far, but I’m definitely interested enough to follow it through the first arc.

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