Earth 2 (Vol. 2): The Tower of Fate by James Robinson (writer) and Nicola Scott (artist)
Earth 2 (Vol. 2): The Tower of Fate continues James Robinson’s solid run re-inventing Earth 2’s main heroes. He killed off Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in the first issue collected in Earth 2 (Vol. 1): The Gathering, and I’m glad he did because it allows us to see an alternative Earth start fresh with no heroes. To me, the fun of the Earth 2 series in the New 52 is that we get to see the rise and fall of an alternative Earth, all in the span of less than forty issues. Or at least that’s what I’ve been led to understand. I’m writing these reviews as I finish reading each volume.
In the first volume, we were given the origin stories of Green Lantern and Flash (given his powers by Mercury himself!). We also met Hawkgirl, the Atom, and briefly, the Sandman (the pre-Neil Gaiman Sandman). We don’t know their origins yet, but we do know that these three worked for the government until Hawkgirl fled her post.
This second volume includes the #0 flashback issue that was originally published between issue 4 and 5. It goes back in time to tell another Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman story, as well as introduce us to Terry Sloan, the mastermind villain of the Earth 2 series so far. I suppose they included #0 in Volume 2 instead of Volume 1 so that readers could understand more about Terry Sloan, who plays an important role in the second story arc, and because it allows them to start both volumes with a story about the Big Three.
There are three other villains in this arc: The first two are Fury and Steppenwolf. Fury, the evil daughter of Wonder Woman, works for Steppenwolf, Darkseid’s uncle, who is trapped on Earth 2 (after Batman destroyed all the Boom Tubes used in the initial invasion). In this volume, they seem to be preparing to take over the world and are making preliminary steps to do so, but not much is developed in their story. However, Scott’s artwork depicting their initial battles certainly makes me enjoy their story visually, even though I don’t yet really care about them in terms of the plot.
The third villain is the great, green-skinned mage Wotan, who is wonderful to look at, again thanks to Scott. He gets the most development as a villain because, like Grundy in the last volume, his primary purpose is to provide a battle scene for new heroes, in this case Dr. Fate. Dr. Fate is a young man who has been resisting taking on the Helm of Fate and the bouts of insanity that go along with it. Wotan is a great mage who has waited centuries for battle, so the new Dr. Fate must go against an ancient foe he never knew he had.
So, why am I enjoying this story? Because it’s fun to watch Robinson build a world, and it’s even more fun to see Nicola Scott visualize it for us, particularly the Tower of Fate mentioned in the title of this collection. Robinson’s writing is still inconsistent, which I find really disappointing because of how great a writer he can be. And I don’t like the way human — non-heroic — faces are depicted (mainly those not in masks, so far), but other than some faces, Scott’s art is fantastic, particularly when showing off heroes and heroic action, and the colorists have done a remarkable job as well. I’m also enjoying seeing the new heroes: Dr. Fate looks great, and I like him, too. We’ve caught a few brief glimpses of Mister Terrific, and we’ve seen one glimpse of Mister Miracle and Big Barda, who are my favorites visually after Dr. Fate, so far. We’ve seen a little more of Wesley Dodds as Sandman, the Government Operative, and I think that’s a fantastic idea.
The story has not fulfilled its potential yet, but I’m keeping my hopes up. I think that it could still get better. This second volume of Earth 2 is still worth reading even if it’s not the greatest comic book of all time. The Tower of Fate a solid, fun superhero comic, and as I said in the last review, I’m looking forward to seeing Darkseid win, and I’m looking forward to seeing how and if the heroes will pull some small victory or victories out of the wreckage of a larger, catastrophic defeat.