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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 25

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s JLA Earth 2.

Enjoy!

Earth 2 was extremely notable in that it was, at the time, the most mainstream comic that Quitely had worked on in the United States. He had already become fairly well-known from some of his cover work, but this was an entire original graphic novel featuring his art, and boy does it feature his art!

Grant Morrison re-visits the Silver Age concept of the Crime Syndicate of America, the evil beings who live on an Earth parallel to the Justice League’s, a world that contains a GOOD Lex Luthor and an EVIL Justice League!

Here’s the awe-inspiring opening to the book…

Such beautiful work.

Naturally, the Justice League visit Earth 2, and Batman meets up with Thomas Wayne, who is the Commissioner on this Earth’s Gotham City…

On Earth 2, Thomas Wayne is the Gotham City Police Commissioner – one of the few honest men in Gotham fighting against his evil son, Owlman. The Justice League has shown up and have tried to change things in Earth 2, and here, Thomas Wayne has decided to change things in Gotham.

Here, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, show Thomas and Bruce in action…

While the Justice League is helping Earth 2, though, the Crime Syndicate visit the Justice League’s Earth, where only Aquaman and Martian Manhunter stand behind to defend it…

Isn’t that a brilliant piece of work on Owlman’s realization that this world is a world where the Crime Syndicate can’t possibly win?

What a beautiful piece of work by Quitely – the comics world would soon see more of him on high profile works, and that’s been the case ever since.

34 Comments

I loved this book, but wasn’t it originally published as two “Prestige Format” books before being collected?

I really need to get a copy of that. One thing to note is that some people find the “Wayne is evil” reveal depressing. IMHO, it would be more depressing if he wasn’t evil, because if everyone is the opposite alignment on that earth then that would have meant that Earth-1′s Thomas Wayne was evil.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 26, 2010 at 9:37 am

Nope; it was published as an OGN from the start.

You may be thinking of a number of other projects around the same time, like Howard Chaykin’s Secret Society of Super-Heroes or JSA: The Liberty Files, which were published as prestige format series and then TPBed.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 26, 2010 at 9:39 am

The antimatter Thomas Wayne isn’t so uch “evil” as he is “not good,” and living on a world where what he is initially seems closer to “good” than Owlman. Just as the regular Thomas Wayne was a noble but private man but not a superhero, this Wayne is an ignoble and public man who’s still not a supervillain.

Aquaman at his most badass, by far.

This is an excellent book that seemingly gets better every time one reads it. In my head, this is the sequel to the Justice League movie that doesn’t exist.

I didn’t find Thomas Wayne to be evil, just a man reduced to pettiness and brutality by the evil world he was born into.

Aquaman at his most badass, by far.

Faint praise indeed.

Damn, Omar beat me to it, but better.

They killed off Aquaman and Martian Manhunter, maybe because the conventional wisdom is that they’re hard to write. Really, just take what Morrison (and others) have done, and run with it.

This is my favorite story-line from Morrison’s JLA run. As other posters have noted, Aquaman and MM are awesome in this, but the funny thing is, they don’t even appear for that long. Morrison has a real gift for distilling characters down to their essence. For example, MM’s line “How dare you threaten the people of this planet in my presence!” truly underscores the character’s nobility. He protects a world that is not his own, despite being the ultimate outsider.

If I had my way with a JLA film, Morrison’s first arc on the book with the white Martians would be the plot of the first film, and Earth 2 would be the second film. Such a fantastic story teller with a flair for layers upon layers of nuance and plot.

SPOILERS!

I’ve always found found the conclusion of this story to be kinda problematic… Superman can’t defeat Brainiac because of his code not to kill, but he has no problem bringing in the Crime Syndicate to kill Brainiac. You’d think someone with such high morals as Superman wouldn’t revert to this sort of an ethical loophole?

In my head, this is the sequel to the Justice League movie that doesn’t exist.

Talk about better worlds …

It will be interesting to see how this material plays in the animated movie.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Ordinarily, Superman wouldn’t, but in a universe where evil has to triumph — and thus an evil act is the only way to stop Anti-Brainiac — he has no other meaningful moral choice that doesn’t involve sacrificing two universes on the altar of his principles.

That’s the point: the CSA’s world is so evil-aligned at a cosmic level that even Superman’s moral code has to fail there.

one of the best modern superhero comics of all time. yes.

A world so evil even”heroes” like Lex Luthor and Thomas Wayne are next to impossible to like… Kinda seems like the real world ;)

“You are human. I am Luthor.”

Still waiting for an opportunity to use that in casual conversation. Probably be waiting a while.

Also: Arthur and J’onn at their most awesome. “HOW DARE YOU THREATEN THE PEOPLE OF THSI PLANET IN MY PRESENCE?” “Hey you. Gutless moron.” – SMACKDOWN

This book is really awesome. Its a bit of a departure to the constant actionactionaction supercompression of Morrison’s JLA run, but I’m glad it takes its time and really gets into the alternate universe(plus with Quietly drawing everything, that doesn’t hurt either ^_^).

My favorite group of panels is when that guy kicks that dog, and GL makes a big green construct dog to scare the guy off and the dog gets away and runs out into the street in front of a bus. The next panel shows the heroes escaping into an alley way, but you can see in the top part of the panel, blood stains are coming off the backside of the bus; the dog got run over anyway.

I think this was a great metaphorical way of highlighting the main conflict of the story, that no matter what noble heroic intentions the JLA has, the alternative universe they’re in simply doesn’t work that way. Much like the Bat crap flying everywhere in Gotham, everything goes to shit in the end and theres nothing even guys like Batman can do about it.

Just a great comic book, got the original hardcover & I love the fact that all the legal & promo blurbs and bios are on the dust jacket and the book itself is pure story, with 1 copyright notice near the gutter on page 1 (and a great reversed earth design on the front).

This proves beyond ALL DOUBT that Aquaman can be truly awesome. i enjoyed Peter David’s take on the charecter, and Morrison’s in his JLA, but this is fantastic! With only two JLAers [the two most overlooked actually!] they take down the CSA with virtually no probem.

‘You! Gutless Moron”

You can see that Arthur is a king not to be messed with. Great Stuff!
DFTBA

I like the way Quitely’s art is inked here a lot better than I’ve liked him… probably anywhere else except We3.

another good pick for this colum i espically like martian manhunter dissing super woman telling her he is not interested in someone like her. plus owl man seeing the grave of thomas wayne and relizing the crime sydicate can not win on that earth.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm

They killed off Aquaman and Martian Manhunter, maybe because the conventional wisdom is that they’re hard to write. Really, just take what Morrison (and others) have done, and run with it.

It was Morrison who killed off Martian Manhunter.

And in the DC Holiday special, Fred Van Lente wrote a short Martian Manhunter story that’s one of the best I’ve ever read with the character.
He and that artist should be green-lit for a book with the character immediately.

Heh. My first exposure to Grant Morrison was Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P., which failed to wow me.

Final Crisis was just out and out dumb, way too confusing, and so full of obscure references that I spent more time browsing through the DC Wiki then reading the series. That’s never a good sign. Batman R.I.P. was…interesting, but it really left me unsatisfied. Mostly because I had no clue where it ended and Final Crisis began. They were both too heavy-handed, and that put me off of Morrison’s work.

But I received both trades of All-Star Superman for my birthday, and I saw the light! Grant and Quitely are an exceptional duo, and Quitely’s art is just about the most fantastic thing in comics, next to Alex Ross!

That series is great, and this earlier GN, looks even better. I’ll be sure to buy both this, and the DVD adaptation.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 26, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Final Crisis was just out and out dumb, way too confusing, and so full of obscure references that I spent more time browsing through the DC Wiki then reading the series.

If it was so dumb, how was it confusing?

Also, any reference that was obscure and unexplained, didn’t actually need to be looked up – it was just there to highlight that the DC universe itself is a complex beast – the universe, not that story.
Yes, there is a talking lion in a suit fighting, but you don’t need to know anymore than that.

I’m with Tom on Final Crisis. I read the collected and had a hard time making sense of it. Either you HAVE to read all the tie-ins to follow the story, which I hate, or Morrison simply bit off more than he could chew and just shouldn’t be writing that many characters at once.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 26, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Either you HAVE to read all the tie-ins to follow the story, which I hate, or Morrison simply bit off more than he could chew and just shouldn’t be writing that many characters at once.

The collected edition has all the tie-ins you need – if anything, the one shots and spin off mini’s detract from the whole.
The only worth reading for a good story is ‘Resist’, which has a really nice ‘end of the world’ vibe.

You could argue he was only writing one character the whole time the DC Universe.
(With Superman Beyond being the only story to feature other characters, even though there they are all acting as one).
Or beyond that, two characters – existence and non-existence.

I still want to know who the mysterious assassin who almost kills Thomas Wayne is.

Fantastic book.

I need to read it again…

@Luke J: i always assumed it was joe chill. but does that mean chill was “evil” in both universes, and i am therefore wrong? i dunno…

Final crisis was dumb and confusing because it was an encrypted obvious story; for whatever reason it was a story that you read in internet synopses with the pictures in the back of your mind rather than as you read it.

Alternatively, it was designed to sit enigmatically in your head filled with symbolism and stuff, encouraging you to engage in a thorough way with DC universe history in order to get the most basic plot beats, so that getting your moneys worth of villain-bashing story is the cheese on a rope used to get you to reflect on DC comics as a whole.

The whole event is a trick, a slightly failed trick, in order to get you to consider what makes comics good, while proving that evil+doom to the max is not actually what we’re here for.

Also, it didn’t throw me because I’m British and so used to finding odd comics out of order and context and guessing what lay behind the endless references! I probably got a lot less from it than you though.

On that note, I found this comic in my local library and thought it was pretty awesome, with no idea if it was a self contained unit or what.

I liked the way batman almost guessed the plot of the episode, undermining wonder woman’s claim that “evil is not the reflection of good, good is”, but even if it was disproved within that setting, I think it’s pretty valuable in the real world.

Massively overrated.

JLA:Earth 2 is a rollercoaster ride without the rails.

Kurt Busiek’s and Joe Casey’s efforts failed to touch upon what Grant does best – get to the heart of the matter. They were good efforts, but neither of them had a scene to match any of Grant’s moments in this book, the above scene between J’Onn and Superwoman. Just excellence…I know that she’s like a black widow, but I’m almost ready to sign up for a couple of rounds with her.

Grant’s facility for misdirection is spot-on here; without spoiling it, wasn’t it great when Ultraman pulled the Superman finish?

This was a good story, though I would not have characterized it as great. However, I think that the big reveal with Owlman was the realization that the person he really wanted to hurt – the person who gave his life and his evil meaning – was his father, who was dead in the JLA world. As a result, there was no point to his being there.

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