JLA: Earth 2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

earth 2

 

JLA: Earth 2 is simplistic and direct and that is what makes it work so well. There are no lengthy origin stories or layers upon layers of dark motive behind the actions of The Crime Syndicate of Amerika. They’re bad and evil because they can be. Because there is no one to stand against them. No one except for Alexander Luthor.

In a parallel Earth, an anti-matter Earth, all things are the reverse of what they are on Earth. The Justice League of America is the Crime Syndicate of Amerika. Lex Luthor is Alexander Luthor, the lone remaining hero fighting against the Crime Syndicate to save Earth. The Crime Syndicate composes of Ultra-Man, Superwoman, Owlman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick. Together they control and maintain the corruption and tyranny on the anti-matter Earth. Luthor knows he cannot defeat them alone and comes upon another Earth. An Earth composed of matter. A world he calls Earth 2.

On Earth 2 he finds a group of super heroes call the Justice League and it is these heroes he must find a way to enlist and bring back to his world to defeat the Crime Syndicate. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and a reluctant Batman join Luthor and return with him to the anti-matter Earth. It is there they will battle their evil counter-parts with disturbing and tragic results. For as Batman feared and Owlman knew, anti-matter and matter cannot exist together. So if the Justice League was on the anti-matter Earth, then nature itself would send the Crime Syndicate to Earth itself and the Justice League may have saved one world at the expense of its own.

earth 2 batman                                       earth 2 superwoman

But what both super powered groups learn is that it just doesn’t matter as Owlman would say. Neither could succeed in the other’s world. The scales would have to be balanced. Eventually both groups are transplanted to their home worlds and the balance is restored. But now both know, the other exists.

Morrison’s writing is crisp and succinct. There isn’t a lot to explain in this premise and he does the brilliant act of not trying to. He allows the story to unfold and tell itself. This is not the first appearance of the crime syndicate but for this one shot he writes as if it is, giving them no reference point in the DC Universe to relate to. The characters themselves are very well developed. Superwoman (Lois Lane) strip teasing in a closet to a very whipped Jimmy Olsen as she uses his lust for her to control him. Ultraman who is bored with the knowledge that no one can match up to him. Johnny Quick whose drug habit feeds his power. Power Ring who is unsure of how to use the power of his ring. But the show stealer is the Owlman. Anti-Matter Earth’s Batman. Whose existence is to terrorize his father Commissioner Thomas Wayne. The Owlman who is Thomas Wayne Jr, whose mother and little brother Bruce were gunned down in an attempt on his father’s life. His father survived and the Owlman has hated him for it ever since.

earth 2 crime      earth 2 owlman trapped       earth 2 owlman

The saddest figure is perhaps Alexander Luthor. The lone figure, forever fighting a losing battle for justice and good against the super powers of the Crime Syndicate.

A well written and very well drawn comic book.

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