Home > Weekend Asides > Weekend Aside: “JLA: Earth 2”

Weekend Aside: “JLA: Earth 2”

January 24, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

[tweetmeme source=”jlurevisited”]

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely
Buy the TPB here

Oh, like you seriously expected me to talk about anything else the weekend before A Better World came up in the episode order. As always, use Twitter to be informed when a new entry is posted.

With DC’s insatiable demand for JLA product after the revamped series hit it big leading to lots of other authors taking on JLA-related projects, it only seemed fair to give series writer Grant Morrison an opportunity for a more prestigious project as his monthly run was drawing to a close. With regular JLA artist Howard Porter still busy with his work on the series, Morrison turned to his former collaborator on the Vertigo series Flex Mentallo, Frank Quitely. Although this wasn’t the first time the two had worked together, it was certainly the highest-profile project to that point for a team that would go on to be one of the definitive writer / artist partnerships of the 00s (along with Loeb / Sale and Millar / Hitch).

Morrison chose to delve into a section of JLA lore that he hadn’t covered in the monthly series, specifically the Crime Syndicate. As briefly mentioned during the All-Star Squadron article, DC at one time employed a gimmick that Earth had a number of alternate realities, such as Earth-3, where evil conterparts of the Justice League for the Crime Syndicate of America. During the time JLA was in production, however – and for about ten years on either side of the series’ debut – the multiverse concept fell out of favour at DC. The result was when Morrison got to re-introduce an alternate-dimension evil JLA, he was telling their familiar story for the first time.

The story is set early on in the Morrison run – no Superman Blue, no expanded roster – and opens with Lex Luthor crash landing in a Kansas cornfield while the JLA is distracted by trying to save a disabled airliner that appeared from nowhere. When the league recovers the plane, it finds that everyone on-board is dead… and, oddly, everyone’s hearts are on the right sides of their chests. Tracking down Luthor in LexCorp tower, they find him acting unusually cheery (giving 200% raises to all the employees), and he reveals the truth – he’s from an alternate universe composed of antimatter, where the JLA’s counterparts are evil and he’s the world’s greatest hero. The idea of an entire world being tortured by their doppelgangers offends the JLA, and over a suspicious Batman’s (redundancy?) objections, they resolve to journey to the antimatter world and free it.

The League implements their plan, as Batman confronts Gotham Police Commissioner Thomas Wayne (his counterpart Owlman turned evil out of hatred for his father), and Superman slips into the Daily Planet and confronts Lois… who’s really Superwoman, Wonder Woman’s counterpart. Green Lantern traps Ultraman and Johnny Quick on the alternate Watchtower with his opposite number, Power Ring, who’s unable to break Kyle’s will and escape. The League then attempts to fix the world, supplies to the rest of the world devastated by the CSA. However, things don’t go according to plan; for example, when given the opportunity to make his city better, Commissioner Wayne reveals he’ll set himself up as a totalitarian overlord of Gotham.

Of course, Rule Number One applies here and Batman is right about attempting to fix the opposite world as being a bad idea, as the CSA jumps into the matter universe and begins raising hell, but are surprisingly stopped by Aquaman and J’onn, who have been held in reserve.

Meanwhile, Owlman beings to realise that while evil controls his world, the opposite seems to be true on Batman’s, as he can’t even exact the most petty of all revenge scenarios on his father.

Things quickly go from bad to worse, as the two Earths appear near each other on a collision course, due to the instabilities created by the switches, and it’s revealed that Ultraman’s ‘pet’, Brainiac, has been manipulating events the entire time. He unleashes his defences on the league – including a Kryptonite-powered Titano of all things – but Batman figures out that on the CSA’s world, evil will always triumph, therefore the CSA can stop Brainiac. That was the flaw in Brainiac’s plans, as he never anticipated that the principled JLA would abandon the CSA’s world, and once returned Ultraman quickly eliminates Brainiac. The story ends with Ultraman once more in power over his world, and the JLA wondering exactly how they could keep fighting without their conviction that good will always win, like Luthor.

A typically great Morrison JLA story although a bit bleak in the fact that moral inertia, good or evil, is what winds up resolving the crisis is complemented by a breakout performance by Quitely on art, as given a high-profile project for the first time he holds nothing back. Although some find his style to be an acquired taste – the slightly ‘doughy’ look to the characters being the most common complaint – I’ve always liked his blend of realistic technology and less-detailed characters. The action has a marvellous scope, with several typically Morrisonian vistas such as the second earth looming over the first or the first appearance of the JLA as they attempt to save the doomed airliner from the parallel world. My only real gripe is that Quitely does a pretty poor job with Kyle’s new-era Lantern costume, but then that was a tricky look for most artists. If you do buy it, try to get the hardcover – the improved paper stock makes the art even better. DC’s good about keeping this one in stock, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Although the classic version of the Crime Syndicate would make their actual in-series debut towards the end of this volume of JLA – in a story written by Kurt Busiek – they never made an appearance in animated form. The original plan was to use a Crime Syndicate story as the bridge between Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, with the CSA being the catalyst for the league’s expansion and the creation of the new watchtower. While that story idea was never used, the idea is being released as part of DC’s new animated movie line later this year in the form of Justice League Crisis on Two Earths.

Next Time: More talk about the totalitarian hero model as Superman turns the trick in “Absolute Power.”


Categories: Weekend Asides

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s