Demythify: Unspooling DC Comics’ New 52 Earth 2 Superman, Batman, Multiversity & Watchmen 2 Yarn

I’m back after a 2-week hiatus to recharge my batteries, reignite my passion for pop culture, and more importantly spend some much needed face-time with my wife, family and friends.

Before I go into the meat of this column which is putting together DC Comics’ New 52 multiverse puzzle pieces (a finite multiverse of 52 as opposed to the infinite one of olde… see Infinite Crisis’ take on the latter to the right), I think I owe you a bit of an explanation of where I’ve been and where I think I’ll be going with my pop culture fandom.

2011 was a year of endings for me pop culture-wise. A lot of things I have anticipated or sought after as a collector came into my possesion:

  • All the comics on my “want list”, noted on my tattered index card in my wallet, was picked up. Most were acquired over the years at conventions, but the hardest sought items were through online purchases whether eBay, Amazon or Lone Star Comics. The last few comics were actually 1980s Marvel Comics and some 1990s Image, Malibu and Valiant Comics.
  • It took a few years, but I finally watched all of the 1970s Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman TV episodes on DVD. Some episodes were great and some didn’t stand the test of time, but overall they were all more engaging then I thought they’d be. I originally thought I’d only want to see a few episodes like all the cross-over episodes between the series or just the characters “visiting”, the Big Foot episodes, Maskatron, Fembots, and more. However, I’m glad I watched the 8 seasons of both series combined and all 3 post-series TV movies. Did you know, Sandra Bullock was planned to be next Bionic Woman in the 1990s?
  • DC Comics released Hawk and Dove busts. I had all my other fave characters in either action figure or mini-bust form, but was glad that due to Brightest Day that Hawk and Dove were making the leap from two-dimesional form to 3D. That, AND I was able to pick up a Starman Jack Knight statue from back-in-the-day (Plug: Please READ James Robinson’s current Shade maxi-series. It’s got all of the classic Starman goodness and more. It is MOST EXCELLENT. 😉 ). Plus, a friend bought me a 1970s Maskatron action figure to go with my already acquired Steve Austin, Jamie Sommers and Oscar Goldman ones. I don’t think Dr. Rudy Wells made into action figure form likely due to the 3 different actors who played the role; even though the last one (actor Martin E. Brooks) really is synonymous with the role.
  • Finally, and this was DC Entertainment‘s doing not mine, with Flashpoint my “old” DC Comics runs were over with the New 52 being the most defined restarting point for the DC Comics Universe since the Crisis of Infinite Earths around a quarter century ago. However, unlike the mid-1980s, 2011 saw marketing match plot with not only the DC world relaunched, but the titles’ numbering as well. It is a move that has reinvorgated comicdom, myself included.

With that, I decided to relook at my contribution at the Comics Nexus. My previous most-recent column series had been called “One Fan’s Trials” because I was really not happy with how many of my fave characters were being portrayed in comics. That title isn’t very inspiring or positive. And, there were others things I wanted to talk about that weren’t rants, so I just wrote many more articles sans any column banner and only revisited OFT sparingly.

Despite the endings of 2011, I see 2012 as a year of new beginnings for me as a pop culture enthusiast. And, I am optimistic for the first time in a long-time about my fandom. So, I decided to rethink what a Babos column around here would be like and about and came up with the versatile title of “Demythify” for my new column. This is where I will demystify pop culture news, starting with this inaugural edition’s look at DC’s second wave announcement and doubling down on their multiverse with companion Earth 2 related books. There have been a lot of teases over the last several months, some more direct than others, but we do know a lot about what’s coming rounded out by recent musings by writers James Robinson (on Earth 2) and Paul Levitz (on Worlds’ Finest).

My Demythify columns will bring analysis of comic and pop culture news, may break news on occasion, may provide a history lesson other times, and will naturally include some rants along the way.

So, I come back to you reenergized, excited, and raring to go. I hope you like this new column and as always, all feedback is welcome. Without further ado, here is what we can gather about DC’s multiverse and the titles committed to its exploration. It’s been pieced together from months of musings my DC’ers not just the most recent tidbits. And, it’s easy to draw inferences if you’re a “veteran” fan like me. Enjoy and let me know what you think. Here we go…

A Multiversity Of Possibilities…

    5. Birds of Prey’s Black Canary from Earth 2? In October 2011, the DC blog announced that the New 52’s Mister Terrific & Birds of Prey series were key to the Justice Society (now “Earth 2”) rebirth. On its surface the Mister Terrific series was a no-brainer. We saw Karen Starr, the pre-Flashpoint Power Girl’s alter ego, in that series portraying the lead’s friend-with-benefits. The big question at that time was whether she was in fact Power Girl or super-powered in any way. In January 2012 we now know that Karen is Power Girl. The more puzzling aspect of DC’s tease was the Birds of Prey comment. Now, while DC has announced the Worlds’ Finest New 52 series (with artists George Perez & Kevin Maguire on alternating arcs) starring Huntress & Power Girl, Earth 2 heroines trapped on the “main” New 52 Earth, the only conclusion I can draw from the BoP comment is that Black Canary will return to her Golden Age roots. She may be revealed to be either the original Black Canary from Earth 2 or more likely the original’s daughter trapped on the main Earth with Huntress & Power Girl. With Worlds’ Finest focusing on 2 heroines who want to return to Earth 2, perhaps BoP stars the Earth 2’s next generation Black Canary who is just fine fighting crime on the New 52’s Earth 1. This would certainly add an interesting dynamic between Power Girl-Huntress-Black Canary if it works out that way.

    4. The stealth tease of a Kryptonian Cousin vs. the overt fanfare of a Dark Knight Daughter! It was recently revealed quite directly that the main character in Paul Levitz’s Huntress mini-series is Helena Wayne, Batman and Catwoman’s daughter from Earth 2, who uses several identities in her crime fighting / espionage including her current Bertinelli surname (the name of the pre-Flashpoint Huntress who was NOT Batman’s daughter). While this has yet to be revealed within the New 52 mini-series, writer Levitz has indicated that Worlds’ Finest will include a scene where Helena Wayne is rummaging through several Helena _________ passports including the Bertinelli one. DC has tapped the creator of Batman’s Daughter to write her new New 52 adventures. DC Comics has been more guarded in their commentary on “Karen Starr” Power Girl. Would she be the Supergirl of Earth 2 (in substance, but not by nom du guerre) like she was in the 1970s? Most references to the character were using her “Karen” Earth name with no official confirmation she was the Earth 2 Superman’s cousin, until a January 19th DC blog interview where Levitz said that “Helena and Kara are facing dilemmas in WORLDS’ FINEST that are nothing like any version of either of their previous lives“. Why is that significant? Well that is first reference to “Kara” which indicates that Power Girl is in fact Kara Zor-L (not “el” like the New 52 Supergirl) the cousin of the salt-and-pepper haired elder Superman, Kal-L (not “el”) of Earth 2.

    3. It’s 2012 on Earth 2 not WWII? Earth 2 writer James Robinson confirmed on the, you guessed it… the DC blog… that “Earth 2 is a world that’s very like our own, but at the same time vastly different… in the present as new menaces emerge to attack the Earth, so new heroes must emerge too, learning to work as a team (or perhaps Society is a better word) while facing these new threats head-on“. So, it would seem that “in the present” puts the Justice Society of Earth in their 2012th year not during WWII. Coupled with the existence of Earth 2 Superman’s cousin and Earth 2 Batman’s daughter trapped on Earth 1, that essentially confirms there is an older generation of heroes on Earth 2, whether WWII era or not is a question, whether that worlds pre-2012 history unfolded in a “similar” way as Earth 1 just with mystery men added, remains to be seen. This seems to be confirmed by another James Robinson musing: “It has known great conflict and danger…a dark menace defeated but at a great cost both to the Earth and to its superheroes of that time.” A big question will be whether Batman will be alive in 2012 on Earth 2. For folks that remember, the Earth 2 Batman (pre-Crisis of Infinite Earths) died in the pages of Adventure Comics 462, while Superman continued to live. Since the modern Earth 2 is not the same as the 1970s one, the jury is out on whether Bruce Wayne is a hearty and hale geezer in James Robinson’s title. And, we’ll likely get second generation heroes a la the 1980s Infinity Inc. (hopefully) plus new characters too in the book. Should be fun.

    2. Earth 2’s or New 52’s Superman THE Superman in Grant Morrison’s Multiversity? It was interesting the way the DC blog announced the James Robinson penned and Nicola Scott pencilled Earth 2 series: “The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.” Instead of the much ballyhooed Multiversity being a vanity project for writer Grant Morrison to explore some of the New 52 Earths in DC’s multiverse, maybe Multiversity is actually more integral to the New 52 and will be kicked off by the goings on in the Earth 2 New 52 series. Why does Grant Morrison need to establish Earth 2 in Multiversity when James Robinson is doing that in his Earth 2 New 52 title? We know that we’re getting a Shazam book, a Charlton book (Watchmen done right according to Morrison), a Nazi one (likely where the Freedom Fighters are), and others as part of the seven Earth-specifc books of the nine-part maxi-series. It was revealed years ago that Superman was going to be through whom the readers would experience these new worlds. Now, it still makes sense for the New 52 Earth 1 Superman to be the lead of Multiversity, since he is the face of DC Comics alongside Batman, but maybe it’s actually the Earth 2’s Superman if the solicit for the Earth 2 series is spot on. Time will tell.

    1. What’s in a Name? Earth 2 Not JSA; Earth 3, 4, 5 Titles on the way? It was interesting that DC Comics chose to name its Justice Society centric series Earth 2 and not JSA or any other variation on the classic team names used DC’s Golden Age heroes (Super Squad, All Stars, etc.). Now, that lends itself to the belief that marketing has aligned with storyline not just with its Earth 1 “main” New 52 Earth books, but with its multiverse. DC Comics has brought back the multiverse at the end of its first year-long weekly maxi-series 52 and explored some of those worlds in Countdown to Final Crisis and its related titles. From a marketing standpoint, to help readers, DC emblazoned numeric Earth icons on the cover of the issues where the protagonists of Jason Todd, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner and others were “visiting”. In 2012, with DC committed to making its main Earth titles successful, it makes sense that DC would also double down on its multiverse… eventually with books set exclusively on other Earths. So, if DC is committed to tapping the storyline and $ales potential of its multiverse, why not call the various multiverse set books Earth __ instead of using tiny icons on the cover to show you’re not on the main New 52 Earth anymore? In the early 1980s, before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC had a few Earth 2 set titles on the shelves (All Star Squadron, Infinity Inc., Young All Stars) alongside its “main” Earth titles. It would seem to make sense even with a finite multiverse of 52 Earths and their universes, that other Earth titles could flourish. DC is smart to start with Earth 2 set on another world, but also with Worlds’ Finest set on the “main” Earth starring strong heroines looking to get home to Earth 2. Worlds’ Finest offers the promise of home, but also interesting New 52 Earth interactions: Power Girl and New 52’s Supergirl, Huntress and New 52’s Catwoman, etc. Through both titles, DC can make Earth 2 viable in a way it hasn’t been since writer Geoff Johns left the then pre-Flashpoint Justice Society of America several years ago. If Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest are successful, and Multiversity plays out as more intergral to the New 52 than once thought, don’t be surprised with other Earth __ titles on the shelves in 2013 and beyond. However, with the Curse of Shazam dubuting as a back-up in Justice League, I don’t think an Earth 5 book starring the classic interpretations of the Marvel Family is coming any time soon. With that, maybe, the old Charlton characters of Earth 4 get their own book? Or does all the chatter about the Watchmen 2 Prequels (check out Bleeding Cool for more on that bit ‘o news) scuttle that notion? Or could Watchmen 2 take place on Earth 4? Hmmm.

Do you have any other tidbits and factoids to share? What else have you gleaned about Earth 2, Multiversity, and/or DC’s multiverse?

Speak now, savvy readers!

I hope you enjoyed this debut edition of Demythify.

Cheers and thanks for reading. 😉

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