So. Alan Scott. He's gay, huh?
To quote the leader of the black 'Lectroids from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension (because I am THAT big a geek), "So what? Big deal."
It would be a shame if all the hollow hype surrounding one panel in the middle of the book eclipsed the fact that there's an actual story in Earth 2 #2, and quite a good one, at that, in which Alan Scott is, for the time being, a minor character. His brief scenes are but a prelude to his star turn next issue.
The real star of the issue is Jay Garrick or, as he shall be known henceforth, the Flash. The story also introduces to the book's burgeoning cast Mr. Terrific, fresh from the final issue of his own short-lived series, and the new Hawkgirl, as well as a character with a familiar name, a hero in the old continuity, who for now, at least, appears to be a villain in his new incarnation.
You can't really call Jay's new origin a retelling. This version is completely different from the character's Golden Age debut in Flash Comics #1. The new tale, quite frankly, more closely resembles Hal Jordan's beginnings as Green Lantern than any previous Flash origin. Reduced to bare bones, the plot is as follows: A dying being from beyond plummets to Earth and with his final breath bestows awesome power on a deserving human. That synopsis could just as easily be applied to "SOS Green Lantern" from Showcase #22 as the story in this issue.
This time it isn't an extraterrestrial officer of an interstellar police force but Mercury, the last survivor of the ancient gods who seeks to pass on his power. This Flash's powers are based in magic whereas all previous versions of the character were predicated upon science, or as close to actual science as you get in super-hero comics.
Along with his gift of power, Mercury also carries a dire warning. A new threat, even worse than the fairly recently defeated Apokolips, is headed Earth's way. In promising a menace that makes Darkseid, one of the greatest comic book villains ever, look like small potatoes, writer James Robinson has set the bar pretty high for himself. Only time, and future issues, will tell if he can live up to the expectations he's engendering.
My one, very minor, quibble with the story is that the conversation between Jay and Mercury goes on a little too long. This is mostly due to the fact that Jay appears not to realize that it is considered rude in some circles to interrupt a god and keeps butting in as Mercury relates his tale. This does, however, allow Robinson to inject some light humor into the scene as Mercury has to repeatedly tell Jay to shut up and listen. It's a good sign that the series apparently will not be as utterly grim and ponderous as it has the potential to become.
Robinson has been given an opportunity with this series that few writers working on super-hero comics for the big two mainstream publishers ever get. He has an entire world to himself to chronicle unfettered by events in other comics or reality. So far, he seems to be making the most of this freedom. He's showing us the aftermath of an alien invasion in the way that no mainstream super-hero comic has ever been able to before. Usually, once the ETs are sent packing things quickly return to the pre-invasion status quo and no lasting effects of struggle remain. Earth-2, on the other hand, is a world still struggling to recover and deal with the physical and psychological costs of the war five years later.
Aiding Robinson in delineating this new world is the beautiful art by penciller Nicola Scott and inker Trevor Scott. (Between the two of them and this world's future Green Lantern, things could a little confusing.) They render quiet conversations and cataclysmic explosions equally breathtakingly.
I am looking forward to future issues of Earth 2 more than I have any super-hero comic for quite some time.