As most fans are aware by now, James Robinson has announced in a series of Tweets that he is leaving Earth 2 and DC Comics. This marks the beginning of some uncertain times for Jay, Alan, Kendra, Khalid, Al and company. This has been a consistently excellent series, one near the top of my pull list for some time. The fact that it has done so well is testament to Robinson’s talent as a creator, and he will be sorely missed. There is certainly time for DC to try to make this right, as they previously have done wih Gail Simone on Batgirl…but just in case this is a good time to say a few words about James Robinson’s excellent run on Earth 2.
Earth 2 has been both a critical and sales success, with Robinson taking on one of the most difficult and controversial changes in the New 52 – the complete redesign of the Justice Society. Robinson took the Golden Age Heroes who for years had literally been the elder statespersons of the DC Universe and made them young again, placing them on a parallel Earth for the first time since before the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths in the 1980s. In doing so, he revamped both the look and origin stories for characters long cherished by DC fans, with many fans (including myself) waiting for the results with skeptical eyes. What we got was something truly special, and something that has been one of the great success stories of DC’s lineup.
Jay Garrick in particular had caused some early concern. The initial drawings released to the public didn’t cast the new uniform in the best light, and while the first issue allayed that concern with a very interesting new look it also cast Jay as a bit of a slacker who couldn’t keep his life together. Yet, over the issues so far we have seen Jay grow as both a person and as a hero. Jay Garrick didn’t ask for his powers, but he didn’t shirk the responsibility that came with them. And, he is still growing and becoming both a true hero and a leader. Jay as the everyman hero has become a great character in this series.
Even the change that generated the most news in the mainstream media, revamping Alan Scott as gay, was handled expertly by Robinson. We find an Alan Scott who is noble, brave, truly heroic, and a strong leader who happens to be gay. It is one part of who he is, not merely a stunt to generate controversy or sales. In remaking these characters, Robinson has taken the best of their Golden Age and Silver Age qualities and reshaped them to fit the sensibilities and realities of today.
I could go on and on about the characters created for this series, from the great Hawkgirl to the wonderful new Doctor Fate, to the new Al Pratt and the new Mr. Terrific (who doesn’t seem so interested in “fair play” at the moment, if you are following the storyline). This is a series that I didn’t want to like, didn’t want to believe in…yet James Robinson won me (and a lot of other fans) over with his excellent storylines and characterization. He has proven that writing matters, that good writing can make most any character compelling, and that a good story is always worth reading.
I’m still holding out hope that something can be resolved a la Gail Simone and her return to Batgirl. If not, DC will have the very difficult task of finding someone who can effectively continue James Robinson’s excellent vision for this team and this series. Jay Garrick and company have lost an excellent friend…and so has the DC Universe. Wherever you go, Mr. Robinson, we will anxiously await your next work. Thanks for a great ride with Earth 2!