When a new writer takes over a book, usually the tonal shift is incredibly jarring and out of place. Things may get darker, grimmer or more humorous and light-hearted. Well, the transition from James Robinson’s run on Earth-2 to Tom Taylor’s first issue is none of those. It is, however, the most batshit insane transition between issues I’ve ever seen since Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol.
This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.
Tom Taylor drops a number of loaded bombshells on the reader. The identity of the female Red Tornado, how this new Batman plans to win the war against Superman (ever notice how Taylor has to write evil Superman in both of his books?), and a number of other things that make this status quo shift a crazy yet totally and utterly cool one. Taylor spreads it out across the book to give the reader time to take in and digest all of the information rather than have it come at them all at once.
I’ve got to say that I loved this entire issue. I was worried that the book would become too bat-centric and would sideline the not-JSA and kill all of the interesting world building going on. While this does seem more character-focused than Robinson’s run, it never sacrifices the unique and intricate mechanics of the world at hand. As for the characterization, Taylor takes a number of core traits for each character like he did in his Injustice run and solidifies them into something cohesive and unique for everybody. I also found that when he wrote dialogue for the characters none of it seemed jarring or out of place. Whereas Robinson would use weird sentence structuring, Taylor plays it pretty safe and keeps the characters talking like normal people.
What helps keep the transition from Earth-2 #16 to Earth-2 #17 on smooth sailing is that Nicola Scott is still on the art. Her penchant for expressive, realistic (for a superhero comic) figures and highly stylized action sequences keeps things running fluently. Props also go to the colorist Pete Pantazis for making the pages pop with life. Too often a bad colorist can ruin artwork to oblivion, but his and Scott’s styles mesh so well that I could just stare at the pages for a long time and still be amazed that it looks so good. Scott’s pencil work is like a smoother, less shiny Ivan Reis with a better grip on action sequences and facial expressions (not to discount Reis’ work or anything but he has his flaws. It does however, usually look gorgeous).
Earth-2 #17 is both the transitional and the revitalization issue. Breathing new life into the series, Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott keep the momentum going as the buildup to the JSA goes on. It’s all smooth sailing from here on out.