03rd Mar2022

‘War For Earth-3 #1’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Robbie Thompson, Dennis Hopeless | Art by Steve Pugh, Dexter Soy, Brent Peeples | Published by DC Comics

Pretty much anything related to alternate worlds, multiverses, hypertime, Elseworlds or crises is guaranteed to pique my interest when it comes to DC books. My favourite DC stories have more often than not revolved around these ideas, and Earth-3 is most definitely a member of that club. An alternate Earth where their most powerful superhumans are actually villains and are counterparts of our biggest heroes, is probably the easiest sell ever. Sure, this Earth-3 is not the Earth-3 I grew up with, but there’s still enough there to love. This is the first issue of a 2 issue limited series, and from the publicity blurbs I’ve read, a lot is promised over these two issues.

Let’s take a look.

Judging by the opening pages, this is not going to be a book for subtlety. We open with a reminder that the Crime Syndicate run this world, with Ultraman (their Superman) as a feared dictator. Very little resistance exists. Step up Amanda Waller, who it seems has brought with her a multiversal Suicide Squad. She’s taking over Metropolis. Ultraman can’t be bothered with her, so sends Power Ring (their Green Lantern) to deal with it. Power Ring shows you just how destructive an unhinged Green Lantern can be, as some of Waller’s team don’t make it. Waller, as we all know, cheats, and she wins again. Her ace in the hole? Black Hand, who infects Power Ring, and Power Ring’s, er, power ring, which clearly hates its owner.

Ultraman still refuses the bait and sends another subordinate (we’ll swiftly move on from the Owlman/ Superwoman bondage bed scene). Next up, Owlman. Owlman’s a more emotional, slightly unhinged version of Batman, and he’s more about the tactics than raw power. He has a cool Owlplane too. He soon finds Black Canary and Bizarro Connor Kent too much to take down. Second Crime Syndicate member down. Looks like Ultraman might have to get involved after all. Does Amanda Waller know the bear she’s prodding? She’s a brave woman if so.

Time for a sidebar. Ambush Bug pops up to give is a recap of a player we have yet to see, Rick Flag. Rick Flag has broken from Waller, and has recruited his own Suicide Squad team to stop Waller from her attempt to take over Earth-3. Her response has been to attack Flag’s team with a giant Clayface monster, as you do. There was so much going on here it became quite confusing, and it is a case that if you aren’t a regular reader of the monthly books this spun out of, you may scratch your head a few times. Flag’s team are definitely struggling though. Waller, though, is doing pretty well. She’s most definitely got Ultraman’s attention, notably by the unveiling of the previously thought dead Johnny Quick.

Waller clearly is playing a smart game. She’s not here to take over, she claims, but to help Ultraman. He likes the power, the acclaim, but not the day to day of running a world. Waller offers to take on that burden for him. Be a god, not a King, is her pithy comment. To show goodwill, she has Owlman’s back broken in a nod to that seminal Bane moment with Batman. It looks as though Waller and her Suicide Squad are going to be an Earth-3 fixture for a while…or maybe not. Flag’s team have finally arrived, and they are still looking to take her down. With Ultraman looking on, it’s Suicide Squad against Suicide Squad. Let the best Squad win.

Although this was quite entertaining, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Ultraman and The Crime Syndicate are just being written as Homelander and The Boys now it seems, which is ironic as they may have been part of the original inspiration for that book back in the day. No nuances at all, just evil archetypes, albeit amusing and moderately interesting ones. I never really cared for any of the characters, not a good sign for any book. Apart from Waller, most characters got a few panels tops, so it was hard to get fully drawn into everything. The changing art styles didn’t help either, adding to the general feeling of choppiness and instability. Despite all that, there was something here, a glimmer that the second issue might yet pull this over the line.

Time to raise the (Rick) Flag.

***½  3.5/5


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