Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Warning!!!!!! Below, there be spoilers! They'll swallow ye whole, they will!

Let's answer the big question right now: is it any good? Sure, it's alright. The story is alright. The animation is really solid. There were plenty of nice little touches here and there to keep me engaged. Still, I wasn't as fully engaged as I would have liked to have been, and I know exactly who to blame for this: Grant Morrison.

Of course he didn't do it intentionally, but after reading his work, JLA: EARTH 2, I came to the table with preconceived notions. This is completely unfair of me, especially to Dwayne McDuffie. I'm going to say for the record that I like McDuffie's work and his writing on this project was very good. He put in some things that I really got a kick out of, mainly appearances by Aquaman and Firestorm. In fact the only thing that I really didn't like was the romance between Rose Wilson and J'onn J'onzz. So what's by problem?

Morrison teamed up with Frank Quitely to create JLA: EARTH 2. This book is well worth picking up and features some of Quitely's best artwork. The story involves Lex Luthor from the anti-matter universe coming to the matter universe to ask for help from the Justice league to help defeat their anti-matter counterparts, The Crime Syndicate. This is the same premise as the the movie, minus the matter/anti-matter bit. It's simply and alternate universe or parallel dimension.

That's fine, no trouble there. In fact since the publication of EARTH 2, DC has reintroduced the concept of a "multiverse" (multiple versions of the same universe which are separated but linked) back into current continuity. The multiverse concept was dropped during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS which saw the demise of the Crime Syndicate due to their world being one of the first to be destroyed.

I'm pretty sure my problem revolves around Owlman, the alternate version of Batman. In the comic he was evil, no, check that, eeeeeeeeevil. He took great delight in the murder and mayhem he caused in his crusade to destroy his father. The Owlman in the movie was a nihilist who saw free will as being none existent and choice to be meaningless. A character being depicted as different between one medium and another is nothing new, and not really something I really quibble over unless it's a complete departure. However, this motivation of character is key to both stories.

In EARTH 2, Owlman finds himself in the positive matter world and makes a crucial discovery. In that world his father is dead and because of that he has nothing to strive for. Owlman's motivation is revenge against his father for what he perceives is his father's failure to protect his mother and brother. So, with his father's counterpart gone he has nothing to strive for. He can't win. As it turns out the entire Crime Syndicate can't win in the positive matter universe and inversely the Justice league's efforts in the anti-matter universe were doomed to failure. The story had a nice yin and yang type balance to it.

In CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS, McDuffie borrows a bit from other DC material, mainly COUNTDOWN and 52. The concept of an "Earth Prime" as a linchpin world in the multiverse is used. We also get to see a heroic version of The Joker, called The Jester, which seems very much like The Jokester who was one of the few good things about COUNTDOWN. These are not bad things, but I think that's why I couldn't really get into it. Owlman's goal is to destroy Earth prime and by extension the multiverse. The motivations just did not grab me as much as Morrison's Owlman.

Batman and Owlman are indeed polar opposites in this movie. It's not so much good versus evil so much as Batman representing survival and perseverance and Owlman wanting to commit suicide and take everything with him.

Also this movie doesn't make me think as much as the book did. Its easy enough to imagine all the good guys being bad guys and vice versa. However, imagining a world where evil and good as concepts are reversed takes a lot more intellectual candlepower.

Bottom line: rent it, or buy it if you did good action and the Justice League. Skip the two-disk pack as disk two only contains a couple of rather lackluster JUSTICE LEAGUE episodes and a documentary about DC comics and how Dan DiDio perceived the September 11th attacks changing what people wanted in comics, and everyone musing about everything I don't care about in the DCU. Get the cheaper version and enjoy.

No comments: