Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Earth 2 #15.1 Desaad

Earth 2 15.1 Desaad came out last week. This is another one of those books that should have been labeled Worlds' Finest #15.1 as this book only tangetially deals with the happenings on that Earth. Desaad has been the main villain in Worlds' Finest and this is his story. Couldn't this have been a nice little push for that title, helping bump sales? Instead, it's labeled Earth 2.

It is an interesting book by writer Paul Levitz. Sure, we get some back story about Desaad's arrival in Earth 1 and what his motivations are. But I have to think, much like I did with the last Legion issue, that there is some meta-textual message being stated here. We have Desaad interacting with Jack Kirby! There is breaking the fourth wall. Then there is looking at the fourth wall and commenting on the flaws. With all the nonsense swirling around DC right now, even if he didn't mean to, Levitz seems to be lauding artistic integrity.

Yildiray Cinar provides the art and gives it a certain griminess which fits the tone of the book. And thankfully, I was able to look at Desaad and not think of He-Man's doofus sorceror Orko. That alone deserves high praise!

I have the same complaint about the 3D that I have had for others. The background characters of Power Girl and Huntress are completely blurry.

We start out back 5 years ago when the assault on Earth 2 sent Power Girl, Huntress, and Desaad to Earth 1. Landing on Earth, Desaad quickly starts to build up his strength, dealing out pain and absorbing strength from the victims. And like our heroes, Desaad is stranded there.

Now I really wish we would have more of an explanation about why/how Desaad ended up here. Huntress and Power Girl were speeding into a collapsing Boom Tube, chasing Steppenwolf, which took them here. I don't even know if we saw Desaad on Earth 2 in those early issues/stories. So why is he here?

And maybe I am stuck on the 'old Desaad' but I am not used to him having powers, waving his hand to inflict pain or even influencing people with his mind. I always thought of him more as a scientist and inventor, creating torture devices.

And looking for the nearest source of pain to feed him, he walks to a local hospital to feast on the emotions and pain there. With a whisper, he makes a security guard give into his basest emotions go on a shooting spree. That seems just a little bit too powerful. I will always like the sniveling Desaad, the coward.

I also would think that maybe the positive emotions from a hospital, the healing and easing of pain, might make this the last place Desaad would go to.

Jump ahead a bit and we have Desaad having set up an evil headquarters where he nurtures pain and suffering while trying to figure out a way to get home. And, like most villains, he has his minions doing the mundane tasks of a criminal overlord.

I did like how any suffering seems to fuel Desaad, so weapons that kill slowly will feed him more than some quick stroke. He has even sent bombs to war-torn nations which create more shrapnel. It shows just how comprehensive his plots are, right down to the battle field.

And these scrying globes are fascinating. Are the people hung upside down holding them up? Fueling them? Decoration? Desaad is pretty creepy.

Like Huntress and Power Girl, Desaad's main goal is getting back home. While stronger, he still doesn't have the power or the device to get back home.

Always looking to increase his power, Desaad seems to focus on some ordinary folks to corrupt and become his high level lieutenants. One of them is this artist who looks suspiciously like Jack Kirby.

Others have felt Desaad's caress and succumbed. These three have certainly caused pain of their own, perfect cronies for Desaad. And yet, he uses pain to bend them to his will. Giving pain, receiving pain, he bends them to his will.

I liked how he has a broad definition for those who make people suffer. A soldier, a sadistic nurse, a businessman who moves himself forward - all hurt people in their own way.

And somehow, this artist won't give in.

The others all seem to wither before Desaad, giving in to the basest of emotions. But Kirby doesn't give in.

Divine? Stubborn? Or both.

At least Levitz circles back and makes this issue link to the Worlds' Finest comic. The first villain the heroes fought was Hakkou, a radioactive giant. Here we learn that he was once human before he was twisted and enslaved by Desaad.

He sends Hakkou to go destroy Holt's quantum tunneler simply so Power Girl can't have it. Glad to have this be relevant to the main title in some concrete way.

Amazingly, Desaad is so impressed/angry that this artist won't succumb to pain and despair that Desaad decides to deal with him personally. But Kirby continues on, not even noticing the boom tube, Desaad's presence or his powers. He is oblivious.

I keep transferring my own thoughts about this. So many artists and creators are leaving DC these days because they won't give in to editorial demands. Rather than notice the pain and despair that DC is giving them, by having them change their craft, those artists walk. And isn't that what Kirby did? Never compromising his story ideas. Maybe I am thinking about this too much.

Anyways, this was a fine issue. Nothing spectacular. The Kirby wrinkle is certainly innovative but I wonder if you didn't know that was The King if you would be confused by the focus on this unnamed artist.

Not as good as Bizarro. Not as head-shaking as Cyborg Superman. Better than Deadshot and Poison Ivy.

Overall grade: B

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