In a flashback to five years ago, we see Papau New Guinea suffer a major explosion… with a face!  A team  of soldiers wades into the remains and finds human and Parademon remains along with Al Pratt, naked but otherwise unharmed.

Back in the present, Pratt– as The Atom– is about to make his public debut as he streaks toward the besieged Washington DC on a military plane.  Meanwhile in Poland, Jay Garrick and Hawkgirl are surrounded by the same rot that afflicts DC.  Hawkgirl puts her arms around Jay’s neck and he races through the rot, his speed energy protecting them both.  At the same time, Alan Scott’s energy is guiding him toward DC as well.  Looks like the gang is coming together.  Hawkgirl and Jay arrive first, but Hawkgirl orders him to use his powers to evacuate the city and let her take on the real threat, revealed last issue as a completely revamped Solomon Grundy.  This isn’t that monosyllabic swamp monster, but bears a greater resemblance to Black Hand.  Things don’t go well for the heroes.  Grundy is just too powerful.  He regenerates when he is injured.  He controls powerful creeper vines to ensnare his enemies.  Can a team of novices (for the most part) come together to defeat him?  We’ll have to wait and see!

I still fail to be impressed with this book.  It feels… sloppy.  The dialogue is pretty bad.  Flash says, “How’s the hell this happening?”  That’s… not correct.  “How’n the hell…” I’d buy.  It’s not grammatically correct, but it’s how people actually talk.  No one says “How’s the hell.”  Jay’s dialogue across the board is peppered with lazy contractions, I guess to reinforce that he’s this young lazy slacker, but it felt a bit over-the-top.  There are also a LOT of weird comic book-y dialogue gaps.  Like “Your body’s energy– insulating me somehow” and “Here I am, Monster!  Come on, face me!  Who… what are you?”  Groan.  Are we going for a 70s retro thing?

The plot is really thin.  How is it, exactly, that Jay and Hawkgirl can survive the rot when everything else is dying in it?  His speed energy?  That’s the explanation for why Hawkgirl is unharmed by friction, but they don’t address the rot.  I overlooked it, because I knew they were just trying to get all the characters in one place.  But still…

The saving grace for this series is Nicola Scott and her amazing artwork.  She’s one of my favorites and she does such a great job on this book!  It’s full of fluid action and drama.  The character’s faces really convey  their emotions.  Overall, I love her character redesigns, although Al Pratt appears to be a tall, muscular man, not the short, stocky Golden Age version.  He’s actually closer to Albert Rothstein, Atom Smasher in the previous JSA.  But I like his costume, an homage to Al Pratt, but with modern military influences and a nod to Damage, the son of the original Al Pratt.

A few of the opening pages are penciled by Eduardo Pansica, who works just fine.  His work doesn’t look quite the same as Nicola’s, but it’s still very good.

This is one book that consistently disappoints me, because it just feels like James Robinson isn’t giving it his all.  I’m a huge fan of some of his other series, so this one is really letting me down.  Hopefully it’ll find its footing soon.

Verdict: Borrow

EARTH 2 #4
Written by James Robinson
Pencils by Nicola Scott and Eduardo Pansica
Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis