The Wrong Earth #1
Writers: Tom Peyer, Paul Constant & Grant Morrison
Artists: Jamal Igle & Juan Castro, Frank Cammuso and Rob Steen
Colors: Andy Troy and Frank Cammuso
Letters: Rob Steen and Frank Cammuso
Cover artist: Jamal Igle
Editor: Tom Peyer
Publisher: Ahoy Comics
Price: $3.99 US
When I was a kid first discovering comics through DC titles, I was mesmerized by the parallel earths concept. I couldn’t get enough of it, so much so it should really come as no surprise that Crisis on Infinite Earths is one of my favorite comics stories. With this new title, writer/editor Tom Peyer plays around with the idea of super-heroes and parallel worlds, and he does so to great effect. This isn’t the first time a lighter incarnation of am characters ventures into a darker world and vice versa, but Peyer’s effective collaboration with penciller Jamal Igle packs a particularly strong punch. Their commentary on disparate but iconic visions of the super-hero genre both pays tribute to the source material and takes them to task for their excesses. This is a great debut from a new publisher wise enough to tap experienced talent.
In Fortune City on Earth-Alpha, Dragonflyman and his young sidekick Stinger once again find themselves stuck in a death-trap, the handiwork of their narcissistic arch-foe Number One. But as always, the paragon of justice and good manners has a trick up his sleeve that will allow them to save the day. Meanwhile, on Earth-Omega, the Dragonfly’s latest confrontation with the sadistic Number One will see lives snuffed out, by both criminal and vigilante alike. And shortly, the heroes and villains of these two worlds will discover their other-dimensional reflections…
This may be the strongest artwork that Jamal Igle has produced in his long career. He offers some realistic, convincing artwork, but he also manages to convey different influences and styles to reflect the radically divergent source inspirations. He captures the feel of the classic 1960s Batman TV show with the Earth-Alpha scenes. The panels and perspectives are designed to capture the tilted, worm’s-eye views of that iconic representation of the genre, and the character designs, though wholly original, look as though they could’ve been plucked out of an old TV set.
Conversely, the Earth-Omega scenes convey a harshness and darkness that evokes memories of Brian Bolland’s work on The Killing Joke. Overall, Igle’s work here also puts me in mind of the detailed style of Phil Jimenez. It’s incredibly attractive and tells this story of parallels and contrasts so effectively.
No small measure of credit for the strength of the visuals must also go to colorist Andy Troy. I love the clashing palettes here: the gaudiness of Alpha and the dinginess of Omega. One can see it in the backgrounds, the characters’ clothing and even in skin tone.
Grant Morrison also contributes to this new publisher’s first release, in the form of a zany short story about a bombastic adventurer, told in a stream-of-consciousness style. Morrison’s writing is, at times, dizzying, with seemingly unending sentences, but ultimately, the weird and surreally humorous descriptions are a lot of fun. Rob Steen’s art sparsely illustrates the story, and it didn’t really give a strong sense of the character and action.
Paul Constant’s backup story featuring Stinger is an odd mix of both tones in the main story — charming innocence and a harsher, grisly side as well. It seems like an unusual but interesting mix of Silver/Golden Age super-hero comics and EC horror/crime stories. Frank Cammuso’s cartooning is delightful and effectively captures an old-school feel. He conveys Stinger’s youth and innocence quite well.
Peyer’s script is thoroughly accessible, and it reflects the different incarnations of Batman so well, I felt as though it might have been originally crafted as a Batman story for DC. Dragonfly is almost indistinguishable from the Dark Knight conceptually, but Peyer and Igle’s vision of Number One, while meant to reflect the Joker, stands out as a bit more creative and original. The vision of a villain with narcissism as his gimmick is intriguing, and that Peyer manages to offer two such different versions of the same new idea is impressive.
Ultimately, where Peyer really succeeds is with his plot. Though familiar, the way he crafts it is thoroughly compelling. By the end of the main story, I was so engrossed with the story, I’m dying to see what happens next, to learn how these two fish out of water will fare, and if they’ll affect the foreign worlds in which they find themselves or if those worlds that shape them instead. 8/10