There's been a lot of news about the future of Earth 2 over the last few days — including the release of Earth 2: World's End #23 — but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the fate of the Earth 2 characters.
There are two more issues before readers will finally get their hands on the double-sized, final issue of Earth 2: World's End on April 1st. And although this week's issue #23 offered a ray of hope (almost literally, as the characters were able to bust a hole through Apokolips to let in the sunlight), there is still an epic battle ahead.
As DC released solicitations for June, fans also found out a few answers to the questions this series has been posing since Daniel H. Wilson, Mike Johnson and Marguerite Bennett launched World's End in October — particularly the fate of a few characters pictured on the first cover for Earth 2: Society, the new series that writer Wilson is launching in June.
But there are also some new mysteries. Who's the new Batman? What happens to the current Earth 2 Batman, Thomas Wayne? How do the heroes of Earth 2 escape their current Earth? And where in the universe do they end up?
The World's End series is also putting into motion the transition of Mister Miracle from one role in the universe to his new role as a member of Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok's Justice League beginning in June.
As it's starting to look like Earth 2 will fall to Darkseid, but the heroes just might be able to escape with a few innocents along for the ride, Newsarama talked to Wilson and Johnson about what we've seen so far, what the solicitations hint about, and what comes next in World's End.
Newsarama: Mike and Daniel, you're winding down to the end of the weekly, but I assume you guys have been done with the series for awhile?
Daniel H. Wilson: Yeah, we finished, let's see, it's been a moth or so since we finished the heavy lifting on Earth 2: World's End, but we have been doing the final touches on the last double issue over the last few weeks.
It's been such a wild ride that it's sort of sad now to see all the final pages and the last lettering passes and all that, as things kind of come to a close.
Mike Johnson: Yeah, it's one of the fun things about comics is, like, the production cycle, where even after you're done with the script, there's still the art and the lettering and the coloring to go through and tweak. It's one of the great things about working in comics.
Nrama: We're obviously only getting around to seeing this stuff now, yet there have been a few things spoiled by June solicitations. Were you aware that readers would learn some of the outcomes for your characters before the story ends?
Johnson: Yeah, solicits are always tricky. They're just one of the necessary evils that you deal with, and the trick is that, even though fans might have a couple of pieces of the puzzle, you can still surprise them with how things come about. So when they actually pick up the issue, they may think they know what's about to happen, but they're still surprised when they read it.
Wilson: This whole project has been an incredibly complex work of timing. They were working on Convergence simultaneously. And so at the very beginning, we had to know where we were going to end, so that the people picking up our characters and working on Convergence could get started at the same time. So we've know our beginning and end points from the very start. It's always been a very tricky situation, to make sure we did this hand-off correctly to the Convergence folks.
Nrama: We have learned that there's going to be a new Batman on Earth 2 in June. Will we get some information about that at the end of World's End, or is that something we'll have to wait until June to learn about?
Wilson: We'll definitely be teasing you with all the answers to those questions.
I think if you read it close enough, the answer will be pretty definitive. But it will take a little bit of insight on the readers' part.
Johnson: I think, to your credit, Daniel, one of the great things you've done in masterminding the whole thing is that, by the end of the weekly, you really do feel like you've got a complete story. It's not just a huge tease for something else. It really feels like this epic comes to a conclusion, but still has places to go, which is where the new Earth 2: Society book will take you.
Nrama: One of the things revealed a couple issues ago in World's End was that Jimmy Olsen is a New God now. What were your thoughts behind going in that direction with the character?
Johnson: Daniel, you'll have to take that one.
Wilson: Yeah, that's my fault.
From the beginning, I've been completely fascinated by the relationship between the New Gods, and metahumans and regular humans in the DC Universe. I have explored it in a lot of ways. You see a lot of Mister Terrific actually trying to figure out the scientific basis for how New Gods abilities are working, and trying to replicate that. You see Terry Sloan sort of daring to even negotiate with New Gods and to enter into their political realm. Of course, he's a very ballsy character.
And then we see Jimmy, who is interacting with a Mother Box, which is pretty integral to how New Gods work, and is a pretty strong part of the New Gods mythology, and we see him get elevated and actually make the transition from being a human to becoming a New God.
That was just mythology that I really wanted to explore and play with. I think it's such a fascinating area of the whole universe. I hadn't seen it explored that much, and I wanted to definitely get into it during our series.
Jimmy felt like the right kind of character to take on that mantle. And we have a lot more to come in Jimmy's story. And there will be some things we learn about him in Society, even in the previews, which are coming out soon.
That continues this trajectory of his interactions with Mother Boxes and his foray into becoming a New God, and really letting us experience that transition from the perspective of human beings and readers, and see what that means and how a person might handle that transition.
That's my rambling answer, but basically, I thought it would be neat.
Nrama: That character has obviously evolved quite a bit in this story. But in this weekly, because the characters are coming up against so much adversity and death and destruction, a lot of these characters have evolved a lot. Who do you think has evolved the most during this story (besides Jimmy Olsen), and how?
Johnson: One of the characters that I focused on was Dick Grayson. We've seen Dick Grayson go through about as much as you can go through, and still come out the other end alive — well, I don't want to spoil anything.
Through him, we've really tried to focus on how these incredibly epic, cosmic events affect a normal guy, but we've also taken him along the path toward becoming heroic in his own way.
When we start, he really is just like any of us — you know, no special powers, no connection to these gods and heroes doing battle. So to see him go through these things, how it would affect a normal person, how you would deal with horrible tragedy and still try to focus on what you needed to do to protect your child, and to keep your own sanity with all this craziness going on.
I think it's been really fun and challenging to write Dick as he continues on this journey.
And then bringing in a character like Ted Grant as well, to help him, as a kind of sensei. That was a lot of fun.
Wilson: Yeah, Dick was great. That was a good one.
I think most of the characters have made transitions over the course of this series, but a big transition that just happened in #23 is watching Kara accept the mantle of Superman in this world, and seeing her literally take this shield and adopt it. And her costume change.
Her attitude has always stayed the same — she's always been stubborn and strong-willed and brave. But now it's tinged with a little bit more maturity. And she's really stepped up and is trying to fill the shoes of Superman.
And that's been interesting to watch happen, especially because we have Val-Zod in the mix, who has a different outlook on the world. And it's not clear how they're going to interact, or how they're going to use their powers in different ways. So it's been really interesting to watch her evolve into that role.
Nrama: We just found out that Mister Miracle will be featured as part of the Justice League in June. Is your series setting any of that up? Even setting up the character somewhat?
Wilson: Mister Miracle is one of my favorite characters, actually — Miracle, Fury and Barda, and playing them off of Terry Sloan and Mister Terrific throughout this whole series.
Again, playing around with the difference between gods and men, one thing that Miracle learned over the course of World's End is that, because men can die and even go extinct, we fight harder, maybe even harder than the gods, because we actually have more to lose and more at risk.
And so I think Mister Miracle has built up a respect for humanity over the course of this series and has united himself with humanity.
So now he's shooting off on a new trajectory, and I hope he takes that with him as something the character has picked up over the course of this series.
Nrama: At the end of this week's issue, we saw the image of the Super-characters and Green Lantern in the sunlight. I felt like that was not only a ray of sunshine breaking through, but also a ray of hope for this story — as well as sunlight getting onto some Super-characters, which is always a good thing. I was wondering what that represented to you, as the moment that preceded the final battle and last couple issues?
Johnson: Yeah, I think, just symbolically — you know, we've had some feedback, as we've gone, people are like, "This is so grim! And it got even grimmer! And then it got grimmer! And everyone's dying!"
Part of that's what you want when you're writing a weekly called World's End. I know, for us… I hate to say it was fun to write, but it was definitely a change from, you know, the heroes having to win at the end of every story arc. This was really a chance to go places you don't always get to go as a writer.
But at the same time, you don't just want to write 26 issues of death and destruction. So having the opportunity at the end, to show that sunlight, like you said, to have a ray of light, definitely justifies the whole story and makes it whole.
Wilson: We still keep the whole thing hanging by a strong. I mean, even though they've blasted this hole in Apokolips which represents a potential escape route, isn't it interesting that that's not even winning. Right? That's just escaping through a hole — a tiny hole that's been blasted in a gigantic, evil monster god-planet.
And even if they do escape through that hole, they have so many other problems, in terms of how to get the ships up there, where are all the people going to go? Are they going to be able to escape on the Endurance?
And with this series, we have had such a unique opportunity to show a really special world in which it's not assumed that our heroes are going to win at the end of the day. We've reached this moment where they've gotten, literally, just one faint glimmer of hope. And everyone's so desperate for it. And it doesn't even represent winning. It represents survival.
And that's, ultimately, the whole theme of the series, is that sometimes you can't win. Sometimes surviving is winning.
Nrama: Then to finish up, can you tease what's coming up in World's End over the next few issues?
Wilson: First of all, most of these characters have futures. And they're going to go on, and they've got a lot of adventures to come.
So what we're witnessing right now is the final battle. All the ancillary plots have come together.
You'll notice that, in a lot of these scenes, the subtext is that the characters are saying goodbye to each other, because they're getting ready for a super battle, and nobody's sure whether they'll survive it.
So we're gearing up for the final battle. And we're going to see whether the lessons these heroes learned, whether they're going to be able to put them into action and use them to survive this.
And then, of course, with Earth 2: Society, I'll get the opportunity to rebuild.
And let me tell you this: There will be plenty of sunlight in Earth 2: Society.
Nrama: Well that's good.
Wilson: But I also want to warn you that, that's a totally loaded statement.
Johnson: Nice. I can't wait to find out what he means.
Wilson: I'll tell you once we're off this call.
Nrama: Anything to add, Mike, about what's coming up at the end of World's End?
Johnson: You know, I just want to give a shout-out to our incredible art team, who have done an amazing job on a tough schedule. But it's as big as any summer movie you're going to see. It's really visually one of the biggest things I've ever worked on.
Wilson: The last issue is a double issue, and I feel like it has a lot of heart as well.
In fact, if I could recommend something — I recommend that fans re-read the very first double issue of the whole series, and then go straight to the last issue, to kind of build momentum. Because again, it's Green Lantern who puts this all together. He narrates the whole first issue and sets up this whole world, and summarizes all of Earth 2 in, like, 10 pages, which is an amazing feat (to just brag about myself [laughs]), but if you read those two together, you really get a feel for the closure of the whole thing, and also just the heart and the sacrifices that everybody's going to have to make in order to get through this. There are a lot of visual callbacks and things that give it this symmetry, and to bring it to a really satisfying close.