Two superheroes and two supervillains of parallel worlds have swapped places. Dragonflyman of Earth Alpha is getting used to Earth Omega, while Dragonfly of Earth Omega… well, you get the picture. The device that saw them accidentally move worlds is a magic mirror belonging to their number one foe, named, funnily enough, Number One. There’s nothing funny about either version of this bad guy, though he maps onto the Joker as Dragonfly/man fits the Batman template. The difference is that while Dragonflyman and his Number One could have stepped out of Batman 66, Dragonfly and his arch nemesis are from a reality even grittier than the world of the Dark Knight Returns – a realm where the hero doesn’t think twice about barbecuing Number One’s henchmen. Dragonfly has snubbed the authorities of Earth Alpha’s Fortune City’s pleas that he take on light-hearted villain Triviac in order to search for his Number One, whose first act on this world was to viciously stab his counterpart’s sidekick, Stinger. Dragonflyman, meanwhile, was hit for six by the knowledge that the police of Earth Omega are utterly corrupt, only to discover something worse – this world’s Stinger is dead.
As this issue opens, Deuce, Earth Alpha’s version of Harley Quinn, is on trial, having been captured by the authorities because she wouldn’t leave the downed Stinger to die. The court doesn’t just take this good deed into consideration, they take leave of their senses.
Across town, Triviac strikes at high class quizzing joint Annie’s, the authorities having been unable to crack the baddie’s ridiculously easy clue without the help of the hero they believe is Dragonflyman.
On Earth Omega, meanwhile, Dragonflyman learns why Stinger is no longer among the living…
Having neglected to try this series when it debuted a couple of months ago, I got to read all three issues in a oner, and I have to say, I loved them. The set-up is an instant winner for this old fan of DC and Marvel’s parallel worlds, while the execution is first rate – writing the series for new publisher Ahoy Comics is the ever-excellent Tom Peyer (Hourman, Legion of Super-Heroes) while the penciller is Jamal Igle (Molly Danger, Supergirl). These gentlemen know superheroes inside out, making an inversion look easy, though a lot of work has to have gone into making a comic that’s so compelling and good-looking.
Peyer does a cracking job of distinguishing the voices of the Dragonflies, aka millionaire industrialist Richard Fame (ouch); one pure Adam West, the other Frank Miller. The parallels to Batman’s world aren’t pure pastiche, they’re clever in their own right – the care taken with the goons of Earth Alpha’s Number One and Triviac, for example, is impressive, from their nifty names to their natty blazers. And Deuce has to be the most stylish moll around, as imagined by Igle and inked by the talented Juan Castro. The contrasting Fortune Cities are fascinating visually and conceptually, while the overall storyline is compelling. Kudos, too, to colourist Andy Troy for helping keep the two milieus distinct, and Rob Steen, for good-looking lettering. If you’re a fan of DC or Marvel superheroes at all, I can’t imagine you not enjoying The Wrong Earth.
What’s more, $3.99 doesn’t just get you 20 pages of quality story, but a bunch of back-ups – including a solo strip for the Stinger of Earth Alpha. The first page gives a good idea of the tone.
It’s an exceedingly confident retro-romp by writer Paul Constant and cartoonist Frank Cammuso, continuing the orangutan theme begun in Stinger’s strip in #1, and I look forward to more monkey business.
Plus. The Wrong Earth #3 gives us three rewarding text pieces – an essay on the multiverse by Matt Brady, with illustration by Joe Orsak; a very readable Twilight Zone-style short, Untitled, 24”x36”, from writer Rob Staeger and artist Elliott Mattice; and a short but meaty read from writer/artist Carol Lay. Add in a classy cover from Igle and an actual letters page and you have a terrific package.
I don’t know if this series is an ongoing, but I intend to follow it for as long as it lasts – with talent of the calibre on display this issue, under the auspices of Peyer’s fellow former Vertigo editor Stuart Moore, how can Ahoy go wrong?