Earth 2: World's End #9: The fates of Barbara Gordon, Superman revealed

Every Wednesday, we speak with author Daniel H. Wilson for a detailed recap of Earth 2: World’s End, the weekly DC Comics title he’s spearheading about an alternate earth devastated by its prolonged war with Apokolips. In this Blastr exclusive, we explore the issue with Wilson on the day it hits stands and offer a sneak peek at what readers can look for in future installments.

Only nine issues in, and all hell is breaking loose on Earth-2 and its new neighbor, Apokolips. This week a series of events are set in motion that will ripple throughout the World's End storyline, and we learn that not ever character has the same agenda even if they fighting on the same side. Wilson teases quite a bit this week -- as well as admitting to mixing his love of Lovecraft with Evil Dead

Is this the big giant tease issue? It just seems like there is one tease after another. Also, how important is Issue Nine in the entire scheme of the story?

It is a penultimate type of issue. I would say there is a lot of teasing going on that will largely be paid off in the next issue. There are a few major events that occur in this weekly. One of them is when Apokolips shatters the moon and appears close to Earth, which just happened. There are some more major events that accelerate the plot and those events are coming up soon.

There is a bit of dialog between Green Lantern and the White Avatar during their fight with the furies that suggests Alan is still hopeful that Sam is in their somewhere. Is that correct?

I think Alan hasn’t accepted the mantle of transcending humanity and becoming the chosen one. Sam is there tempting Alan to try and go back to a previous life that’s not there anymore. Alan has this hope he can reunite with Sam but they’re under attack so he has to take interactions where he can find them. There are moon debris raining down on the Earth, millions of lives at stake, and Alan is torn between reuniting with Sam and saving as many people as possible.

The Blue Avatar is revealed to be Azathoth, the Lovecraftian creature summoned by Aquawoman. This is our first reveal of him … or is it a him? I don’t know if Azathoth is a male or female.

I’ve been thinking of it as a “he,” but it’s probably better to think of it as an it.

Azathoth word bubble includes the word “nikto.” Is that a sly Evil Dead reference?

It is definitely a sly Evil Dead reference. The idea of demons passing through the veil and coming into our world, it seemed like an appropriate reference!

Is Azathoth a heroic character? 

Yeah, it’s joining the avatars. Our hope is that it will help them; it’s another color added to the spectrum there.

We learn Barbara Gordon survived a meteor hit, then gets shot. What do you have against Babs?

Poor Barbara Gordon. She is in trouble now. It is really about Dick Grayson’s journey, and Barbra is the casualty of her story. We tried to leave it up in the air as long as possible about whose story we’re telling, and whether this is ultimately about him or her.

Why go with Dick Grayson instead of Barbara?

I think part of it is the relationship between him and Ted Grant. He is being molded into a heroic figure. 

John Constantine has the power to get involved and stop Barbara from getting shot, but he doesn’t. Why doesn’t he, and are we going to see a more remorseful Constantine?

I think he’s let himself down. He’s trying not to get involved with this entire world as much as he can. He wants to avoid any fights and find a way out. That tactic results in what happens to Barbara, and I do think he feels bad about that.

Will that have long-term ramifications for Constantine?

He is only making a cameo in this weekly, so I am not making long-term changes, but in the next issue you certainly see him make a decision based on remorse. 

In Desaad’s firepits, Power Girl trashes a robot and calls it “only a machine” – seemingly forgetting Red Tornado is also just a machine. Are our heroes getting reckless with the welfare and emotions of one another?

Yeah, they’re hurt bad and striking out at everything around them. Sometimes there is collateral damage from that. In the scene you’re talking about, it’s emotional collateral damage where her physical violence hurts her mom emotionally. We’re seeing them spin out of control, and they have conflicting goals in the fire pits. It threatens to tear them apart. Batman is intent on finding Helena but they just discovered Clark. What do they do? Do they save him or find Helena? It sets up the group for some inner turmoil.

Meanwhile we have Val-Zod, a pacifist. I want to see him step it up, give in to his powers and join the fight more. He has the ability to do more when we’re talking about the fate of the Earth, and the lives of his friends. Does it make sense for me to feel frustrated with him? 

I think it’s OK to feel frustrated. This is the central conflict of his character. It is frustrating to watch anyone in a white hat get punched again and again by someone in a black hat because they won’t fight back. In a lot of ways, what Val is is the only person to stop Kara if she goes over the edge, and she seems a lot closer to the edge than Val. So to have the two together, you can think of one as a safety valve. That’s an even trickier task than just punching a bunch of bad guys.

There hasn’t been a major Val-Zod moment in the weekly yet. Will we be seeing that soon?

I will put it this way: In chess, you don’t use your queen to take out pawns. You use your most powerful pieces against the other player’s most powerful pieces. Val-Zod is one of the most powerful pieces. When we see him unleash his might, it won’t be against any weak, inferior opponent.

Speaking of that, we encounter a scarred Clark Kent coming to. He doesn’t appear to be a clone. Is this a Clark we can trust? 

They saved him and did it by fighting Apokolips. I think this is a Clark we can trust.

Thomas Wayne is not so happy to encounter Clark. Will this conflict between Batman and Superman continue to escalate?

Yeah! Thomas has different goals and is not too happy to see Clark. He sees him as getting in the way of his goal of saving Helena.

I’ve previously asked about this Jimmy Olsen and Doctor Fate relationship, and in this issue Jimmy is along for the ride when Fate saves people from a fury plague. What is Jimmy up to right now, because he doesn’t seem to be exerting power?

Doctor Fate is really unpredictable and Olsen is a facilitator. Most of his powers revolve around communication and information, and I think what we’re seeing is Olsen making sure Fate is being put to good use. That’s his goal with everybody. He is trying to facilitate what everyone is doing. He knows a lot more about the endgame than the people around him, so he is usually pushing to make things happen that need to happen before the very end. That becomes clearer in the later issues. But now that Jimmy has spoken to a Mother Box and seen the source, he is pretty clued in and realistic about what is going to happen in the long term.

Towards the end of the issue we spend a lot of time on Apokolips. It is over the top fun sci-fi and fantastical. The face of Paternus turns into a monster, and a big battle unfolds. I just imagine you relishing these scenes.

I love Paternus! He is such a big blowhard. I love seeing him reclaim his body. He is just a head then you realize he is a gigantic creature whose body is housed in a skyscraper. I love writing him and he’s one of my favorite new characters. The end of this issue is setting up a major reveal in the next issue. It is fun to see Miracle, Barda and Fury back on their home planet. Miracle has got it together in this place. The humans are bumbling around, trying to set nukes, and doing what humans do. 

The humans take a back seat on Apokolips; I enjoyed this. It is about Apokoliptians fighting Apokoliptians. 

You get away from the World Army. It is not quite as grim when you get away from the refugees, the world army and seeing Barbara just getting shot. That is just ground-level action and this is much more fantastical. It is why comics are great; we have both of these things in the same issue and it’s perfectly normal.

Also Miracle, Fury and Barda are just relishing this fight. They don’t even seem so concerned as excited.

That’s true. If you’re feeling frustrated watching Val shy away from unleashing his full potential, then Fury is definitely a character who can’t wait to unleash!

There is also this moment where Barda tells Miracle to go to the Mobius Room, “just as he said you would” with emphasis on “he.” She has this smirk on her face and knows something. Are you still teasing us here?

That’s absolutely a tease. 

She knows more than she has let on?

Yes! This is a treacherous crowd. There are a couple other reveals we’ll find in the future involving various characters with motivations we may not have expected.

Miracle then heads down into the Mobius Room and says “I’m coming for you father.” Is he on the hunt for Darkseid?

That is who he is calling out as he goes down there. This is Miracle’s unfinished business he is going to take care of at the expense of the rest of the human team accompanying him for the attack on Apokolips.

What was your favorite moment in this issue? 

I really love the cover. But my favorite moment is when Paternus comes smashing out of that skyscraper with his whole body attached. It is such a surprise. Whenever you have a character that is just one giant head, you are making a promise! The promise is, I’m going to tell you what happened to this thing’s body at some point. I think this fulfills that promise.

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