Earth 2: World's End #13: A hero dies and a monster makes a big entrance

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.

This week, the Avatar of the Red shows up, and it's quite simply an amazing scene. But aside from that, and more importantly, a hero dies and another character sets himself off on a suicide mission to take out Darkseid. In our weekly talk with Wilson, we discuss the philosophy of self-sacrifice seen in these pages. As always, expect big teases ahead -- and the revelation about how Magic: The Gathering influenced the comic!

I enjoyed this detailed look at the Parliament of Earth, and it seems like the first time we’re seeing them so up-close. Will you talk about their character design a little?

Well, they’re the embodiment of aspects of our planet. One easter egg is I play Magic: The Gathering and always thought the five elements on the back of every card are really cool, and a great balance. On the back you see blue, black, red, white and green. The ones that are allies are next to each other, and the ones that are enemies are across from each other. It all makes so much sense. This is a similar setup. We’ve seen the Green a lot, and she’s so elven. This is the first chance we get to really see the Red and he looks like molten lava, and a little like Swamp Thing.

Will they get involved more directly in the action?

The Parliament exists in another physical dimension; they’re not part of our action directly. But we do explore that a little in the future. They’re so important and Darkseid is such a schemer that, of course, he’d find a way to attack them directly. That is a very big surprise coming up, and a payoff to one of our biggest mysteries set up in the series so far.

Fury Helena doesn’t kill Sam and throws him back to Alan Scott. Is she showing a shred of humanity remaining within her altered form?

It is not clear. I think there is hope. We have seen that powers can be taken away, and this experience of being a Fury or Avatar can be fleeting. There is definitely hope for her -- maybe. In terms of throwing Sam back, and having Alan make that decision to sacrifice civilians to save him, that plays out as a decision he’ll have to make in the future: Does Alan want to go back or go forward?

I was reading this issue and thinking about how many characters you are juggling. How are you balancing these so the readers maintain engagement with all the storylines?

I try to make these emotional arcs into a three-issue journey, so you get some resolution after two, or three or four issues. Then we can turn the spotlight onto somebody else. There are characters that appear in every issue, but for characters like Dick or Jimmy -- who don’t contribute every single week -- I try to keep them on a tight arc. We pick them a little later and start with a fresh emotional arc … it’s true we cram a lot in here, and that’s intentional and we’re not going to stop doing that. You get a lot out of each issue. It is a constant thrill ride.

Below the firepits in this issue may be one of my favorite scenes in this series so far. Desaad introduces us to the Avatar of the Red (aka the Beast Boy-esque Yolanda Montez), and it’s like something out of a fantasy book. Desaad has corrupted her, so is she now one of the four furies?

No, those are a different sort of squad. She is definitely under his control, and she has been serving a role similar to Clark -- as an engine, an experiment. Now he has unleashed her on the heroes. She. Is. Bad. Ass.  She comes out of the fire with glowing eyes, and claws and teeth. I love all these giant mythical animals. Also, you realize that artists don’t get to draw bears and wolves and eagles, and things like that very often in this kind of a series. When they get that chance, you realize how much they’ve practiced drawing real-world animals and forms. That’s a cool opportunity for them to show off these big animals.

I didn’t want the scene to end …

It ends with a wonderful image of Desaad. His hood is off, and you just see him in all his evil glory and he’s reveling in the moment. 

The fistfight between Sloan and Khan from last issue concludes here with Khan kicking Sloan out of the ship, and then heading on a collision course with Darkseid’s tower. But if Khan were just to stop and talk for a minute, wouldn’t he learn that Sloan isn’t just selling them all out? 

Sloan doesn’t have any social capital with these guys. He’s done so many heinous things no one is going to listen to him. He could be a strong ally, and it is a little frustrating to watch it. But this is one of those times Sloan has miscalculated underestimated someone -- Khan -- and what happens next is a result of that.

Would even Darkseid expect this?

I don’t think he is. We are observing an exciting, crazy turn of events. Khan has also stranded the others, though Miracle can get them out with a Boom Tube. But the gloves are off and people are acting crazy. Emotions are running hot on Apokolips.

Sato is bringing all these people to the former Project Beyond launch hangar. But there is not enough room for the millions of civilians she’s assembling. What’s her thinking leading up to this? 

The underlying theme here is one of my own personal philosophies. You never underestimate yourself. You always agree to do whatever it is and then deal with the challenge later. Never have any fear; just take whatever is thrown at you and walk through the open doors you can find. This is what she has done. She has decided to save everyone, not knowing how to fit them all in the launch room. It quickly becomes clear she can’t fit them in there.

That plan is to drop a miniaturized Atom down a hole in the ground and have him grow to create enough room …

This plan may be my favorite moment in this entire series. She takes the gravely wounded Atom, who has had his arm lasered off by evil Superman -- and is basically dead, clinging to life. But she needs space, and needs it now. Her solution is to send Atom in his smallest form down a shaft miles below the surface, and in an act of sacrifice, grows himself to be the size of multiple cities. This process crushes him to death but creates a space where people will be safe. And they call is Atom’s Haven. 

Is Sato thinking this through? Could this even work? 

She sacrificed him to protect the remain people on Earth. We have a planet of, like, 9 billion people and there are just a few million left. Things aren’t going well on the surface. Almost the entire population of Earth has been exterminated. She’s finding the remaining people because every single life is precious. She is putting all her eggs in one basket, yes, but they’re losing. They’re dying. This is her one chance to save humanity.

So this is a “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one” moment?

This is Atom’s decision. I think it’s very prevalent in these sorts of scenarios when potentially everything can be lost at any moment. People start to worry more than about their safety; they’re willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. It is an amazing thing about humanity. It is also something the New Gods can’t do. If they are immortal and can be brought back later, death isn’t the same thing for them. This is a noble act that only a human being is capable of. When you strip away godhood from someone, only then do they become capable of being a hero in the truest sense -- in the sense you sacrifice everything for others. And by the way, I just gave a big tease!

Is this the first of many sacrifices to come?

Yeah. There have been a lot already, and there will be a lot more.

Favorite moment from this issue?

It is a tie. I love when the Red Avatar comes roaring out of the flame. It jumps off the page at you. But I also really, really love the last page -- the splash -- and seeing Atom, thinking about what a neat application of his abilities. What an amazing moment.

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