Writer: Tom Peyer
Artist: Jamal Igle
Inker: Juan Castro
Colorist: Andy Troy
Publisher: Ahoy Comics
I make no apologies about having a distinct bias toward light-hearted stories when it comes to my superhero reading fare. While I enjoy the occasional dark take of the genre (Mark Waid’s Irredeemable or Gail Simone’s Leaving Megalopolis come to mind), for the most part, I find myself drawn to less morally-ambiguous reading, especially these days. Can’t imagine why.
Regardless, most attempts to make things “gritty” and “realistic” in superhero comics and films tend to make my eyes simultaneously roll and glaze over in boredom. I consider the notion of trying to make a universe of clear-cut good vs. evil where people can fly and shoot lasers from their eyes “realistic” in much the same way as I’d consider a hippo learning to tap dance: I’m not saying it can’t be done, but the outcome is likely to be clumsy at best. Which is one of the reasons I find the premise of The Wrong Earth so interesting: are realistic superhero comics as realistic as they seem? Are lighthearted superheroes really so cheery? Or is there something more to both interpretations?
The premise of The Wrong Earth is simple and brilliant: do-gooder crime fighter Dragonflyman fights his arch-foe Number One on idyllic Earth-Alpha, where things are decidedly ’60s-esque. Meanwhile, the Dragonfly wages a lonely war against criminal scum on gritty Earth-Omega, where he and his psychotic nemesis Number One are engaged in a fight to the bitter end. When circumstance (and a magic mirror) causes each hero to find himself on the other’s Earth, both heroes have to adapt to their new respective realities and do so with some surprising similarities and startling differences.
The Wrong Earth has an interesting balancing act it has to maintain: presenting two variations of the same character and making us feel for them respectively, while at the same time building two entirely distinct yet also comparable settings. Still, decades of superhero comics and the introduction of the multiverse concept in superhero television shows allow for longtime fans and new readers to quickly catch up with creators Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle. Peyer’s writing is on point here with a deft hand for humorous dialogue as each respective hero finds the other’s earth equally baffling, but he also manages to strike some powerful emotional chords at the same time.
The artistic challenges of creating a brightly colored superhero world and its dark counterpart fall to Igle’s deft pen, and he meets the challenge and then some in designing some seriously cool heroes, villains, vehicles, and death traps (with handy labeling no less!) that really make the book sing. The inks by Juan Castro add definition and depth to Igle’s already jaw-dropping art, and Andy Troy’s colors pop in both the sunshine ’60s world of Earth-Alpha and the gritty darkness of Earth-Omega alike.
The Wrong Earth Volume 1 has some interesting things to say about superheroes: where they’ve been, where they’re going, and why the genre has endured. It’s a fun, funny, and entertaining romp from start to finish, and I can’t wait to see where Volume 2 takes us.