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Comic Book / JLA: Earth-2

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JLA: Earth 2 is a graphic novel written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely, who would later team up for the critically acclaimed All-Star Superman.

One night, the Justice League of America rescue a passenger airliner from crashing... only to discover that not only are the passengers within already dead, but their hearts are on the right side of their chests. Going off a black box recording that mentions Lex Luthor, the League confronts Luthor in his office. However, they find that the man is not Lex Luthor, but Alexander Luthor, a heroic duplicate from a Mirror Universe who had traversed to the DC Universe to recruit the aid of the League in his battle against their own evil counterparts: the Crime Syndicate of Amerika.

Despite the self-contained feel of the book, the story reintroduces and reimagines the Earth-3 Crime Syndicate as Anti-Matter universe versions of the then-incarnation of the JLA and establishes their portrayal for the following decade. This version of the Syndicate would last until the events of the New 52, where they would be rebooted as Earth 3 duplicates once more and be prominently featured in the Crisis Crossover Forever Evil (2013) as well as Darkseid War. Later afterwards, both Antimatter and Earth-3 universes would be confirmed to co-exist and both Crime Syndicates plague the main DC Universe from time to time.

Served as the inspiration for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

Not to be confused with Earth 2.

Contains examples of:

  • Alternate History: As a backwards world, the Antimatter universe runs on this. It's not the Americans that declared independence from the British, but rather the British that tried to separate from the Amerikans.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The Crime Syndicate return with full force to lobotomize Brainiac before he can achieve supreme intellect and destroy both Earths.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: This ultimately needs to happen in the Antimatter universe. As good will always triumph in the DC Universe, evil must equally prevail in the opposite spectrum.
  • Big Bad: Antimatter Brainiac.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Brainiac is defeated, the Earths won't collide with each other, but the Justice League is forced to abandon the other universe so as to ensure its survival. The Crime Syndicate return to ruling the world, much to the relief of the Crapsack World citizens of the Antimatter Earth.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: As "good" is the "bad" of the Antimatter universe, even the supposedly "heroic" characters come off as morally ambiguous. Alexander Luthor's temporary defeat of the Crime Syndicate reads off as being similar to a villain taking over the world. Commissioner Thomas Wayne implies to Batman that now that Gotham City is under his control, his rule will be tyrannical in nature, i.e. anyone who disagrees with him will be executed on the spot.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: The comic ends with Ultraman trying to snipe Owlman and Superwoman with his heat vision, only to incinerate a nearby cat stuck up a tree by mistake.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: It says something when even in the Antimatter universe where everything is morally and physically flipped, Brainiac is still a destructive, logic-based entity intent on increasing his intelligence by any means necessary regardless of how many lives will be lost.
    Brainiac: Beyond good + evil. Beyond the morality + conceptual framework which limits 3rd level intellects such as your own. I am free to upgrade + evolve!
  • Blatant Lies: British newsreels of the Justice League's attempts at improving the Antimatter Earth has narration peppered with praise and announcements of celebration. Meanwhile, in the accompanying artwork, the emergency food supply the Flash is bringing is being confiscated by the authorities, who are also holding back a rioting crowd trying to get to the food.
  • Canon Immigrant: Miss Teschmacher from Superman: The Movie & Superman II appears as Luthor's secertary.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The majority of the Antimatter Earth.
  • Clark Kenting: If Superman's disguise is anything to go by, Lieutenant Clark Kent walks among humans while wearing a fake mustache.
  • Composite Character: Superwoman is still Wonder Woman's evil Mirror Universe counterpart, but Morrison adds the twist that in her secret identity, she's a journalist named Lois Lane. Though her secret identity resembles Diana Prince.
  • Crapsack World: As the Antimatter Earth is always intended to be. Coming in to save everyone and fix people's problems is this world's equivalent of robbing banks and blowing up monuments.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Aquaman infamously defeats Power Ring with a single punch. The Martian Manhunter also easily defeats Ultraman, who is weakened due to being away from his power source, Anti-Kryptonite. Justified in-story by the fact that these fights take place in the main DC continuity, where good always prevails over evil.
  • Darker and Edgier: In-universe. The Antimatter Universe is the Mirror Universe concept taken to its logical conclusion, where practically everybody is an awful person and evil is literally ordained to win.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Owlman's entire career in villainy is a response to the loss of his mother and younger brother, Bruce Wayne.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: A woman lustfully bites her lower lip when she sees Wonder Woman on a Times Square jumbotron.
  • Evil Twin: The entire Antimatter universe is this to the main DC Universe.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Owlman's war with Commissioner Wayne is revealed to be this once the latter finally wins and reveals that his idea of a "good" Gotham is a totalitarian Police State.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Spoken word for word by Batman, who realizes that the Justice League's heroic ways are ordained to fail in the Antimatter Universe.
  • Foreshadowing: The Crime Syndicate's motto, "Who Profits?", all but cements that there's a more dangerous foe working behind the scenes of this crossover.
  • The Good Guys Always Win: Discussed and inverted. The Antimatter Universe is a reverse of the main universe in every way, right down to the narrative level. Just like how the villains always lose no matter how close they are to victory in the main DCU, the heroes always lose no matter what.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Ultraman is always angry.
  • Hypocrite: Lois Lane, aka Superwoman, is disgusted by Jimmy Olsen's leering at her while she changes costumes. This is coming from the woman who is actively cheating on her husband.
  • In Spite of a Nail: "Big Brother Is Watching" is still a well-known quote. Which means in the Antimatter universe, there was an Antimatter George Orwell who wrote a version of Nineteen Eighty-Four that still somehow managed to be a go-to source for quotes about Sinister Surveillance.
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: The heroic antimatter Lex Luthor's second Establishing Character Moment involves replacing and imprisoning regular matter Luthor, he apparently enjoys such donations with Lexcorp funds:
    "Oh, and divert funding from our armaments division to—let's make it 'Greenpeace' this time. And all of our employees could do with a raise. 200%? Three."
  • Kick the Dog: A random citizen literally does this in front of the League, just to show off how crappy the Antimatter universe is.
  • Kill Sat: Ultraman is a supervillain version of this. When he hears someone on Earth talking trash about him, he leaves the Crime Syndicate's satellite bases and blasts the man from space with Eye Beams.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Inverted and defied. As a reversal of how Superman will be weakened and eventually killed by his proximity to Kryptonite, Ultraman needs Anti-Kryptonite to remain powerful and as such ends up weakening the longer he stays on Earth-2. Meanwhile, Anti-Kryptonite has no effect on Superman even if it still hurts a bit.
  • Mirror Universe: Unlike the pre-Crisis Earth-Three (notice the number is spelled out), basic morality is reversed on the Antimatter Universe, creating an Earth where Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad. It's worth noting that everyone on this Earth is villainous in some way: the Crime Syndicate are obvious, the civilians outright reject the Justice League's attempts to do good, and even the "heroic" characters like Lex Luthor and Commissioner Wayne have an evil streak. Even the narrative laws are different in the Crime Syndicate's verse.
  • Mob War: The conflict between Owlman's forces and Commissioner Wayne's police. This becomes especially clear following the reveal that Wayne fully intends to turn Gotham into a Police State, all but confirming that the war is less about bringing law and order to the city but more about taking control away from Owlman.
  • Monumental Damage: The Washington Monument is destroyed by Superwoman. It gets better.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Batman's final interaction with Thomas Wayne confirms his fears: that the Justice League is doing more damage to the Antimatter world than the Crime Syndicate are by simply being heroes.
  • My Nayme Is: The United States of Amerika.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Alexander Luthor's successful transport into the Matter universe paves the way for Brainiac to send both Earths crashing into each other. There's also bringing the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate's Matter counterparts to his Earth, resulting in the Syndicate being transported to the other Earth in a form of "cosmic rebalance", and basically stranding both teams on Earths where their ideals are not allowed to achieve victory.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The natural order in the Antimatter Universe, where "good" is that reality's "bad".
  • Noodle Incident: Ultraman mentions a White Martian rival while fighting with Martian Manhunter.
  • No-Sell: Everything Brainiac throws at Superman, even the Anti-Kryptonite Vision of an Antimatter Titano.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Superwoman attempts to seduce Martian Manhunter after he defeats Ultraman. Unfortunately for her, Martian romance is based around the psychological contents of a person's mind and J'onn frankly finds her mind unappealing, to put it kindly.
  • Offing the Offspring: Doesn't actually happen, but dialogue from Commissioner Thomas Wayne implies that he plans on offing Thomas Wayne Jr., aka Owlman. Keep in mind, this is his own son, and he's already lost both his wife and the younger of his two sons.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: In "Earth-1", Commissioner Thomas Wayne loses his son Bruce along with his wife Martha. This event is what causes Thomas Jr. to become Owlman.
  • Police State: Commissioner Wayne declares that he will turn Gotham into one following the arrest of Boss Gordon.
  • Race Lift: Miss Teschmacher is African-American, while she was white in the movies.
  • Shout-Out: Flash asks if anyone hears The X-Files theme when he noticed the dead passengers' dollar bills has Benedict Arnold's face.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: An interesting spin on this. The main DCU, while having many different writers who are varying shades of optimistic and cynical that put it all over the scale, is overall idealistic by premise, which is mostly selfless heroes defending the innocent people of Earth, and the message is that there will be struggling and it'll take time, but hope and justice will win out in the end. The Antimatter Universe, as a complete moral inverse, down to the narrative level, is on the absolute Cynicism end: evil is all this world knows and all it can know. Heroism is rejected by both the inhabitants and the cosmos itself, and so the book ends with the Justice League giving up on this world (for now) and the status quo of injustice and corruption restored.
  • "Stop the Hero" Twist: The Justice League tries to fix the problems on the Antimatter universe, only to find out that said world's natural order is for evil to triumph over good, so in fact, they're doing a disservice to the people they want to save simply by being heroes. This is demonstrated at its strongest when Batman saves Police Commissioner Thomas Wayne - father of his Owlman, his Evil Counterpart note  - from a man who was attempting to assassinate him, only for Commissioner Wayne to announce his intention of making Gotham into a Police State. The League then desperately tells one another of the problem, and that the two worlds will collide.
  • Super-Strength: Alexander Luthor has natural super strength, much to Superman's shock.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Discussed trope. The key twist of the story was that even narrative causality was inverted on "Earth-1", so that all good deeds were doomed to failure in the mirror universe (just as evil was doomed to ultimate failure in the regular DCU). And particularly, the characters themselves realizing this, and acting accordingly.
    • In many cases it came down to character motivations. In Earth-1, humans would toady up to any power that came along, whether it was good or evil, and would continue to be corrupt and self-serving regardless. In the good universe, Owlman discovered his alternate counterpart's father was dead and found he couldn't keep fighting because there was no one left to hurt.
  • Title Drop: Luthor decides that the Matter universe will be referred to as "Earth 2".
  • Troll: Ultraman regularly lets fake money rain from his flying fortress to screw with Amerika's economy.
  • The Unreveal: It's never explained what kind of dirt Owlman exactly have on Ultraman to blackmail him into not harming him. It's implied to be photographic but their contents are apparently critical enough for the all-powerful demigod to begrudgingly agree to any of his terms.
  • Unwanted Spouse: It's implied that Ultraman forced Superwoman to marry him.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Combined with Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad. For example:
    • God below.
    • Antichristing.
    • Unholy.
  • Up the Real Rabbit Hole: The heroic version of Lex Luthor is insistent on refering to the main DC universe as "Earth 2."
  • Villainous BSoD: Owlman is literally brought to his knees when he discovers that the Matter Thomas Wayne is long dead.
    Owlman: There's no one left to hurt.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When the fake money started coming down, a couple stepped on a kid. It's unclear if the couple are his parents, or if the couple even care if he's hurt (or possibly dead) even when they find out the money is fake.