I've no idea why, but at the moment Earth 2 can do no wrong. Though there have been the odd bump in the road James Robinson and Nicola Scott's New 52 rendition of the Justice Society has been an enjoyable ride, culminating in an end of a first year which promised big action moving forward as the Flash, Green Lantern and Dr Fate intending to take on Steppenwolf after hearing he was still alive. Now, in Earth 2 #13, Robinson takes a step back from the action to focus on another hero and another threat which could pale in comparison to the coming war.
So, if the cover doesn't kinda tell you who the main focus here, this issue brings the new 52 Captain Steel to the forefront as he is tasked by the World Army to investigate the deadly fire pits that are scattered across the planet. How does he investigate them? Well, with the help of the Red Arrow (apparently another new hero), he is to enter one of these pits, which it seems is lethal to a normal person, and take a look around. However, when he returns, it seems he has found something that could be a grave threat.
Now, despite the issue seeming like it was taking a step back in terms of pacing and it being a little annoying of the tangent it went of in given where the book was heading in issue 12, I actually really liked this issue. It seemed like an appropriate move to just let the book take a moment to prepare for what will no doubt be a lot of action in the coming issues and just focus on other parts of this world. In truth, this is an exposition book and, while very talky, I enjoyed it as it gave deeper insight into Earth 2 and its very unique difference to the world the rest of DC's books inhabit. The art also continues to be fantastic is Nicola Scott's great work being more than competently covered by Yildiray Cinar, whose own work looks very similiar to Scott and who steps up to the plate with solid, epic-feeling panels from start to finish, giving a seamless transition.
However, if there is a downside to this issue, it's many of the concepts that are introduced here. Once again the new Batman makes a brief appearance during the issue which keeps a small notice of Hawkgirl's whereabouts, and I gotta admit, while I'm still not impressed with his inclusion over in Earth 2 (see my thoughts on the annual here http://acomicbookaddict.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/reviews-earth-2-annual-1.html), there is an implication of him being a more mystical being which has me a little intrigued. However, my biggest problem is the end which reveals the new big bad being known as "the Red Lantern". While I like the idea of hinting at more villains while finishing up with other ones, I don't get why so many of these "franchise" concepts are being dolled out. First Batman, and now a Red Lantern, should we expect Deathstroke to make an appearance? Maybe Superboy(I hope DC don't read that and actually think I'm being serious)? I suspect that DC are trying to impart more control on this book, though why I'm not sure as they should be trusting the creative team who have been doing good so far.
That said, the issue is still a great one, further pushing along the this titles' almost epic feeling within it's ongoing story. This is indeed very much a step back from many of the action storylines it's offered of late but I'm thinking it's a "calm before the storm" kinda thing and, if that's the case, I like what is being setting up and am looking forward to next month when 'War' begins (or so solicits tell us)