Comics

Earth-Prime is the Year’s Big TV Crossover…But it’s Not Actually TV

Written by ibxis

For this edition of Couch Club, we’re doing something a bit different. Instead of focusing on an episode of Superman & Lois, The Flash or any of the numerous DCTV shows on The CW or HBO Max, I’ll be using this space to talk about a comic. I know that it isn’t unusual to be talking about comics on the official DC website, but Couch Club is our space to celebrate superhero television—and that’s exactly what Earth-Prime does. Earth-Prime is no ordinary comic book, it’s set within the continuity of the CWverse (or “Arrowverse,” if you prefer) and it references and acknowledges recent storylines and events. In short, each issue is like a bonus episode of the show it’s based on, only on paper rather than on film.

I understand some of you might be skeptical. As a longtime fan of both TV and comic books, I grew up reading tie-in stories for my favorite franchises and they almost always seemed like cash-ins. (I won’t give out any names, but let’s just say a comic book series about a group of morphinominal powerful teenagers seriously disappointed my third-grade self.) Often, it felt like the writers and artists hadn’t even watched the show . We’ve all been there, but Earth-Prime is more than a tie-in, it’s an extension of DC’s television universe.

The six-issue limited series focuses on characters from Batwoman, Superman & Lois, Legends of Tomorrow, Stargirl and The Flash…with a few surprises from other shows. For example, Lena Luthor shows up in Earth-Prime: Batwoman, giving me a crossover I’ve been wanting since Ryan Wilder took over the cowl. Seeing Lena in Gotham was fun, especially as she interacted with Luke and told him about his sleezy “Crisis on Infinite Earths” counterpart. We also got brief updates about what Kara Danvers and Kate Kane have been up to, which is nice. Look, it might not be the same as seeing Melissa Benoist back in the suit, but it made me smile when Lena mentioned her name. What can I say? I’ve missed her.

By the way, in case there was any doubt, all of this is canon. Each of the shows sent members of their writers room to put together these scripts, so everything is consistent with what you see onscreen. Legendary comic writer James Robinson has been a part of the Stargirl writers room since season one, so it was only natural that he write Earth-Prime: Stargirl alongside Paula Sevenbergen (who also has a background in comics). Jerry Ordway is the artist on their issue and, unsurprisingly, the iconic illustrator brings the goods. There is an amazing splash page of the Golden Age Justice Society that I couldn’t stop looking at for twenty minutes.

Like Earth-Prime: Batwoman, Earth-Prime: Stargirl contains some crucial moments for fans. The issue takes place after the events of the season two cliffhanger, giving us some hints about what the status quo will be for season three. In addition, there is a very big revelation about Pat Dugan’s past in this story—one that hasn’t been revealed on the show yet. I won’t spoil what it is here, but it answers some questions we’ve all had about Pat since season one, confirming one popular fan theory. The fact that it was included here makes this series not supplemental, but essential reading for viewers of these shows.

Remember the evil Superman from John Henry Irons’ world? The one that enslaved humanity and killed the Lois Lane of his universe? We get his origin Earth-Prime: Superman & Lois, and it’s intense! We also get to see Lobo in the Arrowverse for the first time, and even a cameo from the Nuclear Man. Still, the real heart of the story is about how Clark Kent and Lois Lane celebrate their anniversary. That one hit me in the feels and was one of the best stories about their marriage that I’ve seen in years. Of course, it was written by a trio of writers from the television series, so what else would you expect?

Speaking of writers, there is a story in Earth-Prime: Batwoman that’s written by Camrus Johnson himself. This story shows what Luke was up to during the events of the episode “A Lesson From Professor Pyg,” and unknown to all of us, he was on a date with Stephanie Brown! I’ve been waiting to see the two of them interact again after seeing the chemistry between them in “I’ll Give You a Clue.” (Unfortunately, the date doesn’t go well, putting any potential future these two amazing—and remarkably attractive—superheroes might have had together in doubt.)

I haven’t even talked about Earth-Prime: Legends of Tomorrow yet, which is another fun issue. There’s a story with some of the former Legends teaming up, and another where we get to see what Booster Gold was up to in between the scenes of the seven season finale. I’m not going to lie, I’m going to miss the Legends, so this comic was a great way to spend more time with them.

Earth-Prime: The Flash hit shops this week and it features Bart and Nora in action. However, while it may be the last issue that’s directly tied to a show, it’s NOT the last issue of the series. Earth-Prime: Hero’s Twilight finishes things off with the sort of multi-series crossover event we haven’t really gotten from the CWverse since “Crisis on Infinite Earths” over two years ago. Each issue has ended with building up a powerful threat that’s been quietly growing in the background, and Hero’s Twilight promises to bring it to the forefront. Also, is it just me, or is that title a bit ominous?

Gulp.

Don’t sleep on Earth-Prime. This is the way all tie-in comics should be written. It resolves plot threads, drops revelations, advances the story and has consequences for the television universe. Plus, it’s a fun read, on par with some of the great crossovers we’ve gotten since the Arrowverse began. These heroes got their start in the pages of comic books, so it’s only natural to be using the medium to tell more stories about their television counterparts. Plus, there are no commercials, except if you count the ad pages. Earth-Prime is a great way to spend more time with the friends you love, and what DCTV fan could ask for more?

Earth-Prime: The Flash #5 by Emily Palizzi, Jess Carson, Darko Lafuente and Pablo M. Collar is now available in print and on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, “Gotham Gazette.” Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.

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