The Wrong Earth: Night and Day
Tom Peyer (Story) & Juan Castro (Illustrations)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s not that often that a superhero comic gets a strong and clear 5-star rating from me, in fact recently I’ve been averaging a LOT at 3 (+/- a few fractions) and been quite disheartened by a lot of what the mainstream is putting out. Which is why the comics being put out by some of the smaller studios have been a blessing – Ahoy! being amongst the top of the heap for me personally. They’ve had a nice variety of comic types too, not just superheroes – the ongoing mini’s and one-shots set in
“The Wrong Earth” have represented that however and been stellar.
The series is an homage to, a critique of and a strange love-letter of sorts to both comics old and new. To put it simply, the protagonist of this series is Dragonflyman, and also Dragonfly. Yes, there are two protagonists and they are and aren’t the same character, i.e, the series references quite clearly the Batman of the Adam West era and before and also the grimmer, grittier version we’ve had since the 80’s and never the twain shall meet!
I lie, they meet. In the first series, we met them both in their respective realities. There were characters that were reminiscent of many a character (villain, supporting, sidekicks, etc) from the comics that this series lovingly draws spiritual elements from and then through mysterious twists of fate, they end up swapping places. There’s a marked sense of humour to things BUT make no mistake, this is a far more craftily written series than you’d expect! This mini-series follows on as the two reality-switched heroes must try and fit into their extremely different new worlds and as they do so, new inter-dimensional hijinks are underway and before you know it, new mysteries arise and our heroes have a chance to not only return home, but to find out the root cause of all this and maybe… maybe even save their worlds!
What adds a wonderful feel to all the proceedings is the art. Juan Castro continues the fine work of rendering different realities with distinct looks. The aforementioned campy and gritty comics inspired worlds very much resemble the comics that did the inspiring and that applies to all things – the colours, the lineart, the design of every gadget, the clothing, the facial hair and all the aesthetics are specifically crafted to evoke a particular feel and it works wonders! Even when they are in the same one together, they feel like different people. It’s quite impressive and made me very much a fan of Castro and eager to explore what else he’s worked on.
The same applies in fact to the writing of Tom Peyer who crafts the different realities with a care and attention to detail I did not expect. Every world has a personality all its own and it’s not just fluff, the supporting cast all have some depth and the more time we spend with them, the more we see that they are distinct – in fact, one of the things that is remarkable is the thread that emerges subtly over the story is that regardless of reality, people are capable of evolving and at the same time, staying true to their roots. It’s something often missed outside of superficially in most alternate reality stories.
The heart of the whole thing though, is from start to finish, the conflict within both Dragonfly and Dragonflyman as well as the conflict between them. Dragonfly is a harsh, brutal and damaged hero trying to stay a hero whole Dragonflyman is the epitome of honourable heroism and principles. Yet each has their own challenges and dilemma’s to deal with alongside the world-saving and butting heads with a vastly different counterpart only adds to the challenge.
I can’t say much more about the story without spoiling the mystery and fun that unfolds. It’s remarkable to me because I never stopped having fun reading these few issues that didn’t drag or dawdle and yet managed to rarely ever feel rushed. Perhaps it might be if you haven’t read the preceding mini-series because a few story beats/bits of info are breezed over and it helps to have read them, but by and large it is accessible for new readers.
In my humble opinion: if you used to love superhero comics and stopped, this is worth your time to find what is best about them in a neat little package; if you’re a current reader of the genre and want something refreshing, this is your ticket; and if you’ve never really gotten into the genre but have some curiousity, this series is a good way to see the facets of what people love about it.
Bottom line, it’s really good and I recommend it.