The Wrong Earth Season 1
Writer: Tom Peyer
Pencils: Jamal Igle
Inks: Juan Castro
Colors: Andy Troy
(various other artists and writers on backups)
Ahoy Comics has had a very successful start to their independent print. The Wrong Earth seems to be their flagship title, and I have heard good things about their other series. The premise of this comic plays with the comic trope of multiple Earths and versions of characters. Working on the title are industry veterans Tom Peyer (writer of the incredible Hourman comic and numerous others) and Jamal Igle (who has covered many titles at Marvel and DC). What they have produced here is a clear passion project full of love for the craft and the comic medium as a whole.
The comic revolves around Dragonflyman of Earth-Alpha and Dragonfly of Earth-Omega. Both essentially the same character with wildly different universes surrounding them. The best comic book shorthand would be Adam West Batman (Dragonflyman) and Dark Knight Returns Batman (Dragonfly). On Alpha our hero, along with his sidekick Stinger, are caught in a battle with the villainous Number One. Everything is played out like an old episode of Batman 1966, full of complicated Rube Goldberg traps and action full of onomatopoeia. The twist comes when Number One escapes through a mirror and Dragonflyman chases him. They end up on Earth Omega which is completely opposite of their own. Gone are the bright and colorful villains and instead replaced with the grim and gritty comic settings of the 80s-90s. Omega’s Dragonfly and Number One also run through a mirror and end up on Earth Alpha/ The juxtaposition of the hero and villain in these new universes makes for an interesting story. Dragonflyman is used to a comfortable relationship with the police and politicians and is shocked when he finds corrupt cops that are ready to shoot to kill at any moment. Dragonfly is battle hardened and willing to kill but has soft and emotional moments when he meets Alph’s Stinger (as Stinger in his world was murdered). The gulf between the Number One’s is even more vast. Number One (Alpha) is not ready to become an element of crime in Omega and finds his fate fairly quickly. On the other side Number One (Omega) finds his harsher and more diabolic attitude takes him to unexpected places. It is essentially a fish out of water story full of twists and turns that both horrify and delight. Along with the main story various writers and artists lend their hands in creating backups that flesh out the world and backstory of both Earth Omega and Alpha. These stories are not connected to the main plot but help further the characterization of our protagonists.
One of my favorite Superman stories is Alan Moore’s Supreme. A book that doesn’t have a panel of Superman in the entire run but is clearly a homage to the character. This is exactly what The Wrong Earth achieves. It may be one of the best Batman comics I have read without having Batman. The homages are clear and deliberate. Peyer made the right choice using analogs that so many people understand. By making Dragonflyman = Batman readers already can fill in a vast backstory on the first page. This allows for quick character understanding on the readers part and allows the creative team to move forward. When they do flip the script and challenge our preconceived notions it is a joy to read. Everything feel familiar and new, a really amazing accomplishment. Dragonfly is DKR Batman and Punisher rolled into one. There is an element of dark comedy watching him deal with outlandish colorful villains of Alpha. Dragonflyman is ridiculous and yet somehow works in Earth Omega. When he uses “explosion repellent” to survive an impossible situation it adds a layer of levity and fun that is missing from so many comics nowadays. Peyer is clearly having a blast writing this comic and it shows on every single panel. Furthermore, the backup material full of fake back issues and prose, make this world feel alive in only 6 issues.
Jamal Igle is a talented artist that has worked on many titles. But it is this title that seems to be what he was waiting for. He handles juggling two unique worlds and art styles with ease without making things look disjointed. Even when characters crossover they do not look out of place, but still stand out. Much like the writing the blend of universes just works. Without question, this is one beautifully constructed comic. Jamal seems to be having just as much fun drawing this title and the care and love are evident everywhere.