Review by Ian Keogh
The Gathering introduced a re-booting of new superheroes with old names and identities on an Earth deprived of big hitters Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Their sacrifice enabled Earth to repel an invasion from Apokalips, and The Tower of Fate begins with Robinson investigating a sorry chapter from that war before taking a look at areas of the world five years later.
Terry Sloan is a genius, but all intellect and no compassion, illustrated in an opening story where what he thinks is necessary has a terrible human cost. Tomás Giorello’s art differs greatly from the remainder of the content, good, but blockier and far more bombastic. It’s an ordinary piece until a horrific moment, establishing what’s needed, but more technical exercise than thrilling read. Sloan’s Mr Terrific identity has long been supplanted in the main DC universe by Michael Holt, briefly seen in the previous volume, and again briefly here. A preview by Robinson and Tom Derenick explains how he arrived on Earth 2. Seeing assorted fragments of time requires Derenick put the effort in, but it’s another slim piece more tantalising than satisfying.
Given what they’ve lived through, if Earth isn’t being invaded, and people have a day to day existence without the threat of imminent death hanging over their heads, blessings can be counted. But how happy would they be if they knew what was going on behind the scenes? Global security organisation the World Army now has Sloan co-commanding day to day operations, his influence equalling that of previous sole commander Amar Khan who knows him to be both a genius and a psychopath. An Eastern European nation has taken in stranded Apokalips warlord Steppenwolf, and he has a being of immense power under his control. We also see the trio of new heroes introduced in The Gathering, and how they’re coping with the unexpected. These scenes are drawn by Yildiray Cinar, whose pages aren’t quite as decorative as Nicola Scott’s (sample art), but not far short either, showing a similar work ethic and talent for layouts.
The primary story, occupying four chapters, concerns the Helmet of Fate, the power it bestows and someone who wants that power and someone who doesn’t. Dr Fate is among the most powerful magical entities on DC’s regular Earth, but here that power comes at a great cost. Robinson supplies the interesting scenario of the novice Flash, in this world his powers magically derived, having to face the unknown and acting as inspiration, while Scott draws the hell out of the story. In the absence of any credits to the contrary, it’s presumably her who designed a whole batch of new characters, basing their costumes on tradition, but applying 21st century design principles. Perhaps the eventual Dr Fate is a little too King of Bling, but the new looks are modern while tethering the characters to their forebears.
Events moving forward into Battle Cry restore Steppenwolf to centre stage on the final page of what takes it’s time before developing into another entertaining segment.