It’s funny, I can’t remember the last time I played Injustice: Gods Among Us (video game) but I find myself looking forward to the comic every month. In fact, I hardly even associate the two things anymore. When I hear “Injustice: Gods Among Us” the comic is always what comes to mind first and issues like this are precisely the reason why.
While “Year One” of Injustice took some flack for going for shock-value a little too often, it would appear that writer Tom Taylor noted the criticism when crafting the plot of Year Two. Although issue #1 featured the death of– I’m totally going to spoil previous issues (but not this one) so if you’re going to read that turn back now– Kyle Rayner the series has mostly been quiet. The book may be based on a fighting game, but the story being told is one that emphasizes character and plot above all else. Batman’s resistance movement is in shambles and most scenes with the rebels involve quiet reflection on failures of the previous arc, strategy for days to come, and flashbacks to better days gone by. Superman’s regime, on the other hand, is playing out like a DC-version of Game of Thrones with The Man of Steel playing politics with the governments of Earth and the Green Lantern Corps while Lex Luthor whispers in his ear and Sinestro, who sees his own reflection when gazing at the behavior of Superman, grasps for power.
It’s all quite thought-provoking and emotional, but it never becomes overwhelming because Taylor has a knack for adding just the right amount of comedic relief at the right time, Guy Gardner is a godsend in that department. Issue #3 begins with a flashback to the destruction of Krypton, giving us a glimpse of a Superman who still struggles with the decisions he’s made but is nevertheless too far gone now to be saved. We then transition into the present day where Ganthet of the Green Lantern’s Guardians (teased at the end of last month’s episode) is trying to get Kal-El to see reason. Since we’ve all played the game it’s a foregone conclusion that talks will not go well, but the tension is still palpable and the former Man of Tomorrow’s barbed words are razor sharp.
For it being such a short comic, it’s impressive that it’s able to cover so much ground without feeling rushed. The flashback and negotiation are both perfectly paced and soon we’re traveling all across the universe as the entirety of the Green Lantern Corps are assembled, many of whom are making their first-ever Injustice appearance. Of course, Year Two’s focus on the intergalactic portion of the DC Universe may be a bit too much for some but, wouldn’t you know, we get to visit Gotham as well and it’s there that we see a functional GCPD and an equally competent Jim Gordon! Now, I’m currently reading Bruce Wayne: Murderer? for an upcoming review and one of the most noticeable differences between the days of Rucka & Brubaker and The New 52 is that back then Gotham’s institutions didn’t just feel like places where red shirts and morons went to work. I got that feeling again in these brief scenes and I must say that Jim Gordon himself has what will definitely be a contender for Gordon-Moment-of-the-Year.
Writers often go back and forth on the age old question of “Does Gordon not know the Bat-family’s identities or does he just pretend not to know?” and I thought Taylor did a great job putting his stamp on it. Seeing Gordon answer Barbara’s “How did you know?” with an obvious, “I’m a detective!” was REALLY satisfying. Especially after the convoluted nonsense that Batgirl: Wanted turned out to be. That was a real missed opportunity.
While I know there have been complaints from the digital crowd about Injustice no longer being a weekly Digital-First release, I’m loving it. I’m loving it because we’re seeing better, more consistent artwork as a result. Bruno Redondo is getting to contribute more and he’s always fantastic and the other artists like Mike S. Miller and inker Julien Hugonnard-Bert don’t have to rush. I’m sure many readers will overlook and even yawn their way through the opening Destruction of Krypton flashback since it’s something that we’ve seen done a thousand times before, but I implore you to look again. I think Miller delivered some of the best visuals this classic scene has ever had. It doesn’t supply much new in a narrative fashion, but I think the imagery struck a wonderful balance between the classic iconography and the Man of Steel film (particularly with the geyser-like volcanoes). And while it’s a shame that we dont’ get to see Redondo’s take on explosive action sequences, he’s nailing the quiet, character moments by illustrating expressive characters who display a wide range of emotions in fully realized settings brought to life in rich detail.
One thing I will note is that I wish that the “Next time on Injustice” teasers would be removed for the print release. It’s unnecessary to see “NEXT: RETURN TO OA” when all we have to do is turn the page.
- The Green Lanterns are from a corner of the DC Universe you particularly enjoy
- Jim Gordon is one of your favorite supporting characters in all of comics
- You miss the old days when Babara Gordon was Oracle (her legs didn’t work, but the Bat-Computer never ran faster)
- You’re looking for a slow burn with great dialogue and characterization
I’m not quite sure what the little something is that’s missing and preventing me from giving it a 10/10, but I’m giving it a 9. I don’t know why I’m hesitating with the 10. It’s not like I save those up for some sort of un-achievable perfection or anything. It’s a great comic. The scores don’t matter. Go buy it.