Tell me again why you’re not reading this series? Last week Injustice vol. 2 was released, which now puts all of Year One at your disposal. Get it, read it, and catch the heck up because if you’ve been listening to the buzz, Year Three is on the horizon and things are about to go supernatural with John Constantine getting his grubby mitts into the mix!
But back to issue No. 7:
Print issue No. 7 collects the Digital Firsts 13 & 14, “The Quiver” and “Resistance”. Black Canary and Harley Quinn face off in Green Arrow’s bunker, Guy Gardner takes bad news back to Oa of the situation on Earth, and everybody’s favorite prey birds and Gothamites hit the streets to start taking back the city. And although the story spans a couple of cities and multiple universes, each locale pushes the story forward in true Injustice style.
The ol’ fluffy slipper attack, naturally!
Stéphane Roux gives us a beautiful cover that perfectly sets the stage for the showcased confrontation between Harley and Black Canary. As Roux has done stand-in (and up!) work for the Harley Quinn series, it’s cool to see him draw her in this very different design.
The first half of this comic takes place in poor dead Ollie’s cave (unofficially redubbed “The Quiver” after both Green Arrow and Black Canary agree that it’s a better name than “Arrow Cave” based on Harley’s suggestion). Black Canary finds Harley has taken up residence and the two immediately spoil for a fight, but what happens next is not only unexpected, but just a little bit mind-blowing. You really want to read this one for yourselves, but if you insist:
Black Canary calls a timeout so she can puke her guts out, twigging Harley to the fact that she’s pregnant (which was revealed at the end of Year One). Harley calls off the fight out of empathy because “she remembers how it is”.
Turns out Harley has a little girl named Lucy who likes to dress cars up in tutus and lives with her sister.
Did you get all that? Has your head exploded? Because mine did.
In case it needs spelling out: the Joker has an actual daughter in the world of this story.
Taylor breaks your heart with Harley’s palpable pain. There’s something really terrifying about seeing her as a real person in the harrowing grips of battered-woman syndrome. She had the presence of mind to hide the kid from Mister J., but she’d never admit that’s what she’s done. And to see that chink in her psycho-armor despite all of her denials and delusions is just an amazingly brave and honest choice. Comic books don’t have to be preachy or ham-fisted to get a strong message across; for all its simplicity, this is one of most powerful exchanges I’ve seen in a really long time.
Among its many beauties, Injustice excels at motivating its characters in unusual ways. Superman is a monster, but his change is so gradual that you see why he makes his bad choices. Here, Harley pitches in to help out of a sense of unity with Black Canary as she reveals that she knows Green Arrow is dead. “Superman killed my man too,” she tells her. Yet another unlikely alliance, and Black Canary looks to be on the fence about accepting help from the Clown Prince of Crime’s moll, but if you don’t feel for these two women in their genuine grief, you have no heart.
Meanwhile, Mike S. Miller and Tom Derenick step in with pencil and ink duties for the second half of the book and I have to say I love their work here; both are a good match for Redondo so the book isn’t too jarring at the seams, though the inks are definitely lighter through the Oa scene and into the first pages of the transition to Gotham (the delicate face work for Ganthet is especially nice with a lighter hand, however). Rex Lokus’ colors help pull everything together and maintain the continuity so that the lighter inks never look too anemic.
Lot of nice detail here, though Batwoman’s
costume looks maybe too scaly
Wes Abbott’s sound effects throughout are also worth mentioning (oh those poor unsung heroes: the letterers). Here the effects are unobtrusive, well balanced with the art, and nicely designed to evoke the difference between a BANG and a CHZZT (the CHZZT scene is awesome, by the way: Huntress kicks butt and doesn’t even bother taking names).
And that’s what you’re going to get in the latter part of this book: Bullock, Montoya, Huntress, Batwoman, Black Canary, and Gordon hitting the streets, with Oracle providing support from behind the scenes. Will they reveal their newly acquired superpowers? Who cares! This is a team-up you don’t want to miss!
Occasionally Redondo throws out a rough panel or sequence. Here in the first half of the book, Harley gets tumbled heels-over-head by Black Canary’s sonic blast, but the panel immediately following shows her springing back for an attack only to be followed by the next panel showing her wielding her trademark mallet. In animation we’d say it’s missing its inbetweener cells. The result is action that’s a little jerky. A similar thing happens in the Gotham scene (drawn by Derenick, I believe?) when Montoya takes a shot at one of Superman’s stormtroopers–we lose the thread of the action; suddenly he’s just gone: poof.
The Oa scene is a bit of a dip in the overall energy, but it’s a brief scene and necessary (and has a great Lantern moment involving Guy Gardner and a chair that’s just one of those nice action details that someone thought to include in an otherwise straight conversation). And really, I’m only filing this under “bad” because some people might feel like the conversation could have happened “off scene” and some people don’t like Lanterns interrupting a story that’s ramping up on the Gotham side of things.
There’s also a bit of a weird time thing where Black Canary is in Starling City at first and then in Gotham the following day, but we don’t know what happened between these two scenes just yet. I assume we’ll catch up, but it did feel like an odd little hop–and an unnecessary one, since Black Canary stays out of the fight at the end.
I want to really emphasize how nit-picky these points are. I’m mostly only pointing them out because I spend a lot of time with this book every other week and really study it.
I know it’s not going to happen, but I’ll say it anyway: Harley needs some pants! Her undies look like they were cut with pinking shears and yet could unravel at any moment (I dunno–some may consider that a plus, I guess). I otherwise like Harley’s design in this series, but I’m definitely calling “feh” on the panties.
- You want to read one of Harley’s shining-est moments ever in the history of…ever.
- Huntress and Batwoman and Black Canary (oh my!).
- You’re ready for Gordon and his team to step up and pinch hit for the still-benched Batman.
This installment may divide your attention a little, but it packs an emotional wallop right out of the gate, gives you a nice cool down, then serves up some big action for its finale. Tom Taylor once again brilliantly combines comedy, pathos, and thrills while continuing to build on ever-growing tension just as the art team of Redondo, Miller, Derenick, Lokus, and Abbott deliver another bright, well-rendered issue that’s going to look equally awesome in the context of a future epic trade collection.