Print issue No. 8 collects the Digital Firsts 15 & 16, “War is Coming” and “One Day More”.

It’s seven months later: Black Canary has given birth to a boy she has named Connor (a nod, of course, to Connor Hawke), Sinestro flits about playing Big Yellow Boy Scout, Superman makes a speech, Batman makes a speech, and Tom Taylor ratchets the tension up another intolerable notch (seriously, the pistons on this thing are going to explode).

I always enjoy this comic and eagerly await each issue. This was just as much a joy to read as always, but I have to be honest: the story feels like it takes a wee little uncharacteristic stumble on this outing despite stellar work by the creative team.

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Methinks someone slipped Despero a mickey or two (or two hundred)

The Good

So much great art in this book! Barbara Gordon hasn’t looked so good in ages, lots of fun and interesting Lanterns, and there’s a giant planet on its way toward Earth (doesn’t get more majestic than that–and no, this is one area where nobody should care about the physics of it all).

Bruno Redondo does the lead half and Xermanico follows (with inks by Julien Hugonnard-Bert) to create a nicely seamless book for the most part. Some of Xermanico’s characters are a little inconsistent from panel to panel (what’s up with Catwoman and Black Canary’s costumes?). He absolutely delivers on Batman, who looks great after so long an absence–even if he’s still sidelined (and to add insult to injury, now has an alien back-hugger going on to get him upright–more on that below).

There is also some especially nice cosmic and atmospheric coloring going on both on Earth and in space thanks to the magic of Rex Lokus. And a grainy washed out palette for a “past events” broadcast during Superman’s speech also adds a nice touch.

Wes Abbott’s lettering on the baby noises struck me as a little strange at first as the nonsense sounds look hand-drawn off any sort of standard lettering guide, but on second read I kinda liked that. More impressive is his single panel of the sound of shattering glass almost hidden within the image; a great example of sound effects lettering that supports the action of the picture rather than detracts.

And what of Tom Taylor’s story and its wee stumble? The great news is that the issue starts out with a bang. Sinestro uses Despero to further his power-grubbing agenda (and dupe Hal Jordan and John Stewart into buying into the propaganda machine that’s cranking out destruction all around them). I don’t know if I think they are foolish; Stewart mentions “all of the good” Sinestro’s done, but the evidence feels a little thin, frankly. And after all this time Hal and John are still wearing green? I would have thought they’d have switched over to yellow by now–if only to distance themselves from the Green Lanterns who are clearly enemies of Superman.  Despite these quibbles, it’s still a fantastic scene that opens the book with some tight thrilling action and always-welcome mass destruction of property (I love a good disaster yarn and Injustice never fails to scale everything up).

Also noteworthy, Harley Quinn visits Black Canary in the hospital (with Harley-esque baby presents, of course), which provides the needed comic relief in a book that spends a good portion of its pages on speeches from the opposing camps on the eve of war.

And finally, Guy Gardner finally gets to do some stuff other than spying on other Lanterns or reporting back to the home base. It’s not much, but his exhortation in going after Sinestro’s underlings is pretty gratifying:  “If you want to aim for particularly tender areas,” he says, “go for it.”

The fact that the originally planned sneak attack has now been compromised telegraphs that things are about to get very messy, but this book is all about the edge. Have to wait for issue No. 9 for things to spill over.

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Could Sinestro look more sinister hanging around back there like the DCU’s own Rasputin?

The Bad

Well..we’re just waiting for the spill.

Meanwhile, Batman’s still recovering seven months later. He’s upright, he has this pseudo-spine thing that’s got him on his feet, but he’s still in deep hiding and despite needing rails to walk, he’s wearing full armor and cowl. You can justify this by saying: well, he’s trying to be battle-ready and the pseudo-spine is built into his suit so he needs to wear it. But let’s face it: the only reason he’s got the suit on is because he’s Batman and there’s an assumption that no one wants to see Bruce Wayne flopping around like a banked fish. I beg to differ. It’s a minor goofy thing, but unfortunately it kinda knocked me out of the story because if you have ever seen anyone in intensive physical therapy, this is really not how it works.

And Jheremy Raapack gives us a beautiful cover! If only it wasn’t so sadly misleading.

Overall, this issue is a bridge and unfortunately it feels like it. We’ve lost the frenzy we’d built up to in the last couple of issues and are starting fresh again. It works because we never completely lose the sense of being on that event horizon, but I feel twitchy wanting to get to the good stuff. So while I appreciate all the speechifying, I think we’ve been waiting long enough for things to blow out and burn big like a massive Grand Prix pileup. Seriously, this series makes you so bloodthirsty I feel like I’m about a pint low after reading this issue.

The Ugly

I gotta dump this bit under the cut because I don’t want to poison other people’s impressions. Come back and tell me what you think afterwards, will you? Am I alone in thinking this:

Spoiler

I’m sorry, but I had a really hard time taking Batman’s fishnet brigade seriously. Isolated, Black Canary, Zatanna, and Catwoman don’t typically draw my ire for wearing fetishistic stockings and leather bustiers, but put them all in a room together and it just looks silly. This was punctuated by the fact that Black Canary just had a baby and she’s even carrying him in her arms wearing her superhero getup.

Also, Harley’s out of her jester-inspired garb and into some daisy dukes but still manages to show just as much panty as ever.

I really don’t want to get on a jag about the costumes, but I’m going anyway. Singly, none of this would probably strike me as worth commenting on. But this is an issue in which the concentration of sexy women standing around at Batman’s beck and call makes a pretty sour impression. Batman looks like he has a harem fighting for him (only Alfred joins this conversation even though we know Batman has other male allies out there). And if all that wasn’t bad enough, we also get the awkward contrast of Barbara Gordon (as Oracle) sitting in her wheelchair with a turtleneck on. Because superheroes only wear sexy crime-fighting outfits when they’re the least practical. Would it be better if Barbara was wearing a fishnet top and pasties? Certainly not, but at least it would be consistent. Oh the vagaries….

Recommended If…

  • A stirring pre-battle speech from Batman is all you need for that warm fuzzy feeling.
  • Sinestro is competing for all-time douche of the universe and you want a front-row seat. Can we say douche on here? Because it really applies in this case, I promise. Totally warranted.
  • You didn’t get enough of Harley and Black Canary–and Harley’s love affair with mustaches in the last issue.
  • So. Many. Half-naked. Women.

Overall

Anytime you jump a significant time period between comics you’re going to lose momentum and create a weird time pocket in which to wonder what the heck has everyone’s been doing all these months. It’s good to see Batman getting on his feet (if only just barely), but it’s time for the showdown and it’s been time for a while now. The tag for the next issue reads: “Absolute. Freaking. Carnage.”  Bring it on, Injustice crew! We’re more than primed.

SCORE: 7.5/10