Print issue No. 11 collects the Digital Firsts 21 & 22, “Crashing to Earth” and “Canary’s Revenge”, and if you thought we might get a cool-down or some grieving space after last issue’s devastating turn of events, you’d be dead wrong. Because superhero comics are all about big drama and Injustice has been dealing out consistently big drama since the start of Year One–plus we’re clearly in a downward spiral (at an alarming velocity) as we wrap up Year Two. So buckle in tight and prepare yourself for the worst.
This issue addresses the immediate fallout as a result of Hal Jordan’s choice to take the Yellow Lantern mantle.
Meanwhile, having equipped Black Canary with a Kryptonite bullet, Batman sends her out in the Batplane after that dreadful villain we know as Superman. The second half of the story focuses on the fight between Superman and Black Canary (which is not the lopsided match you might think it would be), and juxtaposes that battle against hopeful scenes of the Resistance in their triumph.
Yes, I said triumph, which should be your clue that something really terrible is about to happen. And of course, it does.
Let’s pause a moment and just enjoy the heck out of that Bat-plane
A lot stuff blows up in this issue and I gotta give Mark S. Miller props in the art for some phenomenal explosions and a beautifully rendered panel of Lanterns being immolated (yes, even immolation can be beautiful!). J. Nanjan of NS Studios does colors in the first half, and there are some wonderful textures and detailing throughout. Even something as subtle as a yellow gradient amidst the green light (in the aforementioned immolation scene) creates amazing depth. Look for a similar immolation toward the end of the book, drawn by Tom Derenick and colored by Rex Lokus, and you will see what I mean. The first one has deeper contrast and makes for a much more dramatic event. Not that the second one is bad (and a de-emphasis is probably called-for since the scene is more generalized), but the difference is worth looking at.
Also notable is Derenick’s Superman in the second half. He is incredibly muscular compared to how Redondo and others have established him–but he looks really good, so I’m not complaining.
Yes, explosions and rad musculature are great to look at (and exciting), but this issue also advances the story in a big way and the telling of it is spectacularly paced. I mentioned earlier, that there is a juxtaposition of scenes of triumph amidst the fight, and I will elaborate here only by saying that Tom Taylor has done a nice bit of storytelling that balances so many parts of the story: he keeps the reader informed as to what’s going on and where without sacrificing any coherency or serving up dud interruptions merely for the sake of exposition–or worse, to falsely try to build angst. Instead, Taylor trusts in the inherent dramatic tension of the circumstances and gives us great character moments. We get to see where the Resistance is at on the ground as they contain Superman’s fallen supporters and for a brief few pages the good guys are winning. And by golly, it feels good!
And then, as expected, terrible things happen. Can you bear it? Read on:
- Ganthet knocks Superman for a lulu out of the sky (this is a good thing because he’s wasting Green Lanterns left and right. Ganthet is also wasting Yellow Lanterns left and right. So many fiery bodies raining from the sky).
- As he rallies, Superman sees the Batplane coming right at him. Does he snatch it out of the sky and crack it open to pull “Batman” out like a shucked walnut? Nooooo, he goes right for the kill. What the heck, Supes? Somebody leave you out of the fridge too long? You’ve gone so bad!
- Prior to now I have always felt Superman was doing awful things but was able to rationalize his actions and the resultant casualties as circumstantially necessary. He acknowledged that hard, unfortunate choices had been made (such as with Green Arrow). But now he’s really turned. He’s just killing and it’s pretty horrifying.
- With the Batplane destroyed, for a brief moment it looks like Canary’s bought the farm, but she escapes the explosion and takes Superman down with a sonic scream (a cheer-worthy moment if ever there was one). There was a split second during their ensuing dialogue in which I thought: Just kill him! Kill him! But before I could get antsy about it, the gun went off. Bravo on the pacing here.
- And may I add what a dreadful, wonderful thing it is when a creative team can make you root against a character you love so much? And not just root against, but wish death on? That’s pretty potent!
- Unfortunately, Batman gave instructions not to kill and unfortunately Black Canary honored those instructions, because Sinestro is still weaseling his way around the universe and he comes to the rescue by giving Superman the power to save himself from the Kryptonite.
- And what does Superman do? He pays Black Canary back in the most vicious, cowardly way possible. With all the advantages of all of his powers and abilities, he takes lethal action against her.
It’s too horrible to believe: has Canary really sang her last song? And how long is Superman going to keep that filthy ring on his filthy finger?
Nothing quite says shut the front door! like a half-page BANG
Just a couple of wonky images might pull some readers out of the story for a second. From Miller: some rather flat jet planes and one panel of Barbara with a strangely shaped head. From Derenick: a Catwoman with a perversely thin profile. And from letterer Wes Abbott: a set of inverted EEEEEs that just don’t read well on the page (an uncharacteristic misstep!).
But these are just nitpicks, really. The nittiest of picks.
Why are Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan on the cover of this comic? More importantly, why aren’t Superman and Black Canary on this cover? And what’s with Hal’s one bizarrely steroidal leg? I feel like maybe this wrapper was completely rushed; it’s not even that dramatic a composition. Sorry, Jheremy Raapack, this go-round it’s a total cover fail.
I can only guess that the pace of this book sometimes stymies the ability to better match its covers. This happens often enough that I suspect the covers are created sometimes either too far in advance or, conversely, at the last minute–and by the time the story of the issue falls out, it’s too late for any editorial “fixes”. This issue’s cover especially stands out as unfortunate because I imagine that a picture of Superman and Black Canary battling one another could have not only made a more accurate and dramatic cover, but had specific dynamic comic shop curb-appeal on a shelf full of otherwise Batman and/or Lantern-themed books.
- You love Black Canary and want to see her kick some Superbutt.
- You haven’t had enough Absolute. Freaking. Carnage.
- You just need more awesome comic book reading!
Put a stake in my heart and call it a day: the creative team for Injustice manages to escalate this intergalactic war by bringing it right back down to Earth with grim consequences. This book has the perverse ability to make you seethe with bloodlust for peace to be restored on Earth, which is a crazy-wonderful cognitive dissonance to experience. Year Two is almost done and I’m going to stop asking whether things can get any worse since I think we already all know the answer.