Print issue No. 12 collects the Digital Firsts 23 & 24, “Fall of the Gods” and “World’s End”, and wraps up the tortuous journey that has been Year Two. This time around I bought a pint of pistachio gelato well in advance of reading because the last couple of issues have been very hard to bear without serious comfort-food support. But it turns out I didn’t need it even though the bodies pile high and deep.
I know what you’re thinking: it’s because the book stunk and had no emotional impact; or, it’s because I’m a ghoul who revels in the carnage. But maybe–just maybe–it’s because Tom Taylor has a big heart. A very big and merciful heart. Because in spite of all the destruction and cruelty and the worst man (and Superman) has to offer, Year Two ends on a bittersweet note of hope, which was never in the world what I was expecting. And it goes to prove, one more time, that this book can surprise even the most cynical, the most jaded, and even those who most typically see everything coming (yeah, I was one of those people who said, two minutes into The Sixth Sense, “pssst: he’s dead”).
Is it horrible to say I love all the ongoing killing in the backgrounds throughout?
It’s hard to frame so much horror under the category of “good”, but high drama has been the hallmark of this book and you’ll get double and triple servings of it here. All those lengthy episodes of Lanterns negotiating and bickering and conspiring pay off like a million dollar casino slot machine rigged in your favor.
To begin with, it’s worth acknowledging the whole art team that contributed to the two digital issues that combine for this finale: Bruno Redondo, Xermanico, Julien Hugonnard-Bert, J. Nanjan, Rex Lokus, and Juan Albarran all lend their talents on layouts, pencils, colors, and inks, alternating pages throughout the book. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen trading off drawing and inking and coloring duties for a single issue, but they make it work so that you can scarcely see any seams whatsoever. In the entire run of both Years, continuity in the art has been variable given different artists’ styles, but here everything feels synchronous–a job truly well done (and kudos to editors Aniz Ansari and Jim Chadwick as well!).
The expressions in the first half: Sinestro’s leers, Guy Gardner’s resignation, Hal’s fury–all beautifully executed. With the focus tightly fixed on their faces for most of the action, you practically don’t even need words to understand everything that is happening throughout this sequence. There is similarly wonderful visual storytelling later in the book during Superman’s confrontation with Ganthet where, rather than a focus on the faces, we pull back the frame further and further from any intimacy/humanity until the whole page is filled with devastation. It effectively put us back on Earth as observers and gives us a sense of the helplessness of being subjected to the full brunt of Superman’s wrath. Incredibly powerful stuff.
The same is equally true for the story itself: another emotional roller coaster from the moment we pick up Superman and Canary’s fatal bout, through the end of the Lanterns’ war, and to Canary’s final resting place.
Go read the book! Don’t read these spoilers! But if you want to see what I have to say about all the bodies to be sorted when the dust settles, help yourself:
- Superman stuffs Ganthet into Mogo and torches them both by sending them into the Sun. No bodies to bury there. Mogo and Ganthet are toast.
- Sinestro kills John Stewart. Just up and kills him like a total rat-bastard.
- Then Sinestro baits Hal into murdering Guy Gardner by blaming John’s death on him. Oh Jehoshaphat! I want that pointy-eared devil-freak dead dead dead. This was just appalling! As if enough gross abuse hasn’t been heaped on poor Guy Gardner. The big question is: how will Hal ever forgive himself? In the game he attempts to redeem himself, but now I just don’t see how that can happen!
- Canary breathes her last breath….or does she?
Ganthet personally decides to deal with Fear-Monger-Action Evil Superman
And then this happens:
Just like that, Dr. Fate is instantly my favorite character of the week (and trust me, that’s saying something!)
Dr. Fate has had it with all this senseless brutality and decides to intervene in Black Canary’s case. Enough is enough, after all: first, poor Ollie, and now Connor loses his mother as well? Its too much to bear, so Dr. Fate hijacks Dinah and drops her off fully restored on another Earth with another Ollie in a seemingly remote (and peaceful) place.
And yes, it’s momentarily awkward–these two have never actually met before–but Ollie’s reaction (and his smile) in the final panel is beyond priceless. Bravo, Mr. Taylor. I don’t think I could have borne the weight of the horrors of this Injustice year were it not for ending with a little something hopeful and kind.
I even tried to find nitpicks, but there’s nothing to say here….
So much carnage: bodies falling out of the sky, dismembered bits floating around the stratosphere, beloved characters being stabbed, fried, and shredded in full graphic detail. It could certainly always be more gory, but for an otherwise mainstream book, this doesn’t pull punches. None of it is gratuitous (it is a war!), but if you find that sort of thing off-putting, consider yourself warned.
- You want a big finale before Year Three kicks off (just two weeks away!)
- The Sinestro/John Stewart/Hal Jordan/Guy Gardner storyline officially comes to an end. Even if you think you already know who among them survives Year Two, you’re going to want to see it all play out.
- Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen have a special place in your heart (as they should!)
- You are a glutton for Absolute. Freaking. Carnage.
Year Two concludes with more death and tragedy and evil–all to be expected from this title at this juncture. But it also offers a little something more. You won’t want to miss this staggering finale. And for those of you who still aren’t reading: no shame–it’s never too late to start picking this up! This is comic storytelling at its finest and trust me, you’ll want to say one day: I read that one!