This week we say farewell to the incredible storytelling of Tom Taylor, who has been with this series since it kicked off with Year One. It’s fitting in so many ways, then that we revisit that kick-off in this issue which collects Digital Firsts 13 & 14. The story focuses on the dream of Superman, who was put into a deep sleep last issue by Batman after making a deal with Etrigan the demon. The spell is such that Spectre cannot break it, and as they ruminate over this problem, we see Superman’s sugarplum thoughts in a bittersweet tale called “For the Man Who’s Lost Everything” (Parts 1 & 2).

The Good

Oftentimes “What-if” stories and dream scenarios are kind of toss-away ruminations without substance or meaning in the scope of a larger work, but that’s far from the truth here. Taylor leaves us with a tale of how it might have been if Lois hadn’t died on that fateful day and rather than some fatalistic turn of events in which things seem predestined to go bad (another common trait of “What-if” stories), he gives us a bittersweet look into a world no better off for the mediating hand of superheroes, but also no worse.

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Nice going, CLARK.

I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on the Digital First No. 13 cliffhanger (which constitutes the mid-point of this issue).

Spoiler

  • How did you feel about Batman’s actions in the Batmobile?
  • How did you feel about him turning himself in after the fact?
  • And for that matter, what about that amazing scene in the prison when Superman walks right through the wall to embrace him? If you didn’t want to cry in that moment, you clearly have no soul and should immediately return to the clay from which you were formed.

And I don’t know about you, but I loved Lara Lane-Kent. What an awesome character in an awesome family dynamic. She seriously could have a series all her own.

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Lara gets it

However sad this was on some levels, there was consolation in that Bruce did okay for himself after the incident, even though he apparently gave up the cowl. It was gratifying to see him married (this is Bruce Wayne, after all) and seemingly at some kind of peace. I want a whole ‘nother Injustice series where we explore everything else that might have happened in this world if things had gone this way.

Juan Albarran and Xermanico are on art duties for the whole of the book. Bruno Redondo does contribute layouts for the second half, with Rex Lokus coloring straight through as well. This is the first time in a long while that one single team worked across digital chapters and the effect is very nice; particularly for this story since it’s a bit of a story-within-a-story; the extra continuity is much appreciated.  Some favorite visual moments:

  • Superman walking through the wall.
  • Watching Lara grow up panel-to-panel.
  • The inclusion of a super-dog that looks a lot like old-fashioned Krypto (and not that weird wolfish thing that’s been making the rounds).

The Bad

Story-wise I have only one small pecky complaint: 2 years for murder and a history of vigilantism? Even if they throw the Batman stuff out the window and even if no jury would want to convict him, 2 years for even a reduced charge of manslaughter seems really cheap. I go back to the fact that, like with Superman in the actual series, this is a murder in cold blood of an apprehended domestic terrorist without due process. That’s not cool and it goes against everything the law (and these Justice Leaguers) stand for. Not that I want Bruce to spend more time in prison, it just seems a really small price to pay for crossing that line–especially for Batman.

Also, there are some unfortunate inconsistencies in the character modeling in the opening of the dream sequence. We are replaying the opening of Year One, after all, and things should match up. But the Joker’s wearing clothes that aren’t quite right and his smile is off, Superman’s “S” is ridiculously huge, and Batman’s cowl is just sorta scribbled in. It’s hard to know what Albarran was thinking here. If these were deliberate choices, they seem like strange ones without purpose (the original design for the Joker in particular was quite striking). Otherwise it feels like a wee bit of uncharacteristic slop. Referring back to the original pages should have been easy enough (I certainly did it). Whatever, it’s a dream, right?

Lastly, while I really like Mike S. Miller and J. Nanjan’s cover, the baby looks a little undersized and goofy to me. Lois is particularly lovely, though, and the golden dawn is a nice touch.

The Ugly

That scene in the batmobile was a little traumatic, I gotta say. Maybe even worse than the original scene in which Superman did the deed.

Recommended If…

  • You want to see a “What if” in which Injustice should be retitled Justice.
  • You love a little bromance between Bats and Supes.
  • Seeing the offspring of Lois and Clark manifested thrills you.
  • You want to see what happens when Batman finally crosses that line.
  • Tom Taylor’s swan song is bittersweet music you want to hear.

Overall

Maybe this feels like a bit of stalling from the main action of Year Three story-wise, but I find it a welcome digression because it’s thoughtful about the themes around which the Injustice series has been been built: the implications of superheroes in the “real” world, the lines they are faced with crossing (or not) by their actions, and their relationship both with one another as well as the world-at-large. It’s poignant stuff, and a marvelous sunset off into which Tom Taylor rides.

SCORE: 9/10