This issue collects Digital Firsts 17 & 18, “Assault on the Tower” and “Fight or Flight”.  When we last checked in, bother Wonder Woman and Superman had been awakened from their slumbers by Ares through a bargain with Hera (the particulars of which we don’t know at this point). Spectre has also discerned the location of the hostages (Cyborg, Raven, Flash, and Damian) at the Resistance’s hiding place in the Tower of Fate. We begin issue no. 9 with Dick Grayson Deadman discovering what we already know: Jim Corrigan and the Spectre have parted ways. What we didn’t know is where Corrigan is, but Dick has found him! We then pick up on Team Superman’s explosive entrance at the Tower of Fate which leads to a pretty spectacular fight and Constantine pulling his trump card: baiting Trigon against Superman over the abduction of Raven.

Still with me? Let’s take a deeper look!

The Good

Dick Grayson as Deadman is so cool I’d follow it into a spin-off if ever there was a hope for one. As a departure from Nightwing, I admit I like it more conceptually than the currently running Grayson, but that’s neither here nor there: the point is he makes a great Deadman and it’s thrilling to have him back on Team Batman since he’d long been given up for, well, dead.

This book has plenty of action and raises the stakes for both sides. With Trigon in a wrath, there’s no telling how this might play out. For the moment he’s fixed his vengeance on Superman, but it’s probably just a matter of time before he figures out that he’s been duped by Conman John.

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That ought to shut him up for a bit

A couple of my favorite art moments: The reveal of the House of Mysteries (what an amazing perspective shot), and the conversion of the Tower of Fate into an M. C. Escher landscape.

Let’s talk a little more about the art. Last month I feel like I rated the book high (in retrospect I would rate it differently today), especially given that the art was so full of inconsistencies and some less-than-stellar character modeling. This time around, it’s the more regular crew at work, but I’m still feeling, even in spite of all the action, that something is missing. The first half art of the book is by Xermanico with finishes by Xermanico and Juan Albarran based on layouts by Bruno Redondo and Xermanico.  The second half layouts and pencils are by Redondo with finishes and inks by Juan Albarran. And while the art overall is stronger than the previous issue and there are some fantastic panels (see above), there are also moments when I wonder if Redondo is feeling some fatigue. Look at those art bylines. The first half alone was the combined work of three people. As the bylines get more cluttered, the content somehow feels less confident, less cohesive. In the second half particularly there are some moments that feel flat: Constantine pulling Batman’s cape, Harley lamenting the loss of Shazam, the moment when Dr. Fate zaps the prisoners out of Shazam’s reach.

All that said, this issue has a great cover by Neil Googe and J. Nanjan. And for those asking the burning questions as to why Wonder Woman’s legs are bare, rest assured, the coloring was corrected for the print run.

We were on a roll for a long time with clean and consistent art but it’s definitely teetered a bit in these latest issues of Year Three. Hopefully it will steady up again. The great news here, though, is that the fight sequences are well-choreographed and show a lot of fun incongruous match-ups like Catwoman and Sinestro.

The big reveal here is who’s behind the Spectre’s bizarre behavior. Personally I’m not feeling it in the final panel, but what do you think? Worthy adversary? Other-dimension distraction? This is the first time I feel like I’m encountering a character who isn’t behaving the least bit like I think the character ought to, but I’ll admit I’m not up on recent developments on our impish foe (if there have been any).

Also: what just happened to Ares? I mean: it was funny, but I feel like I need a crash course in the immortals that we’re dealing with.

The Bad

It’s been a bit of a lull here in the Injustice corner, between the long delays for the print issues and the last two of them being focused on Superman’s dream and Wonder Woman’s awakening. Stuff has happened, but the pace has been a little off and with the writer switchover we’re making a lot of adjustments two-thirds of the way in when we should be barreling toward another spectacular finale. Fortunately the energy seems to be picking up.

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It’s time for a showdown!

The Ugly

They sacrifice Zatanna in this key battle to keep Rose safe? Do they even know why Rose is important? It’s a pretty dubious move and that kid needs to start paying off, pronto.

Batman loses two more members of his team, but I confess I’ve become desensitized to all the killing this Year.

Spoiler
Klarion felt almost completely throwaway, but I’m more particularly perplexed by the loss of Detective Chimp. What purpose did he serve to begin with, exactly?

Recommended If…

  • You like a big superhero brawl, including Supes mano a mano with Bats.
  • Trigon throwing Team Superman around like a rat terrier on a timer sounds delightful.
  • You want to see Bats and Dick Grayson reunited after a long absence.

Overall

This is mostly big and noisy and a lot of fun, but between all the magic and double-crossing the plot feels like it’s starting to unravel. Nine issues into a 12-issue Year you would hope we might be seeing more payoff at this point, but things are just starting to heat up with more questions than answers and some threads already proving to go nowhere of major narrative consequence. With all the cards seemingly revealed at this point, I’m anxiously hoping for some big surprises here on out.

SCORE: 7.5/10