This issue collects Digital Firsts 19 & 20 respectively titled “House of Mystery” and “House of Secrets”. We’re in the middle of a big brawl with Mxyzptlk and Trigon trading thunderbolts and hellfire while Superman and Batman square off down below. Team Batman looks to have a momentary upper hand, but a very annoyed Swamp Thing arrives just in time to upset the balance.
This is that part of Year Three where evidently Buccellato is just going to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the fray. And it’s about time too: only two issues until the finale and it feels like there are a lot of issues to resolve. But for the time being Buccellato manages to control the action with an assist from newcomer Pete Woods and regular Mike S. Miller on art duties.
Oh look: it’s Mister Mzzlepixiesticks vs. that guy from Legend!
It’s fun to see where the fighters are pairing off and who’s besting who given the enhancement pills that allow mere mortals like Catwoman to take on demigods like Wonder Woman. Not sure I buy that Batwoman can punch out Ares, but then I thought he was eviscerated and “dead” in the last issue, so I’m guessing this is the part where maybe fewer people die on account of the magic and the pills and more people get flattened Roadrunner-style only to bounce back to seconds.
It feels like Deadman Dick could be doing more than standing around chatting with Dr. Fate and pontificating the problem of Swamp Thing, but it’s just nice to have him back and we need some characters out of the eye of the storm so to speak so that we can get a sense of the plan brewing. Love the last few moments between Superman and Batman as well: the stubbornness of these two titans is legendary.
Pete Woods is a nice addition to the team. His character faces are generally good but he really excels with the action: his fight sequences are varied, impactful, and he doesn’t chintz on the backgrounds The patterning that he uses for the trees is very nice and augmented by Rex Lokus’ colors to create depth in the environment while also closing in on the characters so it doesn’t just feel like a big open stadium. And with the second half of the book especially being one big fight, letterer Wes Abbott gets to cut loose with a lot of great sound effects.
Love the bludgeoning scrawl on this “Krak”
Neil Googe and Rex Lokus also kill it with the cover on this one. I especially love the look of surprise on Huntress’ face. Too funny.
I don’t feel like Swamp Thing’s interference is well explained at this juncture. He and Constantine had basically agreed to stay out of one another’s hair and Swamp Thing told him that he wasn’t intending to meddle in their meat-matters so long as they left the Green alone. Since Constantine’s plan to try to kill Swamp Thing wasn’t going to work anyway, why does Swamp Thing chase him down. And why now? And why here? It makes for an added level of drama, for certain, but this is one of the moments that feels uncharacteristically not well-motivated.
In the same vein, I still don’t understand why characters like Montoya and Constantine are on the ground in the fight and characters like Dr. Fate and Zatanna are playing nanny to Rose and the prisoners. In a fight full of magic, you’d think they’d want their spellcasters in the thick of it. Not to mention, with Spectre gone, Superman’s team is outnumbered at this point if the Resistance were to pitch it all in at once.
I feel like we lost a lot of momentum with this book between the diversions of the last couple of issues and then all of the delays getting to the print editions. But something more seems missing here: some essential spark. You’ll find no real surprises in this issue and for a series that feels like it’s been one surprise after another regularly since the beginning, and for Year Three to be four digital firsts away from wrapping up, that feels strangely out of balance.
- You want to see lots of costume-on-costume beatdowns.
- You have fan-love for Swamp Thing and/or Mxyzptlk.
- It’s countdown to the Year Three finale: you know you want it!
Injustice feels like it’s lost a bit of its edge lately, but it could just be finding its feet with the departure of Tom Taylor and the shifting sands of the art team. Buccellato has done a good job of trying to maintain the balance between the humor and the seriousness of the circumstances and where the magic has, at times, threatened to overwhelm the humanity of the story, he nevertheless brings the action back to the fundamental fight between the oppositional ideals of the DCU’s two most powerful heroes.