This issue collects Digital Firsts 21 & 22 respectively titled “Goodbyes and Farewells” and “Hellfire and Damnation”. This is the penultimate issue to Year Three before Injustice goes dark for a little nap during the Convergence event that will subsume everything until DC is neatly ensconced on the opposite coast. We should be gearing up for an immense finale, but it feels more like business as usual for the most part here.
Bruce and Dick have a heart-to-heart after Dick brings Poison Ivy to the scene in the Batplane. His plan evidently is to fight the avatar of the green (Swamp Thing) with a similarly aligned foe, and so he embodies her to fly over in the Batplane. This raises a lot of questions, which I’ll enumerate below. While this is going on, the rest of the teams are still battling it out and there’s a terrific fight sequence between Wonder Woman, Batwoman, and Huntress resulting in this week’s surprise kill. Meanwhile, Trigon has had his fill of sparring with Mxyzptlk and decides to unleash hell’s fury, which, of course, leads into our second half of the book (appropriately titled for the anticipation hellfire and damnation to follow).
Meanwhile, Hal tries to rescue Flash and the other hostages, but comes face to face with Constantine and Dr. Fate. It’s then that they realize that Trigon’s wrath has put the whole zone out of balance (signified by a digital zag distortion effect that’s both cheap and effective). Superman wants to take Batman’s head off, but Bruce tries to convince him that they must put aside their differences or else Trigon’s fight with Mxyzptlk is going to do them all in. Dr. Fate and Constantine convince Hal and Flash to help them save the others by bringing them into the house where they can be protected. Everyone is rescued except Swamp Thing, who winds up in flames in a rather uninspired final panel of hell.
She didn’t even see it coming
Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran take the first half, while Mike S. Miller does the art honors in the second half of the book. The first half of the book is wonderfully rendered with a very menacing Swamp Thing, and an excellent battle between the women (Wonder Woman, Huntress, and Batwoman). The arts wibbles a great deal in the second half, but there is still some nice action between Swamp Thing and Ivy, and Trigon is sufficiently scary.
There’s also a good balance of humor in this book with some wonderfully funny moments. Brian Buccellato hasn’t seemed as comfortable with interspersing the humor as his predecessor, but this issue manages to keep the tone fairly serious while nevertheless infusing a little light amidst the darkness. Some of the highlights:
- Though I’m not sure why Dick argues Damian’s case (because he’s Dick and he’s just a nice guy, I guess), it was nice to see him and Batman have a reconciling moment. Batman’s relationship with his original Robin has always been deep and complex and it was nice to see Buccellato give them a moment to connect. Year Three has also been kind of light on the heart-felt stuff compared to last year, so this was a good moment.
- Flash tries to rescue everyone, but he fails. I kind of wish he had failed even more tragically, but just the notion that there are limits to the godlike powers of these heroes is always refreshing.
- Superman and Batman go another round. It’s gotten a little redundant, but can we ever really complain to see these titans together (even as enemies?).
There is nothing wrong with your television. Do not attempt to adjust the picture.
Dick’s plan to bring Ivy into the fray is fraught with problems. The least of which is how Ivy flew the Batplane into the temporal space between the House of Secrets and the House of Mystery. Is it really that easy to get there? Or does Dick have enough power to make this happen? More importantly, he brings Ivy in the Batplane and then doesn’t use the Batplane to just gas everyone on the ground? Or drop a bomb? Or pretty much deploy any one of a hundred other gadgets on said Batplane to assist in the fight?
Mike S. Miller opens the second half of the book with a pretty poorly rendered overview of Trigon’s destruction in the forest between the House of Secrets and the House of Mystery. The houses are rendered crudely with almost no detail whatsoever, and in the panel that follows, the fight lacks any kind of dynamism; it just looks like a bunch of people laying around for the most part. Nevertheless, he makes up for it with a pretty exciting exchange between Swamp Thing and Ivy. These two are hardly a matched pair in terms of strength and power, but given that this is Injustice, there’s wiggle room to believe that Ivy might actually be a match for the Avatar of the Green.
Constantine and Dr. Fate are still just hanging out and chatting about inevitabilities and outcomes.
Lastly, Miller is also on cover duties this week (with colorist J. Nanjan), and though the cover is spectacular, it’s purely conceptual. Wonder Woman is featured prominently in this issue, but the inclusion of Hera and Ares is a strange choice. Given the solicitations, it’s my impression that this cover was originally an alternate for an earlier episode or was rendered as a generic Year Three cover without regard to the content it would be covering. Either way, I think the editors could have done a better job of either finding placement for it, or making alterations to better suit the interior work.
Several people have remarked that Year Three just hasn’t had the same impact as the previous two years despite a cast of awesome characters and the possibility of a lot of raised stakes. The death in this issue certainly didn’t feel as impactful as maybe it could have, and the heart-to-heart between Bruce and Dick, while good, felt weirdly placed in the midst of the battle.
- You’re an Injustice devotee and you’re in it until the end.
- You want to see Swamp Thing and Ivy do some mighty fine wrassling.
- Not into plants? Wonder Woman, Batwoman, and Huntress also do some mighty fine wrassling.
There were a lot of moments in this issue that were solid, dramatic, and exciting, but the story feels like it’s in a mad rush toward an ambiguous conclusion. The pacing throughout Year Three has been uneven and this issue exemplifies that: in the middle of what should be a pitched battle to the death we have protracted conversations, redundant arguments, and a lot of random fighting with (for the most part) no particular resolution. For the first time ever, Injustice feels like it’s a comic book based on a video game. I’m really hoping the final issue gives us all something to buzz about again.