We conclude Year Three with the collected issue of Digital Firsts 23 & 24, “Maelstrom” and “Endgame”. This issue not only delivers the final resolution to the problem of all this out-of-control magic, but reveals Constantine’s motivation for getting involved in Batman’s Rebellion in the first place (you all have to have known he had ulterior motives all along, right?). Brian Buccellato crams as much as he can into this book in what feels like an attempt at making up for lost time and opportunities earlier in the series.

Batman and Superman manage to call a ceasefire long enough to agree that they need to deal with the magical beings who are destroying the fabric of their existence and come up with some random mumbo-jumbo that works (of course). To say that I am disappointed with the way this all turned out would be an understatement. I’m sorry to say Injustice did not rescue Year Three in a glorious finale.

Ah well, even on its bad days Injustice is a fun read and better than much of what else comes off the stands lately, so before I go tearing into it, let’s talk about the good stuff.

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But it will end like this, Supes, sad to say

The Good

Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran take the second half of this book’s art duties and end Year Three on a high-note art-wise (along with Rex Lokus on colors). J. Nanjan does colors on the first half and it’s nice to see how well-coordinated this pair is. If you compare the vortex panels in each half of the book they are nearly a perfect match.

There’s genuine dramatic tension in the second half of the book: when little Billy goes out there to confront the demigods in their melee, you do get a sense of the enormity of it and that’s pretty exciting.

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This is an awesome sight to behold

And, well, that’s about it.  Final props to Aaron Lopresti and Rex Lokus for a lovely conceptual cover that will probably look especially nice on the trade edition.

The Bad

While everyone’s powers are rendered useless, instead of seizing the opportunity to lay waste to Superman’s regime, Batman and company prioritize the interdimensional battle going on over their heads. This doesn’t strike me as very Batman-like, first of all, and secondly, while I agree they needed to take out the big baddies, there’s nothing preventing them from incapacitating Superman’s crew simultaneously.

Trigon and Mxyzptlk basically get wished into the cornfield (if you don’t know the reference, you need to watch more Twilight Zone). For all the build-up this feels like a necessary but poorly rationalized/set-up culmination of events. With all the pieces put in place and available to play with (Jim Corrigan and Raven especially), the finale basically comes down to Dr. Fate channeling Shazam’s whammy power? Also:

Spoiler
This issue basically takes Dr. Fate out of the fight (possibly for good) and that seems rather convenient instead of purposeful at this stage.
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Lastly, Mike S. Miller is on art duties for the first half of this book and I am sorry to say it all looks pretty rushed. Wide angles lack detail (again, both House of Secrets and House of Mystery look like scrawlings in what should otherwise be an epic opening panel), and characters’ facial expressions are often wonky. Constantine in particular pulls a lot of goofy expressions and Damian, who up until now has been depicted as an older teenager is suddenly back to looking like he’s twelve. This is a densely populated book but Miller doesn’t seem to know what to do with the angles or postures to keep everyone from looking like they’re assembling to strike a pose for a parade float, when there is a group of characters standing around talking he just tilts the panel. It’s better than a straight-on shot, by often makes for some challenging perspectives that he just doesn’t render well.

The Ugly

We have a scene in which Zatanna’s heroic intervention is talked about by Batwoman instead of, oh I don’t know, Zatanna. Seriously. This was unforgivable. Zatanna has been missing for the entire conclusion of this story and doesn’t even get a cameo at the end?

Similarly, Raven wakes up just in time to say “hi Daddy!” before Trigon is obliterated.

John Constantine plays his final card and it’s neither surprising nor particularly interesting. While his self-serving behavior is well within keeping in character, it feels anticlimactic to say the least. Worse still, all this hubbub is over a character (Rose) who seemed early on that she might have something interesting and powerful to contribute to the story (as a vessel of magic), but who ultimately spent the entire battle in hiding with Zatanna.

Recommended If…

  • It’s the finale! You have to finish the Year out.
  • You want to see Billy Batson save the day (with an assist Dr. Fate).

Overall

Year Three has had some stand-out moments, but overall didn’t deliver the shock and awe of Injustice’s first two years. This finale not only sports a fairly lacklustre deus ex machina resolution to the problem of Trigon and Mxyzptlk, but criminally under-uses (or flat out ignores) key characters such as Zatanna and Raven. Worse still, the final resolution to John Constantine’s role in the insurgency hinges on a made-for-Injustice character we know virtually nothing about, never got to spend real time with, and whose disappearance now will have no impact on Batman’s crew. In fact, none of Year Three has any lasting impact (with the exception of a few deaths). The balance of power is unchanged and the key characters are unchanged. In a book that has thrived on altering the status quo with nearly every issue in the past, this is, in a word, disappointing.

SCORE: 6.5/10