This week brings more pummeling and proclamations as Superman’s team takes on the gods in Digital First chapters 11 & 12, “Ultimatums” and “Throwdown”. Is it me or are these titles getting to be a bit too pithy? It used to be that they were at least a matched set, but lately they just seem like random one-word themes. I’m making a point of saying this because I feel like the Injustice title has definitely gone through some growing pains and even the little things that cut into its freshness factor have begun to concern me.

Out storyline is hanging strong so far, but we’re not getting much movement for being halfway through the year. The gods are still tossing out ultimatums and then forking over ridiculous time limits (really? twenty-four hours to decide whether they will surrender or die?). Batman also still has his people in a holding pattern to just watch what unfolds. Are they going to camp out on the steps of the Hall of Justice? Superman seems to have forgotten that they are even there. And that alliance that seemed like it might be brewing? That’s been sidelined as well.

So what do we get this issue? We get a minor escalation of the antagonism, a fight in site of the twenty-four hour time limit, some insight into what Lex is cooking up in his lab, and the surprise return of a character we all thought had been written off in Year Three:

Spoiler
Yes, it’s the potential return of Raven, who has been spending her time since last Year agonizing over the death of her father even though he was evil incarnate and even though that seems to make her feel oogie and conflicted about her own worth (father-daughter relationships in comics are always so fraught and complicated).

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Ares continues to meddle in befuddling ways

Benevolent Tidings

It feels like Brian Buccellato has really eased into this world and embraced the huge cast he has to juggle each and every issue. He’s kept the characters from being caricatures and even though Batman doesn’t have a lot to do lately, I feel like Buccellato is working toward exciting things with the Resistance–it’s good strategy, after all, to see if the gods will sort out the problem of Superman for the moment.

We’re also seeing the story begin to tie together: Billy in the Arrow Cave, Lex in his mad scientist’s lab. These are elements that have been hanging out there since the start of Year Four and we’re finally getting a sense of how they might play into the building climax. For being at the half-way point, I have to say, even though the plot hasn’t progressed all that much, the action has been pretty non-stop. It’s definitely been in the spirit of the game with more bang than blather, so for those of you who like your comics with a good helping of bombast, this remains the perfect title.

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Team Batman gets sidelined while the gods and wanna-be-gods duke it out

Mike S. Miller is on the deck this go round, and his anatomy in the second half really starts to get away from him (there is one unfortunate page in which both Superman and Wonder Woman look like they’ve encountered Devil’s Rain and are melting, and another in which Hercules’ proportions are so off he looks like a dwarf). But boy does Miller finish big and bold!

I’ve been pretty critical of Miller’s work (perhaps this year more than ever) but I give him a lot of credit for the finale in this one: excellent action, nice expressions, and angles that really work for the composition of the page (as opposed to just being a tilt on a panel for the sake of variety). Diana’s wild eye as she is held by Hercules’ enormous mauling hand conveys real terror. Miller’s women all look great too: everyone from Harley to Batwoman is rendered with individual personality. Nothing lazy in the characters here at all!

Really nice cover again this week from Tom Raney and Rex Lokus. This is the kind of cover that really works for Injustice–it’s got real dramatic tension, a nice upshot angle, and it teases without spoiling the interior action. It’s the kind of cover that catches my eye on the comic rack and makes me want to buy the book!

Minor Maledictions

This is a great issue, but I’m going to nitpick a bit because I feel like there are some things that struck me as left of field in my reading.

First, let’s talk about the reveal of Lex Luthor’s science experiment:

Spoiler
Did you all guess beforehand that Lex was cooking up a clone? Or that the Year Three Annual featuring Conner Kent might actually tie-in to current events?
Don’t know yet what to make of all of this, and I like that Buccellato is bringing these elements together, but I feel like there are some leaps in logic going on. Superman destroyed Luthor’s work but he somehow recreates it all even though he says it couldn’t be recovered. That weird contradiction (all within three panels) really distracted me from the action (and is distracting me still).

The other problem I had with this book is one I mentioned above: the gods twenty-four hour time limit on “surrender or die”. I can’t, in any way, imagine why the gods give them a whole day to decide whether to surrender. They want their obeisance, they have them in a compromised position, and yet they let them limp off to fortify themselves? Makes. No. Sense. Other than stringing the tension along, this caveat serves no purpose but to stall so that the outlier Justice Leaguers can come to the rescue. Batman also compromises and lets the gods have it their own way. I can see him not wanting to call down their wrath on his own team, but again, the whole thing just feels convenient rather than logical. I realize it’s a moot point given what follows the ultimatum, but that just stresses how unnecessary the time-limit was in the first place.

Recommended If…

  • You like surprises. It’s the return of one of the criminally underused characters from Year Three: could there be redemption for that dropped storyline in the wings?
  • Hal fights Hercules in a urine-colored mecha-suit and gets peeled like a banana–what’s not to enjoy?
  • You like your Injustice light on the Batman angle and heavy on the Superman/Wonder Woman dynamic.
  • You just can’t get enough of Lex’s creepy Bacta-tank shenanigans.

Overall

There is plenty to please the eye in this ongoing battle between Superman’s demigods and the actual gods themselves. We don’t get a lot of forward motion on the story, but Buccellato is definitely setting up for the big climax (we’re halfway there). In the meantime, there’s lots of action, lots of face-pounding, and Wonder Woman and Superman continue to occupy center-stage. Expect that all to change soon, however. At this point either you’re probably reading Injustice already or you’ve missed the boat altogether. If you’re one of those rare birds who flew the coop in Year Three, however, you might want to come back home to roost now: this story has still got plenty of bang for your buck, and the creative team behind it is definitely on solid ground!

SCORE: 7.5/10