Year Five isn’t pulling any punches as the collected Digital Firsts No. 3 & 4 will testify. Last we saw, Superman had his hands full with Doomsday, Yellow Lantern Hal was wrassling with Parasite, and Batman was secretly enlisting for his underground Resistance.

This go-round we see the return of Wonder Woman, who has been having some conflicting feelings about the Superman camp. In Year Two we saw her get pretty close to Clark, but they’ve been butting heads a lot more lately. And in this issue that rift seems to widen. We also get the start of the arc that will probably turn Catwoman against Batman!

What’s to Love in the Words

Brian Buccellato has definitely found his groove. Maybe he’s just more comfortable writing these more naturally grounded characters. Too many gods and demons in the last Year and half. I like the way he handles Superman’s wretched straight-up villainy here. Superman has continued to have moments of humanity along this tragic journey, but in this issue he’s just awful. He’s dismissive of his team, tries to be manipulative with Diana, and he flat-out murders Parasite. He has turned. This is finally the Superman we see in the video game: just an evil overlord without apparent conscience.

With all the baddies on the loose, it’s fun to see who’s going to pop up. In this issue we come face to face with a number of Batman’s rogues gallery, most notably Bane and the Penguin. It looks like Bane will have a significant role in Year Five and that could be really cool.

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Bane to the Rescue? Stranger things have happened!

My favorite moment (though it’s truly awful) is when Yellow Lantern asks what’s become of Parasite and Superman tells him he’s been dealt with. The dialogue plays over panels that show what’s become of him. It’s a simple visual juxtaposition that really works nicely.

We also finally see what’s been percolating in Lex Luthor’s lab for a long while now. In retrospect it’s obvious what he was cooking up. The question now is how Bizarro is going to fit into the rest of this craziness? I have a lot of questions about where he is and what he’s doing at the moment, but feel pretty confident that they’ll get answered.

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Me need undressing! Me am very dressed!

What’s to Love in the Pictures

We got Tom Derenick on the front half of this issue and Mike S. Miller on the back half, with coloring by Re Lokus and J. Nanjan respectively. Though I feel like Derenick’s beat-down of Doomsday lacks the power and awe of the fight in the previous issue, it’s really not the showcase of this piece and constraints necessitated it being crammed into a couple of pages. I’m okay with that because it keeps the story moving. I do like Derenick’s renderings of Superman. He’s got nice hard angles on the face throughout and narrow eyes that just look mean. I also like the way he draws Bane. This design is one of my favorite for Bane. He almost looks like a big beefy Black Manta.

Miller’s Superman has always looked soft to me and he’s no different here in the second half of the book. His rendering of Bizarro is awesome, though. When the old man lifts his chin and he gazes sort of at the man but also at us, it’s a great portrait: quizzical and brutish. My other favorite moment from Miller is when Catwoman leaps out of a porthole in Penguin’s ice boat only to hit a wall of ice.

Aside some a few panels on the weaker end of thing (mostly the wide angles seem to feel a bit rushed and lacking in detail on Miller’s half), this is just a solidly fun book. Buccellato really balances the action, the humor, and the horror while moving the story forward.

Recommended If…

  • You’re a fan of Catwoman’s shenanigans–and the Batman rogues in general!
  • Me hate Bizarro! Me never want to see him!
  • This feels like it folks: the chapter in which Superman just gives in to being an evil jerk.

Overall

Brian Buccellato continues to bring a renewed energy to this video-game tie-in going on five “years” running. This has got action, humor, and some rather chilling moments with our Big Blue Boy Scout (who will not be earning any merit badges in morality any time soon). We’ve been a while in the Superman camp here, but I expect we’ll see much more of Batman’s shenanigans in the next issue now that the Cat is in the bag. If you wandered away from Injustice recently, this is a great time to pull up a chair and tie on a big bib. There’s a nice hot pot of tasty intrigue brewing as the villains start choosing sides and it looks like it will be good for as many servings as you can eat!

SCORE: 9/10