One of my favorite things about Year Five so far is the epic fight sequences: both purposeful and exquisitely executed. I’m not typically a reader who enjoys a whole comic of people just beating on each other, but when it moves the story and it’s dramatically more interesting than just characters endlessly trading blows, I can really appreciate it.
In this issue, which collects Digital Firsts No.11 “Unusual Suspects” & No. 12 “Three-For-All”, the bulk of the action is about Superman’s confrontation with Bizarro (and for an extra dose of complication, let’s throw Solomon Grundy into the mix!).
This has been coming for a while and it’s finally showdown-time! Interestingly, this battle is brought to us through the chicanery of the Trickster, who was ousted from Rogues for not being up to snuff. Well, the Rogues (what few of them are left–to say one) maybe should have held onto him because he manages to turn this walking disaster into an effective weapon against the Superman camp with just some clever conniving.
You almost feel sorry for Bizarro’s stupidity
The other part of this story involves the relationship between Superman and Lex Luthor, which feels (like all of Superman’s relationships at the moment) rather strained. There’s a wonderfully tense moment when Superman challenges Lex, tacitly accuses him of being dishonest, and Lex stoically weathers Supes’ lie detector. This is nicely done with the simple overlay of showing Lex’s steady heartbeat throughout the scene. There’s nice tension built as you follow that green blip anticipating whether it might spike at any moment. Fortunately, Lex has nerves of steel. He passes the test. For now.
The only thing I feel like this issue is missing is better sense of Lex’s actual feelings about Bizarro. Is he trying at all to control the situation? It feels like he’s unleashed this atrocity and is just letting it run its course. Lex Luthor ought to have a better plan than that by my estimation, and maybe there’s something yet to be revealed, but given how long this particular storyline has been building, I feel like the lack of answers is a little frustrating.
Mike S. Miller and Iban Coello pair up on art duties, with Miller on the first half and Coello on the second. Once again, these artists are exceptionally well-matched. And as I mentioned before, the action in this is top-notch. Especially nice is the brief but meaningful interaction of civilians caught in the crossfire of the Superman-Bizarro-Grundy brawl, and I also really love Coello’s rage-fueled expressions on Bizarro. Meanwhile, Miller’s handling of the Superman and Lex interaction is nicely simple: the straight-up angles of the panels are a great contrast once the crazy action kicks in.
Look for other cameos from Hawkgirl, Yellow Lantern, and more, though the only Bat-related characters who appear are Damian (in one panel) and Zsasz (in another). The solicit for this issue refers to Damian putting on the Nightwing costume, but yeah, that’s not what this issue is about, so adjust expectations accordingly.
Superman vs. the Pasty Gray Doof Club
Injustice continues to demonstrate that given the right elements, writer Brian Buccellato has the right chops to bring us dramatic action in the dialogue as well as the fight sequences. This work is so different from what he did in Detective Comics, for example, and in many ways he seems much more liberated while still working within characters originally established by Tom Taylor. And there’s just a good sense of fun here as well. As dark as the story is sometimes, little breather moments: the occasional quips or the absurdity of the whole of this battle, for example, provide respite from the clawing doom that lays around the corner for this world.
- You want to see Superman Vs. Superman (sorta–Bizarro counts, right?)
- If you never thought you would root for Lex Luthor against Superman, this is the comic for you!
- Any Trickster fans out there? Nice cameo here!
Solomon Grundy’s cameo is made wonderfully purposeful by not only being an impetus for Superman and Bizarro to clash, but connecting back to the story of Lex Luthor and Superman’s suspicion that Luthor’s not been entirely honest with him. And he just makes for a great brawling bit of fun as Superman tries to subdue two extraordinarily strong opponents with whom he can’t rationalize. Injustice continues to do a great job of being a video tie-in without having a plotline so superficial it wears out its welcome before you get to the end of the game.