Last week I kvetched about Marguerite Bennett’s Batwoman in DC Bombshells, but this week Brian Buccellato brings Injustice’s Batwoman to the fore in a big way in this issue titled “Revolutionary” (Digital Firsts No.15 & No. 16 parts 1 & 2).
This is a significantly heavy Batfamily issue and there’s plenty to please the Batman crowd, but Superman fans beware: the Man of Steel does something so heinous in this issue I can see it upsetting a lot of people.
So here’s what’s going down: Jason Bard (yes, the Jason Bard) is heading up the Joker Underground, a group of anti-Superman average Joes who are fed up with the Big Blue Boy Scout’s tyrannical fascism. Bard’s group has a point: the world is under the thumb of a Supreme Ruler who won’t be challenged on his absolute power, who has already committed atrocities, and who even now is reconditioning super villains to support his purpose. The Joker Underground is just a mob, though, and Batwoman crashes their rally to point out that they’ve got no legs to stand on. Also in attendance is Harley Quinn, who has likewise infiltrated the group in an attempt to suss out their motives.
Batwoman kicks all sorts of amazing ass in this comic. She’s powerful and she’s smart (wow, I really miss her from her original New 52 run). We get to see her interact briefly with Catwoman, but mostly she comes down hard on the Joker Underground and even Harley. What’s most empowering is that she doesn’t deny that the Underground has a legitimate beef and offers to consolidate power by recruiting them into the Resistance, but there’s a great exchange about the group’s ideological basis and the problem of invoking the Joker’s name as their patron “saint”. We get too few lucid moments like this in comic books; Buccellato does a great job here of deconstructing the validity of an uprising but separating that from vengeance and emotionalism.
She’s not kidding around, Bard; better call our dogs off
Unfortunately the pep talk (and Bard’s vote on the matter) comes too late as Superman catches wind of what’s going on and puts an abrupt end to the assembly in the worst imaginable way. For me personally, Superman has crossed a lot of lines, but this is definitely the final one. Unleashing his rage on a gathering of several hundred citizens (mostly unarmed and certainly powerless against the Kryptonian) is straight-up murder. Bruno Redondo (with Juan Albarran on inks and Rex Lokus on colors) leaves no ambiguity to what happens in this moment and it is truly awful.
Another great issue for Redondo and Albarran overall, actually. Again, Batwoman shines out the most, but we also get to see a lovely interlude between Bruce and Alfred which, although brief, displays a nice counterpoint of domesticity to the action sequences–something which Redondo has always excelled at throughout his work on the Injustice series. There’s Alfred tending his quail and Bruce with his cookie tin and things are so almost normal that it’s practically painful. The lovely half-page (full screen splash in the digital version) of Bruce’s face after closing out the conversation is nicely emotional without being overwrought. It’s these human moments that have made Injustice a standout in the past under Tom Taylor, and Buccellato has really nailed it here.
Hard to remember that there were once simpler times in this book
And how about those reconditioning candidates? A couple of big surprises for me there. What do you think?
One last note about David Yardin’s cover: it’s lovely, but disappointing for not being the true spirit of the actual contents at all. Harley is center stage in her alternate game play costume (fine, I guess), but the failure to showcase Batwoman here is a big miss. I almost docked half a point on this basis, but Yardin’s probably not to blame (Jim Chadwick? The nature of the digital production schedule? Why do these things happen? And they happen more with the digital comics than the print one, that I’ve noticed). Anyway, even though it’s a misleading cover, it’s still very nicely rendered and I loved everything else about this book, so I didn’t dock.
- You love and miss a profoundly competent Batwoman in your life.
- You like to torture yourself with Evil Superman stories.
- You just need something intelligent, challenging, and interesting to read!
The team of Buccellato, Redondo, Albarran, and Lokus knock it out of the park this round bringing the long-simmering Joker Underground story to the fore (and an abrupt and shocking confrontation with Superman himself). This is a heavily Batfamily-related issue (even more so than the last one), that gives Batwoman a chance to shine while setting up the momentum for what should be a cataclysmic finale. We’ve got a ways to go but after the events of this issue, I have a feeling things are about to go from simmer to white hot heat.