If Brian Buccellato’s Injustice was a baseball game, this would be the issue in which the batter pops a fly long into the outfield with the score tied, two outs, and bases loaded. Everyone is on their feet. Everyone is holding their breath. This one ball is going to decide the game. Will it make it over the fence? Can the outfielder do one of those superhuman maneuvers to scale that wall like a cat and snatch it out of the hand of some eager young fan?

From the solicits, we know Year Five is going to go long. Most “Years” have ended within 12 issues (24 Digital Firsts), but we know now that Year Five will have at least 32 Digital Firsts and 16 floppies. The more the merrier, I say, since Buccellato’s been killing it this go-round, and the art has been consistently consistent (ha!)–which is to say that they’ve really done an awesome job pairing up the art in each issue and we’ve had no wildly erratic surprises.

But let’s get back to that pop fly that is Digital Firsts 19 & 20 (“Home to Roost” and “Doomsday Scenario”), shall we?

Trickster is dead, Bizarro has brought him to Lex, and Superman has prioritized bringing down his doppelganger, but he wants him alive because, if you’ve been reading this book, you know Superman is all about accountability (for everyone except himself)–and he apparently has taken a liking to torturing others for information. He probably assumes Bizarro was concocted in a lab by Batman in order to discredit and possibly attempt to kill him.

Well, he’s not too far from the truth, since we know Lex cooked Bizarro up under pretty much those circumstances (though we still don’t have all the information), but all of that is just dithering about the details: it’s what happens when Bizarro meets his maker that matters!

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Love the reaction shots in the last two panels here

Lex does exactly what you expect Lex to do and it’s rather sad. Talk about ratcheting up the tension–this issue is a perfect model of how to create an edge in which you know characters are being set up for something dreadful and all you can do is read on as it unfolds.

This something dreadful involves Doomsday under Lex’s direct influence (which Lex leads the Superman camp to believe is less controllable than it is). Bizarro is sent straight into a trap–but not a trap for Bizarro, exactly (he’s just the pawn). It’s a trap for Superman and it almost works brilliantly except that Lex apparently has more of a conscience than the Man of Steel.

Mike S. Miller does art duties on this whole book and it’s a wonderful mix of Lex Luthor’s plotting and a pretty exciting fight sequence between Doomsday and the two super men (Not-Actually-So-Superman and his Stupor-Clone). Though I have complained in the past about some of Miller’s character modeling and static conversation panels, this book’s action tracks beautifully. One particular panel in which Superman, while flying, gets new intel and redirect midair is simple, but very effective. And the fight itself, starting between Bizarro and then coming to include Superman is choreographed more interestingly than a mere power brawl.

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Even so, some of it is wonderfully messy!

While there’s no chance that we as an audience should believe that Lex will succeed in wiping out Superman using Doomsday as his own personal weapon, this is still an intense setup and since someone loses their life at the end of it all, the stakes are real. This was thrilling and awful and sad.

All that said, I feel like Buccellato might have missed an opportunity to hearken back to Injustice’s beginnings. It was, after all, a fight with an illusion of Doomsday that killed Lois and their unborn child, and here Superman was very nearly putting a down payment on that farm he’s got coming to him in this world.

It’s also a bit sketchy that Lex had no qualms about killing when it was in his best interest short-term, though he could have put an end to Superman’s regime for the good of all instead–right then and there. I’m going to chalk it up to him rationalizing that the choice he made didn’t involve a “real” soul, and therefore was not morally objectionable, but I would have rather that was made clearer.

Recommended If…

  • You want to see Superman (deservedly) get beat to a pulp.
  • You’re a big fan of Lex and his machinations!
  • This is the big finale of
    Spoiler
    Bizarro’s storyline as he is sacrificed like a lamb brought to slaughter.

Overall

Brian Buccellato and Mike S. Miller pull together a book that combines some really hot epic fight action and is the very satisfying culmination of some subplots that have been building for a long time. While there are some appearances by Cyborg, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Yellow Lantern Hal, this is all about Lex and Superman still locked in mortal combat even when they are ostensibly on the same side of the war.

SCORE: 9/10