Digital Firsts No. 21 & No. 22 (“Memorial and “Tempers Flare”) return us to the problem of Superman-as-Evil in terms of his support from other former Justice-Leaguers.  That’s been a question running all Year (and even since before now): why does anyone support this very clearly corrupted boy in blue?

You won’t necessarily get answers here, but the fact that Brian Buccellato is raising the question invites a dialogue on the subject. The fact that he explores this through Harley Quinn gives it just the sort of side-tilt to keep it from being a drab exercise in apologetics and also keeps it some devolving into political analogs.

So what the heck am I talking about? Harley Quinn, disturbed (even more than usual) by Supes’ behavior at the Joker Gang Flambé, convinces herself through some self-therapy to go ask “Shazzy” Shazam what the appeal is. David Yardin’s fabulous cover highlights this conflict as the central action of this issue and it’s a good match (even if Harley is wearing an alternate costume).

Another principal action that occurs in this issue is between Superman himself and our most beloved butler, Alfred, who sits back at home in Wayne Manor being the coolest Alfred ever in the face of the tyrannical monster that the Man of Steel has become.

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Alfred may have the most level head in all of Injustice

Lastly, we revisit the Rogues, who are getting drunk in a bar as they mourn the passing of two of their own. This is coming a little late, but Buccellato writes a nice moment of truce when Flash comes in to pay his respects. The scene accentuates how absurd the “sides” are, and shows that not all of the former Justice League members have lost their flippin’ minds.

Speaking of which there’s a surprise traitor who shows up at the end of this comic who is sure to incense some of you.  In a brief Batman scene right at the end, this former Justice League member appears to be pledging allegiance to the Bat Team. While I have reservations about this particular character because he’s basically an insane version of a character who definitely deserves better, I’m curious to see how he’ll work with Batman’s side of the fight.

Spoiler
It’s Katar Hol! Who last we saw was beating the snot out of his own wife (and then got the snot beaten out of him in turn). That particular issue, Injustice: Year Five No. 4 resulted in some pretty polarizing (and rather strong) reactions. So how are you feeling about Hawkman returning? It’s great to see Buccellato didn’t drop this thread entirely and that we’re coming back around thematically again to where we began: in such a world where do you put your allegiance? And how do you fight an all-power regime?

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Yeah, Shazzy, we want answers!

Lastly, do you remember those little green pills? The ones on which the whole Injustice balance of power is predicated? Yes, despite the “shortage” they are back. So it definitely looks like we may be gearing up for one epic finale that you won’t want to miss!

Bruno Redondo and Xermanico share art duties for this issue and it’s win-win-win across the boards. These two artists have always been a great match on this title (and with Juan Albarran inking Redondo’s pencils, the book looks almost seamless!). Rex Lokus ties it all together across the pages with colors that pop where they need to (in the bar scene with all those colorful goons) and create murky tension likewise (when Superman visits Alfred). Injustice has always had great talent working on its pages, and I have to say, recently looking back on the early issues when Digital First was still getting off the ground, the growth of these artists and the quality of their work has only improved over the years.

Recommended If…

  • Big fan of Shazam? He’s back! His fight with Harley is too short, alas, but it’s great while it lasts!
  • Alfred Pennyworth is the greatest superhero of all and you know it.

Overall

While this book might have had a bit more flash and action in the Harley vs. Shazam fight, I can well appreciate that it sacrificed pages to, you know, actual story. It’s rare that a book has me wanting more costume characters pounding on one another, but the art is so good it’s a shame we couldn’t have had just one more page of Harley and Shazam trying to break each others’ faces. I wouldn’t give up the scene with Alfred and Superman for anything, though, and the dead Rogues deserved a memorial. Buccellato continues to make Injustice not only entertaining as all-get-out, but relevant as well!

SCORE: 9/10