Injustice: Ground Zero offers a launch point for anyone completely new to the Injustice world.
“All Bad Things Must End” (Digital Firsts 1 & 2) spends it’s whole first half recounting five sprawling years of Injustice intrigue through Harley’s eyes. She narrates the tale of how it all began and why she is where she is now. For anyone who has never picked up an Injustice book before, she covers many of the salient points of Superman’s arc from hero to villain and Harley’s own turn from villain to anti-hero without a whole lot of sentimentality or bogging down in the details. Brian Buccellato had a challenge here: keep it interesting for the regular fans who have been following along this whole time, but it also has to make enough sense for the newcomers to follow. He also had an assist: basically he plotted the story, but writer Christopher Sebela scripted it. This is kind of an unusual sharing of duties that we don’t see too often (and haven’t seen on this title!). Does it work?
I think it’’s mostly successful: Sebela slips into the character of Harley well enough and we get the scope of the battle that’s been raging–even as Harley makes it all about herself. We also get enough of an explanation about the little green pills without slogging through a lot of technical specifications to justify powering-up regular heroes and villains to compete on the level of the demi-gods.
This issue may be a bit too heavy–even told well, the retelling of all those five years is almost purely exposition. The best bits of it are about watching Harley pull the petals off screaming little flowers.
Can’t she hear them screaming???
This is so wonderfully weird and speaks volumes to Harley’s state of mind. She’s had her moments of sanity in Injustice, but as the recent Annual proved, there’s something about her nature that refuses to let go of the crazy.
The second half of the book deals with Harley’s mission (not approved by Batman so far as we know, but somehow tacitly approved in Harley’s mind anyway), to create a little chaos around the manufacture of the little green pills. Now that Harley has incorporated a gang of Jokers under her command, she’s out to do her part for the the Insurgency against Superman’s Regime. Does her plan actually make any sense?
In a curious way it does. Lex Luthor has been secretly aiding the Resistance for all these years, particularly with regard to supplying Batman’s team with the source of power to keep them in competition with the Regime’s more powerful members. Luthor has managed to avoid detection while striking a number of crushing blows from within.
But shouldn’t they have taken the pills anyway? I get blowing up the warehouse so that Superman will suspect the theft, but, well, why not actually do the thieving as well? It’s already an act of terrorism, so there’s no moral reason not to take the goods. I thought this was a curious piece of business, even for a mind as mental as Harley Quinn.
But why linger on such matters when we have a guest appearance from Man Bat!
Or as Harley calls him, a Bat in Pants
I’m a fan of Man Bat. I’m not sure why it only takes half a pill for Harley to whup him, but I’ll reserve judgment for the time being. Maybe there’s something about the pills I don’t know. Maybe Luthor’s onto a new, stronger strain. It’s a strange thing to make a point of mentioning–if there’s a shortage and she’s rationing, then why didn’t she steal more? If the pills pack a more powerful kick, why not take the whole thing anyway? Curious bit of business, that.
Pop Mhan does art for the first half of the book and there is something slightly off-kilter with it. In one way, it kind of works: we’re experiencing things through Harley’s eyes and so the waffly cartoonish exploration of events makes total sense. Harley grounded (as it were) in the present is less prone to exaggerated features and feels real enough (aside from the flowers). I love the idea of it. It reminds me of Gotham City Sirens when Harley is raving about her break from the Joker and her narrative (and the art) devolves along the way into what looks like crayon drawings as she becomes completely unhinged.
I think Mhan could have taken this further perhaps–the contrast isn’t extreme enough except to look odd. Particularly the depiction of Black Canary in so grossly a Chibi style next to more traditional looking characters. Otherwise, Mhan seems a good match for the overall style in terms of line weights and characterizations.
Tom Derenick takes over the second half of the book and brings his usual style. I would have liked to have seen the Joker masks look more like masks (and more like the Joker). There were moments in the final confrontation that came off peculiar just because of the thugs’ goony expressions (being more goony than menacing perhaps). Really night fight between Harley and Man Bat, and Harley looks great in her updated Injustice costume.
- You have never read Injustice before and were too afraid to wade in during the middle of one of the “Years”. Now’s a great chance for a fresh start!
- You’re a fan of Man Bat, even if he is on the wrong side of the war (in my humble opinion).
- You’re not sick of Harley Quinn. You know you love her!
Injustice: Ground Zero doesn’t come out of the gate with guns a blazing, but it’s still a great read with a nice balance of solid storytelling and pleasing artwork. As a whole package it’s worthy of the Injustice name. Where it sags a little is in the heaviness of the narrative exposition, and some questionable strategy on the part of Harley Quinn. Maybe we shouldn’t bother questioning it because it is Harley, but I found myself at that threshold anyway, which tells me something maybe doesn’t quite add up. Still a satisfying book and I’m looking forward to where this off-shoot story is going!