Sometimes (like, oh, right now), Injustice: Ground Zero feels like it just wants so desperately to break out into a slapdash heist movie full of colorful and zany hijinks. Part of that, naturally, is the fact that Harley Quinn is narrating this tale and she’s pretty slapdash and zany and hijinky most of the time–she’s Harley!
Issue No. 7 combines Digital Firsts 13 & 14 (“Let’s have a War” parts 1 & 2), and on some level I kind of just wish the book would give into a broad slap-sticky aesthetic. Because where it is now, it just sort of straddles two worlds: Harley’s insanity–or, I should say dual insanity wherein she’s rollicking along on this crazy adventure, but where she’s also providing some narrative analysis to the events we are watching unfold, and this business of, you know, trying to stop SuperNazi from taking over the universe.
Some of it is brilliant and works on all levels. Harley running a commentary on the absurdity of Superhero fights this go-round is a refreshing bit of self-awareness in an industry that seems to take itself way too seriously in most of its venues. There’s also her painful push and pull relationship with the Joker: once again, we have to suffer her naivete as the Joker talks her into being his thrall even though she knows (as she’s doing it!) that’s it’s a stupid and pointless and destructive choice.
But other moments aren’t quite as successful. Non-pancake JLA’s plot to infiltrate the Hall of Justice and gain access to the tower while Harley is simultaneously moving in to assassinate the Joker should work: it’s an absurd juxtaposition of all of these characters converging on this location with very particularly dramatic intent.
And with art like this it’s hard to keep a straight face: is that his foot???
Also, there’s just too many questions!
Like maybe I should stop wondering about the vagaries of Harley’s mindset, but her flip to deciding to kill the Joker seems to just come out of nowhere–randomly and conveniently. Her phone call to Ivy is straight out of the cartoon series: “I’m off to kill the Joker!” “Okay! Have fun storming the Hall of Justice!”.
It doesn’t really work for me. It takes all the gravity of the circumstances out of the picture and makes it hard to feel any particular empathy for Harley or that there are stakes here worth worrying about.
And on the other hand, it’s so ludicrous it’s kind of fun
At some point you just have to throw up your hands and accept that Christopher Sebala is perhaps just having some fun with Brian Buccellato’s story. That the broader picture really is intended to be this ridiculous. I had to laugh at Green Arrow taking out Black Adam. I had to laugh at Cyborg battling himself. And the absurdity of “Pancake” Batman vs. the other Batman.
And part of me is very excited to see what happens when the two Dark Knights finally meet.
Superman continues to be a bore. A nasty bore. That’s like a herbivore, but it still eats meat and has as one of its defining superpowers a super-grudge against the world.
Tom Derenick and Pop Mhani share art duties and I would say they make a generally good tag-team with a fairly consistent art style between them. I thought Mhan’s Joker lacked presence in the second half of the book and some of his action (particularly with Harley Quinn and the soldiers) felt a little too sketched in, not well grounded in the environment, overall too loose. Lots of nice Batmobile porn, though, for those of you who are into that!
I worry a little, in terms of the art, about differentiating pancake world from the other–Flash mistakes new Cyborg for old and to be honest, I’m having a hard time telling them apart as well sometimes. The costuming should clue us in, but it’s not always as clean or clear as we could hope and sometimes getting through a scene is as much an exercise in discerning context as anything else. This becomes doubly tricky when, again, Harley is narrating and what she says is sometimes a direct contradiction to what’s going on.
In a weird way, the whole story at this point feels like it would be better told in a moving medium–like say the cutscenes of game.
- You like lots of mayhem: characters everywhere and chaos reigns!
- Harley and Joker: same as always!
- So much Batmobile porn. Like seriously: full lovingly rendered shots of Burtonesquemobiles!
Christopher Sebala and Brian Buccellatto are having fun with this, but it occasionally feels borderline incoherent in terms of tone. If you just let go of all expectations, you can sail along with Harley and let the good times roll. But if you’re trying to make sense of the plan (or hoping the plan isn’t so facile that its success seems a forgone conclusion) you might find yourself frustrated by many questions: why is the Hall of Justice unguarded? Where is all this kryptonite that no one seems to be using against Bad Superman? Whatever happened to Damian in the Batcave? Did Green Arrow really just shoot Black Adam out of the sky like a sparrow? Like I said: there’s plenty to roll with here and the inevitable team up of Batman and Batman is hopefully worth the wait, but there are a whole of the threads just sort of dangling at the moment.