It would appear that Christopher Sebela is flying solo these days on Injustice: Ground Zero. With Brian Buccellato no longer credited among the creators for this title, I guess he is no longer contributing story points. That strikes me as unusual because you would think the story would have been more or less mapped out from the start, but I could be completely wrong. It feels like a sudden departure, but Sebela is keeping the pace and the tone pretty much the same, so the transition feels seamless.
Issue No. 8 combines Digital Firsts 15 & 16 (“Clowntime is Over” parts 1 & 2), and focuses on Harley’s struggle (once again) to extricate herself from the Joker’s claws. Last issue she went out of her way with the intention of killing him, but that ended pretty much the way it always does: with her just sort of swooning back into his thrall.
So we get a lot of soul-searching from Harley as the bounces between once again recognizing that she’s done a bad thing, and the ways in which she attempts to rectify the situation. We’ve been along for this ride with Harley’s narrative, so this is a redundancy that I don’t think adds much to the story overall. It positions Joker in a way to create yet more chaos, but he could have done that from the outset, so I feel like we’ve just gone in a big circle.
Surprising to no one, Joker is a selfish pig
Despite the retread, I admit I did enjoy watching Harley trick the Joker into the Tower of Fate and the exchange with Zatanna and Dr. Fate was entertaining. I also appreciate that there’s a self-awareness on the part of the writer that the solution to Harley’s problem with the Joker is quite simple if she were only capable of following through, and the final point here of Harley taking it in “baby steps” may hopefully lead somewhere intriguing. But for the moment we’ve danced this tango many a tune and like watching someone turn the crank on the jack-in-the-box, I think we all know pretty much what’s going to happen. We’ll stay with our eyes glued to the lid in anticipation anyway.
Elsewhere in the story we see the “new” JLA working to bust pancake Batman out of Superman’s execution chamber. They meet lots of interesting resistance in the form of Damian and Raven and Yellow Hal. There’s also a fun action sequence with Aquaman and a bunch of ginormous pill-bug looking water creatures.
It’s also fun to see the two Batmans interact, though we really get minimal time with them overall.
Good thing pancake Batman lost his cowl or we would barely be able to tell them apart!
All the time and space leaping may leave you with a bit of vertigo and the narrative voiceover from Harley sometimes feels a little intrusive, but this moves quickly and even if the stakes don’t quite feel like the original Injustice-level crazy, Sebela does a good job infusing the action with tension throughout.
Derliz Santacruz (art and inks) and Andy Owens (inks) are newcomer artists to the Injustice series, and prove a very welcome addition to the first half of the book. Their characters are very nicely on model; Joker especially looks gloriously crazy and scary. More regular artist Marco Santucci does the second half of the book and has his work cut out with so many cameos leading up to a long-awaited confrontation at the end. Overall I would say the art wins me over almost every time. My eyes will stray if the story doesn’t quite hold my focus, but here I enjoyed just looking at the book almost more than reading it.
I think this story may wind up a better read in trade (and it’s certainly more satisfying as a weekly digital). Something about the bi-weekly floppy just doesn’t quite hold up as well and I have a feeling general saturation may be the culprit: is Injustice played out? I still enjoy it, but it doesn’t goose me like it used to. Something big needs to happen. Something of serious consequence. And soon.
- You like the Harley loves/hates Joker merry-go-round.
- You enjoy the Joker being insanely evil.
- Double down on Batman and lots of magic!
Christopher Sebela balances the burgeoning turf war between Batman and Superman with Harley and Joker’s love-hate train and a whole of magic tricks from that other realm we haven’t seen since Year Three of the original series. This issue has a stronger coherence than the last one and we seem to be finally building toward the kind of cataclysm Injustice is known for, even if the stakes feel rather low at this juncture. Maybe a good knock-down, drag-out fight between Bats and Supes will perk this up. Or maybe we’ve just seen it all too many times at this point. Derliz Santacruz’s art (with inks by Andy Owen) is the highlight of the issue: his Harley is beautiful and believable, and his Joker looks like he stepped right out of the video game.