Injustice: Ground Zero ramps things up this week, even as it treads some already well-traversed ground. Christopher Sebela incrementally increases the stakes for Harley Quinn and her gang, while also making some big things go BOOM! Digital Firsts 17 & 18 (“Fall Down, Go Boom” parts 1 & 2) combine to give us more of Harley and Joker’s dysfunctional love-hate affair, while also balancing Superman’s pursuit of Batman (squared).
But first let’s talk about something that gets overlooked a lot in the reviews (I’m certainly guilty of it): the COVER. Stephen Segovia and Elmer Santos turn out a stupendous cover for issue No. 9 featuring Harley and the Joker: pitch perfect for their gaping and ghoulish grins, the subtle spittle on the Joker’s teeth, and that ominous explosion reflected in the Joker’s binoculars. For what’s basically a static image of two people staring at something far more exciting off-page, this cover has amazing energy–it’s the kind of cover that asks more questions than it answers and would quickly and easily pull my eye if I was scanning the shelves. Well worth a special mention!
As for the interior content?
Much as I love the Punch and Judy dynamics of Harley and Joker, it feels like they’ve been playing ring-around-the-rosy on this particular carousel for too many issues at this point. And the disposition of Harley’s gang seems to be as fickle as she is!
I also have to be honest: at this point I just can’t keep up with who has the green pills and when they are taking them. And the novelty of the green pills themselves is starting to wear thin because once again the stakes at at stake when everyone is powered up to level 10.
Fortunately there’s all this non-pilled fodder to mow through:
Weren’t they all on her side last we left off? Oh well.
The sad part is that I think there was a chance we might have actually been able to care about Larry and Barry and Terry and so forth, but Sebela sort of treated them as off-handedly as fodder in much the same aspect as Harley does, so it’s hard to feel outrage about the betrayals or the threats to their lives. They are as impersonal to us as they are to Harley (those aren’t even their real names, after all), and that makes it hard to get too worked up when they are in peril. And since we know Joker and Harley can pound on each other all day and there won’t be anything in terms of actual consequences, it kind of diminishes the potential tension in these sequences.
That said, Daniel Sampere (with Juan Albarran on inks) in the first half of the book and Tom Derenick in the second half, do a beautiful job with the characters and the action (with Rex Lokus and J. Nanjan respectively on colors). Joker looks terrible and terrifying and totally on-point. The detailing on his costume and makeup (that little Injustice signature curl on his lips) is totally delightful. And he’s wonderfully mad in this book, which is also a lot of fun. I guess I only wish I felt like it was building more toward some purpose of consequence.
And then there’s the other half of the book, which is Batman and Batman escaping from a very very angry Superman with quite a lot of help from his friends.
Including a confounded Batgirl
There are some threads on this side of the story that seem to be stacking in a more interesting way than the Harley narrative. Lex Luthor has potentially gone rogue, Cyborg may have taken his final bow, and the Watchtower? Well, in a book called “Fall Down, Go Boom” something was going to have to blow up, right?
It will be interesting to see all the repercussions of the events here as they unfold in the subsequent issue. In a strange way this felt a little anti-climactic, so I’m hoping the pay-off is yet to come!
- You like those down-to-the-wire improbable escape plots!
- Just a lot of mayhem with Harley and the Joker sounds like fun.
- You want two Batmen for the price of one.
Christopher Sebela is starting to countdown toward some final calamity with this Ground Zero outing. The Harley side of the narrative is feeling a bit thinned out and over-soaked, but visually it’s fun to flip through. As for the ongoing feud between Bats and Supes, well, Injustice has proven to be a past master of delayed gratification. Superman continues to boil over with so much anger I’m frankly surprised he hasn’t just combusted by this point, and Batman continues to play a game of skin-of-the-teeth escapes. Not sure it’s all going to gel, but it’s still fun for an idle read.