Ra’s al Ghul is really starting to up the ante against Batman and his dwindling Resistance, and Tom Taylor is upping the ante as well–bringing in some interesting characters we haven’t spent quality time with in the Injustice series yet. And as with all of Taylor’s work on Injustice, he hooks you and then he reels you in–and the catch isn’t always so pleasant.

This time he brings in characters like Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes. Kord seems to have been quietly sitting out the dance up until now, but one visit from Batman and he’s finally moved to act, to join the battle. It’s not Batman who convinces him, though, surprisingly. Batman doesn’t want Kord to suit up, he wants Kord’s influence and resources to start rebuilding their wounded world. It’s a noble idea, but the forces of darkness are rising against them.

Don’t expect to see Jaime suit up–not yet!

And when Booster Gold pops in from the future to tell Kord to go out fighting, he does suit up. His heroism is bold and uncompromising (and his relationship with Booster is hilarious in its buddy-intimacy). Not only is their banter a delight, but at one point Batman stands against a framed portrait of the two fast friends that makes it look like Booster is putting the rabbit ears on Batman’s head. Just little details like this enrich the relationships. We don’t get to spend nearly enough time with these characters, and yet Taylor paints their whole world in bright fresh strokes with each tight line of dialogue. So that when the violence starts, your heart is in your throat–even knowing it’s not going to end well.

And just as the last issue gave us an emotional gut punch as Batman reminisced about Damian, this month we get another sock to the gulliver as Booster fulfills a promise he makes to Ted, that he will be with him in the end. And what a lovely sad end it is.

This issue combines Digital Firsts 9 & 10 (“Hostile Takeover”) to tell a complete story of Ra’s’ single-minded determination to take back the world. Batman isn’t even finished fighting Superman yet and now he has another global disaster brewing.

And lots of henchmen to carry out his evil schemes:

Every one of them monstrous

Bruno Redondo and Vicente Cifuentes put out a book full of solid and startling action as the art team on point. Given Batman’s skulking around having conversations, though could have been a shadowy dark volume, but the worst of the violence mostly happens in broad daylight–and it happens so fast in a way that it requires some great art to sell the events.

Given how gory the final scene was, I find it a tad bit perplexing that one of the most sudden and shocking moments involving Katana and Blue Beetle wasn’t more gratuitous. If showing a fountain of blood was too much, they could have “staged” the panels to crop out the offending reality, but instead we get an oddly sanitized range of shots. Might not have caught my attention except, again, there’s less holding back from the Demon’s own red wedding later on.

Redondo and Cifuentes generate a particularly affecting ending, though. Despite the gore, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle’s final moment together is as deeply satisfying as it is sad. Taylor leaves you wishing you had more time with these two, while promising, too, that Jaime Reyes is almost certain to put the suit on and follow in his mentor’s place.

One art note I have to point out (along with all the great stuff) is the strange choice to put Ollie and Dinah in weird throwback clothing. Ollie looks like he stepped out of some disco era pimp flick and Dinah sports an AC-DC analog t-shirt. Why they’re wearing such bizarre get-ups eludes me on this one. But enjoy all the other cameos in the meantime: Black Lightning, Man-Bat, Steel, etc. Taylor is making the best use of the best DC universe to populate this drama and it’s awesome that he has the freedom to do so.

All comic books should be this bold!

Recommended If…

  • You’re a fan of the Blue Beetle and/or Booster Gold. Even better when they’re together!
  • You want to watch Ra’s be just as heinous as a villain can get.
  • You love your tragedy liberally sprinkled with bittersweet comedy.

Overall

Ra’s al Ghul proves himself a diabolical threat as he gathers the world’s industrialists and make public example of them in defense of the earth, which he (perhaps rightly) claims has been abused and used as a result of their greed and negligence. This gruesome installment doesn’t shrink from the brutality that he unleashes on these guilty men, and even though we’re told they’re not going to make it out alive, when Death comes, it’s still sad and shocking.

SCORE: 8.5/10