Injustice 2 Annual #1 review

Injustice2_annual_1

If you want to treat yourself this holiday to something self-contained, beautifully rendered, and full of interesting turns with a Wonder Woman who is unsubtley modeled on Gal Gadot’s gorgeous onscreen appearance, this is the book for you!

Remember, though, that Wonder Woman in the Injustice world is on the side of Superman, which puts her smack dab in a morally questionable camp. Here we get an origin story from Tom Taylor (with a script executed by Kate Perkins), that tells the story of Diana’s from Themyscira to the Halls of Justice in a whole new way.

Many of the story beats are familiar: her relationships on Themyscira with her mother and her Amazonian sisters–in particular her slightly contentious relationship with Phillipus, the arrival of Steve Trevor and how he introduces them to the world war happening outside of their island. It could have all been sort of dull and redundant, but Perkin’s script keeps the dialogue lively and dramatic with a strong emphasis on conflict rather than exposition, and although there is a veritable pack of artists contributing to this book, they are all wonderful. This introduction by Marco Santucci in particular is simply gorgeous in its characterization, its detailed rendering of the jungles of Themyscira, and bold clear line work that is so animated, it feels like it could leap off the page. The book looks amazing.

And despite it being an origin story, it nonetheless has some great surprises!

We’ve see all this before–but have we?

The narrative follows through with Diana accompanying Steve to help him win the war. Once we leave Themyscira, Jamal Campbell picks up the art with a decidedly different style, but one that really clicks with the wartime setting and beginning with a great transitional montage of Diana’s journey toward superhero. I really loved the nostalgic and unapologetic patriotism of this section, but also how it devolves quickly from the “glory” part of war into the “gory” part of war.

Here, we see Wonder Woman confront the problem of evil in a way she has not experienced it before. We also see a more troubled and troubling side of Steve Trevor and his role in the fight. We’re reminded once again, that this is the world of Injustice, which is sometimes upside down in terms of how its characters react and respond to the stresses of conflict.

Let’s just say if anyone was ever wondering what became of Diana’s Steve in this world (and I did wonder way back in the beginning when it was clear that Wonder Woman and Superman had a kind of interesting sexual tension in the original Injustice series), well this book explains all that and as you can guess, it’s not going to go well for ol’ Steve–not when he embarks on an attempt to steal the Lasso of Truth.

I won’t say more because this is totally worth reading for yourself. It’s a very dark story, but a good one–and certainly a black mirror to the hope and cheer of Diana’s current onscreen counterpart.

But more than just a cynical look at a beloved hero, it’s a tragedy that boldly draws for us that thin red line that separates the good and evil where power and is concerned.

Let’s just remember happier times, shall we?

As a bonus we get a second story from Brian Buccellato, which takes place in the world of Injustice: Ground Zero, the predecessor series to this current one. This was the series in which Harley Quinn featured heavily, raising a Joker Gang army. This addition is just a fun flashback with a familiar gang that was sadly wasted at the start of Injustice 2. More to the point, I remarked on how sorry I was to see the squad eliminated so quickly as they seemed such a quirky group of third-rate villains and it might have been fun to see what else they could do.

This story essentially gives us that wish.

It’s campy to some degree, but mostly just one long action sequence of the “C-Team” Suicide Squad brawling with the Joker Gang (for those of you who are sick of Harley, she barely makes an appearance as the whole thrust of the story is that the team is coming after her and she eludes them.  We get some cameos from Amanda Waller and Deadshot, but the majority of the story is focused on our loser villains winning, which is kinda of fun if you just need some mindless fluffy comic-book filler for after-dinner when you’re in a turkey haze.

Pop Mahn covers art on this one and though it’s not as beautiful as the Wonder Woman story that comes before it, the fact that J Nanjan did all the colors gives it the same rich saturated depth. And it’s not like Mahn is any slouch to begin with: he manages to keep a many-pages-long brawl interesting, which for readers like me isn’t an easy job.

At lot of fun is just the variety and weirdness of the “Squad”.  I mean, look at these guys, they’re hilarious:

And then they’re all dead, but that’s another story

Recommended If…

  • You love Wonder Woman! This is a crazy good story, even though it is very dark.
  • You just enjoy a good one-shot with beautiful art!
  • Bang for Buck, Baby.  This has got it!

Overall

Even if you’re not much interested in the world of Injustice, you might want to pick up this book–just to read an amazing, thoughtful story that asks hard questions about the choices we make in the world. Particularly if you enjoy the grim side of superheroes or wonder how easily someone with the best intentions and so much power can lose their way without even knowing they are lost, you’ll want to dip your toe in the dark pool of this super-sized Annual that gives top-billing to a Wonder Woman origin story that is not going to end the way you think it will. As a bonus, you get the C-Team Suicide Squad with great underused third-rate villains like the Polka-Dot Man. Seriously: if you love comics, here’s even more to love!

SCORE: 9.5/10

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