Every now and then I feel like this world of Injustice is played out: the dynamics are on a rinse and repeat cycle that just feels trodden and sodden at this stage in the game and pitting some of these heroes and villains against one another is as formulaic and redundant as it must feel to play the game itself after too many iterations.
And then there’s an issue like this one (Digital Firsts 33 & 35: “Rage”) that reminds you of how the dynamic may be tried and true, but it still can work in surprising and affecting ways. Yes, Tom Taylor has a lot of pages to fill and sometimes the fill feels like filler. But he can still yank a plot rabbit out of his hat that ups the stakes and/or provides a new perspective on this war our heroes have been fighting for going on more than half a decade at this point. And sometimes I just marvel at that alone: Injustice was DC’s first Digital First foray and it’s still going strong after all this time–with a premise based on a video game, no less. So there’s something very right about this book, and part of that is Taylor’s ability to keep the characters fresh and their battles surprising without lapsing into every-increasing planet-killing overblow as other comics are want to do.
There’s a sequence in this book with just a handful of random civilians that illustrates this so spectacularly. We don’t know who these people are–they’re just a random family in Arizona who are going about an otherwise normal day when an apocalyptic event crashes down in their backyard. And all we see of them is their sheer terror, their mad scramble to survive, and the ominous numeric countdown that tells us their odds are rapidly dwindling.
By the time we get to this, the horror has well and truly taken
Injustice always manages to successfully remind up what the fight is about: these ordinary people whose lives are compromised by the battle of gods and monsters that’s going on around them. Even the discussion between Ras and Grodd and Ivo about the choice of the location is chilling in its randomness. We don’t need to see massive cities leveled (and we already have seen that in this book); we need to see the everyday impact on people who by all accounts ought to be outside of harm’s way. These citizens did nothing to call attention to themselves or provoke the ire of the power-trippers who want to cause the world harm, but they suffer for it anyway. And Taylor pulls no punches on how they suffer.
Equally compelling is the reaction of our Resistance once they arrive on scene and try to puzzle through what’s happened here. I love the quick focus on methodically determining the “message” of the event, and just seeing the reactions of Batgirl, Batman, and Plastic Man.
The battle at Ras’ compound was one thing, but this is an entirely new threat
Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran outdo themselves here. From the little details that make our civilians real people (like the team-logo shirt, household knick knacks, and the like), to building out the gorilla world in quick but effective establishing shots, everything about this book shows a wonderful attention to detail. Even somewhat domestic scenes such as the one that starts this book between Harley and Ivy are treated with care. Rex Lokus’ colors in the Harley/Ivy scene are especially dramatic, with the dying light filtering through the blinds and the way that captures the sunset of this relationship which is also dying due to the conflict of interest between these long-time friends. Small moments like this really stand out because of Taylor’s fine, tight scripting, but also because the artists don’t skimp on the visuals even though no one’s getting their face punched in and nothing is blowing up.
Injustice succeeds because it focuses so much attention on the character development where too many books are endlessly chasing the action or the next big twist in the plot. I love this book because it builds moments over the long haul. Relationships such as Bruce has with Selina, which is also showcased here nicely can be easily taken for granted, but Taylor doesn’t make shortcuts. He gives us scenes with Bruce, with Alfred, to show their humanity. I love that we see Bruce as much in the cowl as out of it throughout this series–that Taylor provides that space for us to know these people as people. So long as that continues, this book will continue to be able to support all the fights and new foes (and it looks like we’ve got some Red Lantern action coming up next on the docket!).
- Real-world stakes and horrors help bring the tights and capes into perspective for you.
- Even so, you still love talking gorillas.
- You’re still as in-love with Plastic Man being a key player in this world as I am.
We’re doing some setup here for the next horrible plan in Ras’ playbook of demented world-dominating schemes, but some genuinely nice character moments and one extinction-level event keep this story progressing forward in surprising leaps. Tom Taylor has not yet begun to exhaust the possible patheon of villains to put into play here, and the further he reaches back into DC history, the more interesting it gets! If you’re looking for fresh faces and brand new devious dynamics, Injustice 2 is the place for you!