Over the course of Injustice, so many characters I love have been killed that it may as well be called Let’s Murder Everyone Jay Likes. Seriously: Dick Grayson, Ted Kord, Animal Man, Tim Drake, every Green Lantern that I actually like. So many deaths, guys.
But the narrative is compelling and the writing is strong, which absolutely makes the series worth coming back to. Sure, it may not be a DC universe that I want to live in, but as a strange alternate reality it’s a blast to read. Oftentimes it’s a borderline depressing blast, to be sure, but it’s a blast just the same.
Part of what makes Injustice 2 so compelling is that Tom Taylor has moved past the “evil dictator Superman” story and just started going absolutely crazy with his world-building. Not to say that the original driving narrative wasn’t compelling at all, but you can only go so far with it. Now he’s effectively telling a story about the entire DC Universe, which is great. Even better? Making incredibly bold decisions that couldn’t happen in mainline continuity and just going nuts with it. I mean, Starro as a Red Lantern? That is all sorts of amazing.
What really makes everything work, though, is Taylor’s deft handling of characters. Like I said, this is effectively DC Universe: The Comic, so there are tons of characters involved. Taylor manages to juggle a huge cast with ease, and even more impressive is how each character has a unique voice. No two characters are written the same. In the case of, say, Superman, they may not be as recognizable to us as we would like, but they’re at least distinct and have defined arcs. Good writing can make even the most unappealing of concepts go down easier, and in the case of Injustice we have some great writing.
Case in point: Jaime Reyes being All Of Us.
When approached by the Titans with the prospect of joining the team, he kind of freaks out. It’s absolutely perfect, too, because not every superhero is going to be cool-headed and stoic in every situation. A kid like Jaime? It makes total sense that he would react this way. And while he doesn’t get much to do this go around, I love seeing Conner in the classic red and blue Superman outfit. After the… less than sterling reputation that suit has acquired over the course of the book, it’s nice to see a truly altruistic, heroic character brandishing that ‘S’.
But really, it’s Booster Gold who steals the show. You can tell he’s still reeling and in pain after the death of his best friend, yet he’s still a total doofus.
Yet that’s what makes their dynamic so interesting: Booster’s a guy who probably shouldn’t be mentoring a young hero, yet here he is doing just that. It’s deeper character work than a video game tie-in comic probably needs, yet it’s what elevates this series above expectations. Injustice 2 is a great tie-in comic, but it’s also just a great comic in general.
After some of the heavier content of the previous few issues, this one is a slightly smaller affair. Much of the focus is put on Jaime, and while nothing happens here that’s as shocking as Hal Jordan and Starro becoming Red Lanterns, you can tell that Taylor is setting him up for something big. The first half is all about Jaime being interviewed by the Titans as a potential prospect for the team. As evidenced above, there’s some nice character work throughout.
And then Lobo shows up and this is my favorite comic ever guys. I don’t know what it is, but I love the Main Man. He’s so crass and so over the top that I can’t help but have a huge smile on my face any time he shows up. The presence of Lobo is almost a way of saying “alright, even though things look really dire, now we’re here to party.” Knowing where his story takes him in the next few issues has me giddy, to the point that his actions here are relatively subdued. And when those actions are “kidnap Blue Beetle and deliver him to Metron,” you know we’re in for something good soon.
My point being: even with the deaths of so many characters I love, Taylor finds new ways to surprise me. And really, this book could just be The Booster Gold and Lobo Fraggin’ Fun-Time Comedy Hour and Variety Show from here on out and I’d be okay with that.
One of the criticisms that’s often leveled at this book is the lack of a consistent visual style. Or, to put it bluntly, the art isn’t always great. While I do admit that the visual aesthetic can be lacking in certain chapters, that’s not the case here. Bruno Redondo turns in some good character work, and manages to make a relatively low-key issue engaging. There’s more energy in the latter half of the issue than the former, but besides Lobo’s jaunt through space and the explosion at Booster’s home there isn’t an awful lot of action.
When you see images like this, though, it’s easy to overlook that.
I absolutely love the use of color here: the stark whites of the jet and walls providing a background for the mostly silhouetted characters to pop out. The orange of Starfire’s hair and the red of Conner’s cape take an interesting image and make it truly stunning. It’s a perfect study in how simplicity can tell all the story you need. Bruno Redondo’s pencils and inks work with Juan Albarran’s inks and Rex Lokus and J. Nanjan’s colors all work together to make this a really good looking issue.
All in all not a bad issue of Injustice to kick off my stint of reviewing the title. And please: more Lobo and Booster.
- You like Lobo.
- You like Booster Gold.
- You’re excited to see a truly heroic character brandishing the ‘S’ shield again.
Overall: Full of strong character work and some laugh out loud moments, this is another solid entry in the Injustice saga. While it feels more like a transitional issue that sets up storylines going ahead than a complete story unto itself, it’s still an enjoyable read with some great artwork to boot. Truly, if Lobo laughing at Jaime Reyes’ plight doesn’t fill you with joy then I don’t even know what to tell you anymore.