Truly, this is the year of Starro.  The psychic space starfish made a huge comeback in the event series Metal, sass-talking his way into our hearts.  The irreverent, sarcastic characterization was totally unexpected, yet it worked in how ridiculous it was.

Fast forward to No Justice, where Starro was teamed up with heroes and villains alike to assist with the trouble on Colu.  Sadly, Starro sacrificed himself so everyone could make it back to Earth, proving that he is indeed the hero we need.

Thankfully, Injustice 2 is here to give us our Starro fix, so even if he isn’t present in main continuity he’s still around in one way or another.

Oh, and in the Injustice universe?  He’s a friggin’ Red Lantern.

Perfection.

I’ve loved the character work Taylor has done on this book without question, and that does continue to be its main strength.  There’s no denying that the escalating cosmic turmoil isn’t plenty gripping as it is.  You have the Guardians trying to piece the Green Lantern Corps back together and keep the universe safe and secure, and then there’s the matter of the rising threat of the Red Lantern Corps.  Starro would be bad enough on his own, but the fact that the Reds have turned Hal Jordan to their side proves that they have plenty of that rage muscle.

Now if only Hal would stop hitting himself in the face.

Also perfect.

It’s also how the two main stories that are going on right now meet.  The Red Lantern Corps are doing what they do, and Jaime Reyes is apparently the only man in the galaxy fit to stop them.

It goes over about as well as you’d expect.

What Taylor does best with these plot threads is making seemingly incompatible characters work together.  I mean, can you imagine any scenario where Blue Beetle, Metron, and Lobo interact and it being in any way fruitful?  Oh, and also Lobo catches up with the spacebound Titans who are guided by a newly-wealthy Booster Gold, all while they’re rocketing through space in a stolen Justice League Javelin?  Because it works.  I don’t know how, but it works.

Really, really well.

Forgive me for being a broken record, but it’s all about character.  You feel for everyone here.  Jaime’s terrified that the fate of the universe rests on his shoulders, Booster’s afraid to become the fraud that he knows himself to be, and the Titans want to carry on the legacy of a fallen friend.  There’s an awful lot of heart here, something that may be unexpected in a video game tie-in comic but an element that’s welcome just the same.

Backing Taylor’s script up are the pencils of Xermanico and the colors of J. Nanjan.  This is one of the best looking issues of this series yet, truth be told, and Xermanico and Nanjan hit every right note that they can.  The more intimate scenes have a nice flow to them that keeps them from being stale and boring, and the huge epic battles feel… well, huge and epic.  There were a few times during the big battle between the Green and Red Lanterns that could have maybe used a little more scope, such as with some more Lanterns sprinkled throughout the page.  It felt big, it just could have been bigger.

But that’s hardly a knock against their skills, and it may have been that way by design.  After all, much of the Green Lantern Corps has been slaughtered, so it could be taking time to rebuild the ranks.

Besides just looking good, the visuals have a distinct sense of storytelling that works with the script.  There are pauses and beats that make scenes feel natural, like conversations are actually two characters connecting as opposed to just saying lines to one another.  There’s even a fair amount of visual comedy, like with subtle facial expressions to reinforce a sarcastic or droll line.

This series feels like it’s building to something big, and that makes an issue like these read like a calm before the storm.  Pieces are being moved into place and characters are being set up for some big confrontations, and the fact that Taylor makes us care makes it all the more exciting.  Come for Starro as a Red Lantern, stay for the genuine pathos.

Recommended if:

  • You like Lobo.
  • You like seeing Hal Jordan hitting himself in the face.

Overall: Injustice is an exciting read, bar none.  As in previous chapters, the real strength of the book is Tom Taylor’s deft characterizations and dialogue.  There’s a great forward momentum in the storytelling and a growing sense of tension, and it all works because we care about the characters involved.

SCORE: 8/10