As we approach the finale of the Injustice 2 comic, storylines need to be wrapped up and pieces need to be put into place to lead into the narrative of the video game. That’s becoming ever more clear with issue 33 here, as the big action setpieces of the previous few installments make way for some smaller, quieter moments. This is by no means a bad thing in any way, but it is notable that this is possibly the slowest installment I’ve come across since I started reviewing this title.
Slow can be good, though, and Tom Taylor certainly knows how to grab your attention no matter how the story is paced. I’ve said it before, but the real genius of this series has been how much heart Taylor has been able to imbue in each character, and the fact that even those events on the furthest reaches of the periphery are just as involving as the main narrative.
As evidenced by the title of the issue (or at least the first half, going by digital chapters), Brainiac has arrived and is making his presence known. Forces, both good and bad, scatter before the hordes of the twelfth-level intellect, and Conner Kent finds himself in the clutches of the mad tyrant. I love the way these scenes are illustrated: Xermanico’s heavy inks and the sketch-like quality of his pencils evoke a sense of dread and foreboding. Thanks to the detached, calculating mannerisms of Brainiac and the rougher quality of the images, Conner’s time aboard Brainiac’s ship is genuinely terrifying.
And I do mean “rougher” in the best way possible. Bruno Redondo, Juan Albarran, and Gabe Eltaeb have a clearner, brighter aesthetic that worked really well with the outer space locales of the previous few installments. The change in styles signifies a more somber chapter, though, and a more muted visual palette fits with the script. This is by and large a very serious installments, with what can best be described as a Pyrrhic victory kicking things off, leading into Conner’s torture at the hands of Brainiac, and culminating in one of the most melancholy and bittersweet moments of the series to date.
That’s not to say it’s all a gloomy downer, though. It’s hard to be too morose when a certain super team from the 31st century show up.
Yes, the Legion of Super-Heroes. They’ve come to save the day an– wait. Where are Ferro Lad and Matter-Eater Lad?! And Arm-Fall-Off-Boy?!?! Shenanigans, I say!
But seriously, seeing the Legion was a delight. They’re a group that I don’t have a lot of history with, but just knowing that they come from a future that’s so optimistic and bright makes me smile any time they show up. While they arrive under slightly more morose circumstances than I’m sure they’re used to, their arrival was still a positive moment in a relatively dark and grim universe.
Surprisingly (or not, if you’ve been reading the book), the emotional core of this book as of late has been Booster Gold. His desire to be a better man and hero is compelling stuff, as is his mentor relationship with Jaime Reyes. Partly driven by guilt partly by a longing for something more, Booster’s arc comes to a head here as Jaime reaches his full potential.
Xermanico’s style is really versatile, going from the moody, frightening scenes aboard Brainiac’s ship to some really cool visual sequences in the history of the beetle scarab. And then there’s one page that’s just… just stunning.
Out of context, this is just a beautifully colored scene. The harsh reds and blacks of space contrast with the soft blue light that’s illuminating Booster’s face, resulting in a powerful image. It’s here that you come to realize what the title “Last Stop” really means, though, giving the sequence and the issue itself more weight.
This installment may not be as exciting as some of the other recent issues, which is understandable, in a way. After all, the series is coming to an end, and even though Tom Taylor has had a great time playing with these toys, eventually he’ll need to put them back where they belong. Even with a sense of inevitability, though, the journey has been well worth it. Taylor hasn’t forgotten that this crazy, zany yarn he’s woven has been all about heart since day one, and that rings true here as much as ever.
Needs more Lobo, though.
- You love Injustice.
- You want to see Booster be a hero.
Overall: A bit slower than we’re used to by this point, this is still a rock solid entry in this series. Given that the story has to wind down at some point, the shifting of pieces on the figurative game board was to be expected. Tom Taylor does a fantastic job of making it as organic as possible, though, and he still manages to make this book entertaining and genuinely moving when it needs to be. The shift in visual styles is a boon, as Xermanico’s ink-heavy, sketchier line work provides moments of genuine terror and stunning beauty in equal measure. Even if it’s not “the best” issue of Injustice 2, it’s still pretty good.