I mentioned in my previous review for Injustice 2 that the series is slowing down as it approaches the end, almost inevitably so. Tom Taylor is in the unenviable position of having to put the toys back in the toy box, after being given free reign to have an absolute blast for a few years. Not to say that his plotting here isn’t enjoyable by any means, it’s just that there has to be a trajectory at this point. Since the series leads into the game, characters have to be positioned and moved around so they line up with the intro of the game.
This week, we get a whole lot of characters sitting around and talking.
And eating delicious takeout.
As I’m sure you can tell by the title, we’re back on Earth after a lengthy excursion in outer space. We catch up with Batman, Harley Quinn, Alfred, Aquaman, Gorilla Grodd, and all sorts of other characters we haven’t seen in a month of Sundays.
And, really, that’s about all we do: catch up. There’s some good dialogue here– occasionally even great dialogue– but there isn’t much that actually happens. Characters talk and talk, dropping exposition about what they’ve been doing, making varying degrees of threats to each other while supposedly working toward an armistice.
There’s an early scene between Alfred and Athanasia al Ghul (remember her?) that has some of the issue’s best dialogue. Alfred, still readjusting to life among the living, takes it upon himself to understand the newly-discovered daughter of Bruce Wayne. They have a sharp verbal sparring match, with Athanasia’s expected al Ghul gruffness matched by Alfred’s reliable dry wit. We don’t glean much about Athanasia’s life or personality beyond what we already knew, but it’s a great example of how good dialogue can carry an otherwise uneventful scene.
That scene is short lived, though it does provide the catalyst that leads to the main crux of the story. Urged on by Alfred, Batman sets up a meeting with Ra’s al Ghul so their two camps can work together with the United States government and the Atlanteans. Their goal? Save the world instead of inevitably destroying it.
It… it goes about as well as you’d expect.
Props to Aquaman for having the guts to threaten Ra’s. He may be a fool, but Arthur’s at least a brave fool.
It’s all really just a lot of posturing and back and forth, and frankly, it goes on for a little too long. There are some funny lines here and there, and some good individual character moments sprinkled throughout, but it starts to drag pretty quick.
It’s back on the surface where things get a little more interesting. Brainiac (or at least one of his drone’s) lands in the jungle around Gorilla City and starts wreaking havoc. He slaughters several gorillas while on the hunt for Grodd, and while it’s pretty disturbing, these scenes contain some of the best art in the issue. Both Daniel Sampare and Bruno Redondo have solid penciling styles and get the job done. The early half of the issue looks a bit flat, due in part to a limited color palette, but Rex Lokus more than makes up for it in the latter half during Brainiac’s rampage.
This isn’t even the best example, either. Lokus’ use of color here is bright and vibrant against the horrors the character is committing. It’s a small part of the overall book, but the few panels where he uses color to convey bright light are borderline stunning. The Brainiac drone shoots off from the jungle at one point, leaving a yellow trail behind him that casts the characters in shadow. That, and the shot of space on the next page have a certain organic life to them that is oddly missing from the rest of the issue. Odd because, well, most of the issue takes place in the jungle or underwater, surrounded by organic life, so the fact that the words “flat” and “lifeless” came to mind while I was reading belies what was supposed to be going on on the page.
I feel as if I’m being more harsh toward this issue than I intended. It is, without question, my least favorite issue I’ve covered since I started reviewing Injustice 2, but there’s still plenty of goodwill toward the series that it can be forgiven the occasional slow chapter. That’s the case with this issue, and with two more to go before the series’ end, I’m sure everything will pick up again soon.
- You like Injustice.
- You want to see Aquaman stand up to Ra’s al Ghul.
- Alfred is your MVP no matter what.
Overall: Slow and steady. There’s some good dialogue throughout and a few flashes of visual inspiration, and the overall quality of the series can elevate even a lesser installment when taken in context. That said, there’s not an awful lot that happens in this issue, and much of what’s here doesn’t make much of an impact. Still, it’s nice to see a lot of these characters again, especially as we head toward the finale.