Injustice 2 #36 review

This issue, above all others, has a thankless task.  As the final issue of a prequel to a game that has been out for some time, it needs to take all the incredible storytelling that Tom Taylor has accomplished and line everything up with the video game’s introduction.  While some of that housekeeping has been taken care of over the past few issues, this is the finale.  If it’s not wrapped up or addressed here, there aren’t any other chances.  Because of that, it’s hard to tell an actual story in an issue like this, as its primary purpose is exposition.

Sad to say, that’s all it really amounts to.  For a series that hit some incredible narrative highs, it just kind of… stops.  There really isn’t an ending, and it doesn’t even feel like it really leads into the game either.  Even with a few nice little moments, this issue isn’t really about anything; a few brief events happen and then it’s over.

Taken on their own merits and without context, the individual scenes here work pretty well.  The issue opens with a sense of confusion, as Ollie and Dinah wander the halls of the White House and encounter several fallen bodies.  Is there an intruder?  Has a group of villains infiltrated the government and kidnapped the president… or worse?

It’s confusing for us and the characters both, as Dinah and Ollie have an ever increasing sense of dread as they approach the Oval Office.  Once there, the heroes are felled by arrows, collapsing to the floor and looking each other in the eyes as they fade.  “Pretty bird…” Ollie says weakly, as the scene pulls back and we see a group of shadowy figures gathered around the President’s desk.  The White House is down, it would seem, and the culprit is…

…a group of kids.

It’s a strange way to begin the final issue of a series’ run, but I actually found it pretty effective.  Among all the gloom and dourness of recent events, it’s nice seeing kids being kids and still being able to play and have fun.  It was a jarring reveal at first, especially considering the effective pacing and shocking “deaths” of Ollie and Dinah, but once it came together I really appreciated Taylor’s decision.

Thematically, this is the most effective part of the issue, with a brief monologue from Jefferson Pierce laying out his mission statement for reconstruction.

They’re words that we should heed even in the real world, a call to make the world such a good place that it doesn’t need saving anymore.  You could look at it cynically and think that such a goal is naive and unobtainable, but that goes against Pierce’s very point: act like adults so the kids can be kids.  We only become hardened and jaded over time, so make it so kids don’t go down that same path.

After the opening scenes at the White House, which take up most of the first half of the book, the focus is split between a battle between gorilla forces (awwwww yessssss) and a quiet conversation at Wayne Manor.  Attention is split pretty evenly between the two stories, and the battle has some particularly great visual storytelling.

While Daniel Sampere’s no slouch, and the earlier scenes in the issue are competently illustrated, I loved Bruno Redondo’s visual storytelling in the latter half.  The way the action moves between panels is inspired, like the shouting gorilla above being felled by a spear and “falling” into the panel below.  Redondo’s work is also appropriately gruesome, making three unexpected deaths all the more shocking.  Like the series’ writing at its best, the art team doesn’t pull any punches, making the events land with that much more force.

It’s the final scenes between Bruce and Alfred that leave me in a bit of a tough spot.  Their scenes are incredibly touching, especially Alfred’s surprise choice of Bruce’s new “caretakers,” but something about the ending just… doesn’t feel like an ending.  Goodbyes are said and ways are parted, true, but I didn’t get a good grasp on how this leads into the game.  Touching as Bruce and Alfred’s interactions are, I would have liked a little more context as to where Bruce finds himself at the beginning of the Injustice 2 video game.  As the ending to Injustice 2 the comic, it’s acceptable, but as a prequel to the video game I felt it was a bit lacking.

That’s judging it based on what I wanted it to be and not what it actually is, though.  As an issue itself, this still isn’t the strongest installment of the series, feeling more like a loose collection of unrelated scenes than a complete whole.  For a series that I generally loved, I only liked this issue.  It’s good enough to recommend, I just wish it offered more.

Recommended if:

  • You love gorillas.
  • You love Injustice.
  • You love the relationship between Bruce and Alfred.

Overall: The finale for the Injustice 2 comic has a lot going for it, but it doesn’t come together as a satisfying whole.  The characters are strong, as you’ve likely come to expect, and there’s some terrific visual storytelling throughout, it just didn’t feel like an ending.  Rather than ending with a period, or even an ellipsis, the story ends on a comma.  It feels incomplete, a loose collection of solid scenes that are greater than the whole.

SCORE: 6/10