INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US Volume 2
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick, Bruno Redondo, and more
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: June 25, 2014
The road to saving the world is paved with good intentions, but when the Man of Tomorrow faces the most devastating loss one can imagine, the future becomes much more grim than we could have hoped. Welcome to the beginning of Superman’s New World Order, as heroes choose sides between a Justice League joined by Lex Luthor, ridding the planet of perceived dangers, and a team of outsiders led by Batman, determined to fight for freedom no matter what it takes. Unfortunately for Batman, Superman isn’t the only one who ends up facing loss by the end.
Injustice is such an odd synergy of things that just shouldn’t work, but do, that it’s hard to even quantify what makes it so compelling. On one hand, we have a Superman who clearly has lost his way — irredeeemably so — but not through manipulation of any outside source like Darkseid or the Mad Hatter. No, this Man of Steel becomes the most human of all the characters in the title, in that he succumbs to the hubris and megalomania that we’ve seen throughout history in dictators far and wide. It would feel so out of character, if that transformation wasn’t written so compellingly well.
In that sense, Tom Taylor has produced quite a bit of magic with this out-of-continuity title that tugs at your heartstrings and makes you gird your loins just as much as (if not more than) any ongoing DC Comics title. And it’s not just Superman’s descent into what one might call madness that pulls the narrative along. It’s not really Batman either, although his stoicism and determination are everything I would come to expect from Dark Knight.
No, in reality, it’s all the fantastic little character moments that create a pastiche you can’t wait to come back to every other week in digital form, and combine to create a gorgeous tapestry of character when collected in this hardcover edition. From Captain Marvel’s doubts and the Flash’s outright intellectual dissent, to Harley Quinn’s madcap semi-heroism to Black Canary’s sharp and elegant wit, Taylor treats all DC fans — longtime or first time — to the best in personality that the Universe has to offer. In fact, Harley Quinn’s role in the story would seem so out of place in any other circumstance, but in this imagined world, she stands tall among every other luminary, shining brighter than most even.
It’s not hard to see why after reading the extended chapter featuring her adventures being chased by Lobo that leads her to team with the Green Arrow and Black Canary. Like all the other main characters in this narrative, Harley is so fully realized that you can’t not accept her presence. And likewise for Green Arrow, Lex Luthor, Alfred Pennyworth, and so many of the other “supporting” characters that pepper the ongoing story of Injustice. Characterization like this, not even necessarily plot or design, is what separates this story from being just another alternate tale, and elevates it into something even the most skeptical fan can warm to completely.
Within this second volume, readers face a very radical range of artists, varying so significantly from each other that you can’t help but wonder how it works. But in the end, most suprisingly, it actually does. Part of the reason why the uber-clean lines of a Kevin Maguire pencilled chapter can rest next to a somewhat more house-style Mike S. Miller story is the way the scenes shift to cover different parts of the narrative. I don’t know that each artistic choice feels very deliberate, but across the board, they manage to keep the story humming without too much distraction.
The real standout here is Bruno Redondo, who illustrates a fair portion of the Harley Quinn adventure, and will clearly be one of the rising stars of DC Comics in the years to come. His work is clean, emotive, funny where needed, and captures that perfect blend of super-hero with a sense of real personhood that few of the other artists accomplish.
If you have any doubts that the rise of a power-mad Superman taking control of the world, and all the personality conflicts and conciliations that arise from such, is not the story for you — think again. Injustice: Gods Among Us is far more than a video game adaptation. Far more than an imaginary story. Far more even than a future tale of what could be. What it is, however, is one of the strongest takes on the characterization of the DC Universe that we’ve seen in a generation of comics. Take the leap of faith and check it out. You’ll find your favorites shining through the adversity like you couldn’t have imagined possible.
The Verdict: 9.5/10