Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Raapack, Miller, Gimenez
Reviewer: Rob Patey (Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
I received an early preview of this book, but I’ll admit now I avoided it like the plague. As soon as I read the slugline “From the creators of Mortal Kombat” I kept on keeping on to BATMAN & ROBIN ANNUAL 1.
Comics based on TV, movies, video games and any medium OTHER than comics are 99% atrocious. The 1% of good stuff is very few and far between as math dictates. The last time I actually enjoyed one was DC LEGENDS ONLINE and I’ve read a ton since. I stayed with that comic for months after I let my subscription from the game cancel out (I also got an iMAC, but I really was done with the game before that having level capped in less than 30 days). I gave that comic a chance because generally RPG games have a better chance of transcending to an engaging story and comic than fighting games.
Well, shut my mouth and call me Sally, because my prejudices almost made me miss one of the best damn DC comics to not only come out this week, but since the start of 2013. I always loved ELSEWORLDS and that’s exactly how INJUSTICE reads. Like ARMAGEDDON 2001, INJUSTICE postulates what happens to the world if SUPERMAN becomes damaged goods.
The book starts with BATMAN overlooking a crime free Gotham, an event we all would expect to make BATMAN grin wider than the Joker. His internal monologue on this page was just the start of some exceptional writing on Taylor’s part; he gets these characters to the core and puts more heart than I’ve ever seen into a comic port over. We realize BATMAN’s lament when the page closes with SS like troops marching the streets brandishing the crest of El.
Flashback to five years prior, where we see an insomniac Clark looking at a sleeping Mrs. Kent. Remember back when those two were married and Lois didn’t treat Clark like gum on the bottom of her shoe? I do, and it was nice to venture back. Again, in a moment of great internal dialog Clark hears a second heartbeat coming from Lois. The scene that follows was simply endearing until Lois gets a call to report on a bribe hand off as it happens. It’s hard for me to quantify what I liked about the two, other than it felt real despite their drastically unreal existences.
What was thought to be a story ends up being a set-up perpetrated by the Joker, but we don’t learn this until another great characterization moment takes place between Supes and Bats. Bats immediately knows Lois is pregnant based on actual detective work looking at Superman’s demeanor, but is then bat-surprised when asked to be the Godfather. I laughed out loud at his less than emotional response.
This book is rife with so many consequences you will wish it is main continuity. I love Jimmy Olsen, which is why there was so much weight and impact when he gets a bullet through his lens straight through to his eye. Artists and writer should be proud for the impact of this scene.
Once Superman and Batman realize the Joker is behind things, you see a JUSTICE LEAGUE scramble to find out where The Joker took Lois, and how the Scarecrow who also ends up shuffling off his mortal coil fits into the scheme. It’s good, really good. So is the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman all use their powers to the fullest appropriateness. In just a few panels, again you realize Taylor gets the characters. DC, let’s give this guy a real book soon please, he deserves it.
I’m not going to spoil the final catalyst that pushes Superman to his dark totalitarian future. Suffice to say it’s clever, very comicy, and far more impactful than the accident that made him all Hitlery back in ARMAGEDDON 2001 when Lois died.
The art team also deserves a shout out. I’m sure part of this has to do with the game design, but these costumes are fucking awesome. Think everything that was great about the pre-52 costumes and the cool stuff from the New 52 and there you have it. Also, even though there are three artist, hand-off was seamless. I didn’t even really notice until I sat down to write the attribution for this review.
I won’t play the game because I hate fighters to the core of my being, but I will read every last mother loving page of this series.