REVIEW: INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US VOL. 2
As I mentioned in my review of INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US VOL. 1, I generally have a hard time getting into comics. I like it as an art form and I think it's a cool medium for spinning fictional tales, but it is also a really confusing and unapproachable form of entertainment, even with all of the re-branding DC has recently done in order to make their stories more inviting to new readers. So when I decided to try the first volume of the INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US comic series and found it delightfully well done and remarkably accessible, I of course had to continue on by picking up the Kindle version of the second half of Year One.
HOW I CAME UPON IT
Like I mentioned above, the first volume is what really sold me on picking up the second. INJUSTICE is kind of formatted like a television show in that it works in seasons (they refer to them as years). There is no mention of this being Year One until the very back cover in this volume, but that is probably because the addition of subsequent seasons/years was contingent on the first's success. At this point there are two more volumes out for Year Two and I believe there are issues released within Year Three. This might sound a tad confusing, but it's really not, especially if you buy by the volume and not by singular issues.
Effectively, the final issue of VOL. 1 was kind of like the explosive mid-season finale of a TV drama. It collected issues 1-6 of the Year One sequence. VOL. 2 includes issues 7-12, plus the INJUSTICE ANNUAL issue which essentially functions as a thirteenth issue and a very intense wrap up to the Year One Story arch.
NOTE: While I won't delve into any major spoilers for VOL.2, I will be discussing things that happened within the previous volume, so please do not read on if you wish to avoid spoilers for the first six issues of the comic series.
HOW I RATED IT
5/5 I really couldn't have asked for anything more from this volume. I've openly admitted that I am no comics expert, but for me, VOL. 2 contained everything I ever wanted from a comic series. I gave the previous volume a 4/5 because I did have some issues with the pacing of certain parts as well as the overuse of tiny comic panels that looked a little ugly. This volume is entirely devoid of either of those issues and just seems to nail things at every turn.
This was one of my favorite aspects of the first six issues and it continues to be absolutely amazing
this time around. The main cast is back with Batman, Superman, Green Arrow Wonder Woman, Flash, and the rest of the Justice League taking the lead in most situations. Other characters like Catwoman and Harley Quinn are other welcome returners and then there are all the new faces as well as more focus given to characters that resided in the story's background.
While it was nice to see so many of the more minor personalities get their time in the light, the main focus on Superman's decent into madness and Batman's cold, calculating efforts to stop him are not at all lost in the shuffle. The heart-wrenching conflict only grows fiercer as both sides fight for what they think is right. By the end of this volume, that conflict comes to its ultimate head in a way that I found utterly stunning.
|A tense scene in one of Batman's hideouts|
In my previous review, I expressed hopes that the setting for the narrative would become a bit more interesting. I am happy to report that my anticipation was fulfilled in every way that I could hope for. The world is now largely under Superman's control and while he does not yet rule with absolute authority at the beginning of the volume, he certainly becomes the almighty dictator by the end. What marks the setting of this collection is the conflict between the two hero camps. There's Batman and his followers who believe that humanity has a right to rule themselves and then there are Superman's underlings who think what they are doing is the correct course of action. Then there are those who have picked a side, but are not necessarily sold on which one is correct. Flash, Shazam, and even some of Batman's followers all question the correctness of their leaders actions which really helps convey the fact that the world is now a battleground despite Superman's best efforts to forcibly instill peace. It's still a rather traditional comic-booky setting with lost of sprawling cityscapes and plenty of secret lairs, but the distopic mood of it all is what makes it feel so unique and memorable. By the final panels of this volume, there is reason to believe that these classic locals will seem even less familiar during Year Two.
What's somehow even more brutal than all the death is the mere back and forth between the two sides. Both Superman AND Batman do some pretty shocking things in order to get their way. These men are getting desperate and they make some very interesting leadership choices that don't break from their character, but did leave me in bit of shock. Batman can be inexplicably cold to those both on his side and those who are not, while Superman's flaming temper only gets worse and somehow more child-like as the story goes on. This is the conflict that the first six comics alluded to and it's one that I don't think I'll forget anytime soon.
I can't really give this series enough praise. For me, it has become a sort of benchmark by which I will judge any other comic or graphic novel that I read. It's emotionally raw and utterly tragic in some spots. The action shots are breathtaking and the artwork in general is just astounding. This is easily the most beautiful piece of graphic fiction that I have ever read and it is one that moved me throughout all seven issues, often in ways that surprised me. If you haven't gotten into this series yet, then you definitely should, especially if you're like me and have tried in vain to get into the world of comics. You may not be completely sold after reading through the first volume (I wasn't 100% myself), but after reading through this one, there is very little doubt that I will be reading every issue that this series comes out with.