Monday, May 15, 2017

REVIEW: INJUSTICE 2 - THE SERIES SO FAR

A whole new world...

INTRODUCTION 
With the INJUSTICE 2 video game coming out tomorrow (tonight for some), I thought it might be fun to review the first five issues of the INJUSTICE 2 prequel series which bridges the gap between games. I've been reviewing the original INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US comic volumes and have found myself loving every moment so I'm very happy that there is now a whole new series for fans to enjoy. I don't know if it will be as long-lived as the original, but I wanted to jump in an at least see where they'll go with it. At the time of this review, there are five individual issues out which I picked up digitally. This will be a cumulative review of those five issues that I may expand or perhaps transform into a review of the first volume when that eventually gets released. 

HOW I RATED IT 
4/5 I loved seeing familiar faces from the game all showing up in their brand new costumes and a totally new sort of world. There's nothing quite as grand as the conflict that the first series told, but there are some pretty great and sometimes shocking moments that this story has to offer. 

CHARACTERS
There aren't a whole ton of characters running around just yet. The series kicks off with a conversation between Batman and the now-imprisoned Superman. There isn't a ton of development on Superman's side, he's just as hopelessly lost as he was in the game. Batman on the other hand has a very interesting personal challenge to face. With Superman's Regime toppled, someone has to now step in to usher in new leadership, but no one wants to see Batman's vision of the world realized. This point is reiterated by so many different characters it actually becomes kind of comical and I found myself feeling a little bad for Batman even though he was a good sport about these comments. Harley Quinn has some funny moments, my favorite being where she decides that Batman wants her to be the next Robin. She gets herself nabbed by Amanda Waller who is starting up a pretty large Suicide Squad for herself which serves a good way to introduce series newcomer, Deadshot. I did feel a little worried that this would devolve into a shameless promo for the somewhat recent movie. Fortunately, the story quickly takes a different turn as a new rival for Batman steps onto the scene. I think I already know who this mystery man is unfortunately, but even if I'm right, I still think it's an interesting twist. Ollie and Dinah are brought back into this world thanks to Dr. Fate and they bring their son, Conner, with them. There is also an appearance from two of Batman's close allies which I was pretty psyched to see.

WORLD/SETTING 
The world of INJUSTICE 2 is very different from the original INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US. Gone is the dark dystopia that resides beneath Superman's shadow. There's a newfound lightness to the world, one that teems with hope, but is still weighed down by responsibility to maintain this peace. This weight falls mainly upon Batman, but thanks to encouragement from his friends, he seems consigned to allow others to help him bear the weight. For Batman to admit he needs help with anything is something I'm not sure I've seen before so this was a particularly interesting scenario for me. There are some scenic shots of Superman's Red Sun Cell block, Oliver's home on the alternate Earth, and the facility that houses the Suicide Squad. There isn't a great sense of scale to things just yet though. While there is a lot of talk about the fate of the world, the actual events of the story seem to take place within a relatively tight geographical space. 

PLOT/TONE 
Tonally, things are much different from INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US. This time, it's Batman that's in control of the situation, but not really. The  serenity that's come with the removal of Superman feels like it could crack at any point. Batman must slowly build up the world that Superman ran into shambles. It's a surprisingly low-key plot that I did wish would get a little wilder, but perhaps they are just setting things up at this point. The roster is also fairly conservative though the characters that do show up get ample characterization. It was actually nice in a way to have things scaled back a little bit. The story focuses on characters who seem like they will be the main protagonists in this new narrative so it was good to spend some quality time with them. The Suicide Squad and their new leader make for fun antagonists and I am intrigued to know why the main villain seems to be in favor of freeing Superman. It's unclear as to just where things will go or how they can ramp up while keeping Superman confined in his cell, but I'm hopeful that this series will reach the same heights as its predecessor. 

ARTWORK
The artwork of this series is every bit as good as I'd hoped it would be. The characters are hyper-detailed, the environments are crisp and the action is brilliantly depicted. There's not much more that can be asked for in this department.


CONCLUSION 
Those on the fence about giving this series a shot should definitely consider picking up the first couple of issues. their fairly cheap, but also quite brief. I think it's definitely more satisfying to read them in a graphic novel format, but I'm glad I picked up these first five issues. I think I'll continue to follow this series as it grows and I look forward to how it helps connect the two games.

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