Wednesday, May 10, 2017

REVIEW: INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR FOUR VOLUME 2

Olympus has invaded...


NOTE 
While this review will be relatively spoiler-free, there may be some spoilers for previous volumes in the series. 

INTRODUCTION 
Gods and heroes continue to clash in this second part of YEAR FOUR. Thankfully, this volume is more than just a prolonged sequence of swords and fists flying across the pages. The conflict to rid Earth of Olympus's residents brings the narrative forward in some important ways and an issue at the end introduces some new characters into the mix which will likely have a big impact on the fifth and final year of INJUSTICE.

HOW I RATED IT 
5/5 While this installment is still very action-packed, it also has the narrative depth that previous volumes lacked, making it feel like a far more like the kind of collection the series deserves. 

CHARACTERS
Batman seemingly has his way when Superman is forced to relinquish his throne. In the Man of Steel's place, a much bigger problem now arises. The gods of Olympus occupy the planet and there's nothing Batman and his band of mortals can do about it. They take refuge in Themyscira, much to the chagrin of the locals. In his defeat, Superman consults with the scheming Ares and turns to Poseidon for help against Zeus and his followers. The result is a glorious entrance for the god of the seas as he threatens the land of the Amazons with a towering wall of water. This move creates even more tension between Superman and Wonder Woman, putting their relationship on a very thin ice. Batman immediately gets down to manipulating the situation from the shadows, getting Aquaman, Mera, and some very surprising guests involved. Ares has a shocking ally of his own who clashes with Superman in a brilliant display of comic book violence. Harley, a powerless Billy (Shazam), and Hippolyta find themselves stuck in the Greek Underworld, a place that Harley just so happens to be well versed in. Using this knowledge, she leads the trio on a prison break or maybe a hell break. While a little random, it was a lot of fun to see her demonstrate some leadership ability. It was a nice nod to where she ends up in the game and pretty rewarding in general. Zeus was also fairly interesting. While it would have been more interesting for his actions to have a little more motive behind them, I at least found them to be entertaining and I liked his final stand-down with one of the characters Batman calls into the fold. I was disappointed that Raven never showed up, but I  suspect she'll be making an appearance in YEAR FIVE.

WORLD/SETTING 
There's no more standing around in one spot. This volume takes readers to some of the most exotic locations in both DC and Mythological lore. Themyscira takes center stage as Superman and Poseidon act in defiance against the will of Zeus. There are a lot of great shots of this place as well as the mass of water that stands to level it.  There are some glimpses of the gorgeous Atlantis as well as some secret government meetings to keep things fresh. Different parts of the Underworld create a fun backdrop for Harley's Antics. Another fiery locale sets the stage for an iconic fight scene and a serene utopia from another dimension is stunning enough to rival any of the other places that the story has gone so far. Overall, the setting is varied, wild, and chaotic. This was exactly the type of world that this story deserves and I hope the more chaotic aspects of it ramp up before things fall into the ordered dystopia that players find when they play the game.  



PLOT/TONE 
All of the plotting and scheming of the gods remains a huge element of this story. Out of all of the volumes so far, this one feels the most like an epic comic adventure. It's definitely still as dark as previous installments, but there's a lot more moving pieces running wild. The aspect of involving not one, but two different mythologies (one native to the DC Universe) was great and added a lot of good, clean fun to things. I loved that I felt surprised by narrative events again, but could also still enjoy some high-flying action. There are so many super-beings running around and so many different agendas at play and I had a ton of fun never knowing just what would happen next. Things get more and more interesting until the god/hero conflict finally comes to a head, but that's not all the volume has to offer. The final chapter is one that's seemingly random at first, but the ending of it definitely feels like a setup for things to come. 

ARTWORK
The art has really outdone itself this time. Between the varied and elaborately detailed environments and the characters that still look fantastic, this is the best that the series has ever looked. 

CONCLUSION 
In a lot of ways, it feels like the series has returned to it's former glory. The plot is moving forward again, the action and visuals are top notch, and things are starting to fall into place within the context of the game. The gods of Olympus have taken their leave of Earth, but their stay was certainly entertaining and hopefully it's not the last the series has seen of mythological elements. I'm looking forward to finding out how everything wraps up and who survives the inevitable final conflict that is to come.

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