At first, we all wanted to dismiss INJUSTICE 2 as a tie-in comic book series. There’s been difficulties in recent decades with adaptations and derivative content. The quality wavers greatly. Maybe you didn’t play Injustice: Gods Among Us or Injustice 2 and didn’t think you had the necessary bona fides to step into a continuing narrative based upon it.
What dummies we were! With this series, primary writer Tom Taylor has effectively created one of the best Justice League “Elseworlds” stories of all time. I would happily put it head-to-head with DC Comics staples like JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NAIL in terms of inventiveness, quality of storytelling, and cultural impact.
Injustice 2 recently ended its digital and print comic run, but if you’re a trade person, Volume 4 just came out and it’s a must read…even if you haven’t read the previous three! Though, you should. For such an epic series, they’re all pretty quick, engaging reads, and you don’t need to know anything about anything (save, perhaps, some of the classic characters of the DC Universe) to fully enjoy them.
That said, if you’re new to the Injustice 2 comic, consider this a massive spoiler warning because from here on out, I’m going to discuss Volume 4 in detail, and I’ll be getting into some mad character death thoughts before I’m done.
When the Injustice 2 game dropped, the addition of Supergirl was a pretty big deal. Along with being a character fans had been waiting to see added to the universe, she was an incredibly powerful character. This universe’s version of Kara Zor-El was first introduced to us in Volume 3 of the comic book series, but it is not until Volume 4 that readers get a chance to see Kara fully unleashed. Taylor has established a friendship between her and Damian (that, honestly, I am completely living for!), through which he threads a Rapunzel narrative. Kara is “trapped” in Kahndaq where she is being trained by Wonder Woman and her loyal Amazons, and when she cuts her hair and leaves her tower she’ll finally be free to realize her full potential.
Yeah, the princess narrative is really cute. It illustrates Damian Wayne actually has a heart buried beneath all of his second generation Nightwing armor. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY—Kara takes it literally and cuts her hair short so she looks like Power Girl!
Powerful she is. With Batman’s forces facing down an incredibly strong weapon cooked up by Ra’s al Ghul, the introduction of a Kryptonian who isn’t Superman has the potential to tip the power scales. As ever, Ra’s al Ghul has created a solution where, in his mind, the ends justify the means. Despite the goals he is trying to achieve being fairly reasonable—and some things we might want to take a harder look at in terms of their potential positive impact in our real world as the readers of the comic books—his on-brand horrific method of delivery drives most of the conflict in Injustice 2 Vol. 4. Inherent evil aside, what’s awesome about Ra’s al Ghul’s plan is it involves a character who can realistically pose a credible threat to the team of heroes who took down Superman.
Earlier in the Injustice comic book series there was a phenomenal issue exploring what place the Titans were going to take in the worldwide war between Batman and Superman. If you’ve read at least one of my previous articles here then you know how much I adore any and all versions the Teen Titans! I must admit, I was distressed to see them shunted off to the Phantom Zone, even if they had pretty good reasons for going.
Injustice 2 Vol. 4 frees the Titans and manages to save Connor from an untimely demise, although not before they kill off another Robin, Tim Drake. That makes two Robins that the Injustice comic has killed off, and my 1990s comic book fan heart broke in half when Tim died. Not only is he my all-time favorite Robin, but Batman has undergone so much tragedy over the course of Injustice…even by Batman standards.
For every good moment Bruce Wayne seems to enjoy, he has to suffer another blow. Alfred gets resurrected by the powers of a Lazarus Pit, yet when he is reunited with Red Robin after a six-year separation, Tim is killed almost immediately. This perilous balance and high stakes are why Injustice and Injustice 2 are such phenomenal comics. They dare to push the characters we think we know so well with complicated, trying situations, after which they explore what their actions tell you about who they are as superheroes and people. Wonder Woman gets a particularly deep examination in this volume.
All of these big ideas are stunningly executed by a team of artists led by Bruno Redondo who give us some of the most beautiful and powerful superhero art being made for DC. And I do mean “powerful.” When Booster Gold takes a hit directly to the chest, you feel it!
I could go on and on about this most recent volume and all the previous volumes of Injustice 2. The series is phenomenal and with so much of it now available digitally and in print, there’s no time like the start of a new year to finally dive in.
Ashley V. Robinson writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel.