On a Gotham rooftop, Batman broods. He thinks of the world he lives in, one ruled over by a corrupt Superman. He believes things could have been so different…
A year previously, an 86-year-old prison inmate who wants only to see his grandson before he dies is refused parole. He puts the word out that godly power is the reward for anyone who gets him back on to the streets. One man answers Andre Chavard’s call. Things don’t go the way Chavard hoped.
Meanwhile, on their satellite base in synchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the planet, the Justice League of America toast the heroes who came before them.
And after a photograph is taken, it’s time to socialise.
Decades previously, Carter and Shiera Hall robbed a tomb…
The world of Injustice is a blind spot for me. I’ve never read the comics, having assumed they were merely adjuncts to some video game. Over the years, though, I’ve heard great things about the comics produced by Tom Taylor and his various artistic partners. Well, here’s the jumping-on point I’ve been awaiting, a DC Digital First prequel to those acclaimed stories. And with a focus on the Justice Society, and the first three issues dropped at once, I couldn’t resist.
And goodness me, was I rewarded! I don’t think we’ve seen a purely social meeting of the JLA and JSA since the start of the millennium. How I’ve missed them. As well as the Batman/Wildcat scene we see Superman worrying about his legacy, the Spectre fretting that he doesn’t fit in, and more.
I’ve managed to avoid the publicity so don’t know where this is all going – presumably what the Halls found in the tomb has survived to the present day and is going to get into the Joker’s hands via Andre Chavard. I predict a bloodbath. And yeah, maybe a riot.
(And I wonder what the heck got Chavard put in prison for most of his life… it’s not come up yet, but he’s a character from the Golden Age, very much a good guy in the comics I’ve seen him in.)
While the first two issues carry the character moments I love best, the third issue is an action -packed treat as the Halls pay a heavy price for grave robbing. Most of the chapter is set in the Second World War but a framing sequence offers my favourite Joker moment in a long time – he’s actually funny.
Taylor’s compelling script is admirably terse – no page contains more words than are needed for the pacy telling of the story, but the reader is never shortchanged. Rogê Antônio’s storytelling for the first two chapters is great, his people strong and characterful, his backgrounds convincing. Colourist Rain Beredo establishes a pretty dour world, turning up the radiance for the arrival of the JSA – that group photo really pops.
For Chapter 3 Beredo is joined by Cian Tormey and his take on the Joker is a revelation – basically Bronze Age but with a dose of Sad Clown that makes the Harlequin of Hate actually unnerving rather than, as is usually the case these days, simply gross. The flashback scenes may be even better, Tormey’s muscular illustrations matching the intensity of events. Beredo cleverly uses Shiera’s red hair as a fiery contrast to the darkness of a tomb.
Lettering all three chapters, Wes Abbott keeps things beautifully clear, avoiding the modern trend for scritchy lettering when possession comes into play. Julian Totino Tedesco draws the excellent covers for #1 and #3, while #2 makes do with a detail from the interior art – it’s OK, but it’s no cover.
With the likelihood of spotlight action for such great underused DC characters as Amazing Man, Liberty Belle and the original Mr Terrific, this weekly series – edited by Jessica Chen – looks set to be a real highlight of the year. And if it takes us up to where the original Injustice comics started, well, I have just bought a collection online.