Injustice Year Zero #1-3 review

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.

19 thoughts on “Injustice Year Zero #1-3 review

  1. If this is your jumping on point, looks to be a good place to start. If you are going to read the entire Injustice line, though, fair warning, and this isn’t really a spoiler I think: Superman really isn’t the true villain of the series, at least in my view. Diana of Themyscira has never been more brutal or cruel, and as a huge fan of Wonder Woman, I hated her characterization (though a good and somewhat tragic reason is given for her low opinion of man). There is an incredible fight scene between her and Kal-El though that shows just how powerful she can be…

    On the positive side, KARA ZOR-EL IS FANTASTIC in the second Injustice series. I mean really: hopeful, positive, brilliant, a little naive at first but a true hero who seeks only justice…even if it means having to deal with the truth of what her cousin has become. She is the hero we have been missing these past years.

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    1. I should clarify that Supergirl appears in the game rather than the comic, but you can find her story arc in the game online (which takes place after the Injustice 2 comic) and it’s fantastic.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it gets confusing, and they tend to merge in my mind, so I apologize for the confusion. Injustice Years 1-5 lead up to the first game, and the Injustice 2 series takes place between the first and second game. Kara shows up near the start of the Injustice 2 game. If you have some time, you can view her whole storyline. I LOVE her in this as much as I HATE Wonder Woman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ3diY_CEnk

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  2. I’ve never been a gamer so I saw no reason to read Injustice either but a classic JSA even if in a different continuity was a draw. My suspension of disbelief that so many heroes who were adults in 1942 could still be active in present day is almost gone tho’ so this came just in time. Unlike you though, this will not be a gateway to anything for me. I had my fill of evil versions of DC heroes some time ago…

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    1. Forgot to mention I hate that they’re using the Punch and Judy costume for Harley. What little I saw of it animated was fine (I don’t think I’ve sat through an entire Batman cartoon ep besides Brave and the Bold) but they weren’t sexualizing her. A classic kid character look sexed up because comics sexes nearly every female character always disturbed me. It’s like making Little Orphan Annie a sexpot. I don’t like the character in any way but if you’re gonna make her a broke back hottie, the second costume is made for that perfectly…

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      1. I’ve never watched animated Batman so only know Harley in that costume in the comics. I thought, though, that the cartoon was pitched at adults, being shown in the evening? Is that not so?

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      1. I just tried again. It failed again. I thought maybe it was links to Anj’s blog that was causing it a problem, so I moved those around, didn’t help. Basically I click “Post Comment”, and after a few seconds it takes me back to your post and nothing else happens. Well – I will try this in pieces.

        Injustice Gods Among Us Year Three (2014) #7 print (#13/14 digital) features Lara Lane-Kent, a daughter of Clark and Lois. She’s obviously different from the Kara Zor-El who appears in later series. (And given the premise of Injustice, it must be a hallucination or dream – I can’t remember.)

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  3. Having trouble with the next part. I’ll try to break that one down even more.

    Injustice 2 has many stories with Kara Zor-El. Anj reviewed at least some of these. For now I’m going to leave the URLs to his site out, maybe the URLs are the problem.

    These are the print issue numbers, and the digital installments in parentheses.

    #6 (11,12) has the Supergirl origin story. Anj reviewed this in August 2017.
    #13 (25,26) Anj reviewed this in Novemer 2017.
    #15 (29,30)
    #16 (31)
    #21 (41)
    #22 (44)
    #24 (47,48)
    #25 (49)

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  4. OK, everything is working, except for some reason WordPress isn’t handling the 2 URLs I included to Anj’s two posts. So it’s just rejecting those posts completely (but with no warning or error message).

    Finally wanted to say: I’m really enjoying Taylor’s Suicide Squad, all of his DCeased books (including the digital-only one currently running alongside the Dead Planet series), and his Injustice work. He’s got lots of other projects I admit I haven’t been following, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are excellent. His writing is filled with heart, laced with comic beats, and neat surprises.

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    1. TN, thanks so much for persevering, it’s brilliant to get more on the Kara content. I’ll track down what I can. I’m behind on DCeased, I read the original series but didn’t get to the villains spin-off and the digital stuff, but they’re waiting. Can’t SOMEone put me on hiatus? A fortnight would do!

      If you didn’t see Taylor’s work on Earth 2 with Nicola Scott, it’s worth tracking down!

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      1. His Spider-Man series was amazing too. I believe he did All New Wolverine as well and if he did it was astounding as well…

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  5. Ah, we all have our gaps, and a big one of mine is Earth 2. Thanks for letting me know Taylor was involved, that makes it worth tackling some day.

    I just watched parts of the recent Word Balloon podcast that featured Nicola Scott. She was a very charming guest, and apparently she and Tom are good friends.

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