Last week one of the best creative runs in comics ended as Tom Taylor, Daniel Sampere, Bruno Redondo and Rex Lokus released the final chapter of Injustice 2. Now there still physical releases yet to be released that collect the digital chapters of Taylor and his team’s Injustice 2 run. Throughout their run on Injustice 2 Taylor’s team was able to shape a DC Universe that is unique from the one that we seen in the current Prime version of the DCU.
One of the things that made the Injustice 2 series refreshing was its setting. Being set right after the events of the first Injustice video game Taylor was given plenty of room to develop what the world after the fall of Superman’s Regime is like. That meant a deeper exploration of what it means for the superhero community if there aren’t anymore secret identities, including Batman/Bruce Wayne.
That is a big change from how the normal status quo in the DC Universe. In dropping the secret identity aspect we were able to delve deeper into who these characters were. There was no more hiding who Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Barbara Gordon, Oliver Queen, etc are. This gave Taylor the opportunity to give each character a slightly different voice that is still familiar to the reader.
Batman is a great example of this as he the star of this series. With the public knowing Bruce is Batman he could no longer hide who he was. This opened the door for Bruce to be a much more public figure as we saw him interacting with government leaders and his new Justice League. He didn’t need to be in his Batman costume to make major changes happen, as was the case when Bruce went to a Senate hearing after Black Lightning became the new President of the United States. This along with his work with the new Justice League he formed made Batman step up even more as a leader and symbol.
All of this also spoke to the freedom Taylor had to take chances with different DC Comics characters that we would not normally see. One of the big chances Taylor took was taking Superman out of commission early on. In this meeting we saw the extremes that Batman would go through as he had Atom inside Superman’s head with a kryptonite dagger ready to take out the Man of Steel if he tried to escape. It was a tone setter as we see other characters go even further, delivering bigger moments.
One of those moments came between Booster Gold and the original Blue Beetle, Ted Kord. In their reunion scene Booster Gold came to visit to his old friend. It was there that Booster Gold revealed that no matter what he tried he could not stop Ted Kord’s upcoming death. Making this meeting more emotional was Booster Gold stating he would be there in Ted’s final moments of life. That ended up becoming true as Ted suited up as Blue Beetle one last time to take on the Suicide Squad. He would eventually be captured, tortured and killed with one final goodbye from Booster Gold as promised.
This was one of the many different pairings we got to see develop throughout the Injustice 2 series. The pairings were another key to the success to the series. From Black Canary and Green Arrow marriage and raising a son to Plastic Man and his son Luke we got to get deeper looks into different relationships as the characters were older than their Prime DCU counterparts. These dynamics added a deeper personal connection as the reader could relate to one or several different relationships we got to see throughout Injustice 2.
That included the confirmation of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy got married in the Injustice version of the DC Universe. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy having a deeper relationship has been hinted at for a long time, most recently seen in Tom King’s “Everyone Loves Ivy” story arc in Batman. Getting that confirmation was a good way to give their relationship more development, even if by the time of the Injustice 2 video game Harley and Ivy weren’t on the same side anymore.
As these relationships developed we also got to see how the members of the Superman Regime ended up facing stiff punishments for their role in siding with the Man of Steel. For Barry Allen and Hal Jordan their punishments were felt more as Taylor showed how much they both regretted siding with Superman. With Barry we got to see him regain who he is by helping one of the victims of the Superman Regime recover from a devastating injury before he returned and accepted as the Flash.
On the other end of the universe Hal was given a guilty verdict by the Guardians of the Galaxy and placed on a prison planet with Sinestro. This exploring the deeper traumas Hal had after he came to his senses for what he did as a member of the Superman Regime. Having Hal’s guilt manifest in the form of Guy Gardner’s ghost added an interesting layer to his character’s development over others in the Injustice 2 comic.
At the same time, Wonder Woman was shown not to have the same sense of guilt. Instead we saw how even without Superman around she still believe what she did during the Regime was right. Having Wonder Woman take this stance and join up with Black Adam was a good reminder that the Superman’s Regime still had its supporters. On a personal note, keeping Wonder Woman this way added to how tough it was to see her tense reunion with Wonder Girl (Cassandra Sandsmark).
These personal moments made the bigger superhero moments that we did get throughout Injustice 2 standout even more. In particular Injustice 2 brought credibility to Ra’s Al Ghul character. With Superman’s Regime leaving a big hole in the DCU’s villain department Ra’s Al Ghul stepped with new motivations as an eco-terrorist. This direction for Ra’s Al Ghul led him to recruit various villains and superheroes to his side that weren’t happy with the direction of the DC Universe. Ra’s being given this spotlight allowed him to elevate his status as a major DCU villain. At the same time, this gave Gorilla Grodd the chance to develop his own plans in the background, which would lead him to be one of the antagonists of the Injustice 2 video game.
This led to an epic battle with Amazo, which forced Batman’s Justice League to create a temporary alliance with Wonder Woman and Black Adam. This major fight did a great job in showing how terrifying of a threat Amazo is, especially without Superman to help. The destruction caused made Amazo an even bigger threat as the heroes needed to stop him while also making sure the people of Delhi were safe from the destruction being caused. This gave Supergirl an even bigger moment to shine as she was largely hidden away before this by Black Adam and Wonder Woman’s design.
All of this was wonderfully brought to life by Daniel Sampere, Bruno Redondo and Rex Lokus’ artwork. As an art team Sampere, Redondo and Lokus elevated Taylor’s writing to make all the personal moments have a greater connection with the reader. Given all the different DC Universe heroes and villains that they got to draw Sampere, Redondo and Lokus were never overwhelmed by how many characters they had to draw. Instead they gave them all looks that kept their iconic designs mix with the darker tone of the Injustice version of the DC Universe. The previously mentioned Amazo fight with the Justice League that led to a final battle with Supergirl.
Now there is so much more to talk about what made Injustice 2 such a successful comic book run by Taylor, Sampere, Redondo and Lokus, including how well done Supergirl and Damian Wayne’s character arcs were done. Because there is so much to talk about when it comes to Injustice 2 the series is one that fans of the DC Universe should pick digitally or in trades. As someone who was with Taylor, Sampere, Redondo and Lokus from the beginning of Injustice 2 I want to extend a giant “Thank You” to them all for the incredible DC Universe they helped develop.