Injustice 2 Chapter 51 opens with a bit of heart and humor from Harley Quinn and Booster Gold, then drags out the tension from last issue’s cliffhanger, not only refusing to resolve the question of whether Selina Kyle is alive or not, but adding to the dramatic stakes by throwing Bat-Puppy into the danger zone.
There will be spoilers…
Rather than immediately jump to the conclusion to last week’s cliffhanger, this week’s issue opens at Wayne Industries in Gotham, where Harley Quinn and Connor, Green Arrow and Black Canary’s son, are playing William Tell, with Harley holding the apple. It’s a cute scene, reinforcing just how important Harley Quinn is to the bombastic, bloody, over the top narrative that is Injustice. Harley was the standout character of the first Injustice series, as Joker’s successful bombing of Metropolis and death at the hands of Superman, along with the realization that she was pregnant, caused Harley to reconsider her role in the world and join Batman’s resistance. Not only was it a believable redemption arc, but it allowed Harley to grow into the heart of the original series. While she’s taken a bit more of a secondary role in the current series, the scenes in which she’s present continue to demonstrate her importance to the narrative.
The scene then shifts to a boardroom, where Batman is meeting with Green Arrow, Black Canary, Natasha Irons, and Booster Gold to discuss the state of the world. After Amazo‘s nigh-extinction level event attack in Delhi, Bats is convinced the Resistance will have to take a more active role in making sure the post-Big Boss Superman world doesn’t slip into chaos.
Unfortunately the meeting is interrupted before they can get around to truly grappling with how much control is too much, and where to draw the line between helping and fascism. Brother Eye chimes in to report an outage in the surveillance feeds from Wayne Manor, in defiance of the cutting edge Bat security. Booster from the future chimes in with I.T. advice, to no avail. Knowing that Alfred and Selina could be in danger, Bruce cuts the meeting short and races home.
In many ways, Booster Gold’s character is similar in this narrative to Harley Quinn’s, as both characters bring a bit of light quirkiness to what would otherwise be a near unremittingly grim story that validates all of Lex Luthor’s fears about superheroes. And it’s not just about the humor, either. It’s also about the optimism and light-heartedness and Annie-esque idealism that allows for laughter in the face of apocalypse. And that idealism is incredibly important in balancing the narrative out and making it something more than just a collection of “What If?” fantasy fight-scenes. Or something. Back to the story…
Bruce’s arrival at the Batcave is another example of how tight and in sync the art crew is on this book. Of particular note is colorist Rex Lokus‘s sparing, but sinister, use of red in a sea of blue, first in the warning lights of the Batcave as Bruce suits up, then in the blood on the floor of the Manor above as he hurtles fearfully through the halls, and finally in Athanasia’s suit as she holds both Alfred and Ace the Bat-Puppy hostage, literally at gunpoint, in the bedroom.
It’s easy to overlook, given that digital comics tend to move at a faster pace than their standard ink and paper counterparts, and because it creates a linked atmosphere of building dread and menace without drawing attention to itself. This is a true team effort visually, and it’s impressive how the artists have managed to, for the most part, maintain that unified aesthetic even in the face of personnel changes.
Even now the tension from last issue’s cliffhanger builds, as Athanasia doesn’t even get the chance to reveal the fate of Selina or what the hell she wants before Alfred interjects, placing himself in the line of fire and upping the tension of everyone else in the room, including the dog. Everyone starts yelling and jostling for position, and the story closes with a classic cliffhanger as the reader “hears” but doesn’t see a gunshot, depicted in beautiful onomatopoeia based panels across the final page.
Now that’s a cliffhanger. What are the odds it was a warning shot? All I know is there’s no redemption if she killed that dog.
Injustice 2 Chapter 51, published by DC Comics on 3/27/18, features writing by Tom Taylor, letters by Wes Abbott, and art by Bruno Redondo, Juan Albarran, Rex Lokus, and Alejandro Sanchez.