Batman races against the clock to save his world.
Who would have thought when DC first started publishing their Injustice: Gods Among Us prequel comic that the series would eventually span several years, five volumes and hundreds of digital chapters by the time it finally concluded? This series certainly ranks among the most comprehensive prequels ever conceived. But there’s a reason this comic has proven so popular over the years, and that appeal remains in the series finale.
Issue #20 carries Injustice: Year Five right up to the events of the game. Writer Brian Buccellato creates a tense “ticking clock” situation as Batman and Luthor struggle to bring the alternate universe Justice League into their world even as a vengeful Superman finally discovers Batman’s hidden fortress. Even though the outcome of this battle is preordained, Buccellato has no trouble generating plenty of suspense along the way.
This issue doesn’t provide the definitive ending to the series some might be hoping for. In some ways it lacks the emotional payoff of Year Two’s conclusion (which is about the closest thing to a happy ending we’ll likely ever see from this particular universe). But that open-ended approach is to be expected given how closely this issue ties into the opening of the game. Buccellato does at least bring the series full circle as Batman and Superman reflect one last time on the terrible series of events that brought them to this place. And along the way, he addresses a few lingering questions, including why Catwoman switched allegiances and joined the Regime.
It’s fitting that the series would wrap with two final chapters drawn by Mike S. Miller. Miller has been involved with the series from almost the very beginning, and his confident line-work and expressive characters have defined the Injustice aesthetic as much as any other artist. Though his art seems a little more rushed than usual, Miller really nails the big emotional scenes and the constant shifts between the Injustice universe and the Justice League’s parallel world.
Looking back at Year Five as a whole, I do feel that the series never quite succeeded in completing Superman’s transition from noble hero to tyrannical dictator. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even at the very end, the comic’s version of Superman still has an aura of sadness and regret and misery about him that the game’s Superman lacks. The game was always inherently flawed in its insistence that a hero as fundamentally decent as Superman could ever fall so low. The comic should be praised for trying to make that impossible evolution as believable as possible.