The prequel saga comes full circle.
Once again, DC is capping off a volume of Injustice with a standalone annual issue. But unlike the Year Four annual, which briefly brought writer Tom Taylor back into the fold and directly set the stage for the Year Five status quo, this issue is more in line with the other Injustice annuals. It offers a trio of what are essentially “lost” stories set during writer Brian Buccellato’s Year Five run. As such, it’s a decent read for those who need a little more Injustice to fill the wait until the sequel comic, but only one of these tales is particularly noteworthy.
First, Buccellato and artist Mike S. Miller touch base with Harley Quinn in the aftermath of Year Five. Disillusioned and alone, Harley is prepared to hang up her costume for good when she runs afoul of a the Joker Gang. Buccellato is basically setting up Harley for her role in the Injustice: Ground Zeroes comic here. The script toys with the idea that even someone as twisted as Joker can become a symbol for positive change and resistance, but never really digs deep enough. Nor does it examine the tragedy of Harley coming so close to reclaiming her old life and then slipping back into old habits. Buccellato delivers a decent Harley story, especially with Miller’s energetic pencils bringing life to the pages, but there’s a nagging sense that more could have been accomplished with the character.
Next is a weirdly disjointed story focused on Damian Wayne and Ares. I say disjointed because the two haves don’t intertwine at all until the end, and even then just barely. At first it seems as though Damian’s story is meant to be a completely different segment. And maybe it should have been. This story is at its best when it quietly explores Damian’s reaction to losing his family. The brief clash between Superman and Ares is far less compelling, again more focused on setting the stage for the game than offering a truly compelling narrative. But at least Xermanico’s pencils give this underwhelming tale an attractive sheen. Short of Bruno Redondo, Xermanico is the artist who best embodies the look and feel of Injustice.
Last up is story focused on Black Lightning, a character not seen since the Year One days. This chapter succeeds in offering the solid character study the others struggle with. Jefferson’s goal is to rebuild the ruined city of Metropolis and bring hope to a world that has little left. It’s a conflict that speaks to Jefferson’s noble, civic-minded personality and manages to offer a ray of brightness in an increasingly dark universe. It also humanizes Superman just as he’s completing his journey towards becoming the tyrant seen in the game. Marco Santucci’s art veers a bit more from the Injustice norm, but that’s fitting for a story that downplays superheroics a bit. It’s appropriately moody and somber, particularly during Jefferson’s encounter with Batman.