Injustice 2 #14

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Киевская обл. (Украина)

This might feel like a lull in what has been a long string of relentless action, but it’s a much-needed pace-breaker in which Tom Taylor can let us catch our breaths and consider all the carnage that has resulted from Batman’s “successful” mission to recover the kidnapped children of Ollie, Dinah, and Black Lightning.

Digital Firsts 27 & 28 (“The Trial of Bruce Wayne”) show us the aftermath of a world now suffering from superhero negligence. Wildcat is still alive, but remains in critical condition, Aqualad (and all of Atlantis) is under the gun for the tidal wave that has wiped out the President along with most of the rest of the government, the Blue Beetle has been told to hang us his suit for good (or suffer Batman’s wrath–and Batman is certain quietly wrathful throughout).

Bruce Wayne submits himself to the courts for testimony and is bludgeoned with questions about the whys and wherefores of what’s happened “on his watch”, begging the age-old question of who is above the law and why would the world give so much power to a single vigilante? It’s refreshing, here, that few of the heroes have secret identities anymore, so there are no convenient easy “vanishings” to be had. Bruce faces the fire with his typical blunt stoicism and gets called out on his arrogance, his selfishness, and his single-mindedness in ways that actually made me feel pretty good–because it’s all true. He has bungled this operation from the start and his overconfidence has resulted in so much havoc.

The question from here is: what’s going to become of him? And how do they begin to address fixing the problems? My guess it that it’s not going to do well and that there is no easy solution this deep into the moral weeds.

Sorry don’t fix it, boy!

It’s hard to feel sorry for Jaime Reyes, but Taylor reminds us that he’s just an angry kid who got overzealous. But again, the repercussions of a superhero losing his cool in this world has tragic consequences on a global scale these days. No matter how petty or personal the fight, the collateral damage is far-reaching. I love that Plastic Man tries to soothe things over–amenable to the last. And even better, look for Booster Gold to step back into Reyes’ life and help him begin to heal his pain. Taylor’s characterizations, as always, are top-notch; he knows how to make you empathize even when someone has behaved monstrously. He managed it last issue with Damian, and again here with Reyes. He strips away the veneer of the “hero” and reveals the human under the costume–and at the end of the day they’re just people too.

But what about Batman? If you strip off his cowl (and he does indeed take it off to go to court), do we ever really see the man who is Bruce Wayne? Is there anything left of Batman’s humanity after all these years of war, seeing his first son (Nightwing) die, seeing his last son (Damian) turn against him, losing Alfred (and then gaining him back)? There’s a fleeting moment early in the issue where Bruce makes preparations to leave Alfred on his way to the courthouse. Perhaps we see glimpses there, even if they are fleeting. But it’s a wonderful sad thing Taylor has created, when we’re yearning to see just a little more of the man for the change–and less of the Bat.

Maybe it’s time for Bats to leave too?

Daniel Sampere (with inks by Juan Albarran) do great justice to the visuals in this book, taking a pretty script-heavy tale and managing to keep it full dynamic. The juxtaposition of Bruce on trial and Batman taking to streets to vent his frustration is somewhat harrowing, but emotionally just-right and the artists capture the competing mood between the stark bright courtroom in which he is essentially stripped of his powers, and the shadowy streets where he still rules.

Lovely, emotional interactions throughout, with a somber palette from colorist Rex Lokus to emphasize the place of darkness in which this in landing. The final reveal of a Batcave beneath the Batcave felt a little hokey to me and I’m not 100% certain how I feel about the last reveal, but overall this is a very satisfying read and some much-needed time for reflection within this book.

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