Review: Injustice 2 Annual #1

While Injustice has done a great job with some superheroines, the same cannot be said for Wonder Woman and this issue demonstrates that quite clearly. “Wonder Woman’s Injustice Origin,” otherwise titled “Wonder Woman of War,” does indeed set up an origin story for the character; however, it is muddled. This is even seen on the cover. The issue is dedicated specifically to her, with Superman not even being in it, but he is still prominent. It appears as though this Wonder Woman simply cannot stand on her own. This comic may be a decent enough story with some nice art, but it only doubles down on the Wonder Woman that is a contradiction of everything that the character stands for despite the fact that they share so much of the same back story.

The framing story is very clearly influenced by the recent movie with many of the plot points coming from it. This was to be expected though after the costume from the movie was added to the game as a cross-promotional event. I would love to give K. Perkins more praise as she does set up this Wonder Woman’s brutality and apparent lack of morality well, but this is a Wonder Woman who simply wants to be a war asset. Instead of trying to make the world a better place, she wants to be “of use.” Statements like this remind me very strongly of the way in which her devotion to Superman is the majority of her characterization in the game. She is willing to be whatever Superman needs to her because he is so great. This is exactly the opposite of what the real Wonder Woman stands for. In fact, the real Wonder Woman refuses to marry Steve because she would then have to pretend to be weaker to make him happy, which is something that she asserts that no woman should do. It is like they took everything that they knew about Wonder Woman and reversed it. That said, many of her responses or conclusions don’t fit with the rest of the narrative being told and this creates moments of disjunction. While Perkins may be trying to blend both versions of  Wonder Woman, each disjunction only makes it more obvious when something doesn’t fit. I am curious about how much freedom she had with Tom Taylor’s story ideas. The storyline itself is decent enough and there is even some nice foreshadowing, but I wouldn’t call it a Wonder Woman story in the slightest.

The art is a saving grace and each artist brings something different to the table. Marco Santucci gets the most pages by far and forms the main frame that echoes the movie. While it is not the most unique, he does a fabulous job of depicting Wonder Woman’s perfectly beautiful face. He really pulls out her emotions through her eyes. Jamal Campbell’s work stands out to me the most in this issue. Even here though, Wonder Woman is at one point depicted in a way that echoes the famous All-Star Superman cover with her floating in the air, one knee bent, arms outstretched, and sunlight beaming behind her. By that same token, we get the big moment from the movie where she is crossing No-Man’s Land.  Wes Abbott’s letters do this kind of work as well when he brings in a Bombshells like aesthetic to some of the dialogue boxes. I may dislike the way in which they are trying to make her representative of the character who is bringing in the big bucks while also turning their back on all the reasons behind that popularity, but the art does this much better than the writing. The effect Campbell’s still images have on the reader is the best part of the issue. After seeing them, the reader is primed to see the images he places afterward in the same light with the paneling feeling more like layered photos than a traditional comic page. This causes the time to skip and jump while at the same time remaining static and frozen. This means that every image has a strong chance of striking an emotional chord with the reader and these are some of the most painful moments in the issue. Unfortunately, everything I have said about the other artists can be said about David Yardin’s work, although the way in which he appropriately draws her musculatures deserves a nod. 

The backup story, by Brian Buccellato and Pop Mhan, is titled “Grounded Zeros.” It is set before the rest of Injustice 2 #1 and fleshes out Harley’s Horde. These defectors, who helped take down Superman along with the rest of the Insurgency, were originally defectors from the Joker Clan, but grew to idolize Harley Quinn and believe in her as well. We see them working their blue-collar jobs and yearning for the anti-hero to reappear. That is one of the major problems in this section of the issue. It didn’t even have an actual Harley Quinn appearance. It was also inappropriate to have the men working construction talking about how powerful Harley is as a revolutionary and then transitioning to a conversation about the new supervisor having “more curves than a racetrack.” This issue contains stories with both Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, who are two powerful women who inspire real life women to stand up for themselves and not allow this kind of sexist treatment. There is no place for that kind of statement in these stories and the people making this issue should have known that. While it was nice to get the call back Quiver reference, the backup story ends up just as lacking as the main story.

Wonder Woman is supposed to be a love leader who would rather educate and reform. This character is literally the opposite. She is intimidating, brutal, and lost in her devotion to Superman. There is nothing wrong with having a darker version of a character (like Earth-Three’s Super Woman), but this issue is literally overshadowed by Superman multiple times and is so heavily based on other popular versions of the character that it feels like they were trying to force a concept instead of developing a unique character. If you are a reader who can put all that aside, then you might enjoy this issue quite a bit. The art is very well done at least. For people who understand why the original Wonder Woman was created, this issue only makes it clearer how much we still need her. 

(W) Tom Taylor, M. K. Perkins, Brian Buccellato (A) Marco Santucci, Marco Santucci, Jamal Campbell, David Yardin, Pop Mhan (CA) Bruno Redondo, Juan Albarran

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