Happy Birthday to Nobody
Written by: Brian Buccellato
Art by: Marco Santucci, Rex Lokus and Wes Abbott
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: June 15, 2016
While I have enjoyed the hell out of Injustice: Year Five, the one thing we haven't gotten enough of is Batman. He's been hanging out in Alaska, bidding his time, waiting until he builds a semblance of a team before taking on the Regime head on. Of course, Superman knows this and uses a little of the ultra-violence to draw the Dark Knight out of the shadows. It's brutal, heart breaking and shows just how far Superman has fallen. So, does all that also mean that this issue is worth your time and money? Let's find out...
The issue opens with Superman having a little chat with Sinestro and if you are used to the leader of the Sinestro Corps calling the shots, you'll be in for a little surprise. Not only does Superman tell him what and what not he is going to do, but pretty much treats him like a little bitch. The big thing to take away from this scene is that Superman is trying to minimize any paper trail that would lead back to him and that Sinestro is the head honcho at the Regime's Super-Prison.
From there we see Alfred and Bruce having a little FaceTime and after what we've been dealing with lately, it was nice to slow things down a bit and have some light hearted fun. Bruce is throwing Alfred a long distance birthday party and the joke is that Bruce doesn't really know when Alfred's birthday is. You get the idea that they go through this routine a couple times a year and it's funny, but also makes me happy that even when he is holed up in the Alaskan Lead Mines, home is still where Bruce's heart is. There is some talk about Damian here, but the biggest thing to me is what wasn't said...Alfred doesn't tell Bruce about Superman's recent visit.
Shortly after they say their goodbyes, Alfred gets an alert that someone is in the Batcave. I don't know why he took that as a reason to go down there and check it out himself, but he did and found one Victor Zsasz. I was hoping maybe he was there for a little tattoo advice and unfortunately, he kind of was. There is a pretty crazy fight and after Alfred wouldn't give up Bruce's location, Zsasz kills him. Yep, he kills Alfred! Holy Crap!!! The scene (and the chapter that came from) ends with Damian arriving in the Batcave to find Alfred's bloody body.
We then see the Regime leaders watching video of the whole thing and Superman is acting so guilty that someone has to suspect him, right? Vowing to find the killer, Superman pretty much says he will look into everything and find out who is responsible. All he has to do is look in the mirror...
We then start seeing the aftermath of Alfred's death and while I was hoping for some feels, everyone seems to be stuck in the anger stage of grief, especially Damian. He is beating up the floor (seriously, he is punching the hell out of the floor!) and wants nothing more than the chance to kill Zsasz.
We all know that Superman was involved here and that he only did it to smoke Batman out of hiding and for better or worse, it worked. The issue ends with Batman finding Zsasz and getting more medieval on his ass than usual. He wants to know who set it all up, but Zsasz just laughs at the Dark Knight and even goes so far to show Batman Alfred's "mark". At this point, I wanted Batman to kill Zsasz so bad and the issue ends with Damian giving Batman a choice...a lose/lose choice if you are in Zsasz's shoes.
This issue is such a throwback to the earlier years of this series and one of the better issues that Buccellato has given fans since jumping on all those chapters ago. It's great to have Batman back in the mix and out of that mine, but why did it have to be under these circumstances? Why?!? I know this is war, but Superman has now gone to a place where he can never come back from and I'd suspect this is where Batman takes the fight to the Regime big time. We shall see.
I like Marco Santucci's art in this issue. Everything looks great and the action scenes have a nice, brutal flow to them. I also have to give kudos to Rex Lokus' colors here which are superb. He really sets the dark and moody tone of this entire issue.
Bits and Pieces:
Superman has gone and done the unthinkable. Well, maybe it wasn't him and...screw it, we all know it's him! He has gone and done the worst thing possible and while Batman and Damian are dealing with the surface issue right now, I can't wait to see what happens when they dig deeper. The story and art were good and this issue had the feel of the earlier years of this series and I'm sure that long time readers know how much of a compliment that is.