It might be hard to believe, but just a few years ago, DC superheroes didn't have the best of reputations when it came to crossing over into virtual worlds. Even Batman was subject to gaming infamy; suffering a string of clumsy platformers and disappointing, double licensed flops.

In 2008; Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe took the Justice League back to the fighting arena with mixed results. In 2013; NetherRealm Studios returned under the Warner Brothers umbrella to launch Injustice: Gods Among Us -- a fighting game joining Batman: Arkham Asylum in redefining expectations of an DC Interactive product! [Editors Note: Both recently made Game Informer's Best Superhero Games of All Time.]

Winning over digital natives with a tailored gaming experience was one thing, but convincing them to pick up a book and start reading hasn't always been quite as easy. The anticipated digital-first launch of Injustice: Year Two -- the latest incarnation of the multi-million selling tie-in comic -- speaks to how successfully the two worlds of fandom have been brought together by Gods Among Us.

Tom Taylor returns for a second year of writing the grim 'n' gritty collapse of the alternate DCU. In the time since Injustice launched, Taylor's star has been on the rise, earning him a similar gig on the James Robinson launched Earth-2 series.

Taylor is joined by penciler Bruno Redondo in revisiting the more mundane, character-centric side of the Injustice conflict [in Chapter One]. Popular first series star Green Arrow takes centre stage, providing a bridge to Black Canary and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). The latter promises to feature prominently as Year Two explores the backstory of The Regime, the fall of Earth's greatest Green Lantern, and how the ramifications of this world reach the stars.

Redondo's a good choice for this chapter and its gentler moments.
His style has a clean, comic book realism that will appeal to a wide variety of readers. He shows a deft hand full of restraint where it counts, but never at the expense of keeping the visual interesting. A bar brawl injects action into the piece that's more the speed of the games, but one would hope this is merely a vehicle to encourage greater appreciation of the less bombastic side of superhero comics. Taylor & Redondo know each other from Star Wars comics and earlier Injustice [ie; #2]. His work continues to improve.

Your Beard is Weird: Green Arrow at his iconic best.

All things considered, it's a pretty daring move to start Injustice: Year Two on such a quiet note. Fighting game fans aren't always known for their introspection, but the drama that boils beneath should carry them to impactful ends.

Anyone who read the first Volume of the series will know this sequence is flashback. The Green Arrow of this universe is dead. He was killed by Superman, whose mounting rage and loss of control is the core of the Injustice story.

Sure, there was more to it. The Man of Steel mistook the heroes' efforts as part of a government plan to abduct the family that weren't already killed -- His adoptive parents: The Kents. And, sure. Pa Kent was killed during the superhero skirmish. All important steps down the path to Gods Among Us, underlined by the reminder of the human toll behind the masks.

Chapter One ends with Green Arrow's funeral. The gathering of mourning heroes has become a common comics cliché -- to the point where 2009's Final Crisis [mourning Martian Manhunter] incorporated a prayer for resurrection. This routine of life and death in superhero comics has cost these moments a lot of drama, but Taylor earns his gravitas in ways the first series did not [see; #1 Review]. Whether you find him obnoxious, or heroic, you feel the toll of Green Arrow's death. This is quite possibly the most meaningful death the series has presented thus far.

Dead On: Green Arrow's funeral drives the story with meaning.

Ironically, it seems Year Two thrives with its distance from the pressures of the video game conceit. Adrift between the catalytic moments that start the series, and the pending concerns contemporary to the game; Year Two has the opportunity to tell a true comic book story. Taylor's script matter feels freed up, but his juggling of character and plot might well be a writer improving his craft, as well.

Ikari Studio deserve a lot of credit for their coloring work, shining in the opening pages, but suitably subtle in later scenes. Julien Hugonnard-Bert completes the image with strong, crisp inks. By and large it's an attractive chapter, with only occasional dips in visual quality, eg; the composition could be tightened up during the Superman/Black Canary fight, light & dark used better.

All in all, it's a pretty stellar start to Injustice: Year Two. Chapter One suggests a vast improvement over the sometimes shallow first series. The relationships between characters are showing their years, and the thrust for the next chapter is the best its been. It's nice to start the story with a break from the usual franchise players [aka; Batman]. Green Lantern's story will be an enjoyable deviation. It's just a shame Black Canary missed out on a coordinated DLC release for the game!

Listen Up: Black Canary has words with Superman.

Injustice: Year Two is now available digitally via DC Entertainment. The first chapter can be bought online for 99c. The full print issue hits retailers January 15, 2014, containing 32 pages for $2.99. Read & share more info and a Chapter One preview right here. Discuss all things DC on the DC Universe Injustice forum!