Issues like this one remind me why I think Tom Taylor is such a terrific writer. Opinions have been mixed on INJUSTICE: YEAR TWO's events -- and I'd say understandably so -- but this chapter reminds us why this digital series is so special.
Taylor brings Harley Quinn back into the picture and, if you've read her previous appearances in this alternate universe, you know this is something worth getting excited about. Luckily for us, it's every bit as charming and funny as it should be. His take on Quinn is consistently goofy and fun, but she's never so ridiculous that we can't take the character seriously, either. You can see beneath the surface and tell she's damaged and she's using humor to cope. You can tell there's so much more depth to the character and, in this issue, he brings that right into the spotlight. Now, the writer most certainly keeps us laughing with sharp banter and visual comedy, but Taylor makes sure it's an emotional experience, as well. It's not something that'll make you hold back the tears, but it's an engaging dialogue and the exchange had me 100% immersed in this fictional world. Despite her zany actions, Quinn's conversation with Black Canary felt like an organic and sincere heart to heart. It's great stuff. One moment you're laughing out loud, and then you find yourself completely locked on a more serious conversation. These two elements are juggled well and neither one overshadows the other. Lastly, this wouldn't be an issue of INJUSTICE without a good cliffhanger and this one absolutely ends on a note that'll have you excited to see where it leads.
What good is an impressive script without a talented art team, right? Luckily for Taylor, the visual team behind this issue knows how to deliver the goods. Bruno Redondo's pencils, Julien Hugonnard-Bert's inks, and Rex Lokus' colors all do a spectacular job filling Harley Quinn and Black Canary with so much energy and emotion. There's so many great expressions and postures to behold as these two go from a silly fight to a more important chat. Many of the panel layouts do an excellent job selling the punch lines, too. I can't help but laugh at Quinn doing her impression of "future Black Canary" or feel so much empathy as a tear rolls down her face.
Look, we all know Black Canary doesn't wear the most conservative outfit around, but there's a double-page spread which seems to blatantly focus on her, well, let's just say "lower half." I don't consider myself prude, but it felt a little like an unnecessary perspective. I get what they're going for with that angle and it's not their fault she isn't exactly fond of pants while fighting crime, but the same kind of shot would have been equally effective if if the angle was slightly altered. For example, if her boot or fist was in the foreground. It's not a big deal and doesn't impact the overall score, but it stood out to me and I felt like it was worth at least mentioning. Another minor gripe: the ending feels a bit abrupt. Yes, these digital comics are short, but you can breeze through this one because 13 of the pages have 3 or fewer panels. Again, it's no biggie, but when a comic is this good, you can't really blame the reader for wanting more!
INJUSTICE: YEAR TWO has its moments of levity (a Guardian being creepy is unforgettable), but overall, it's taking a more serious approach as it focuses on buildup and Superman's actions as a dictator. However, this issue feels like a return to the hilarious issues writer Tom Taylor presented in the alternate universe's first year. Sure, that first volume is full of tragedy and oozes darkness, but there were plenty of good and memorable laughs sprinkled in the mix, too. And this latest issue? It's packed with hilarity as Taylor brings Harley Quinn back into the spotlight. Not only does he make her seriously wacky and lovable, but he manages to humanize her, too. It's not quite enough to get the waterworks going, but she has a legitimately touching moment with Black Canary and the dialogue keeps one heck of a grip on our attention. And, thanks to the talented art team, we can fully appreciate each and every emotion these two experience. INJUSTICE: YEAR TWO #13 is full of heart, great comedy, and makes sure we're left wanting more.