I’ve been spending a chunk of my evenings over the last couple of weeks getting caught up with DC Comics’ Injustice: Gods Among Us. If that name rings a bell, it’s because it has a direct connection to NetherRealm’s 2013 fighting game.
For those that didn’t play Injustice (or have since forgotten its story), it takes place in a parallel universe in which The Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane. As if that weren’t bad enough, Lois was pregnant and her death triggered a nuclear bomb that wiped Metropolis from the map.
The result is that Superman becomes embittered, taking a violent hard line against crime and war, and imposing his will upon the Earth as if he were a god. A resistance led by Batman manages to hold out hope, but up against the likes of Kal-El, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash, and a Green Lantern turned Yellow, it’s a losing fight.
“What I love most about writing the comic is that as long as we are true to the spirit of the video game there is a lot of freedom,” said writer Brian Buccellato. “Tom Taylor, my predecessor, wrote some amazing and heartfelt chapters in Year One where beloved characters died – and stayed dead. You can’t do that in the DCU, but you can do it here in this alternate universe. I love the fact that I can go places that I never would be able to in the main universe. The world of Injustice has empowered me to write one of my most favorite comic series I have ever done at DC and I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity. It’s been a great honor to follow Tom Taylor’s run and a hell of a ride for me the last two and a half years. I’m gonna miss these guys.”
The comic tells the story of the time between Lois’ death and the beginning of the game five years after that incident. It tells a complex and compelling tale, far extending the story into a brilliant Elseworlds tale (even if not officially branded as such). Because DC’s writers are free to twist heroes into villains and criminals into saviors, we get to see characters do the things we’ve secretly wanted them to for decades.
Without spoiling any of the more shocking turns, Batman turns to magic as a way to thwart Superman’s reign, Earths gods of old become involved, and one villain becomes the charming (if slightly crazy) mascot for the heroes.
“The overall goal of the Injustice comic series is to fill the gap between the inciting incident of the video game and the actual gameplay,” Buccellato says. “Since the video game starts five years after the death of the Joker, our comic focuses on what happened in those five years that lead up to Superman being Earth’s villainous dictator.”
With the comic nearing the end of year five, it is reaching its natural conclusion. “We are currently in Year Five, marching towards the finish line of the comic series and start of the game story,” Buccellato continues. “I’ve spent much of Year Five setting the table for the big finale that will lead into the game and there are a number story threads that need to be sewn up as we get to the climax. My goal is to tie-up all the loose ends while giving ‘screen time’ to as many characters as I can. The entire DCU has been affected by evil Superman and I’m exploring how Clark’s actions have affected his allies, his foes, and society in general.”
I read most of Injustice’s first year, putting it down as I drifted away from the game many months later. Coming back to it for a marathon read has been an exciting return to that alternate universe.
Even if you don’t read DC Comics, it’s accessible. What happens to these versions of the characters is barely influenced by what came before and certainly has no bearing on the main continuity.
If anything, it served as a compelling reminder of just how great the game’s story was, giving me hope that we’ll someday revisit this contorted version of heroes turned monsters.
New chapters of Injustice are published every Tuesday. You can check the book out via the DC Comics App, Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus. You can see an excerpt from this week’s issue below (click to enlarge).