Monday, March 18, 2013

Injustice: Gods Among Us 1-9

Few things are better than a good superhero throw down; the game Injustice: Gods Among Us promises to deliver superheroes cracking skulls and flinging each other through buildings. With developer NetherRealm Studios handling the project, you can trust that the gameplay will be brutal and addictive, but what about the story? After that warm glow of seeing a super-powered fight fades, you start wondering why they were fighting in the first place. The prequel comic to Injustice: Gods Among Us provides a plausible answer and enough entertainment to elevate the comic all by itself without the need of the upcoming game.



I’ll let Joker explain the plot with a speech he delivers to Batman. “Someone took it all away from you once too, didn’t they Bats? And look what you became - - an all-punching, all-kicking little ball of angst. What do you think Superman will become? He’s a god who has deluded himself into believing he’s a man. What will he turn into?” I’ll tell you this now, the answer is not pleasant.

Joker's facial expression during the interrogation is priceless.

The first page of the comic shows a Gotham City under the rule of Superman. The Man of Steel has effectively snapped and started policing the globe, which he believes he should have always done before. The story then shifts to five years before the present with the first four issues giving us the catalyst for Superman’s totalitarian campaign and the rest showing the fallout from Superman’s one bad day.

Even though the story focuses on Superman, all manner of DC characters play a part in this build to the battle of the gods. You can expect every member of the Justice League to be present and even lesser known villains will pop-up like Mirror Master and Cheetah. With the massive roster already announced for the game, I expect the list of guest stars in the comic to continue growing.

Just Clock King and Cheetah having a few drinks in a villain bar.

The whole comic goes to a very dark place with cities being decimated, key characters being killed, and a man getting a hole punched through his chest all within the first few issues. That isn’t to say the comic is all death and explosions. Writer Tom Taylor has crafted a master comic that manages to even out the dark issues with moments of genuine hilarity.  For example, an issue solely between Green Arrow and Harley Quinn offers ample laughs at the expense of Oliver’s inability to give his gadgets proper names. Even though we know where the story has to end, Taylor manages to tell a great story with amazing moments spread throughout. I’ve found myself shocked repeatedly, and I see no evidence of him pumping the breaks.

What I'm finding really enjoyable here is the unhinged Superman. It just makes sense. Superman loses everything he loves and basically says, "I'm done being the damn boy scout." This all gives off a huge The Killing Joke vibe. The Boy Blue has one bad day, caused by Joker of course, and in turn sees the futility of what he's been doing for so many years. He gets the joke, and decides it's time to write his own punchline. Ultimately, we all know this will lead to a Batman-Superman face-off sometime during the game, but I have a feeling that fight is going to be one for the history books with all the superheroes and villains picking a side. If you're not excited for the chance of a Batman and Joker partnership against Superman, then you have to be crazy.


Miller does some beautiful work. Check out that silhouette.
Sadly, the art from issue to issue can be jarring. The work goes from very precise lines with beautiful shading to rough and less detailed panels every few issues. That is not to say the art is ever bad, but it switches between at least five different artists and some of them are just better. The artist standing above his peers is Mike S. Miller. The work Miller generates is powerful and full of emotion. Each issue he draws is worth looking forward to.


An important thing to make clear is that Injustice is first and foremost a digital comic. The issues are released for $.99 weekly. Physical copies are released every month featuring three of the digital issues. Since the comic was created for digital format, the layout of the panels can seem a little plain at times when compared to other physical comics, but the art and story are still wonderful. The first two physical copies are out now compiling issues 1-6 and the third physical copy comes out March 27th compiling 7-9.

Don’t let the few negatives deter you; Injustice: Gods Among Us features a strong story and excellent potential for even greater things from a man who really seems to understand the DC Universe. Even though the different art styles can be abrupt from issue to issue, the work is always gorgeous. If this prequel comic is any indication of the quality of the video game, then I cannot wait for April 14 to get here. Do yourself a favor and starting reading Injustice today.

Nevin P. Jones - Any questions? Sound off in the comments and let me know. I'd be happy to tell you more about this awesome prequel. 

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