by Orion Tippens, ADC
Injustice: Gods Among Us volume 2, #1-3 (single digital issues)
Writer: Tom Taylor
Pencils: Bruno Redondo
Inks: Julien Hugonard-Bert
Published by: DC Comics
Note: The single digital issues of Injustice are later collected and released in print.
Set in an alternate DC universe and based on a videogame (as a prequel, so far), Injustice: Gods Among Us brings us a familiar continuity gone horribly wrong.
These issues continue a long story from Injustice Gods: Among Us volume 1, in which Superman is now a megalomaniacal psychopath with murderous tendencies, much later after the death of his wife and unborn child. He declares himself sovereign of Earth and drug dealer of special performance enhancers – all for the making of his “better world.” Meanwhile, Batman is recovering from bad injuries, remains in hiding while building his own insurgency to this super-regime. Also, cosmic forces are showing an increasing interest in this developing situation.
I am a huge fan of this series, my favorite guilty pleasure in mainstream comics: not so much for the videogame tie-in but for the creative writing and freedom involved. The writer from the very beginning took this control, and the destinies of our familiar DC universe cast, and ran away with it all. Injustice is no Watchmen, but much is given in the development and background of a very large cast of characters. Volume 1 was full of unexpected tangents, with focus and attention to small characters and situations and how they can become as compelling as the overall story’s development. We have lots of crazy plot twists, unexpected deaths, and legendary ass-kickings. Also, we’ve had some occasional social commentary and questioning of morality.
Yet, every chapter feels like a simple snack. No consuming of heavy thought or pretentious thinking, and very much self-contained within this series (the videogame seems more like the spin-off, not vice versa). That’s the initial fun of Injustice.
So on to the beginning of Volume 2…
We begin with a flashback to better times with Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), and Dinah Lance (Black Canary) at a bar for drinks and cheers. Already, we get the feels, especially for those remembering the brutal death of Green Arrow in the last volume. What makes this situation special is its appeal to nostalgia. This Green Arrow is now the closest version we got to the classic Oliver Queen before the TV show and New 52 reboot (beard, silly arrows, and carefree attitude). This moment feels like a solid tribute to what we often miss from many superhero comics: the joy of friendship and bonding as a result of fighting the good fight. Instead, superhero comics today are usually filled with melodrama and angst.
The latter is what comes next as we flash-forward to Ollie’s funeral. Superman arrives to somewhat pay his respects to the man he killed. Black Canary shows off some serious balls, in a tense confrontation. And then, some foreshadowing of things as Superman makes an interesting observation.
Next issue, the darkness deepens as the evil Sinestro horrifically murders Kyle Rayner (another Green Lantern), a grisly reminder to how violent and unsafe this continuity can be. In normal DC continuity, I would find this appalling and disturbing for shock value (and probably marketing and selling out). Here, it’s just something that happens to advance the story. Not the best reason for a writer to have a character murdered, but necessary.
It’s a funny thing, for death and brutality to be so crass for this world of Injustice. Nothing is safe, as anyone can bleed or die. Remember Dick Grayson in volume 1? He died from a small head concussion. Remember Alfred? He beat Superman almost to death (using a performance-enhancement drug).
Yeah, this comic is no game. I personally thought that, after several pages of buildup, Hal Jordan was going to die or be horribly injured in a plane crash. This book has been very unpredictable. It’s great when you can’t trust your writer.
Anyway, this series goes off in other directions with the arrival of fan-favorites Zatanna and Guy Gardner. Guy Gardner is not in the videogame, so I think he may be as expendable as Kyle was to the overall story. I always had a crush on Zatanna, so here’s hoping we get more of her in future issues. Also, we have a confrontation with Commission Gordon and Superman in Gotham City, which ends with Superman just being the worst in casually ruining someone’s day.
The art is okay and consistent. In Volume 1, the artist changed often (very unfavorably in some early issues). I hope for some returning art by Mike S Miller, whose style really grew on me in volume 1. The covers by Jheramy Raapack are my favorites, and always welcome. On this first cover of volume 2, I love how Superman appears to be crushing Batman’s head.
The reads are good and solid, with just enough buildup to keep me still interested. Though its start is a bit slow, but I feel we should it give the series time to develop. The ending to the third issue has my curiosity, as Mr. Kent goes to Washington. Fingers crossed for more casual social commentary in upcoming issues!
Volume 2 #1-3 are okay jumping points for dedicated DC fans. Those unfamiliar will be left scratching their heads. I recommend the first volume in its entirety to all lovers of superhero epic dramas, for all the reasons above.
by Orion Tippens: longtime comics and sci-fi enthusiast, occasional journalist. Currently blogging at travelingorion.wordpress.com.