Injustice: Gods Among Us is something of an anomaly in the world of super hero comics. It’s a breakout hit for original digital work, lording over the sales rankings on several sites and platforms. If you look at the October sales estimates, you’ll find it sitting just below 25K and outselling titles like Green Arrow, Supergirl and World’s Finest. All this from a comic based on a video game that, at first glance, looks like someone riffing on Kingdom Come.
Well, I’m here to tell you… yeah, they kinda are riffing on Kingdom Come (and Alan Moore’s old “Twilight of the Superheroes” proposal that has influenced so many things behind the scenes), but Injustice finds it’s own legs relatively quickly and it’s pretty good. How good? Good enough that I stayed up an hour later than I intended to finish reading it. It’s a real page turner.
The opening pages are the set-up from the video game and probably the weakest of the book. The general premise is that the Joker is responsible for Lois Lane’s death, Superman then goes a little bonkers and decides to impose order on the world with Batman leading the resistance. That’s all done well enough, but the set-up is not exactly bringing something new and novel into the world. Once the set-up is in place, that’s where the treasure is mined.
Author Tom Taylor spent some time thinking about format before embarking on this writing journey. He’s structuring for three things: a weekly chapter (call it 10 pages), the monthly print collection and the overall novel. Each chapter will move the story forward and the monthly issues, which is how the HC is divided, are discrete units telling a longer story.
These weekly chapters allow Taylor to explore characters and shows, inch by inch, how a bad situation slowly and steadily spirals out of control. A grieving Superman trying to do the right thing. Wonder Woman trying to make him a better man (from more of a military order perspective). Aquaman looking after his Kingdom. Batman trying to diffuse a situation he can scarcely believe is happening and finding himself an uneasy government ally.
Perhaps the best character bits in the first volume belong to Green Arrow and Harley Quinn, who strike up an odd relationship as Ollie first apprehends her and then tries to keep her from getting killed and Harley… well, she’s being Harley and the flirty-but-nuts persona is done particularly well.
Whereas there’s still a trend towards decompressed storytelling, Injustice is a counter-point to that approach. A rapid paced chapters as short stories approach taking advantage of the format and schedule to lay a firm story infrastructure and tag off serving the character development needs of a large cast.
Art-wise, I found the book to be functional but a little towards the “house-style” end of the spectrum. Then again, this is a weekly comic with 8 artists listed (Jheremy Raapack and Mike S. Miller being in the largest font) and 4 colorists listed. Keeping a consistent look with that many creators involved is not an easy task. The storytelling is there and the art styles are close enough not to cause distraction when creators tag off.
All in all, this is a very entertaining and well done book. Not at all a case of “let’s crank something out for the video game,” but an actual story, thought out and deliberately told. Well worth your time to check out.