Wow. The writing in the Injustice comics is far, far superior to that of the actual video game. Dialogue, pacing, characterization, emotional weight, action, laughs…it’s all better. There are scenes in this issue alone that are more memorable, more emotionally resonant than any cutscene you’ll see in the game. That’s not to say you shouldn’t play the game though. That thing is fun as hell. But if you want a more compelling story then you need to be picking up this comic. It’s one of the few $4 books that’s 100% worth the price.
My only real complaints with this issue are that we had to have two different artists work on it and that lead to a jarring transition and some inconsistencies in the overall look of the issue’s characters and settings and then there’s the big complaint: anyone who isn’t Batman-related character is kind of a dick.
The opening pages of this comic made for a fantastic set up to a subplot that’s merely hinted at in the video game itself. Arkham Unhinged should be taking notes from this series on how to properly do a prequel! One of the video game’s most shocking moments is now all the richer because of what Tom Taylor wrote here. In this scene we see a sparring match between Damian and Nightwing interrupted by Superman, who is there to have a very volatile debate with Batman that marks a major turning point for our story. I didn’t like the patchwork look of Robin’s cape interior and Grayson’s hair goes from brown in one to black in the following page– an obvious coloring mistake that should’ve been corrected (although I will say that Nightwing’s hair does indeed look brown in the game).
From here we see Batman and Superman’s debate on morality and the time to kill play out side-by-side with an Atlantean attack on whaling vessels, an act that the Justice League responds to in full force authorized by the now “no holds barred” Superman.
The Batman/Superman stuff is riveting. Both characters get some great lines and one moment in particular where Supes rips off Batman’s helmet and Bruce doesn’t even flinch was especially cool. While Aquaman’s video game outfit doesn’t translate well to comics and the giant shrimp-monsters still look stupid, everything about the Atlantis battle was intense and highly entertaining. But of course, there’s the big prevailing problem of Injustice: Gods Among Us– although I started to accept it at first, after much meditation on the subject of the Man of Steel I now agree that Superman’s behavior is way out of character. It was out of character for him to do it in the animated series episode “A Better World” and, even though the circumstances are far more extreme in this story, it’s out of character for him to go so over the edge here. The rest of the Justice League isn’t doing much better. Wonder Woman is channels Lady Macbeth from time to time and guys like Green Lantern and Shazam follow the orders of Superman far too easily. You’ll see that Hal’s lack of personal willpower (which should be his defining trait) is even more frustrating in the video game’s story mode where he becomes a lackey for Superman through-and-through. At the very least, Taylor included a line at the end of this comic where Superman states that “This action didn’t sit well with [Green Lantern & Shazam]” and that tiny, itty-bitty of off-panel heroism and individual thinking is more than we see from alternate-reality Hal in the game’s tale.
This was a very, very fun read. I was ready to give it an 8/10 or 9/10 when I thought the thing was almost through and then it turned out I was only half-way through the comic! Everything that followed was equally good and it made for a satisfying read. Batman and Dick Grayson are great and Aquaman felt like Aquaman but I can see many still being aggravated with the portrayal of much of the rest of the cast. But hey, we Batman fans are doing alright so far, right? Even Alfred shows up for a page to give one of the book’s best lines! Other than the weak characterization of Superman and
the Justice League his henchmen and the shift in artwork (which is still well done by both illustrators, it’s just very noticeable), I had a great time. If your’e a really big Superman, Green Lantern, or Wonder Woman fan then this is going to get a lower score from you. But since I only really care about Batman it was easier for me to accept everyone’s fall from grace (they really do some terrible things) and enjoy the ride. This was totally worth $3.99.