Six chapters down and Injustice: Gods Among Us is still holding my attention.
It bears repeating that Tom Taylor’s storytelling is much better than what was shown in the actual video game’s cutscenes. Comics definitely have the advantage over fighting videogame cutscenes, however. With a fighting game you have to actually make time for fights– it is a game first and foremost. With this medium Taylor can take us inside a character’s head, slow down the pace a bit, and take us away from the action for extended periods of time.
But this series isn’t just about telling the same story more carefully. Injustice: the game only showed us events from the “real” Justice League’s perspective whereas Injustice: the comic is all about the characters of the parallel universe and how things got so bad. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and in this particular issue we see what happened to Batman’s sidekicks and how exactly Batman’s rebellion against the Man of Steel began.
Last month’s issue ended with Robin being snatched up by Solomon Grundy who, like all the other inmates of Arkham Asylum, had been set free by Harley Quinn in an attempt to kill all the members of the Justice League inside the compound. The fight with Grundy that kicks off this issue is brutal. Really brutal. Nightwing tells Superman that Grundy is already dead so he doesn’t have to hold back (a fact that I think can be debated) and, being the unhinged Superman that he is, our Man of Steel does some pretty extreme things. Even Batman opens up a can of whoop-ass of his own and together Batman and Superman have one last team-up. If you feel that Grundy is indeed a sentient being, however, this moment might not sit very well with you.
Once that spectacular fight is over and done with we get right back into the drama of the superhero schism and then the unthinkable happens. If you’ve played the game, you’ll know it’s coming but you won’t know HOW and if you’ve never played the game, you’re in for a heck of a surprise that should give you plenty to discuss among your fellow comic readers.
I won’t go into detail without spoiler tags, but the scene does lead to some uncharacteristic behavior from the supporting cast and I don’t mean in the usual Injustice video game sort of way. The narrative then changes over to Catwoman for the 2nd act of the comic book and it gets a bit preachy and her costume (which looks exactly like it does in the game) is just as clunky and distracting as it was when you held a controller in your hands. And lastly, the 3rd act gives you even more Batman and introduces a whole new cast of character who went unmentioned in the Injustice video game. It’s a moment that has potential to really change the landscape of this series and really set it apart from the video game. If Tom Taylor gets to really dive into the story of Batman’s rebellion (which spans about 5 years in the video game if I recall correctly) then this should really be something special.
And when it comes to the team the President and Batman are assembling, I find it very surprising that Lex Luthor hasn’t been shown to be part of the team yet but part of me suspects that he’s the man in the shadows who Batman isn’t ready to introduce to the rest of the crew.
Also, what’s up with Star City being called “Starling City” like this is an episode of “Arrow”?
Of course, all the usual problems with Superman remain, but if you haven’t gotten over that by now then you might as well just give up on this series because that’s never going to change. That’s just the way alternate-universe Superman behaves. The rest of the Justice League don’t really say much, it’s basically a Gotham-centric issue and all of those characters are handled well enough. Catwoman in particular sounds more like herself than in her current comic book although she does seem overly political in this. It should also be noted that this is very much a pre-New 52/post-Hush Catwoman who does in fact know that Bruce is Batman.
Now the artwork, there’s something that needs to be discussed. The book looks great, but that wasn’t always the case. Mike S. Miller’s section looks great even though Batman’s eyes seem a bit off after the cowl appeared to have lenses under Raapack’s pencil in previous chapters (and the following chapter), Damian looks a tad too old, and colorist Alejandro Sanchez gave Green Arrow a ginger beard. The fight scene was a lot of fun to see and the shots of Superman going to town on Solomon Grundy were pretty shocking to say the least.
The shift between artists is a lot more noticeable in this issue compared to others because all three have drastically different styles, especially Raapack. David Yarin drew the 2nd part of this comic and his original digital-first submissions were met with some controversy because, frankly, they looked awful. But Yarin wasn’t about to take all that criticism because he knew that his pencils were good and it was the fault of the inker and the colorist for those laughable meme-worthy images. Yarin sat down and re-inked and re-colored every panel himself before this chapter went to print and the end results made for some of the best looking pages in this book or any other installment of the Injustice series.
Click here for a look at David Yarin’s Deviantart page where he shows exactly what a difference coloring and inking make. There are even some shots of his original pencils without ink or color.
Raapack, a regular on the book looks as good as ever, but as always in his night-time scenes, the dense lines and heavy use of dark colors make it difficult to make out all the details he added. What’s really cool though is that Raapack got the chance to draw a wide variety of DC characters never-before-seen in the Injustice universe. I hope he had plenty of freedom in the designs because the looks of the characters fit the style of the game perfectly.
Another good issue, but I think it’s one that will satisfy the non-video game crowd more. This is a chapter that’s more about setting up what’s to come and I’m very, very excited to see what July will bring. Let Batman’s rebellion begin.