I enjoyed the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us for the first week or so. The story had its flaws with its plot, characterization, convenient excuses for how everyone got their powers and how things could go back to normal by the end, but it was ultimately a pretty fun fighting game albeit more of a rental than a buy. The level designs impressed me the most. Being able to interact with the environments so much and the cut-scenes filled with comic references that would trigger anytime you punched someone through a wall was always amazing. But eventually, within a week or two I really had no reason to play it anymore. I don’t find fighting an unseen combatant online to be all that captivating, I like someone in the room with me– same goes for racing games. So with the main campaign complete and none of my friends that eager to keep playing versus again and again, I moved on. But while I eventually gave up on Injustice the video game, I never strayed from the comic. Why? Because the comic has a much, much better story.
Injustice: Gods Among Us, Volume 1 collects issues #1-6 of the series in a hardcover that doesn’t feature a dust jacket but it has a really interesting texture to it and beautiful presentation nonetheless. Based on the video game of the same name, Injustice: Gods Among Us offers a glimpse at a world where the Joker has won and Superman has declared martial law on the entire planet with only the Batman and a small resistance movement standing in his and the Justice League’s way.
The first issue of Injustice: Gods Among Us was released weeks before the console-version release and it actually got me incredibly excited about what was to come from the upcoming fighting game. The opening chapter of the series put every character through hell and was full of “I can’t believe they went there!” moments. So I was quite disappointed when the game came out and the opening cinematic clarified that all of the ground-breaking elements from the comic were, in fact, part of an alternate universe and did not star the “real” Justice League. However, as I dug deeper into the game I actually became thankful for this because the characterization grew so questionable as the game progressed. Superman was weak-willed and corruptible, the Justice League was too compliant with the Man of Steel’s atrocities, and yet all of the Bat-characters were spot-on. Understanding that these people aren’t really the heroes we know and love makes it easier to swallow that Superman would turn his back on everything he once stood for and bend the entire globe to his will. Once you accept that it’s not the real Superman, I think it’s a pretty gripping story about a universe of superheroes on the verge of collapse.
Tom Taylor’s comic has a number of advantages that the video game did not. After all, there are only a handful of set pieces that the game could utilize because we have to end up on a per-programmed stage where the characters can fight and I mean they HAVE to fight, it’s a fighting game. Every scene is punctuated by two characters holding up their dukes. But with the comic we actually have scenes of real emotional content and character development. We can rewind the clocks and look at how the Flash and the other characters behaved in their better days, show what each character’s personal life is like outside of the costumes, and really focus more on plot and dialogue than punches and kicks. Taylor captures the voices of Green Arrow, Harley, Batman, and many more perfectly and while there is almost overwhelming darkness throughout this saga he also manages to inject a good bit of humor. There are honestly several laugh-out-loud moments throughout this volume.
While the video game jumped between the darker universe’s cast and the heroes we all know who had been teleported away, the comic doesn’t trouble itself with that duality. Nor does it attempt to lazily repeat events from the game! Instead, it serves as a rich supplement to the video game by answering many questions that arose throughout the campaign mode and it elaborates greatly on the most fascinating and glossed over aspect: the 5-year long war between Batman’s resistance group and the Justice League. Taylor takes what could have easily been a cash-grab video game tie-in and turned it into one of the most satisfying reads month after month and while the six issues collected in this volume are great, the series is currently on its 11th chapter and is still just as captivating. However, while Tom Taylor has created a richer world for Injustice and a consistent voice to these characters, the artwork isn’t consistent at all and is easily the greatest flaw of this otherwise wholly entertaining series. With it being a weekly title released in 10 page increments online before ever going to print as a $4 comic, the art team is constantly shifting. There are a total of 8 artists tag-teaming this volume and the frequent change in appearance is extremely jarring and unpleasant. Some artists perform very well and capture the raw emotion of fallen heroes but there are also chapters with pages so bad that they actually had to be re-inked and colored between the digital and print release.
For a more in-depth look at each individual chapter of Injustice: Gods Among Us, Volume 1, check out my full reviews HERE.
There is a brief variant cover gallery, but that’s unfortunately it. I found this rather disappointing when you consider that the first volume of Arkham Unhinged came with a code for the some of the game’s downloadable content. I really had my finger’s crossed for some cool character skins.
Value: FULL PRICE!
It’s an incredible compliment to the video game’s story and a solid comic on its own merits that’s well worth $20 bucks. I think it has a high re-read value and would make a great book to lend to friends who have only played the game yet never checked out what the comics had to offer. Plus, these six issues would’ve cost you $4 bucks a piece had you bought them individually.
You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy this shocking story about an alternate dimension where Lex Luthor and Superman are best friends and the Joker can triumph over the Justice League. This is not a tie-in that lazily repeats every beat from the game, it answers all of your questions and digs deep into the mythology to give you a far richer experience than the game could ever hope to provide.