Drawing a Line: A Look at the Injustice Comic
Fans who have been following the Injustice: Gods Among Us comic book digitally or in print discovered something on Tuesday when they began playing the video game—the story mode ties immediately and directly in with the comic. The first time you see Superman, he’s confronting the Joker about being drugged and lured into destroying everything he’s ever cared about, before he angrily pulls his arm back and…
Well, if you’ve played the game or read the comic, you know. If you haven’t, we’re not about to ruin it for you. However, the point is that if you only play the game, you’re only getting part of the story of Injustice. The game takes place on a global scale, involving not only dozens of iconic DC Comics characters, but much of the human race. That said, it is a fighting game, so ultimately the story exists to give you plenty of opportunities to knuckle-dust some DC heroes and villains. It’s in making the transition from the story moments to the playable ones so seamless that the game excels. And likewise, so does the comic.
“I knew Tom Taylor was a guy who could handle a large, divergent cast, make each of the characters unique and set up some unexpected interactions between characters you wouldn’t expect,” says series editor Jim Chadwick. “Tom writes the big, epic, cast-of-dozens material well. But I also love his short, standalone chapters that focus on one or two characters. It’s big stuff on a human scale and makes you feel for some of these otherwise invulnerable characters. And Tom does an excellent job of dancing between heavy, dark drama and lighter, more playful moments in ways that make it all seem more real.”
This isn’t always easy on a comic that ties in so heavily with another project, but according to series writer Tom Taylor, the experience of working on the Injustice comic has been a very welcome exception to the rule.
“To tell you the truth, aside from having to include a few key events, I’ve never had this much freedom on a licensed book, and I can’t tell you how amazing this has been. This is down to the fantastic story that John Vogel and the guys at NetherRealm created for the game. At every step of the way, we’ve known the world we’re working towards.”
Of course, now that people can buy and experience the game themselves, everyone can know the world their working towards. So are there still reasons to continue reading the comic? It turns out that there are even more reasons to read now than there was before, especially if you’re a fan of that world.
“I’ve always known what our final point is, but we’re now expanding our prequel story,” Taylor explains, “which means we’re getting to bring in a lot more elements and people. I really wasn’t expecting to get to play with some of the characters I’m writing now. The prequel takes place five years before the game, so we have a lot of time to play with. The game leaves a lot of questions unanswered and a lot of character’s fates unknown.”
It also means we can expect the series to delve still deeper into the world of the game. As Chadwick reminds us, “We haven’t even touched on some of the key events that will explain certain things about what players see in the game, particularly the development of Batman’s resistance movement and how it is that some of these characters seem to have powers in the game that go far beyond those they normally possess in the DCU.” (If you’ve been wondering how the Joker can punch Doomsday through buildings, you know what Jim’s referring to.)
But how long can we expect the series to continue focusing on the events leading up to the game? Can we expect to eventually see the series jump forward in time so that it’s set during the game, or maybe afterwards? Probably not any time soon, according to the team involved.
“This is a game with a rich backstory,” Chadwick explains. “So there is much for us to explore in the years that predate the start of the game, and I think we’ll continue to mine that territory for a while. Having worked on a number of comics based on games, it’s very tricky trying to do a story set within the timeline of the game itself. Certainly within the prequel timeline we also have to be careful not to digress from something established within the game either. But the prequel timeline does allow us to do longer, more expansive stories. Maybe if we're inspired to tell an interesting short story within the game timeline, we’ll consider it. For now, though, I think we’ll stay in the past.”
If you’re new to the Injustice comic book, you should know that it’s one of DC Comics’ digital first titles. New chapters of the comic are released every Tuesday, with a print edition following each month. Last Tuesday saw the release of Chapter 14, which centered around a dramatic confrontation between Batman and Superman. However, the plan with the comic is to give all characters their moment to shine—just like in the game.
“The most fun has probably been that Harley Quinn / Green Arrow story in Chapter #4 which I know a lot of people really dug,” teases Taylor. “Don’t worry, they get another moment soon."
“Also, Batman will lose one of those closest to him," Taylor continues. "Wars will stop. Harley Quinn will once again don a fake moustache. Peace will be enforced. Catwoman will hold things together. Heads will explode. More heroes will appear. Villains will disappear. SHAZAM! will question. Traps will be laid. Green Arrow will be mocked. And something impossible will come out of Metropolis.”
But what if you haven’t started reading the comic yet? You may be wondering if it’s too far along for you to start. Or what if you have no intention on ever playing the Injustice video game? Would you still enjoy reading the comic?
“Injustice is doing something that I feel is kind of unique for a comic series based on a video game,” says Chadwick. “Taken on its own, with no knowledge of the game, it just reads like a really cool, out-of-continuity ‘Elseworlds’ type of story that long time fans of these characters can appreciate. But gamers can also explore the rich backstory that they’ll touch upon and be curious about from playing the game. To make a long answer short, it’s a well-done story that anyone can jump into and enjoy.
“And we’ve got a team of artists, each working at the top of their game. I swear everyone who has touched this has been inspired to do their best, and hats off particularly to Mike S. Miller, Jheremy Raapack and Tom Derenick. Weekly comics make it necessary to work with a wider than usual pool of artists, and I think we’re getting some great results.”
Above all, if you’ve been playing the game and loving it, the comic can both feed your craving for more Injustice and enrich your experience playing the game.
“If you’re playing the game and—according to my twitter feed—every single person on the planet seems to be playing the game, then our comic is pretty integral reading,” Taylor explains. “It’s sometimes horrible, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes nasty, sometimes disappointing and sometimes unexpected and rage-inducing. But stories aren’t supposed to always give you everything you want. Stories are supposed to surprise you, and this one is full of surprises even though we know that this is essentially a story of the World’s Finest break-up.
“Also, pick it up because then all the days and nights I spend writing this instead of seeing the outside world and sleeping will be worth it. To streamline things, I’m thinking about teaching my two-year-old son how to make coffee for daddy.”
So have you been reading the Injustice comic? Well, if you haven’t, you can now get the first digital chapter for free as a part of our Injustice Justice League Digital Comic Sale. Click here for the free chapter, but act fast. The sale ends at 11 p.m. EST tonight and at local evening times in other regions.