In January 2013 writer Tom Taylor made his name at DC with the digital first Injustice: Gods Among Us #1. Illustrated by Jheremy Raapack and based on the popular DC fighting game, the book became a hit both digitally and physically. Following Taylor’s departure, Brian Buccellato took over the series for a number of chapters before passing the reins back to Taylor.
Injustice: Gods Among Us wrapped its initial run in 2016, but the series has continued with a second comic based on the game’s follow-up and recent digital first series Injustice: Year Zero. What made the Injustice comics a critical and commercial success when so many other comic book adaptations of video games were not? Let's take a look!
Unlike most other fighting games, Injustice: Gods Among Us was already using familiar DC comic book characters in its Mortal Kombat-inspired franchise. The story centers on a Superman who becomes evil when he witnesses the Joker murder Lois Lane and their unborn child. Superman blames Batman for not putting the Joker down sooner, which causes an all-out war of ideologies between Superman, Batman and their allies.
Character Beats Just as Important as the Action
This comic book had a chance to expand on an already fruitful story thread. The video game’s main focus is, of course, the action, as gamers get to play as their favorite DC characters with dream one-on-one battles coming to life through the lens of Injustice’s twisted world.
With comics’ greater emphasis on story, writers Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato are able to fully flesh out these characters to an extent the games just can’t. They slow down the story to give a better scope on the characters’ personal connection to the Superman/Batman war. The Injustice comics have a great balance of story and action that fits the narrative of the video game very nicely.
Speaking of action, Taylor and Buccellato have some incredible artistic collaborators throughout this book, including Bruno Redondo, who also helped launch Taylor’s current Suicide Squad, and Roge Antonio, who’s illustrating Injustice: Year Zero. These artists put the dream battles from the video game on full display with some wonderful facial expressions that spotlight the story’s strong emotional elements.
The Spotlight Doesn’t Just Go to the A-Listers
And speaking of spotlights, it would have been easy to focus exclusively on Batman and Superman’s antagonistic relationship, but what makes the Injustice series so wonderful to read is just how expansive the universe becomes. Characters like Green Arrow, Harley Quinn and Black Canary become just as important as Batman and Superman. Odd character pairings are what make the book so excellent, as Taylor and Buccellato explore friendships and relationships we don't often see in the regular DC Universe.
Injustice spent years not only exploring the events of the first game, but its sequel series as well. In addition to strong character work, Taylor and Buccellato brought some brilliant world building, giving us a clear idea of what a universe with an evil Superman would look like. It isn’t pretty, but it's wildly entertaining for readers, with countless twist and turns to keep them on the edge of their seats.
Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato
Last, but not least—writers Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato. Injustice wouldn’t be the book it is without Taylor’s driving hand and early mold-setting for the book, Buccellato’s later contributions to a pivotal part of the story, and the many artists that collaborated with them on the title. Taylor launched his DC career with Injustice and has since gone on to build a second equally robust, out-of-continuity universe with DCeased. In just a few years, he’s become an A-List comic book creator.
Even though this was a huge title for Taylor, Buccellato’s work shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s not easy to take over any title, but especially a franchise in which the previous writer has found such critical and commercial success. Buccellato brings his own flair to the proceedings, while still remaining in sync with Taylor’s character-driven storytelling.
Taken together, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Injustice 2 and the currently ongoing Injustice: Year Zero are nothing less than a modern-day superhero epic that will have you on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. Whether you’ve played the games or not, the Injustice comics represent high-stakes comic book storytelling on a major scale. They deliver thrills, laughs and genuine shocks and offer the perfect DC superhero deep dive for readers who might not be as familiar with the in-continuity DC Universe. In short, the only real “Injustice” here would be if you never got the chance to read them.
Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2 are both available in full in print and as digital graphic novels. Injustice: Year Zero is currently in progress and can be read digitally. Chapter #10, by Tom Taylor, Roge Antonio and Rain Beredo, is now available through digital retailers.
A version of this article originally ran on DC Universe. Be sure to subscribe to DC Universe Infinite for unlimited access to more than 24,000 comics from every era of publishing, plus original titles, special fan events and more!