Famous for their varying worlds, DC’s Multiverse is rich from the ground up showcasing stories of what our world would look like with the presence and influence of certain super-powered individuals. Works of comic book fiction from the ‘New 52’ series to the recently televised adaption of the classic ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’, as well as heroes like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman have all influenced western culture and provided entertainment for hardcore comic book fans and the general public alike for decades.
Comic books are just another medium for storytelling and have become synonymous with pop culture. Fictional characters are now beloved household names and role models that just about everyone has come to know and love.
This is why for my first comic book review on Paragon I wanted to give you an idea of just one of the many stories that captivated me, in particular the world of Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Everyone from heroes and villains, to gods themselves must pick a side in a civil war to remember all civil wars...
*Some Brief Spoilers Ahead *Injustice is set in a world where Joker successfully nukes Metropolis and tricks Superman into killing his pregnant wife Lois Lane.* Clark sees things differently now and the tragedy that befalls him fundamentally changes who he is as a person and how he sees humanity. He vows to never let anything like this happen again, no matter the cost. Whilst Batman disagrees with the Kryptonian’s newfound ideals saying that there are lines that should never be crossed, Superman decidedly intervenes in international affairs and conflicts. Eventually he forms a totalitarian ‘Regime’ with a select few powered individuals to safeguard and enforce world peace.
Alliances are formed, friendships are broken, and ethics are blurred.
Running for over 5 volumes (each of which is the equivalent of a year in its universe), the comic series entails jaw dropping moments, unforeseen twists, and ensures that the reader knows that nothing will be the same again for our heroes. More importantly, these 'heroes' who took up the mantle of responsibility for the good of humanity are being tested to their absolute limit for your reading pleasure.
Sometimes a comic book story doesn’t need to be the same old action packed, quick witted superhero adventure. Sometimes you just crave something different.
I always love a good hypothetical ‘what if...?’ scenario. Injustice asks, What is right and wrong? See what I love about parallel worlds and comic book story arcs like Injustice's is that they engage with readers by using real world topics that are ripe for discussion and portray the fictional characters and world we know and love as the contextual background for it. Is Batman naive to spare a life no matter how truly evil to prevent the death of numerous innocents, or is Superman justified to think that people won’t change for the better unless you force them to? I’d personally rather just read the comic and approach it using my A-Level in philosophy to think about the subject rather than be the one to pull the hypothetical trigger, but hey I digress.
In this type of story nobody really wins, but it does make for a fun and interesting read. Who knew debating moral ethics is comparable to watching a good drama?
In my opinion, like many Hollywood movies and TV shows that suffer from franchise fatigue and sequel overload, Injustice should have stopped after a while. As much as executives and studios don't want to let go of a profitable property with an active loyal fanbase, they should at least consider finding a natural stopping point. Otherwise like Lost, audiences will be fatigued, underwhelmed, and the general consensus will be that the show should have been put down a long time ago. Nothing personal DC (I still love you).
The lines between right and wrong are blurred, but so also becomes Injustice's plot after a while. Clearly, the writers were put in the position of "what do we do next?" and "how do we top ourselves this time?".
Without spoiling anything major I feel the need to compare Superman to Frank Underwood in Netflix's House of Cards. I personally think it would have felt more satisfying to end on the note when the main character realised and achieved his goal of becoming President/Prime Minister like the UK version. Let audiences' imaginations take over and fill in the gaps as to what could have unfolded in that dark timeline rather than letting the story lose its original vision and veer out of control in search for everlasting viewership. I really engaged with Injustice's story initially and still love the premise, but after a few 'years' it started getting nonsensical and less grounded. I'm sure audiences enjoy the inclusion of magic and gods both Old and New in DC's universe, but I feel that the way they were utilised here felt like they were relying on them as cheap workarounds for impossible situations.
Additionally if you didn’t know, this comic book series and storyline was originally created as background context for the fighter video game of the same title. It debuted in 2013 with a sequel later released in 2017 from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developer NetherRealm Studios. The comic book series essentially acted as an 'extended universe' prequel setting and I believe it was meant to be marketed alongside to assist the game's sales and vice versa for cross promotion purposes. As someone who spends a lot of time playing video games, the game is actually how I heard about the comic book and really got into it. This was a smart strategy and a safe bet given the game was made by the people who brought us the well regarded Batman 'Arkham' series, and the others responsible for the massively popular and graphic Mortal Kombat. So I just wanted to say, thanks video games!
Overall, Injustice as a comic book series is set out as easily digestible short reads (20ish page issues) that make you want to read one issue after another, after another, culminating into a great read. Regarding the general premise, one way to think of the story is like reading a different take on Batman vs Superman that involves many other characters and has wider ramifications in its universe. If you were spoiled on some story elements and feel that you don't need to read it let me just say that it's not about the end point and what you think you know, it's all about the journey and it sure is a riveting one. I actually left out a lot of key moments and could have written way more, so now that I've said my piece I hope it encourages you to read the rest of it for yourself.