Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us is a real page turner

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INJUST v1 Cv ubt1odpo0t  195x300 Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us  is a real page turnerInjustice: Gods Among Us is something of an anomaly in the world of super hero comics. It’s a breakout hit for original digital work, lording over the sales rankings on several sites and platforms. If you look at the October sales estimates, you’ll find it sitting just below 25K and outselling titles like Green Arrow, Supergirl and World’s Finest. All this from a comic based on a video game that, at first glance, looks like someone riffing on Kingdom Come.

Well, I’m here to tell you… yeah, they kinda are riffing on Kingdom Come (and Alan Moore’s old “Twilight of the Superheroes” proposal that has influenced so many things behind the scenes), but Injustice finds it’s own legs relatively quickly and it’s pretty good. How good? Good enough that I stayed up an hour later than I intended to finish reading it. It’s a real page turner.

The opening pages are the set-up from the video game and probably the weakest of the book. The general premise is that the Joker is responsible for Lois Lane’s death, Superman then goes a little bonkers and decides to impose order on the world with Batman leading the resistance. That’s all done well enough, but the set-up is not exactly bringing something new and novel into the world. Once the set-up is in place, that’s where the treasure is mined.

Author Tom Taylor spent some time thinking about format before embarking on this writing journey. He’s structuring for three things: a weekly chapter (call it 10 pages), the monthly print collection and the overall novel. Each chapter will move the story forward and the monthly issues, which is how the HC is divided, are discrete units telling a longer story.

These weekly chapters allow Taylor to explore characters and shows, inch by inch, how a bad situation slowly and steadily spirals out of control. A grieving Superman trying to do the right thing. Wonder Woman trying to make him a better man (from more of a military order perspective). Aquaman looking after his Kingdom. Batman trying to diffuse a situation he can scarcely believe is happening and finding himself an uneasy government ally.

Perhaps the best character bits in the first volume belong to Green Arrow and Harley Quinn, who strike up an odd relationship as Ollie first apprehends her and then tries to keep her from getting killed and Harley… well, she’s being Harley and the flirty-but-nuts persona is done particularly well.

Whereas there’s still a trend towards decompressed storytelling, Injustice is a counter-point to that approach. A rapid paced chapters as short stories approach taking advantage of the format and schedule to lay a firm story infrastructure and tag off serving the character development needs of a large cast.

Art-wise, I found the book to be functional but a little towards the “house-style” end of the spectrum. Then again, this is a weekly comic with 8 artists listed (Jheremy Raapack and Mike S. Miller being in the largest font) and 4 colorists listed. Keeping a consistent look with that many creators involved is not an easy task. The storytelling is there and the art styles are close enough not to cause distraction when creators tag off.

All in all, this is a very entertaining and well done book. Not at all a case of “let’s crank something out for the video game,” but an actual story, thought out and deliberately told. Well worth your time to check out.

Comments

  1. Bunnicula says:

    This being the same book that involves a crazed Superman punching his pregnant wife into the sun?

  2. BiffordMichael says:

    Many weeks this s DC’s best book! I am beyond excited to see the writer moving onto other DC titles!

  3. Richard Watson says:

    “This being the same book that involves a crazed Superman punching his pregnant wife into the sun?”

    And what’s that got to do with whether it’s good or not?

  4. Todd Allen says:

    If we’re going to go all spoilers for the first chapter, yes, that’s the same book. It gets much more interesting once the initial set-up is over.

  5. Synsidar says:

    “This being the same book that involves a crazed Superman punching his pregnant wife into the sun?”

    And what’s that got to do with whether it’s good or not?

    That’s based on the belief, I’d guess, that Superman was created for particular types of stories and that depicting him as insane and murderous violates the character. That’s correct, in that writing Superman as insane and murderous doesn’t give a reader insight into anything; that version of Superman is only thought to be more entertaining than the morally upright and steadfast version.

    One could write at some length on the differences between a character and a property. A character is only an element in a story; when the story’s finished, so is he. A property is an investment, who doesn’t make money unless he’s being used. The needs to use him and to make money easily override concerns about how well suited he is for a given story.

    SRS

  6. I think a lot of people listen to some prominent critics who grabbed onto a sensationalist angle and milked it unfairly – Injustice is a ‘what if’ comic, and it’s the best example of that I’ve read in years.

  7. Todd Allen says:

    To be fair, if you just read the first four or 5 weekly installments, or the first issue and a half of print, that’s much more sensationalist than the rest of it. For me it started getting interesting in what would have been week 5 when Harley and Green Arrow first cross paths.

  8. The Harley/Green Arrow team-up is SO much fun

  9. jonboy says:

    Re the crazed Superman – pregnant Lois comment.
    Yes. Yes, it is the same book.
    And, thanks to the Bleeding Cool review of the 1st installment (which made ‘Injustice’ look like something akin to the Saw movies) I also initially scoffed at it, and refused to read it.
    However, after much praise from more respectable reviewers, I found myself giving it a chance. And it’s been excellent reading.
    As is written above, the initial set-up is the weakest part of the entire run. But it also makes the most sense set-up wise.

  10. I hated the premise of the game and had to grit my teeth to get past the initial grim and/or gritty incidents, but ultimately I feel it was well worth it. This series is better written than it’s got any right to be, and in many ways these heroes, even in a state of civil war, feel truer to the DC heroes I grew up with than their New 52 incarnations. Lots of clever writing and interesting moral conundrums. Occasionally leans too much on wittiness, but overall I recommend it.

  11. The game was so sexist that it just turned me off reading the book.

  12. Dan Ahn says:

    I’ve never played the game, but picked up issues 2-4 of the comic on a whim, for like less than a dollar each, a few months ago.

    I was totally shocked at how good it was. It isn’t the heighth of greatness and originality in the comics form. . . but it is definitely “a page-turner”.

    Can’t comment on whatever happens in the first issue. I got the impression that it was something to do with the Joker forcing Superman to do something really bad?

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