Injustice: Gods Among Us (Year One, Volume One) by Tom Taylor
DC often puts out comic books that are connected to their video games, and I generally ignore them because 1. I don’t play video games because they give me migraines and 2. Most video game-related comics are just not that good. However, I started hearing a lot of good things about Tom Taylor’s Injustice: Gods Among Us, so I gave it a chance. It turns out, all that was said about Injustice is true, and apparently, it just keeps getting better after this first volume. So far, they’ve put out seven trade collections of Injustice: Year One (Volumes One and Two), Year Two (Volumes One and Two), Year Three (Volumes One and Two), and Year Four (Volume One). I just finished reading the first volume of Year One, and it’s quite a ride.
First of all, this book isn’t in mainstream DC continuity, which is the type of news that often makes me think: I can barely keep up with mainstream continuity, why should I read something else? Well, the reason for its being outside continuity is what makes it worth reading: DC, the video game designers, and the commissioned author Tom Taylor want us to consider what would happen if Superman got mad enough to kill a villain who really deserved it. And that’s exactly what happens: Joker, in a sick but clever manner, manages to push Superman over the edge by killing somebody very close to him; as a result, Superman, in extreme anger, kills the Joker.
What follows next is no surprise: Batman stands up against Superman, and the rest of the superheroes take sides as Superman and Wonder Woman decide to stop all violence throughout the world. They force all the leaders and dictators in the world to cease all hostilities. It gets even more interesting when Aquaman makes his appearance since he, too, is one of the major leaders of the world, a leader who commands a vast and powerful army. So, it’s no surprise that Aquaman sides with Batman against Superman and Wonder Woman, but I won’t give any other spoilers concerning who takes sides. That’s really the heart of this book. What will a conflicted Flash decide? What about Nightwing? What about the current Robin (Damian) the flesh-and-blood son of Batman (Nightwing — Dick Grayson — is Batman’s adopted son)? What about Cyborg, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern? They each have their reasons, and their ethical dilemmas are not minor ones.
The art is great, the action moves fast, and the situations raise interesting ethical issues. Catwoman is a break-out star here, as she starts asking some probing questions: If one has all the power in the world and is able to stop all wars and acts of violence, is that focus really going to create peace in the world? What about the quieter ripple effects of unchecked capitalism that lead to the widening gap between the rich and the poor? Sure Superman and Wonder Woman can use brute force to stop a tank or missile, but what will all that physical might be capable of doing in trying to stop legal, but unethical, business practices that ruin lives? And another character asks, what about the greed, religious beliefs, and geographic realities that create the reasons for the wars? Stopping wars doesn’t erase the causes of war.
As the violence in this book ramps up beyond typical DC comics — a necessary escalation considering that one of the points of Injustice is that violence begets violence — somebody very close to Batman dies, in effect, putting him in similar position to Superman’s at the beginning of the story. Will this event be enough to allow Batman to see Superman’s perspective, or will Batman rise above his personal loss in a way that Superman could not in his angry grieving?
There’s a lot to like in this book, and I think even those who don’t read a lot of superhero comics would enjoy this book. You don’t really need to have any background in DC comics to follow what’s going on, and if you want to read a superhero comic with some real substance, Injustice is certainly worth checking out. This comic is a great one for displaying the fireworks that go off when these two larger-than-life conflicting personalities clash over a serious ethical issue.