“Injustice: Gods Among Us” from DC Comics is one of the biggest hits of 2013. Originally created as a video game tie-in comic book, which are hardly ever good, this book received an enormously popular reception first as a weekly digital comic book through DC Digital, later collected into standard comic book form (that went into several printings almost instantaneously) and now collected in the first hardcover volume. “Injustice: Gods Among Us” Volume 1 by writer Tom Taylor and lead artist Jheremy Raapack collects the first 18 digital comics, which were collected in six standard comic books. It is 192 pages for $19.99.
The story focuses on Superman dealing with the greatest tragedy of his life, the death of Lois Lane and the destruction of Metropolis. In his grief, Superman executes the man responsible and then he begins facing down terrorists around the world and making Earth a safer place. Superman is a force for anyone who feels disenfranchised and neglected by the powers that be.
With Superman are his allies in the Justice League: Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Shazam, Cyborg and others. Many feel a connection to Superman because of his ever present representation of everything that is good. In his moment of grief, they come to his side to help him make the world a better place because of their faith in the Man of Steel. That faith in Superman gets tested as the heroes are asked to do things they feel are questionable to help The Last Son of Krypton achieve this lasting peace.
Opposed to Superman is Batman. The Dark Knight fears that the absolute power Superman is heading towards will corrupt him. Batman does not condone murder and executions of any sort. He believes in the law even as he operates outside of it. Murdering and forcing an agenda on others just because you have the power is everything that Batman is against. The differing ideologies of Superman and Batman will test the ends of their friendship.
What Taylor has done in writing this epic showdown between two of the world’s most popular heroes is filled it with strong characterizations. The essence of the characters comes across in the story. Chief among these is an interlude where Green Arrow moves to protect Harley Quinn from Superman. The two engage in a witty back and forth that endears both characters in one of the lighter moments of the series.
Taylor also brings the story back by focusing on the tragic nature of the heroes and what they are doing. In one instance, the Flash must quickly understand the weight of the actions of Superman and his own inaction as tragedy strikes at a protest rally. It brings the humanity of the heroes to the forefront. What are they giving up for the greater good?
Raapack’s artwork keeps up the fast pace of the story that is being told. The characters are drawn out of their traditional costumes and in line with the more “extreme” look from the “Injustice: Gods Among Us” video game but they still feel true to the characters we know.
The art is relied on to convey emotional tone as the pain on Superman’s face comes across in a believable manner. Similarly the shock on the face of the murder of Metropolis’ destroyer as Superman enacts the ultimate revenge provides a surprising twist to the story. There is a great deal of moving significance to the story that comes across on the pages.
“Injustice: Gods Among Us” Volume 1 is an emotional conflict as the heroes are faced with tough ideological decisions. There is a great benefit to Superman wiping out the bad guys. But is he crossing a line, is Batman right to worry about how far Superman will go? You do not need to know who these heroes are entering the story. Their place in pop-culture has long been established. You know the key players and their long standing association with one another. Their history together is quickly realized, and the breakdown of their friendship hits that much harder because of how close they were.