DC Entertainment has managed to put out likely their best comic book titles in history with INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US and INJUSTICE 2. Obviously, we know the series serve as prequels to the two fighting games in the franchise. However, the INJUSTICE comics are still incredibly impressive reads, to say the least.

INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US began in 2013 and ran all the way to September 2016. Written by Tom Taylor and Bruan Buccellato, the INJUSTICE comics gets A+ ratings across the board in terms of quality. Set outside the main DCU continuity, this series was able to play with established characters in brilliant new ways.

INJUSTICE 2 began in the spring of 2017, around the same time as the release of the second video game. It also included a lot of the same writers and artists, with Tom Taylor remaining on as the lead writer. The series is still ongoing to this day.

One may ask what made this story so beloved, and why should we go back and read the rest? To find out, we must start at the beginning.

INJUSTICE: When A God Truly Falls

Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The start of INJUSTICE seems lovely. Superman finds out Lois Lane is pregnant and he even tells Batman about it, asking him if he wants to be the godfather of their future child. It’s truly a special moment. Unfortunately, Lane goes on an assignment with Jimmy Olsen, which ends with the Joker shooting the photographer and kidnaping Lane.

Joker ends up stealing Scarecrow’s fear toxin as well as some kryptonite. The Justice League help Clark search for Lois, while also trying to piece everything together. Superman finds Joker and, more surprisingly, Doomsday! In order to remove the nigh-immortal threat, the Man of Steel flies the monster into space. Unbeknownst to Clark at the time, it was actually Lois he took up to space with him.

Batman finally figures out the scheme once the League catches up to the Clown Prince of Crime. Joker had planted a bomb in Metropolis that would go off the moment Lois Lane’s heart stopped. The vacuum of space kills her instantly, and thus his city with it. He loses the love of his life, his future child, and the entire city all at once. Superman catches up with Batman and the Joker, where he murders the madman on the spot.

False God Rises

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The death of Joker sets off a chain reaction. No longer tolerating crime, Superman goes way too far. He becomes a dictator. He’s not only stopping criminals, but he’s also over-policing everyone. Clark becomes the judge, jury, and executioner. He might be the most powerful figure on Earth, so who could stop him? To add further fuel to the fire, members of the Justice League, as well as various supervillains, join his cause.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Superman no longer uses his power for good but, rather, it gave way to an obsession that led down a darker path. So what about INJUSTICE makes it worth checking out for long-time Superman fans? The best way to explain this is by comparing him to a pro-wrestler, Hulk Hogan.

When Hogan worked for the WWE(F) through the 1980’s to 1990’s, he was a “babyface” or a good guy. He was the biggest name in the company and they literally built WrestleMania on the back of the Hulkster. Yet when he signed with WCW later on, fans didn’t like the goodie-two-shoes Hogan. They needed something different. Hulk Hogan, unlike others, had never truly been a significant bad guy in his career.

Hogan needed to be a villain to add a fresh spin to his character. Thus, he became the leader of the New World Order or NWO. It would change the landscape of the pro-wrestling business. Like Hogan, Superman needed a character change-up. Mostly, so we could appreciate what he could do as a villain, which many wouldn’t have considered.

The Civil War That Took So Little To Start

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Surprisingly, Wonder Woman seems to have no problem jumping on the kill-everyone-train. She attacks and kills Martian Manhunter, despite the fact that he wasn’t attempting to hurt Superman. Diana accidentally kills Huntress, despite her low threat-level. She takes out several former friends and shows little remorse. Like Superman, Wonder Woman has an unappreciated power. Yet, unlike Clark, nothing seemingly happened to Diana.

Although her change may seem extreme, it isn’t without reason. The princess saw a woman and her child die at the hands of a maniac that her friend Batman continued to let run wild. She wanted to cleanse man’s world, so who better than an alien to side with? With two powerful figures, you can shape the planet as you choose. Her tipping point may not have been as hard to accomplish, but it makes a certain sense.

The Flash, Hal Jordan, Shazam, and many others also joined Superman’s side. Hal, a Green Lantern, trusted Superman too much to lose faith in him. For Flash, it was all about the science. The numbers showed they weren’t doing enough, so why not try a new approach? While Shazam eventually saw the error of his ways, speaking up resulted in Superman killing him.

Family Is More Than Who You’re Related To

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The Green Lantern Corps is unleashed on Earth by the Guardians of the Universe, and they even take Hal Jordan’s power ring for failing to uphold their values. Led by Sinestro, the Yellow Lanterns travel to Earth in order to take advantage of Superman’s desperation. Knowing he’d be no match against all the Green Lanterns, the Man of Steel needed all the help he could get. The Guardians even gave permission to kill, which was unprecedented in this continuity.

Once Earth is secured… what could stop Superman from conquering other planets? The Guardians didn’t want to take that risk. The two Corps kill each other in droves during the battle, all to stop Superman. Clark is even given a yellow ring after being injured. Would a normal Superman ever willing accept this? Probably not, but this isn’t a story of a Superman who’s sure of himself. This is a tale of a man who has hit the bottom and will do everything he can to remain in control. At what cost, though? Where does it end?

Supergirl isn’t introduced until INJUSTICE 2 yet, when she sees how her cousin has betrayed their family’s beliefs, she confronts him. Superman tries to get her to see his side of things. However, she doesn’t see Superman as a hero who protects the Earth and its people, but rather a man the world needed protection from. Despite even his own family, a fellow Kryptonian, seeing the problem… Clark’s still too blind to comprehend how wrong he is.

Brothers No Longer, Enemies Forever More

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When Clark flipped Damian Wayne, who was already on the edge and had trouble controlling his rage, it was a big deal. Not only was Batman losing his own son to Superman, but he knew Clark saw this as him winning the argument. When Dick Grayson tries to talk sense into Damian, his efforts are met with hostility. During a later battle, Robin accidentally kills Nightwing. He lethally injures the man he once called brother, and the first person Bruce ever called a son.

Batman is devastated. This seemed to even move Superman but, just like his later confrontation with Supergirl, Man of Steel fails to see how his actions led to this tragedy. In the beginning, Clark asked Bruce to be his child’s godfather. Now, they’re bitter enemies when they were once as close as brothers. We have major deaths that happen such as that of Huntress, Shazam, the other Green Lanterns, Doctor Fate, Martian Manhunter, and several others who once saw Superman as a hero.

Most of it feels careless and cynical, so why is INJUSTICE such a unique take from the main DCU?  In this story, literally, everything is personal. How some heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman can be numb through it all shows that loss can drive even those we think of as infallible to a breaking point. INJUSTICE finally gives it to us, making it a new take on heroes and villains alike.

The Joker Knew This All Along

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A line from THE DARK KNIGHT brings about an interesting question. The Joker is in an interrogation room and asks an officer “I killed your friends, would you like to know which ones were cowards?” It was a question designed to rattle the man, but it’s an interesting thought. Cowardice caused them to give into what the Joker wanted, while others didn’t. They all knew who the Joker was and what he could do. Yet they still gave into his whims.

The INJUSTICE version of the Joker is like any other, he’s a madman who loves to push people. Superman understood what Joker did and why he did it. It was psychological and clearly well-thought-out. Clark betrayed everything he stood for, and not because he feared what Joker would do next. No, Superman did it because he had nothing left to lose. No wife, no child, and no city. Even his parents become too afraid of their son, and he eventually pushes away his closest friends.

What does INJUSTICE offer? Psychological, methodical, sociopathic, and at times monodical ordeals. In FLASHPOINT, everything changes because of an action made by a hero for an understandable reason. Other stories involve versions of characters from other universes or a small fraction of heroes fighting against the entire world. Yet this isn’t what happened in INJUSTICE. It was simply an entire universe that jumped into war. It all started with “one bad day.

You won’t get a story like this in the mainstream DCU, that’s for sure. Sometimes all it takes is one crazy thing to keeps us invested in what happens next. INJUSTICE teaches the lesson that, sometimes, there’s no real reason for why good people go bad. What cannot be explained might be the scariest thing of all.

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