Injustice as a whole is a particularly strange case for DC comics. The franchise began in 2013 with the fighting game Injustice Gods Among Us, then for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. With a fairly loosely thrown together plot that serviced just to give a reason for why all of the heroes of Earth (i.e. Batman and Superman) were fighting each other, you could be forgiven for thinking the story was forgettable at best. However, alongside the titular video game, DC comics printed a tie-in comic meant to explain the events that led up to the game. Initially intended to be a rather short run of comics due to its nature as merchandising, the Injustice comics proved to be so popular that they were extended, and in fact did not end until recently.
There was good reason for the comic’s popularity too, as it properly fleshed out the conflict present in the game between Superman’s totalitarian Regime and Batman’s ragtag Resistance. Everyone’s motivations were fully explored, and lots of cool situations were given (although there was plenty of overused moments of Batman fighting Superman for the umpteenth time too). The series also made full use of DC Comic’s expansive roster, dragging out characters such as Swamp Thing and Constantine to join the fight. In total, 5 years of backstory was given to what was otherwise just a solid console fighter.
Fast forward to present times, and Netherrealms has finally released the much anticipated sequel game, Injustice 2. With it, DC Comics has once again decided to print a tie-in comic series intended to bridge the gap between the plots of the first game and the sequel. Due to my anticipation, I decided to pick up the tie-ins this time and give them a shot. But is it worth it?
The first issue of Injustice 2 begins with Batman in what is yet another bickering match between himself and the Superman of this universe. After the events of the first game, Superman was defeated and placed in a red kryptonite jail cell to contain his powers. Thus that is the starting location of this story – Batman and Superman slinging words through a reinforced glass cage. Superman berates Batman, saying he doesn’t have what he takes to rebuild the world (and brings up the dead parents, burn), and Batman exits the scene with Harley Quinn in tow (this is one of those stories where Harley Quinn is more of an anti-hero). After a brief conversation, the scenery transitions to a homely cabin in the woods.
This cabin is shown to be the current home of Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), Dinah Lance (Black Canary) and their son Connor. Within the previous comic series, the original timeline’s Green Arrow had been killed by Superman. Furthermore, a newly with child Black Canary had been mortally wounded, so Dr. Fate had brought her to another timeline where Oliver Queen still lived in order to raise her child. Yes, unfortunately Injustice uses the idea of a multiverse to get out of sticky writing situations pretty often. I’m not a fan, but bare with it.
Dr. Fate arrives at the cabin, and after a brief struggle, reveals to Black Canary that the Superman of her reality had finally been defeated, and that she should return home to help rebuild it. This is really interesting, as although Black Canary was integral to the early plot of the original comic series, she was written out and was not present in the original video game (but she is very much playable in the sequel).
Finally, the story returns to the primary universe that Injustice takes place in, focusing on Harley Quinn hanging around in her hideout (originally the hideout of that universe’s Green Arrow before his demise). Suddenly, there is an explosion, and in bursts the familiar face of Amanda Waller. A short action sequence later, Amanda Waller makes the presence of the Suicide Squad known in the Injustice canon, there is a cliffhanger, and the story ends.
Everything being summarized, one thing is immediately clear. Despite lots of window dressing, Injustice 2 is just as much reliant on fanservice as the original. The main crux of the series is taking several popular DC Comics characters and finding reasons to make them fight each other. Because of this, despite a story that actually starts off pretty interesting, this comic expects you to recognize the faces and names of characters without any introductions at all. Furthermore, plot threads that were not properly explored in the previous game but that were present in the first run of tie-in comics are continued here. This is not necessarily too massive a flaw, as much as it may be very inconvenient for fans of primarily the games to pick up the Injustice 2 tie-ins to start with. Knowing what in the world is going on with Black Canary and Dr. Fate would particularly come out of nowhere.
That being said, choosing to hinge everything on the iconography of its characters in Injustice is not necessarily a bad choice for DC. After all, Superman’s symbol is more recognizable worldwide than the Christian cross. I honestly do not believe any other brand has characters as instantly recognized as DC Comics. They are well presented within the pages too, as the art is well defined and stylized with noticeably high production quality. I would not say it is a stand out in terms of comic book artwork by any means, but in quality alone at the very least it passes with flying colors.
Finally, something that should be mentioned is that unlike the original comic series (which could put out tons of content because of its nature as a prequel) the Injustice 2 comic line has a much shorter time window within which its story can be told. This of course means that unless DC comics decides to extend the plot past the storyline of the new game, this will not be a comic series someone can follow for very long. That may not be a bad thing though, as once its finished it may be a fun read for a slow weekend.