Superman Stats

Monday, 17 March 2014

Injustice: Gods Among Us...When two egos collide!

Injustice: Gods Among Us

A Look back at the Comic

There's no denying that the video game Injustice: Gods Among us has a pretty interesting premise behind it, and an alternate reality that matches up well to DC's Elseworlds standards. The game engine might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the world building and the story behind it holds much intrigue. 

After all Superman going berserk and becomes a dictator after killing his wife and unborn child sounds exciting and with many possibilities. He does so while poisoned by The Joker using Scarecrow's toxins, in an elaborate plan that not only wipe out the woman Superman loves, but the city he has come to care for and his own moral code. 

Unfortunately for us, the game jumps a few years ahead to a crime free society with Superman at the helm, it's a wonderful option to have but at what cost? 

We do get a lot of political subtext, a much more wider understanding of the situations and the players involved (pun intended) but at the end of the day, this is a video game. Modeled by the creators of Mortal Kombat, it presents a fighting style vaguely familiar and a heavy focus on action rather than details of the world. 

That's where Tom Taylor's (Writer: Earth 2) Injustice prequel comes into play. A digital comic series, that explores the grey areas of it's alternate reality characters and establishes the core event that drives Superman to do what he does, and the subsequent aftermath from there onwards. 

The game gives us as is with it's run time (if you can call it that) and major plot-line, tidbits on what occurred. Things such as Aquaman's crumbling resentment towards Superman's regime to Green Arrow being the first casualty of the Man of Steel's anger are mentioned but unexplored. From one angle it can be seen that things just blew over, and that Batman is white as Superman is black. Yet things aren't as cut and dry as they seem. 

A lot of this comes down to Tom Taylor's lens as a writer, he steeps himself in this alternate world yet has roots embellished in DC lore. There's mentions to Superman's constant trust placed on Batman to take him down when necessary, something I'm hoping Zack Snyder materializes by the end of his Man of Steel sequel in 2016. 

It's a gesture that always intrigued me, does the fact that Superman knows Batman can defeat him, keep him in check? Knowing he has given Batman a way, is it a sort of placement for Superman to consciously remember to stay good? Does Superman not trust himself, and if so why wouldn't he work on his own issues rather than turning evil? 

The last one of all really intrigues me, it notes that Superman is as fallible as any of us. In a way his realization that he is suspect and above all has the ability to see his faults, humanizes him. Just like Taylor tries to do with the book. 

There were parts where I really questioned the writing, the issues personally for me were uneven pacing and characterization. There wasn't enough reason given to the other heroes earlier motives to help Superman in his slowly peaking dictatorial state, besides Flash and Shazam struggling to question their actions everyone else seemed fine and dandy albeit a bit hesitant but not enough. 

Once again it's the question of where the game comes in, with an end road in sight it feels like Taylor is left with a narrowed path to work on. He can bring in moments of shock, or methods in which way canon from the game is established but he cannot break away on his own. 

It's something I see only because, I myself struggle as a writer with a determined ending. The original superheroes or stories I've created, I tend to establish everything from the start and even map out at least some sort of vague ending for things to come. It shackles me, and I'm trying not to make it a habit and change. 

When better ideas crop up, and mostly from outside sources I think of them but instantly dismiss them cause I'm too blindly arrogant to look beyond my chosen objective no matter how many better ideas I can get. It's the same reason why when I write already conceived superheroes such as Batman, I do so out of continuity so I can pick and choose what counts in this universe and my vision/end game isn't diminished once I leave the book. 

Tom Taylor has an end game here that isn't his, neither is the vision fully. So it's commendable that he crafts a compelling path from it, the only issue is that sometimes his writing is detrimental to the characters. You can see Taylor trying to point out the hypocrisies and rather grey areas that the hero of the book Batman places himself in. 

Yet all that is debunked by the actions he has to create for Superman to become who we know him as, once the video game begins. 

What I do like is how these two form a central conflict that reiterates ideas we have seen before, yet examines them as a point of their back stories together. This is something I don't remember any Batman/Superman comic doing that well or in this angle. 

Examples of great character studies and reflections of both are more than a dozen. Kingdom Come comes to mind, which Injustice seems to be influenced from. There's the whole idea of policing the world versus letting the world play it's own course. 

Yet the conflict in Injustice doesn't go against heroes doing damage, but rather not doing enough damage to the wrong people. In Kingdom Come, Superman questioned the ethics of a new breed of heroes and their killing spree, with Injustice it's the opposite as he questions Batman's methods of letting one life live in favor of millions.  Yet in both the ideas of Superman's grasp over the worlds and it's people destiny and choices is questioned.

Joker's personal actions towards Superman spur him to kill the mad man and in turn go onto a path he has no return from. The game obviously painted Batman in the right light, and the book has to do so too. But Taylor doesn't shy away from justifying Superman's actions long enough for us to start questioning the rights and wrongs, although towards the end of the first year in this reality we do come closer to the clear picture and divide between the two heroes.

At the core of this it all comes down to one man and his unshakeable morality and another man's descent into madness simply because he cannot but blame everything around him, rather than himself. Once again it presents the Superman we want, the Superman we can relate to, the Superman whose human. 

It's an interesting angle, it always has been. But even if I'm not an age old Superman fan, seeing his morality break on every corner just so a new world accepts him is something I don't agree with. DC's need to make Superman approachable by making him gritty, goes well beyond the whole dark is success formula. He's a god made a man and yet still elevated as a god, just an angrier one. 

I'm not asking for a Superman whose all sunshine and roses, far from it. But what makes Superman, Superman, are the values instilled upon him by Jonathan Kent. Painting him a villain always has only one motive, to make a hero out of Batman. To let humanity know that Batman is the best, simply because he's human and for DC because he makes more money is bordering on annoying these days. 

Batman is a hero, there's no doubting it. I don't want him to go back to the asshole of Pre-Grant Morrison days. What I want is a realization that at the end of the day, that if there are gods among us then there's a human among them. He can be super smart, he can have all the contingencies planned. But what he can't have is the last laugh (pun intended), at one point Batman needs to lose to Superman. Heck he needs to lose to his companions, it just adds fire to the fuel that Batman truly is a condescending, blind man. 

His morals never need to break, their strong because of what happened to him. His origins instill in him something that makes him so heroic when he dons the cowl. Yet the same should apply to Superman, he doesn't deserve to fall to wayside like a child simply because he loses someone. His origins to becoming a hero are as vital, his upbringing like with Bruce's (or lack thereof) has given him a moral code that should only break at a point like at the end of Man of Steel. 

A serialized comic can do that, but the way Taylor rushes or is forced to rush into things just seems to much. 

His use of plot devices don't help either. 

While I've always liked the idea of the DC Trinity, what I cannot stand is the placement of Wonder Woman as Superman's love interest/rock. It's not a thing related to gender issues. But whenever WW has been paired up with Superman (mostly in elseworlds), she has ended becoming the Lady Macbeth to his Macbeth. 

She is made out to be the cause for a lot of his destruction, in Kingdom Come, in Red Son and now in Injustice. The novel idea of the two being the biggest power couple is intriguing, but not when all Wonder Woman is, is a bitch who falters from her own mission statement just to push Superman to doing something that neither makes sense and seems far fetched for even Diana. 

It's why I always floated towards the Justice League cartoon version where Wonder Woman and Batman have a hinted relationship. While I would rather she not mingle with any of the other two romantically, the idea of her and Batman was much more intriguing. Wonder Woman isn't afraid to do things that Batman can't, their moral clashes their are interesting but never border on grand hysteria on each of their parts. 

In the cartoons we were presented to a Wonder Woman who at times was never shy of making her affection for Batman known, she could also defeat him in a fight. While nothing really came to fruition, there were hints that Batman felt obliged not to let it happen. For me it stemmed with the idea that his ego wouldn't allow it, making Wonder Woman that much more Wonderful in my eyes. 

At the end of the day I do realize this is an alternate reality, and the subject of Superman's wavering morals make an interesting topic. Not to mention Taylor does supremely well to make us question our own moral centers as to what we would do in Superman's shoes. Yet I would love to see nalternate storyline where Batman falters instead, there has to be a breaking point to him beyond his own spine (pun intended). 

Nonetheless for now we have this comic, where Batman's staunch code is far greater than the loss of everyone else. It sort of comes down to how both he and Superman are still the two children that lost everything they did. The two heroes are born of a tragedy and as such there's no denying that there suspect to a case of arrested development. 

Batman can never escape the tragedy that made him who he is, and it is why he holds on to his ideals simply because they are the last piece of his innocence and the only way he can justify his crusade to his dead parent as a sign of 'respect' to their deaths. It's a deep idea to ponder upon. 

Then there's Superman, who lost his whole world and when he kills Lois he loses his unborn child. He loses the only Kryptonian that could have assembled his long gone heritage and ancestry, his legacy is abolished. In a way he comes full circle from the last survivor, to the killer of the future of his race. That justifies a lot and makes for a depressing truth. 

And this is where Taylor excels (which I might have mentioned, I'm sorry I'm so passionately writing I'm not even sure if it's coherent). As mentioned, he dissects these two characters and draws parallels in a fashion like not other yet easier to comprehend. 

I'm going to continue reading now, onto year two to see where these characters are headed...well what path they take to where their headed anyways. I suggest you check the books out, you can either buy the first trade and wait for the others or get them online from Comixology or use my old stealing card (wink wink). 

'Nuff Said 

Aneesh Raikundalia

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