In the wake of Lois Lane’s death at the hands of The Joker, Superman has become obsessed with providing security to the people of Earth at any cost. This, coupled with the revelation that The Guardians of Oa allowed Krypton to die, has driven a wedge between the superhumans of Earth and sparked a war between The Sinestro Corps (now allied with Superman) and the Green Lanterns. Still, Batman’s burgeoning resistance seems to be set for victory until they are confronted with the one thing Batman could not have planned for – an angry Superman empowered by a yellow ring and the fear of over a billion humans who have just seen their protector become a killer.
One criticism that has been leveled against Injustice: Gods Among Us from the beginning is that it is too dark and depressing. There are a number of fans who have little interest in a story where Superman becomes a fascist dictator. They say that Superman is meant to be a symbol of hope and that any story which works against that core concept is automatically flawed and unworthy of consideration. Others say that is precisely why we need stories like Injustice – to examine that idea and show precisely why it is a sense of morality and not moral superiority or super powers that make Superman super.
This debate has been raging for years, particularly in the wake of Man of Steel‘s depiction of a Superman who is capable of killing in the name of saving lives. And while Injustice: Gods Among Us is unlikely to change anyone’s mind about that particular subject, it could be used to show that just because a comic deals with a dark setting or subject matter does not mean that it has to be all doom, gloom and high body counts. This issue is a prime example of that sentiment, for while it contains some graphic depictions of a world-wide war and a few major character deaths it also features one of the most uplifting endings of any comic in recent memory.
Tom Taylor has walked this tightrope expertly in this issue and all the issues of Injustice so far. Whenever things threaten to get too serious, he always has a way of tipping the scale and giving us a laugh to balance out our revulsion at the constant displays of man’s inhumanity to man. Comparison to the tragedies of Shakespeare seem apt, for The Bard frequently set up quick comic scenes immediately after a murder – not only to ensure roles for the clowns in the theater groups he wrote for but also to give the audience a means of catharsis in the wake of the more upsetting scenes. And, on occasion, to hit them all the harder when the next tragic event occurred.
This book has been blessed with a number of talented artists and this issue is no exception. The book’s ending and epilogue are handled by different teams, which adds a subtle hint to the reader that things are changing. The ending is quite dark and shaded thus by the inker while the epilogue, which provides a hopeful coda for Year Two as a whole as well as a nice bookend for the very first issue of this series, is brighter and more colorful.
If you haven’t given Injustice: Gods Among Us a chance, you would do well to pick up that first issue and binge upon every issue between it and this one. There is darkness here, yes, and a number of truly disturbing scenes. Yet, there is also hope and humanity. And the darkness only serves to make the light seem all the brighter and better.