One of the more surprising successes from DC Comics’ repertoire in the past couple of years has been Injustice: Gods Among Us, the weekly digital comic that’s acted as a prequel to the Netherrealm Studios fighting game of the same name. Written by Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato and drawn by the likes of Bruno Redondo, Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick, and others, Injustice was strong enough to continue on for years despite the game itself falling into obscurity in-between installments.
The first five volumes take place in-between the game’s prologue and the beginning of the game, where the dystopian, Superman-ruled world is visited by heroes from the classic DC Universe. As shown in the game, this all happened because the Joker messed with Superman a little too hard and Superman killed him in a fit of rage. Most of the other heroes and even some villains were on his side in terms of ruling over the world with an iron fist and the only ones interested in taking him down were Batman, Lex Luthor (secretly), and Harley Quinn. With each volume of the comic explaining the events of a different year, we bridge the gap and see what it was that made Superman grow into a cold megalomaniac. How did Hal Jordan lose his way? How come none of the other heavy hitters were able to stop Superman?
After finishing up all five years, the series then became Injustice: Ground Zero, where it retold the events of the video game’s story mode from the point of view of Harley. Now we’re in the middle of Injustice 2, a prequel comic showing what’s happened in-between the two games.
So let’s revisit 50 of the finer moments in this run where what could have been a forgettable tie-in that nobody would remember instead became one of DC’s better titles.
1. HARLEY AND GREEN ARROW (Y1: #5)
The first four issues of Injustice aren’t all that good, mainly because it’s the Joker doing a mandated killing spree that Taylor had to write based on the in-game history. Having to write Lois Lane’s death never did sit right with Taylor and he’s tried to redeem himself for it in different ways through his various writings. It wasn’t until he was able to move away from the intro story that he could show some real personality and promise.
Green Arrow apprehended Harley Quinn and chose to keep her in his Arrow Cave, since he didn’t like the possibility of Superman needlessly executing her too. What we got was a great dynamic where the snarkier member of the Justice League was silent and belligerent to an optimistic and excited criminal who admired him. It also introduced a couple of running gags, like Harley’s tendency to always carry a fake mustache with her at all times and the fact that Green Arrow really needs to rename his headquarters.
2. SUPERMAN AND BATMAN TRY TO TALK IT OUT (Y1: #10-11)
Year One was mostly about the crumbling of the World’s Finest. The friendship between Superman and Batman fell to pieces over disagreements and backstabbing. Superman chose to confront Batman, mostly as an excuse to vent. He felt that Batman was judging him for killing the Joker and imposing peace on the world, but at the same time he ranted about how Batman allowed all of this to happen by not killing the Joker first when the Joker seriously deserved it. The two argued back and forth, leading to Superman insulting Batman’s role as a father and Batman punching Superman in the face.
From there, things calmed down and in one moment, we were reminded that they were friends. Superman inspected Batman’s hand for injuries and Batman admitted the truth: if he were in Superman’s shoes, he probably would have done the same thing. The problem is, Superman is supposed to be better. Superman offered Batman to follow him down his path of making the world a better place, but Batman just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
3. FLASH’S FANBOY (Y1: #13)
In the game’s story mode, the Flash was able to realize that he was on the wrong side, albeit too late. This issue dealt with him second-guessing Superman’s actions for the first time. In Australia, a group of people protested Superman’s insistence to keep countries from going to war “or else.” Superman and Wonder Woman told them all to disperse, but a man calling himself Galaxon stepped forth and challenged them. He got Rock Bottom’d into the pavement in a second.
As Flash went off to go get an ambulance, Batman told him that he already called for one and instead gave him directions to a science research facility. It was the place where Galaxon was engineered. News of his incident hadn’t reached them yet, so a scientist gave Flash the tour, including Galaxon’s room. The walls were covered in inspirational images of superheroes, including a photo of him as a kid when he got to meet the Flash. Realizing that he just watched a man who idolized him get paralyzed for standing up for his people, Flash zipped away to run off this gut punch.
In Year Five, Flash was told by Iris West that Galaxon committed suicide a year or so after the incident. That turned out not to be the case in the Injustice 2 comic and Barry dedicated himself to helping Galaxon walk again.
4. CYBORG’s VIRUS (Y1: #15)
When you get down to it, the comic is like DC’s own little version of Civil War, only we know the ending and we know that Superman is ultimately going to be in the wrong. It would be totally easy to simply have Batman be the paragon of virtue by default to show off just how wrong Superman really is, but Taylor doesn’t do that. Batman is an asshole and does some really scummy stuff.
For instance, there’s a part where Superman and his allies went to Arkham Asylum to steal away all of the inmates without saying where they were going. Cyborg would open the doors and Flash would run off with the prisoners. Batman warned Cyborg to stop and when that warning wasn’t heeded, he pressed a button that shorted Cyborg out. Once he finally came to his senses, he couldn’t understand it. He just updated his firewalls and there’s no way Batman could have infected him.
Then Cyborg realized that Batman infected him with the virus on the first week they met. Just in case. In the background, Killer Croc noted, “That’s pretty evil.”
Batman pulled crap like that a lot in the first year. While Superman was wrong for the right reasons, Batman was terrible at proving why he himself was in the right.
5. BLACK ADAM’S TAKEN DOWN (Y1: #19)
With the Justice League trying to stop all war around the world, that would naturally put them at odds with Teth Adam, ruler of Kahndaq. A man not known for listening to reason, he fought the heroes, who eventually overpowered him. In a moment of, “How did nobody else thing of this before?!” Wonder Woman proved that she is Black Adam’s kryptonite. All she had to do was get him in the lasso and ask him what his magic words are.
Shazam tried to plead with him and asked him point blank if there was any way to stop him. Adam, compelled to tell the truth, angrily said that he would tear apart anyone who tried to hurt Kahndaq, so no. He couldn’t be swayed. In his last moments before being forced to depower himself, Adam desperately begged Shazam to keep his country safe. Then he transformed into a powerless old man and was taken off the table until Year Five.
6. SUPERMAN VS. KALIBAK (Y1: #22-24)
With word that Superman was bringing peace to Earth, Kalibak found the idea laughable and figured it made the planet easy pickings for invasion. With Darkseid’s blessing, he and an endless stream of Parademons attacked Earth during a press conference where Superman was trying to better explain his actions to the frightened public. Kalibak completely underestimated Superman’s mindset in this act and paid for it.
Kalibak doubled down and mocked Superman for caring too much about the lives of his enemies than his people, all while piling on hundreds of Parademons and pointing out that Superman could hear all the people being terrorized from around the world. Vowing this wouldn’t happen again, Superman vaporized the lot of them, then beat Kalibak to death, even when Kalibak tried to surrender. After a brief discussion with Flash, Superman decided that for the greater good, he’d have to reduce every single Parademon on Earth to organic confetti.
He saved the world, but at the same time, Flash was disturbed that he basically gave Superman permission to kill and Batman knew that Superman’s actions were going to get progressively worse.
7. MORAL CHESS (Y1: #26)
Again, Superman and Flash had a conversation about the morality of what they were doing, though this time at their own leisure and not during an intergalactic invasion. In a cute gimmick, Superman had Flash quickly learn the rules of chess so that they could play while talking. This worked out so that any time one of them made a point in their argument, they would suddenly reach checkmate. Superman started off with all the good points, but soon Flash was able to run circles around his conversation and his skills by dropping checkmate after checkmate after checkmate.
8. SUPER TWITTER (Y1: #28)
This bit’s something that’s so stupid that it wraps around and becomes fantastic. Superman had had enough of Batman’s interference, so he decided that he’d just blurt out his alter-ego info to the world. Batman interfered with the satellite’s signal, putting them in the dark and also causing it to spiral down to Earth. Presumably, by the time Superman would have saved everyone in the satellite, Batman would have put some kind of contingency plan that would…do something? I don’t think Taylor thought that far ahead. Anyway, Robin was all, “No way, we’re doing this! Lex Luthor! Cyborg! Get Superman a Twitter account! Or at least an off-brand one that we can use in this comic!”
And so, “Batman is Bruce Wayne” became the most retweeted line in this universe, ruining the Dark Knight’s core level of secrecy.
While goofy, it did lead to a wonderful follow-up scene. Alfred came to Batman to tell him about the many, many news helicopters circling the manor and while he figured Batman had contingencies for his funds and various charities, Alfred had his own special list for just such an occasion. A short list of irreplaceable things to take with him in case Batman’s identity was blown. His mother’s pearls, father’s stethoscope, etc. Batman thanked Alfred and suggested that perhaps he should remain at the mansion, but Alfred refused. After all, he was on the top of the list!
9. GREEN ARROW’S DEATH (Y1: #33-34)
It all led up to this moment. Superman didn’t simply lose his way overnight. Various incidents and interactions pushed him in various ways, but it all came to a head in the moment he lost control and killed Green Arrow. Superman and Luthor had created a special pill that would give someone the strength of a Kryptonian (to explain in-game why Harley Quinn and Nightwing could fight Superman and Doomsday) and Batman came up with a plan to create a diversion to get Superman out of the Fortress of Solitude so that they could sneak in and steal it.
What Batman didn’t count on was that Superman was keeping his parents in the Fortress for their own safety and how volatile that would make him. The incident escalated and it seemed like everything was against Superman, including fate. His friends betrayed him. His government betrayed him. The current love of his life Wonder Woman was critically injured. He was almost killed by Captain Atom. Batman wouldn’t stop trying to undermine him. Then in an act of desperation, Green Arrow deflected an arrow off Superman and it stuck into Pa Kent’s shoulder. Superman snapped and beat Green Arrow to death, but not before Arrow was able to fire the super pill off into the distance and make his sacrifice mean something.
Afterwards, the Kents and the computerized ghost of Jor-El tried to reason with Superman, but he wouldn’t hear it. After he flew off to find Batman, the three moped about their failures as parents. It was one of the sadder moments as the AI Jor-El tried to console the Kents while saying, “I’m sorry I unleashed this on your world.”
10. SUPERMAN VS. ALFRED (Y1: #36)
Batman put the super pill into the Batcomputer in order to get the data to synthesize it. That meant having to keep Superman busy long enough, which was kind of hard because, you know, he’s Superman. Superman caught him and decided that he wouldn’t kill Batman. Instead, he broke him over his knee, Bane-style. He noticed that the pill was gone and the information was uploaded elsewhere, but when he tried to press Batman (physically) to spill the beans, he just got the harsh truth that no matter how heroic he pretended to be, he was actually resorting to torture. Before Superman could process this, a hand touched his shoulder. It was Alfred.
Then Alfred buried his forehead into Superman’s nose. It was the perfect payoff for a man who sat back and watched his own family get torn apart over these 36 issues. Alfred verbally ran down Superman while stomping him so hard that his own shoe exploded into leather pieces. Once done, he took a second to clean his hands like a good butler and carried Batman off to the teleporter, telling him that there was nothing else in the cave worth saving. Damn.
The moment this issue came out, readers were clamoring for an Alfred Pennyworth DLC in the game.
11. BEST TEAM-UP EVER (Y1 Annual)
Injustice: Gods Among Us Annual is such a great little side-story taking place before Green Arrow’s death. It mainly dealt with Lobo, the downloadable character from the game who otherwise had nothing to do with the main storyline. Due to the whole Kalibak incident, Darkseid hired him to take out Superman. Seeing how screwed he was against a Superman with no moral problems throwing the Main Man into the sun, Lobo instead took a job for Superman to track down Harley Quinn. One thing led to another and soon Harley had ingested one of the super pills.
Harley went to the Arrow Cave, since Green Arrow was nice to her that one time, leading to some hilarious dialogue and facial expressions between the two of them and Black Canary. Lobo eventually tracked them down, but their combined abilities (mostly Harley’s newfound ability to tear someone’s head clean off) helped prevent them from being another three notches on Lobo’s belt. Then Harley used her psychological assets to convince Lobo that she was beneath him and he moved on.
12. THE DEATH OF KYLE RAYNER (Y2: #2)
As mentioned earlier, a lot of having to kill off Lois Lane chafed Taylor and it showed in his work. In one instance, he took the original “girls in refrigerators” moment and turned it on its head. Kyle Rayner was off doing space adventures and was on his way to go meet his girl. In this version of the story, Kyle was the one cornered and brutally killed for the sake of plot device.
While the last several years of DC has painted Sinestro as more of an anti-hero, this one sequence solidified him as the true villain of Year Two. The horrifying way he and his Sinestro Corps took Kyle apart was genuinely sad and just a little scary.
13. GORDON’S ALWAYS KNOWN (Y2: #6)
As a way to stick it to Batman, Superman decided to have his foot soldiers take martial law on Gotham. This didn’t sit well for Commissioner Gordon. He walked over to one of Oracle’s secret hideouts and told her he knew everything. Once she let him in, she made a brief attempt to play dumb, but then he merely shouted her down. He knew about Batgirl. He knew about Oracle. He knew Batman was Bruce Wayne. He knew from the very beginning because he was a detective and he was damn good at his job.
With Gordon cutting through the lies, he then told Barbara his own sad truth: he was dying of lung cancer. The last thing he wanted to do was save the world from Superman because it was only going to get worse.
14. CH’P VS. SUPERMAN (Y2: #10)
Superman’s megalomania eventually got the attention of the Green Lantern Corps. With Hal Jordan kept imprisoned, the Oans sent a bunch of Lanterns to Earth to pick a fight. Superman had a handful of his allies and a giant satellite laser on his side, but despite the many ring-slingers out to stop him, it was one of the tiniest who almost did the job. Ch’p the space squirrel was able to use his ring to manipulate the energy flowing through Superman’s skull, keeping his synapses from reaching his brain. Without Superman being able to even think right, the Man of Steel was there’s for the taking.
Lucky for Superman, Sinestro was able to convince Lex Luthor that he was there to help and was allowed to enter the fray. Not noticed until it was too late, Sinestro sniped the poor, little squirrel and that was the end of their advantage.
15. HARLEY’S DAUGHTER (Y2: #13)
Black Canary found Harley squatting in the abandoned Arrow Cave and the two started fighting it out. Harley stopped once Canary started vomiting, realizing she was suffering morning sickness and was pregnant with Ollie’s child. She casually let it slip that she too was once pregnant and Dinah pressed the subject until Harley relented. Years ago, she was pregnant with the Joker’s kid. In a rare act of sense, Harley kept it a secret from Joker and left him for nearly a year to give birth to Lucy and hand her off to Harley’s sister. Then when she returned to the Joker, Joker acted like he didn’t even notice Harley was gone in the first place, which Harley tearfully explained away as a hilarious joke.
It’s rare to get a good scene that really gets the Joker/Harley relationship without feeling icky. Harley’s dependency on Joker’s abusive nature is shown perfectly here, but there’s none of the usual physical violence to back it up. It’s heartbreaking when Harley describes Lucy’s interests and the little girl comes off as an innocent version of Harley who will be spared the horrors of a clown crime lifestyle.
16. SINESTRO VS. DESPERO (Y2: 15)
Year One was about Superman succumbing to all sorts of different factors to the point of losing his way. Taylor made sure that it wasn’t just one thing making his turn to darkness a simple on-off switch. On the other hand, Sinestro spent Year Two stoking the flames of Superman’s psyche while turning Hal Jordan further to his side. The ease in which he was able to do this made it all the more hilarious because, really, Hal Jordan is a total meathead.
Flying in from space, Despero crashed into a populated building in Chicago. Sinestro was on the scene first and made a heroic claim that Despero would not be terrorizing Earth, as that was under his protection. Despero wasn’t sure what the hell he was talking about and over the next few pages, it became pretty apparent that Sinestro had his Sinestro Corps rough up Despero, throw him to Earth, and let Sinestro take care of the rest. Sinestro used his ring to force Despero’s hands onto Sinestro’s throat and with Hal and John Stewart flying over as witnesses, Sinestro yelled, “Don’t make me do this!” before snapping Despero’s neck out of supposed self-defense.
Hal believed every second of it.
17. DAN DIDIO HATES THIS (Y2: 16)
Remember a few years ago when the big thing was how the Batwoman comic was working its way towards a lesbian engagement and then DC shut it down? Then they went all, “No, we’re not anti-gay! We’re just anti-marriage in general!” when everyone made a stink about it? Fun times.
In this issue, everyone was getting ready for the big fight against Superman, the Justice League, and the Sinestro Corps. Batman took to the radio to give a big speech about sacrifice and heroism and all that. He’d bring up family and we’d see Barbara and James Gordon saying their goodbyes. He’d bring up friends and we’d see Harvey Bullock getting drunk by himself. But most notably, it explicitly showed that in the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe, Batwoman and Renee Montoya were married. That rules.
It was never referenced again.
18. HAL JORDAN GOES YELLOW (Y2: 19)
An argument between Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner escalated once Sinestro and Ganthet arrived. Guy tried to reason with him, but Hal was firmly on Superman’s side. Then as Guy saved Carol Ferris from some burning debris, Hal made the bonehead decision to smash Guy in the face and let Carol fall so he could save her. Ganthet chose that moment to strip Hal of his green ring, which was called for, but also really bad timing because, you know, Carol was falling to her death. Desperate, Hal begged Sinestro to save Carol, but Sinestro refused.
“We need you in this war. Save her yourself.”
With a yellow ring offered, Hal joined Sinestro’s brand and rescued Carol. A few issues later, Sinestro killed John Stewart and told Hal that Guy was accidentally responsible. Feeling that this big space battle between the Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro Corps was Guy’s fault, Hal attacked him and tore his arm off, watching as the powerless Guy fell to Earth.
Sinestro took out three of the Earth Lanterns in one year while turning the other to his side. Not bad.
19. JIM GORDON’S LAST STAND (Y2: 20)
The less cosmic members of Batman’s resistance took to overtaking the Hall of Justice, all hopped up on super pills. They successfully took out Flash, Robin, and Luthor, but Luthor spoke to Commissioner Gordon and told him that he was really a mole and that Barbara was in great danger. Cyborg was tracing Oracle’s signal and was going to figure out her location in moments. Using Luthor as a hostage, Gordon beamed up to the satellite and fired a warning shot into the metal side of Cyborg’s head.
Even though Gordon was dying, he was still able to overpower Cyborg and knock him out by tearing off his metal face. As he and Luthor discussed, taking the super pill didn’t aid Gordon’s health. It only made the cancer stronger. He enjoyed the peaceful view from above Earth and spoke to Barbara and Batman through his communicator. He said his goodbyes, ending with the joke, “Batman. I guess…I guess I disappear on you for once,” before collapsing.
20. SUPERMAN VS. BLACK CANARY (Y2: #21-23)
This is a fight that had been building since the first issue of Year Two. Hell, since the moment Superman snapped and killed Ollie. Superman saw the Batwing flying towards him and figured it was Batman. He lasered it up into oblivion, only for Black Canary to fly out with a bat-jetpack on her back and a super pill in her system. With her sonic scream, she was able to paralyze Superman while spiking him into the ground. When they got up, she shot him in the chest with a kryptonite bullet. Yep, all was looking peachy as she kicked the crap out of him.
What everyone forgot to pick up on was that there were a whole lot of Sinestro Corps soldiers dying around them and Superman was becoming an expert at instilling fear around the world. One of the empty rings flew to him and helped him remove the kryptonite bullet from his chest. He critically wounded Canary with his heat vision and showed off his badass new Sinestro Corps threads.
Still, Canary had the last laugh. She had special contact lenses that allowed her to record the entire fight. No longer would Superman be able to use media smoke and mirrors to play off his actions as heroic. The world knew what he really was. Superman didn’t take it well and we got a dead Mogo and Ganthet out of the deal a few minutes later.
21. BLACK CANARY’S NEW LIFE (Y2: #24)
The problem with Year Two was that it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Black Canary was never going to stop Superman. Guy Gardner was never going to stop Sinestro. James Gordon wasn’t going to survive. It’s a prequel comic and that means bad stuff has to happen to set up the beginning of the game. That meant that the moment Dinah Lance targeted Superman, she was doomed. It was unfair.
In the final issue, after Sinestro remarked that they saved the world in contrast to the pile of dead Lantern bodies on the ground, it showed Black Canary’s body where Superman left her. Dr. Fate, who had only made a couple minor appearances prior, decided that he couldn’t let this stand.
Dinah woke up in another world. Fate helped heal her and took her and her baby to an Earth where Oliver Queen was still alive, but lost his Dinah five years earlier. Perhaps they could connect. Perhaps not. But they and baby Connor had a chance to be happy and be safe from Superman’s wrath.
We’ll see more of those guys later.
22. COMIC BOOKS REALLY ARE ABSURD (Y3: #2)
Year Three is all about covering the magic side of the DC Universe during this mess. Early on, John Constantine hooked up with Batman and Detective Chimp. Driven around by Constantine’s buddy Chas, the group made their way to where Raven was being held captive. During the ride, Constantine whispered to Chas to have a peak at the backseat, where Batman and Detective Chimp were just sitting there, silently grimacing.
That was just enough for them to lose their minds laughing. Batman yelled at them, but Detective Chimp told him to calm down. “Oh, come on. I’m a talking chimpanzee and you’re a grown man in a bat suit. Let them have this.”
23. ONE PUNCH REDUX (Y3: #4)
The main reason the magic guys never got a good shot at taking down Superman was because Superman had the Spectre on his side. He went after the hideout where Batman and his allies were stationed, held back momentarily by Zatanna’s waning magic. Batman figured they could just, I don’t know, hide in a cellar or under a pile of coats or something, and Constantine called him out on it. He ranted about how Batman could barely walk and was completely useless in this situation.
Batman proceeded to punch him in the face. Not just any punch, but homage to the time Batman punched out Guy Gardner in the ’80s (notice the text in the bottom right corner). Now a little ruffled, Batman chose a more courageous plan of walking out into the streets and talking to the Spectre himself, giving everyone ample time to escape. When Constantine got up and saw what Batman was doing, he smirked. “Jesus. Bollocks the size of coconuts. Brilliant.” Riling him up was his plan all along.
24. WHERE IS CORRIGAN?! (Y3: #9)
Spectre has always been kind of a nut, but at Superman’s side, he had gone too far. He already killed Harvey Bullock, Jason Blood, and Ragman, while Detective Chimp just barely survived his wrath. Deadman decided to speak to Spectre himself, hoping to get through to the Jim Corrigan side of the spirit. He found nothing. Spectre’s host was NOT Corrigan. But who? Spectre gave a devious smile and then killed Deadman.
Coincidentally, Madam Xanadu read some fortunes earlier that included mention that “the Joker” would return in some form. How does the Spectre get a human host? Through finding one who had been murdered.
The Spectre turned out not to be the Joker after all (he was Mr. Mxyzptlk), but it was a damn good red herring.
25. SUPERMAN VS. ETRIGAN (Y3: #12)
Constantine came up with a plan to stop Superman, but it involved a bit of sacrifice. As Superman, Sinestro, and Hal hung out in the Hall of Justice while the Spectre was preoccupied, the Demon Etrigan suddenly appeared and attacked the trio. He injured Sinestro, causing Hal to escape with his partner. That left Superman and Etrigan to battle it out. With Superman in close quarters, Etrigan then transformed into his new host form: BATMAN.
Batman sprayed Superman with something that appeared to be sprinkles of a Black Mercy plant laced with magic. Whatever it was, it knocked Superman into a coma. Before going under, Superman panicked at the idea that Batman would side with Hell itself in order to stop him. Rather than realizing how far gone he had gone, Superman turned it around and claimed that Batman was the one who had fallen.
26. INJUSTICE UTOPIA (Y3: #13-14)
Tom Taylor was moving on from the series, at least for a little while. Despite being a story about Superman going mad with power, Taylor decided to at least go out on a loving and positive note. He spent the last two issues of his run showing this version of Superman’s fantasy reality. We got to see the Joker’s plan thwarted. Then it was Batman who chose to kill the Joker as a self-sacrifice so Superman didn’t have to.
Years passed. Superman’s daughter Lara grew up and talked her father out of a world where they ran everything. She brought peace to Earth. Lois went on to become President. Batman married Wonder Woman. It was a good life.
The issue ended with Superman almost acknowledging to the reader that this wasn’t going to last. It couldn’t last. But he and Lois made the most of it.
27. DEADMAN DICK (Y3: #21)
With Boston Brand as Deadman being immortally wounded, he passed on his role to the ghost of Dick Grayson. Dick helped out Batman and the rest of the resistance, but during a big melee, he chose that moment to hop around bodies and have a heart-to-heart with his adopted father. While inhabiting Billy Batson, he explained how much his years as Batman’s sidekick meant to him and that Damian was neither to blame for his death nor was he beyond redemption.
With all the crap Batman had to go through during the storyline, it was nice to give him an uplifting moment for once.
28. BATGIRL’S BACK (Y4: #5)
In the game itself, they made it seem like Barbara Gordon became for the first time Batgirl in response to her father’s death. The comic goes farther and shows that she was Batgirl, got crippled, became Oracle, and then became inspired to be Batgirl again.
Lex Luthor had the tech to presumably do that, but he explained that it wasn’t a sure science and it could go really, really wrong: neurological issues, total paralysis, or even death. Regardless, Barbara insisted on going through with the very painful procedure and came out of it in spandex and a cape, ready for a fight.
29. SUPERMAN VS. WONDER WOMAN (Y4: #8-10)
In Year Four, the Greek Gods – aligned with Batman’s side in the beginning – chose to pick a fight with Superman because they’re the ones who deserve all the worship or whatever. This meant that Superman had to take on one of the Greek’s representatives in a trial by combat. Choosing for his allies, Batman went with Wonder Woman, who still counted as part of the Greek faction despite her loyalty to Superman.
Reluctantly forced to fight it out, Superman and Wonder Woman completely tore into each other without much in holding back. Hal Jordan watched and narrated about how the last few years have turned Superman into a powerful man without fear and such a thing is completely frightening. Eventually, Wonder Woman came out the winner, only to be interrupted by Sinestro.
After the fight, a flashback showed that years earlier, Superman and Batman had a conversation about how if the worst came and Superman had to defend himself against Wonder Woman for real, she’d tear through him due to his inferior fighting skills.
“There’s a darkness in you, Bruce. I don’t understand it…and I don’t ever want to.”
30. AQUAMAN VS. POSEIDON (Y4: #18)
Really, Year Four is less about development and more about fights just happening. Case in point, Aquaman showed up for a few minutes to take on Poseidon for the hell of it. Normally, this one would be forgettable, but it works for referencing the game itself by taking Aquaman’s amazing super attack and making it happen in-story.
And so, Aquaman stabbed Poseidon with a trident and had a shark show up to chomp down on the god. Badass.
31. SUPERMAN VS. DARKSEID (Y4: 21-22)
Darkseid shows up from time to time, but mostly hangs out on the sidelines. Even in Injustice 2, he appears to just be a playable non-factor. Still, he’s kind of pissed about Superman killing his son, so part of Year Four is the reveal that Darkseid was working alongside Ares. Exiled from Earth, Superman flew to Apokalips to throw down with the DC big bad.
Unlike the throwdown from Superman: The Animated Series, this one played up the fact that a real pull-no-punches fight to the finish between Superman and Darkseid would be utterly catastrophic. The two caused enough damage to Apokalips as is, but according to the Source Wall and Desaad, if continued, the fight would destroy the entire planet.
Superman’s death would still only be a possibility. Darkseid knew that it wasn’t worth continuing with and yielded to Superman’s demand to stay away from Earth.
32. AND NOW A WORD FROM PLASTIC MAN (Y4 Annual)
The Year Four Annual is a fantastic issue centered around Plastic Man having to rescue his son Offspring after the young hero got arrested for rebelling against Superman’s regime. Plas confronted the Justice League and openly smack-talked the group for being a bunch of fascist monsters. It ruled. This almost went too far when he alluded to the death of Lois, but Flash forced him to leave.
Plas went on to not only rescue Offspring, but also a whole bunch of Green Lanterns and supervillains. Then he decided to lay low for a little while and let the real heroes figure this out.
33. BIZARRO’S COSTUME (Y5: #5)
In secret, Lex Luthor attempted to build a new Superman to take down the real one. Unfortunately, his unfinished clone escaped containment and found himself in Germany, confused and naked. A tailor took him in to feed him, clothe him, and help him remember his identity.
Due to Bizarro’s simplistic nature, he didn’t get why the Superman symbol was backwards when looking in the mirror. He demanded the tailor fix it, thereby giving us Bizarro’s trademark outfit.
34. SUPERMAN VS. BIZARRO VS. DOOMSDAY (Y5: #20)
A big chunk of Year Five followed Bizarro, who was 50% lovable dope and 50% terrifying and destructive simpleton. Due to misunderstandings and outbursts, Bizarro killed dozens of people and lost his only friend in the Trickster. This put Lex Luthor between a rock and a hard place because Bizarro was threatening him if he didn’t “fix” Trickster’s broken corpse and if Superman discovered Lex had anything to do with Bizarro’s creation, that too was his ass.
Luthor set up a three-way brawl at the Fortress of Solitude between Superman, Bizarro, and a remote-controlled Doomsday. The whole thing was a sweet fight scene with Bizarro initially wanting to reason with Superman, Superman wanting to take down Bizarro, and the man controlling Doomsday wavering over which side he’s on. Ultimately, Lex couldn’t bring himself to kill Superman, but then was forced to make Doomsday snap Bizarro’s neck just to cover his own tracks.
35. ALFRED VERBALLY DESTROYS SUPERMAN (Y5: #22)
Alfred had a handful of barbs at Superman’s expense during Year One, but back then, Superman was still mostly a good guy. By Year Five, Superman had become desperate and impatient. He wanted to know where Batman was and threatening Alfred appeared to be the best way of going about that.
At the same time, in a meta sense, you could tell the writing was on the wall and Alfred was going to be killed by Superman at some point. The series was winding down and Alfred certainly wasn’t around in the game. Time was short.
Having Superman show up before him in the Wayne Manor study, Alfred proceeded to shrug off every warning and threat while continuing to read his book. Showing balls the size of Montana, Alfred showed no care for the god among him and instead tacked on smarmy insult after smarmy insult before excusing himself and going to bed.
Superman was left angry and red-eyed. He did have Alfred murdered, but he wasn’t the one to do it.
36. HAWKMAN VS. MONGUL (Y5: #30)
Hawkman and Mongul are two DC characters I never cared about, nor are they all that important to the Injustice narrative. Even then, I strongly enjoyed this segment where they crossed paths.
Hawkman was annoyed that Superman had Hawkgirl’s loyalty and was sent on a mission to scrounge up some kryptonite, which had become very rare by this point. In this universe, Mongul spends his time chilling out on a throne made of skulls and treasure. If you want a piece of his treasure, it’s very simple: all you have to do is fight him and survive for thirty seconds.
Hawkman entered Mongul’s domain so he could get his kryptonite ring. He agreed to the terms and the two viscerally beat the crap out of each other for thirty seconds. Mongul got the advantage and with two seconds left, it was questionable whether Hawkman would survive.
Soon after, he reappeared on Earth, brandishing a kryptonite mace.
37. MEET THE HARLEY HORDE (Ground Zero #20)
Even though Harley is on Batman’s side in Injustice, the game doesn’t exactly do much with that. She crumbles the moment she meets the alt-universe Joker and only gets by through the intervention of Lex Luthor. Ground Zero builds on her minor role and turns it into a better redemption story.
(Well, sidestepping all the innocent people she’s killed and never reflecting on how icky and statutory her intentions to get with Shazam were.)
Harley led the Joker Clan in hopes to counter Superman’s regime, but what made it work was her bond with her inner circle of goons. Being a henchwoman herself, Harley showed great loyalty to her teammates, even if she insisted on never getting their names right. In return, they became strongly loyal to her as well.
In this expanded story, Joker took over most of the Joker Clan and killed one of Harley’s buddies. Harley finally stood up for herself, broke out of the Joker’s control, and probably broke a lot of other things in the Joker’s body.
She then realized that a Joker-based gang was no longer a good idea, but her inner circle already had her covered. They revealed their new branding as the Harley Horde and took down the rogue Joker Clan members with the help of the local community.
38. HARLEY MEETS THE TRUE SUPERMAN (Ground Zero #23)
The big final plan to stop Injustice Superman was to bring in the mainstream, normal version of Superman to kick his ass. True Superman proceeded to take down Black Adam and Sinestro before silently shaming Yellow Lantern into removing his ring. Then Doomsday tackled him.
In the game, this was a basic one-on-one fight before the Superman vs. Superman finale, but in Ground Zero, Harley chose to enter the fray while popping a couple super pills. She saved Superman and helped him up, surprising him because “Harley Quinn saved Superman from Doomsday” is just a weird phrase to comprehend.
Harley briefly explained her transformation to Superman, but the incoming Doomsday cut their conversation short. Regardless, Superman admitted that seeing Harley turn good took the edge off of seeing himself turn evil and gave him hope for this universe.
After the fact, Harley decided to visit the regular DC Universe to tell her story to the other Harley and maybe convince her to be a better person.
39. ENTER: KILLER BATMAN (Injustice 2 #2)
In a reality where anyone who isn’t in the video games is available for slaughter, it’s rather nice to see Amanda Waller taken down a peg. In the post-Superman world, Waller put together the Suicide Squad, captured Harley, and forced a bomb in her head. Not only did she deserve comeuppance, but she was in a narrative that would fully allow it.
Harley laughed at the fact that someone would kidnap her because of course Batman would look into it. Waller kept defending her decision by saying how thorough they were not to leave clues and how secure the building was, but Harley snickered even more. Batman did finally arrive, but with a twist.
A red-eyed imposter gunned down Waller and Rick Flagg in order to take over the Suicide Squad. We still don’t know who it is, but unless it’s a big red herring, it’s basically Red Hood. It’s always Red Hood.
40. THE PROPOSAL (Injustice 2 #4)
Remember that big thing where Dr. Fate took Black Canary, healed her up, and dropped her off on a planet where she was dead and Green Arrow was alive? Several years later, the two were doing pretty great, all things considered. Fate brought them to the Injustice world and Batman intended to have them help him put society back in working order.
Batman explained to the new Green Arrow that in this world, Ollie was still a billionaire when he died, meaning this alternate Arrow would inherit the wealth. Technically, so would Canary, since they were married. Ollie awkwardly mentioned that he and Canary weren’t actually married, so Canary dropped down to her knee to propose to him again…for the first time.
Green Arrow was a bit anxious over this because Batman was right there, but Batman was nice enough to do his ninja-like vanishing act and left the two lovebirds alone so Arrow could say yes.
41. SUPERMAN’S PERSONAL WARDEN (Injustice 2 #5-6)
A great thing about the Injustice 2 comic is that in terms of telling a story as a prequel, the shoe is on the other foot. The lead-up to the first game meant that Superman could never be defeated for long because of the game’s status quo. With Injustice 2, Superman is still in captivity, so in captivity he will stay. He’s barely in the story at all.
Early in the story, Superman was able to punch his way out of his cell and had a confrontation with Batman. Batman told him to listen to the voice in his head and stop. Batman didn’t so much mean his conscience as he meant the Atom, camped out in Superman’s brain, with a tiny shard of kryptonite in hand. When Superman made a go at Batman, he got brain-stabbed and passed out.
42. HARLEY QUINN’S CONFESSION (Injustice 2 #7)
Harley Quinn got roped into the Suicide Squad, who were working under Ra’s Al Ghul, alongside Poison Ivy, Vixen, and Animal Man. Ra’s decided to push Harley towards his genocidal agenda by holding her secret daughter (remember her?) hostage. Harley responded in badass fashion by beckoning Ra’s over, headbutting his face so hard that his teeth fell out, and angrily telling him that she hopes he has some Lazarus pit mouth wash to fix his smile. Cooler heads did prevail and it led to something that was long overdue.
See, Harley is the anti-Superman in this story. She’s the horrible villain who became a hero. The Max Damage to his Plutonian (look it up if you don’t know). But how are we supposed to be on her side when she stanned for the Joker and helped him wipe out Metropolis?
As Harley finally broke down and admitted, she didn’t think it was a big deal at the time because it was Superman. Of course Joker wouldn’t succeed. They were up against the goddamn Superman. All those people weren’t supposed to die and now she has to live with all this guilt and blood on her hands. As Ra’s best put it, “He didn’t save Metropolis, Miss Quinzel. He didn’t save his wife. He didn’t save his child. And he can’t save you from what you did.”
43. THE DEATH OF TED KORD (Injustice 2 #9-10, #41)
This is ultimately three different scenes, but they’re so damn good that I had to combine them.
The moment Ted Kord Blue Beetle showed up on a cover being chased by Deadshot, in a prequel series to a game where his successor is playable, his death couldn’t have been more obvious if he was wearing an orange, hooded parka with a red Star Trek shirt over it. His time-traveling buddy Booster Gold, nervous and slightly-intoxicated, showed up in his office to let him know that Ted’s time was nearly up and there was nothing either could do about it, but Booster would be there for him in the end.
As foretold, Kord was captured by the Suicide Squad and eventually mauled to death by Orca, under Ra’s Al Ghul’s orders. Booster held Ted’s hand in his final moments, reluctantly accepted the role as Jaime Reyes’ new mentor, and shared one last laugh.
Sometime later, Booster and Jaime were confronted by Ted’s lawyer and a holographic will. The recording of Ted not only put Booster in charge of Kord Industries (while taking a photo of Booster’s immediate reaction), but set aside a special savings account with special instructions that, in time, would amount enough interest that by the era of Booster’s origin, it would buy the museum artifacts that he stole to fashion his superhero costume. Booster would no longer live with the deep-seeded guilt of being a thief.
44. THE RESURRECTION OF ALFRED PENNYWORTH (Injustice 2 #14)
By this point, the argument between Batman and Damian over whether or not killing bad guys is the right call had been done to…uh…death. Injustice 2’s prequel took it to the next level by making it about the morality of undeath. During the wedding of Green Arrow and Black Canary, the League of Assassins dug up the corpse of Alfred Pennyworth. Damian bathed the corpse in the Lazarus pit and brought him back to life, once again feeling that Bruce Wayne simply didn’t go far enough.
For a while, Alfred was comatose, with it being a question of whether he could truly return or if he was too far gone. Seeing a battle between Batman and Damian, he finally came to his senses and even came incredibly close to verbally forcing Batman and Ra’s to figure out a solution to their rivalry without having to bring mass death into it. That…didn’t work out due to Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle screwing things up, but it’s the thought that counts.
Alfred has since remained in Wayne Manor, gradually regaining himself.
45. THE SEARCH FOR PLASTIC MAN AND SON (Injustice 2 #15-16)
To infiltrate Ra’s Al Ghul’s stronghold, Batgirl needed someone powerful with the gift of stealth. With a dramatic build-up that I can’t do justice in describing, she revealed her intention to bring Plastic Man into the fray. Batman went to the home of Plas’ son Offspring and casually saw through every single disguise and attempt to hide while Offspring kept freaking out over and over again until relenting.
Plastic Man and Offspring ultimately agreed to join the other heroes once they realized what they were up against. They flew off in the Batplane with the shape-shifting duo being equally disturbed when Batman admitted that he was spending the flight trying to think of how he’d commit genocide without harming the environment. You know, to figure out Ra’s Al Ghul’s plan.
46. WILDCAT VS. KILLER BATMAN (Injustice 2 #20)
As Harley Quinn rescued several kidnapped children of superheroes, they were stopped by the gun-toting Batman who is almost definitely Jason Todd. He attempted to blow up Harley’s Suicide Squad bomb implant, but it turns out the Atom was in there, disarming it. Wildcat showed up to keep Killer Batman busy as the others left. The two exchanged blows, but the second Wildcat appeared to have an advantage, he got shot in the chest.
“Brought a gun to a fistfight. You ******* coward.”
Despite taking some direct blasts to the chest, Wildcat continued to crawl his way over, refusing to go die. Against Harley’s wishes, young Connor Queen returned to the scene to protect Wildcat via unleashing his very first sonic scream, knocking Probably Jason into a wall. Shocked, Harley jokingly referred to the boy as Green Canary.
47. SUPERGIRL RESCUES WONDER WOMAN (Injustice 2 #31)
One of the Injustice 2 comic subplots centers around Supergirl landing in Khandaq, discovered by Black Adam. Between Adam’s guidance and a flirtatious relationship with Damian, Kara has heard nothing but how awesome her cousin is and how he was captured by the evil monster Batman. While saving Superman will take some doing, she was at least sent on a mission to rescue Wonder Woman from Themyscira.
Keep in mind, Kara had yet to really master being a Kryptonian on Earth. She just figured out the whole flying thing.
Once it was discovered that Kara was out to spring Diana, it led to an Amazon civil war. In the middle of the mayhem, Kara started pulling on Wonder Woman’s prisoner chains despite being told that they were forged by Zeus himself. Wonder Woman had no idea what Kara was all about, so she was certainly surprised when this teenager wrapped the mystical chains around her and flexed hard enough to shatter them.
“How…? These bonds were made to hold gods.”
“I guess it’s lucky I’m not a god.”
48. THE TRAGIC REUNION (Injustice 2 #37)
One of the Annuals once showed that soon after Superman started to get a little nutty, the Teen Titans tried to stop him. Superman gave Superboy a heart wound that would be fatal unless he and the other Titans agreed to be imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. Considering Starfire is a playable character in Injustice 2, Tom Taylor figured it was probably a good idea to go revisit that plotline.
Catwoman had heard about the incident back when she was a member of the Regime and made Batman aware. Naturally, Batman and his allies went to the Fortress of Solitude to free the teen heroes. Plastic Man entered the Phantom Zone, made conversation with Imperiex of all people, and pulled out all of the Teen Titans but Superboy.
Batman and Red Robin were ecstatic to see each other, though Tim Drake was certainly confused by all the time that had passed and the fact that Batgirl was walking again. He offered to fight the good fight alongside Batman as partners once more and Batman happily shook his hand. Batman and Robin together again.
Then General Zod, escaping from the portal, blasted Red Robin through the chest with his heat vision. Just because the post-Injustice world is a more positive one doesn’t mean that the heroes are immune to heartbreaking disaster.
49. BATMAN VS. ZOD VS. AMAZO (Injustice 2 #38-39)
Zod fought off the nearby heroes and robot Superman guards before making his escape. An incredibly pissed off Batman left to seek out a very special anti-Kryptonian weapon he created. Needing a retinal scan, password, and drop of blood to activate, Batman unleashed a badass mech. Zod tackled the robot armor, but that only opened him up to get a face full of green gas.
The same kryptonite fear gas used on Superman.
As Batman and Zod fought, Ra’s Al Ghul watched from a monitor, knowing what kind of threat Zod would be to his plans. He sent the AMAZO android to overpower Zod and snap his neck so hard that Zod’s head twisted completely off.
But hey! Free Kryptonian heart to save Superboy! That’s something!
50. CROC AND ORCA (Injustice 2 #42-43)
Ra’s Al Ghul and the Suicide Squad moved their operations to Gorilla City. While having a meal one day, Captain Boomerang couldn’t help but notice that outside of Deadshot, he was in some definite bizarre company. After all, he was surrounded by talking gorillas, a crocodile man, and a half-man/half-bat creature. Deadshot noticed Orca coming over and joked that things were about to get stranger.
He was right, as Orca came over to tell Croc that she was pregnant before walking away. Croc calmly responded to the bewildered looks of his teammates who didn’t know that the two were an item. Then he slammed Deadshot into a wall after one too many jokes.
Later on, Grodd’s gorilla army went to war with Solovar’s. The Suicide Squad sided with Solovar and during the mayhem, a gorilla tried to sneak up on Orca. Croc bit his head off. The two shared a romantic moment where Croc swore he would bite the heads off of a thousand sentient gorillas for her. Then they made out while Deadshot and Boomerang were all weirded out.
Gavin Jasper wishes they could have figured out a way to bring Scorpion into the comic series. Follow Gavin on Twitter!