Gods Among Us

Posted: February 8, 2013 in On Comics
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“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.” – George Bernard Shaw

Since we seem to be tackling the reoccurring themes of death and despair in this class, I decided to continue the tradition along with my latest comic book series, as well as continue the saga of continuities with “evil” Supermen. Injustice: Gods Among Us is a prequel comic book to a video game that’s coming out in April (wow, how much nerdier can I get up in here?), but despite being a vessel to deliver a story to a video game, it holds no less weight than its predecessors.

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So, what’s happening this time?

The Justice League are all going about their respective businesses, and Superman has just discovered something amazing – his super-powered hearing picks up two heartbeats coming from the love of his life, Lois Lane. Supes is going to be a daddy! Thrilled, he confides in Batman and asks him to be the godfather (awww), actually making Bats crack a smile. This happiness is fleeting at best, because unfortunately for Metropolis (the fictional city that Superman lives in / protects), the Joker has come to town. Supes’s best friend, Jimmy Olsen, is gunned down while taking pictures for a job (at the newspaper), and Lois Lane is kidnapped. Needless to say, the Justice League doesn’t take this lightly. Through some crazy combination of convoluted planning, the Joker uses the Scarecrow’s (another Batman villain) fear toxin, a chemical agent that makes people see their worst fears become life, and infuses it with Kryptonite. When Superman swoops in to Lois Lane’s rescue, the Joker blasts him with the fear toxin, making him actually believe Lois Lane is his most formidable enemy. Supes carries who he believes to be his enemy out into space in order to protect Lois Lane, and in a Joker-like twist, he is actually the cause of her demise.. and the death of his unborn child.

Adding another layer to the sheer ridiculousness, the Joker has hidden a nuke somewhere in Metropolis: one that’s wired to go off when Lois Lane’s heartbeat stops. In the blink of an eye, the Joker takes Superman’s family and his city away from him. Why? “Because it was easy.” Needless to say, Superman doesn’t take as much lenience with the Joker as Batsy has. After putting his fist through the Joker’s heart, Superman decides he has had enough of pretending to be on a level playing field with mankind and tolerating their misbehavior. Enlisting the help of the Justice League (with the exception of Batman), Superman forms.. wait for it.. a totalitarian world police force! I know, it seems like I’m going all Red Son on you. Just wait, it gets better.

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And this is literature why..?

Obviously, Supes’s decision doesn’t run well with everyone. Heroes like Wonder Woman (who herself is Amazonian, not human) obviously side with Supes, believing mankind to be inferior and unable to police themselves. Heroes like Bats, Cyborg, and the Flash however cannot condone Superman’s actions. Oh shit, we’re gonna go all Civil War on you here! Superman and his totalitarian forces VS. Batman and his resistance (similar to the anarchist Batman in Red Son). Since this practically is Civil War, we can pull the same themes from it: betrayal, paranoia, and a blurred line between right and wrong. Superman’s methods are strict and unfeeling, but his reasoning is justified: people like The Joker have been allowed to hurt others for far too long under the watch of people like Batman. The man is wrecked with grief: he was forced to kill his unborn child and his wife. No one could ever recover from that, not even a Man of Steel. Here’s another huge theme in Injustice: loss. The split between the Justice League causes friends to lose friends, and the entire story is driven by Superman’s being unable to cope with his loss. But it’s not exclusive to heroes: Harley Quinn loses the love of her life when Superman plows his fist right through the Joker’s chest. Have you ever seen Superman sport 5 o’clock shadow? It’s not pretty.

Also like the Civil War, since the lines between good and evil are blurred, so are the lines between friend and foe. Did you ever think you’d see Batman and Lex Luthor fighting side by side? How about Batman and Harley Quinn? This is much more than another Civil War grab, this is different. Superman has justification for what he is doing, but Batman refuses to step down from his ideals. Young adults are constantly having to fight for their respective beliefs against naysayers, and sometimes it feels like we really are up against Superman. Death, loss, betrayal, confusion, “cliques” (heroes and villains, anyone?), beliefs.. are these not the exact themes we have encountered in our other readings?

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The Verdict? (to be continued!)

As of right now, the Injustice comic arc is still continuing. We have not reached a conclusion to our story, and most likely won’t until April when the Injustice video game actually comes out (fun fact for any video game fans among us, Injustice is a fighting game made by the producers of Mortal Kombat). Regardless of this, I absolutely love Injustice. It takes the quintessential “evil Superman” line we’ve seen before, but gives a reason for it we can relate to. Most of us can’t relate to being crusaders for Socialism.. but we can all relate to the loss of a loved one. Imagine if you were the reason for that loss.. what would you be driven to do?

Si vis pacem, para bellum

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