“Injustice: Gods Among Us” wasn’t just a highly popular video game. The 2013 fighting game that pitted DC Comics icons against each other in “Mortal Kombat”-esque bloodsport also inspired a tie-in comic book series of the same name, which helped broaden the world of the over-the-top, dark reimagination of the DC Universe where Superman killed millions in Metropolis because he was tricked by The Joker into killing Lois Lane. (We did say it was dark.)
For much of the comic series’ original run, “All-New Wolverine” writer Tom Taylor was at the creative helm, building (and destroying) the alternate universe of “Injustice.” Taylor later stepped away from the series, but he’s back with “Injustice 2” — which, like its predecessor, is a digital-first series and a tie-in to an upcoming game, this one scheduled for release on May 16 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and mobile platforms. For “Injustice 2,” Taylor is joined by the art team of penciler Bruno Redondo, inker Juan Albarran and colorist Rex Lokus.
CBR spoke with Taylor last July at Comic-Con International in San Diego about his return to the franchise, introducing characters like Supergirl and Gorilla Grodd to the narrative, the inherent opportunity to take risks with characters that “Injustice” presents and his own addiction to the original mobile version of the game.
CBR: Tom, what brought you back to “Injustice”? The original series was a big comic in your career — you built momentum and it led to a lot more. You stepped away, and then Brian Buccellato took over as writer, so what’s it like being back?
Tom Taylor: It’s fantastic. As you said, “Injustice,” in a way it was my baby. It was a world that I helped build and a world that I helped destroy, and tear limbs off of people in. I never wanted to leave. I was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in licensed comics. The only reason I had to leave was because I was working on my own TV show [“The Deep”]. As soon as the offer was there, and as soon as “Injustice 2” was coming, it felt like a great fresh start. We were just wrapping on the season of my show, and I’m like, “Yes, I want to be back. I want to be back in that world.”
What can you say about the story of this series? “Injustice” is a world where a lot can happen, obviously, as readers have seen. What are some of the directions you’re looking to go in with this new volume?
What’s great about this is, “Injustice 2” the game is just a sequel. What we’ve crafted is the comics to the first game, and now we’re telling the story that happens between the end of the first game and the start of the second. It’s like we created this giant, multimedia, epic universe. It’s great to be a part of that.
We’re picking up straight after the game ends. Superman’s locked up, and the world is in disarray, and there’s a power vacuum happening, and Batman and groups of other people are trying essentially to repair the world and rebuild, and there are, of course, forces that would like to rebuild it in other ways, or tear it down. It gets very exciting. We’ve got characters like Supergirl showing up, who is fantastic, and has a huge role to play in the game; a huge role in the comic, as well.
There’s a lot of Batman, a lot of Harley Quinn, who will, as always, steal every scene she’s in, because I just love writing her.
Supergirl’s an interesting character for this setting, especially given her relationship with Superman. How does she fit in?
I can’t say too much about how she fits in, except to say what the game has done with her is a little bit different. Obviously, she hasn’t been around so far, so she’s showing up at this point in time, and that’s a really interesting dynamic to show up in. Who she finds herself with, I can’t really talk about, but it leads to a very, very interesting story and she’ll have a huge role.
Are there any other characters you can talk about that are planned, and we haven’t seen in the “Injustice” world yet?
Gorilla Grodd. I love any talking animal — any time I get to write a talking animal, I’m a happy man.
And he’s one of the best!
Exactly! He’s just got such great powers, and he’s such a good villain.
For you as a writer, how much of the fun of this is getting to do crazy things to such famous and revered characters, that you wouldn’t be able to do in any other context? That’s a rare opportunity.
Completely. I’ve had more freedom on this book than I’ve had on any licensed book, ever. They put so much faith in me and trust, that I can continue to shock and disarm people every week.
These are my heroes, as well. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman — these are the [characters] I grew up with. I love these characters. In a way, I don’t want to do this stuff to them. [Laughs]
That’s right! I think part of the reason it works so well is you’re seeing a writer who doesn’t want to torture his heroes as much as he is — but knows exactly how to do it, because I know them so well.
The original run of “Injustice” comic book was maybe a longer-term story than people were expecting. Do you continue to have long-term plans going forward with “Injustice 2”?
Absolutely. It’s slightly grey, but there’s at least a couple of years between the end of the first game and this one. We’ve got a large point in time where we can throw a really good, meaty story that will affect what happens there. We have plot points that we know coming up in the game that will inform, as well. But the idea we have for the comic currently, we obviously can’t talk about, but it’s great, and we’re all very excited.
Are you a game player yourself? The first “Injustice” on the iPad is one of the only mobile games I ever really played — and I played it quite a bit.
I understand — it’s such an addictive game. I had it on my phone; obviously I had it on my PlayStation as well, but on my phone, I was constantly grinding, just to get the next card, y’know. Some of the characters are just fantastic. I mean, who doesn’t want to feed a close friend to a shark? That’s the joy of “Injustice.”
I don’t game too much, because if I let myself game as much as I want to, I wouldn’t write anything.
The first chapter of “Injustice 2” is now on sale via comiXology and other digital platforms. “Injustice 2” #1 is scheduled for release in print on May 3.