Bloody Violence Permeates Injustice When Superman Driven to Kill

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Over the years in comics we've seen various alternate storylines that have explored the DC universe should Superman have held different values other than truth, justice and the American way (which anyone can now say, since there's no trademark on it). We've seen him raised in Communist Russia, seen him raised in Nazi Germany, even seen him raied by African gorillas, all under different Elseworlds titles.

Injustice is a bit different, as it starts with an established DC Universe of Justice League characters. We recognize each of them, as there is no deviation that sets them apart -- until the story starts moving. Superman (Justin Hartley) has just discovered Lois (Laura Bailey) is pregnant. Shortly thereafter, the Joker (Kevin Pollak) comes to Metropolis to wreak havoc, because he's tired of facing Batman all the time and wants to try out his madness on some new heroes. The end result is that he obliterates Metropolis with a nuclear bomb while using kryptonite-infused Scarecrow toxin to make Superman hallucinate Doomsday and beat his wife to death.

The impact on Superman's psyche is soul-shattering. Unable to process the immense grief, he finds the Joker and punches a hole through his chest in front of Batman (Anson Mount). This sets the ball rolling for everything to come, as the world debates whether or not Superman killing Joker was a good thing or a bad thing. Predictably, opinions are evenly split, even among the superheroes, with Batman staunchly on the side of never crossing that line of killing, while Wonder Woman (Janet Varney) backs Superman's play because the Joker was an extreme case who should have been put down permanently years ago.

As Superman begins to take a more hands-on, authoritarian approach to the rest of the world's problems, Batman is forced to go underground with a rag-tag group of heroes ready to oppose Superman should the need arise. And the need is going to arise soon, with hero fighitng hero, sometimes to the death. The story has a broad cast, including much of the Bat-family (with Zach Callison as Robin, Derek Phillips as Nightwing, Gillian Jacobs as Harley Quinn, and Anika Noni Rose as Catwoman) as well as heroes we don't see enough of like Mr. Terrific (Edwin Hodge) and Plastic Man (Oliver Hudson).  The plot is fast-moving and almost every scene has an eye-bulging moment of unbelievable savagery. Unfortunately, the resolution comes from relying once more on the concept of a multiverse, a too-oft-used deus ex machina; but I'll leave it to the viewers to find out just how it gets deployed in this adaptation of the comic book series, which in turn was written to support a videogame.

While I mostly enjoyed the story here, I had a few problems with the art. The animation was solid enough, but far too many of the male faces looked like they had old man jowls; even Batman was given these ugly facial lighs that made it look like his cheeks and chin were fat -- not at all chiseled or streamlined as we've seen in the Timmverse or other DCAU releases.

Speaking of the Timmverse, this Blu-ray release includes the two-part episode of Justice League, "Injustice for All," which sees Lex Luthor form the Injustice Gang. Any time I get to watch an episode of that classic Justice League series is a good time.

3.5 / 5.0