DC's fighting game 'Injustice: Gods Among Us' is quickly approaching and we've been fortunate enough to have an absolutely stellar prequel comic to help build the excitement. If you haven't been following along, writer Tom Taylor is crafting a powerful story about what motivates Superman to rise to power and how everyone around him reacts to the drastic change.
It goes without saying that I'm loving the digital comic (each one has received 5/5 stars from me), so I was thrilled to chat with Taylor about it. Be warned, though.. this interview does contain spoilers for the first few chapters.
Comic Vine: First of all, I just want to say this series continues to impress me every Tuesday. Every character is written amazingly well and there's so much great content packed into so few pages. I've gotta know, though... how long will this digital comic last? Will we get issues up until the game's release and then it'll stop? How many chapters do you have planned? Truth be told, I think this comic deserves to be its own ongoing -- I can't praise it enough.
Tom Taylor: Thank you, and I’m glad you think I’m writing the characters well. I’ve loved all of these heroes for as long as I can remember and I’m writing every hero as I know them. It’s a dream getting this gig. As far as how long we last, we have a long way planned and we’re definitely going longer than the game’s release date. How long probably depends on our fans. I’m in for the long haul. I hope all of you are too.== TEASER ==
CV: Let's jump back to the biggest part we've seen yet -- Lois' death and what that triggered. A lot of people, including myself, were worried that Superman's reason for such a drastic change wouldn't be enough... but wow. Still, quite a few here on Comic Vine stand by the belief that Kal is an incorruptible force of good and nothing would make him lose control -- how would you respond to those concerns?
TT: I understand those concerns completely. Superman IS my hero. There have been things I had to write for this series that were very hard for me, and nothing was as hard as the scene with Lois. I understand people feel that he’s an incorruptible force but I don’t look at any character that one-dimensionally. Superman is the greatest hero ever. He is a shining example of what a hero should be, and his compassion, and his humility, make up a large part of who he is. However, I’d disagree with Superman being a ‘force’ for anything. Why Superman works, and why he is a hero to so many, is that, despite his incredible powers, he is still so human. There is a ‘man’ at the end of that ‘Super’, and we recognize the best of ourselves in him. We are, all of us, prone to mistakes. We are, all of us, one terrible day away from the unthinkable. Superman will not ‘turn evil’ because of what has happened to him. Superman will do what he’s always done when faced with defeat and something that threatens his world, he’ll fight harder.
CV: While we're on the topic of Superman, the video game trailers make it seem like he'll continue to get darker and darker as the story progresses. Would you be able to shed some light on what it's like writing Kal in such an emotionally powerful tale and how you dive into his mind?
TT: One thing I will say is that we do want this to be an emotionally powerful tale. I didn’t want to write a cold, uncaring Superman. Just the opposite. Even if you don’t agree with his actions or the direction he takes, I want his actions to be understandable. As far as putting my hero through the ringer like this, well, that hasn’t been easy. I’ve been in his mind for a very long time. The last thing I want to do is hurt him.
CV: What is the collaboration process like with this digital comic? How much input is NetherRealm Studios or DC providing when it comes to the overall narrative?
TT: There are certain things that have to happen for the game and I’ve read the great script that the NetherRealm people have put together. However, they liked the direction I wanted to take from day one when I handed in the outline, and I’m getting a remarkable amount of freedom on this series. To be honest, outside of my creator-owned series, The Deep, this is probably the most freedom I’ve ever had on any book. This is largely thanks to my editors, Jim Chadwick and Sarah Gaydos, who really believe in this book.
CV: Based on the trailers for the game, it looks like Joker's a big part of the game. Yet here, he's... well, he's apparently dead. Is there anything you can say to tease us about this or do you need to plead the fifth on this one?
TT: I don’t have to say anything to tease you. He’s dead. His chest was torn out. He is sans vital organs. He’s as dead as that puppy he beat with that kitten. He’s also as dead as that kitten. He’s deady-dead dead.
CV: I can't help but feel like Wonder Woman will be the driving force behind Kal taking stronger and stronger actions against humanity. Will she soon play a bigger role in your story?
TT: Wonder Woman is a warrior. She was raised a warrior. She’s an ambassador for peace but she knows full well that sometimes peace must be fought for. I think she may be the strongest character in the DC Universe when it comes to having the courage of her convictions. Her role in the series will become more clear with our Wonder Woman story in chapter #9 - the last chapter in the 3rd printed edition. It’s a stunning chapter to look at too, a one-shot penciled, inked and colored by my friend and fellow Australian, David Yardin.
CV: Have you had the opportunity to play the game yet or at least get all of the details on its campaign? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Which character do you think will be the most fun to use?
TT: I’ve read the game script and it’s fantastic. I think people are going to be very pleasantly surprised. I haven’t yet gotten my hands on the game but I’m really looking forward to it. I do like a good fighting game. I’ll probably mainly play Superman but I’m looking forward to playing as Harley Quinn and Aquaman. A shark attack? Genius. I’ll also probably use… oh wait, you don’t know about them yet.
CV: Will this digital comic be used to confirm any new characters for the video game? After all, I did see Damian Wayne on a solicitation cover...
TT: Yes, a lot of characters will come through the pages of Injustice. We’re working very carefully and closely with NetherRealm to make sure we don’t spoil any of the game’s big announcements. However, just because someone appears in our series, it doesn’t mean they’ll survive it. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t get too attached to anyone.
CV: You now have DC's most iconic characters at your disposal. Is there a specific character you enjoy writing the most? Also, who's the most challenging to write?
TT: Obviously, getting to write Superman has been incredible, despite the circumstances. Aquaman also has a big epic story coming up and getting to write the King of the sea was a lot of fun. I’m really happy with our Wonder Woman one-shot and a Flash one-shot that’s coming. I had a great time writing Green Arrow and Harley Quinn in chapter 5. I love both of those characters. You know what? There is not a single character I’m writing that doesn't have me giggling (probably disturbingly to the outside eye) to myself.
CV: This comic motivated me to make my first comiXology purchase. What would you say to people still on the fence about digital comics?
TT: Do you love comics? Well, there are comics on the internet now. Have you heard of the internet? Get on board. I think it’s going to be big. ;)
CV: How is writing for digital different than writing for traditional comics?
TT: For one, there’s the page to think of in a different way. Each tablet page is essentially half a standard comic page. And then there’s the length.
I absolutely love the ten-page chapter you get with digital-first. It is a challenge, there’s no doubt about it, but I’m trying to make every ten page chapter have as much content as a 20 page comic would. I want everyone who buys the digital comic every Tuesday to feel like they’ve gotten a whole chunk of story, nothing in this series should feel like padding. Every chapter should have highs and lows and humor and action. This requires a certain economy of writing. It’s kind of like Twitter, you only have space for the good bits.
As a playwright, I’ve written a lot of ten minute theatre and musicals. As a screenwriter, I’ve also written ten-minute films. I’m used to writing to a compact format and I do revel in it. I think it’s because I have no attention span and I assume I’m not alone. I want to cater for those who want something happening in every moment.
The only drawback with ten page comics is, for every ten pages, I tend to write about fifteen pages and then edit down.
TT: Not anytime soon but probably.
CV: Will we see the Man of Steel and The Dark Knight go head-to-head? That's always a blast in the right hands.
TT: If you were me, what would you do? Yeah. That’s what I thought.
I think this could definitely be on the cards.
CV: Thanks, Tom!
New digital chapters of INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US are released every Tuesday and a hard copy for issues #4-6 will come out this Wednesday. You can follow Tom Taylor over on Twitter at @TomTaylorMade.
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. This is the part where he shamelessly plugs his Twitter page in hopes of getting a new follower or two.