The Injustice: Gods Among Us comic book title has had an unusual approach from the beginning, not only because of its unorthodox approach to characters like Superman and Batman, but because readers who played the source video game have known all along exactly how the comic book was going to end.
Yet that's also been one of the attractions to the digital-first title, first launched by DC in 2013 as a prequel to the video game. The title was well-received by comic book fans, with sales prompting several sequels over the years. Tom Taylor wrote the early issues, before passing the baton to Brian Buccellato who has written it since 2014.
In the Injustice universe, the Joker drives Superman to a fatal extreme by killing Lois Lane-Kent and the couple's unborn child - an event that happened five years before the start of the game. DC's Injustice: Gods Among Us comic book title has been exploring the five year gap between the Joker event and the start of the game, where Superman rules the Earth with an iron fist.
With this week's final digital chapter, Injustice Gods Among Us: Year Five #40, Buccellato and artist Mike. S Miller catches up with where the video game began. But readers will get more Injustice in a few months, when DC launches a comic book that re-tells the game's story (from Harley Quinn's point of view), and then next year, when Taylor returns to write a prequel to the next Injustice video game.
Newsarama talked to Buccellato about the end of this first surprise hit Injustice comic book, how he was able to find surprise stories even though the ending was already set, and why he thinks the series was so successful.
Newsarama: Brian, as the digital series Injustice Gods Among Us: Year Five wraps up Tuesday, what's it been like to write these last few issues as you lead directly into the video game?
Brian Buccellato: It's been about exploring the characters, as the events come to pass. Everyone knows the broad strokes of how the story leads into the video game story. So for me, it was just about justifying and exploring how all the characters interact within this story that we know is going to happen.
It was an interesting way to write. But for me, it was really about getting behind each individual, and then of course linking up our story that we know happens in the video game.
Nrama: You mentioned characters, and you've really given readers the chance, over the last few issues, to see where a lot of characters are as the video game starts.
Buccellato: Yeah, I tried to touch base with everyone. We knew what Clark wanted, to capture Batman, because it was his final piece to creating his utopian society.
So we now see how all the allies were affected by his decision. Characters like Catwoman and others who were on the regime side - we get some closure on that. We saw why Catwoman crossed over from the insurgence to the regime.
And then we were just able to show how the plan played out - how Batman and Lex were able to get those heroes from one world to the other.
I had a lot of fun with #38, where we got to see the Earth One characters sort of step back into what the world was supposed to be like. That was about juxtaposing a sort of Silver Age version of the Injustice characters, and seeing how life should have been.
Nrama: Looking back, why do you think this series is so popular - because the concept is returning again, not only in comic book form but in an additional video game?
Buccellato: I think there's two big, big reasons. One is that the premise is interesting. You know, you take everything away from Superman in a violent and horrifying way - his unborn child and his wife, and his city - and you see how that affects him, and how that turns him from the character we know and love into this much darker, sort of despot.
I think that sells the story right there. It's really interesting to see who sides with him and who sides with Batman.
And then the other big thing is that Tom Taylor took that concept and he put so much heart into it that, I think the series just took off. He had a great starting point and he hit a grand slam with how he handled the material.
So for me, it was just about grabbing the baton from him and going from there. There was still a lot of story that was left to be told, and a lot of characters to see how this would affect them - some died, some lived, but they're all affected by these choices.
I think it resonated with people because they don't have to read, you know, 20 other books. They don't have to know what's going on in a comic book they don't read. They can just pick this book up and they know where they are.
I don't know. I think that's why it's such a success. I wish I could bottle it, because I would definitely do it again.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell people about the ending this week, or anything you want to tell readers as you leave the series behind?
Buccellato: I'm just glad people liked it. I had a great time working on it. It was one of the most fun things I've done as a writer. It's been a challenge, but at the same time, it's been an incredible thrill.