Spoilers aheead for this week's Injustice 2 Chapter 2.
The explosive ending to this week's second digital chapter of Injustice 2 proves that writer Tom Taylor is back, blurring the lines between heroes and villains - just like he did in the first Injustice.
DC's digital chapters of Injustice 2 are released on each Tuesday, with chapters later gathered for print. The title tells the story of what happened between the popular 2013 video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and what players will see in its sequel Injustice 2, which is scheduled for release May 16. Taylor had previously written the first Injustice title, which was a prequel to the first video game.
In last week's Injustice 2 Chapter 1, this alternate universe's version of the Suicide Squad had kidnapped now-Batman-ally Harley Quinn. But in this week's Chapter 2, Batman comes to (apparently) rescue Harley and bursts through the door with guns in hand. By the end of the issue, he's killed two characters and has the rest at gunpoint.
It's a shocking turn of events for the world of Injustice, in which even Superman wasn't killed for his crimes as a murderous High Counselor. (In fact, he was shown in prison in Injustice 2 Chapter 1, still believing his actions were justified).
Newsarama talked to Taylor to find out more about this week's surprise ending and what's coming up next in the digital-first comic book.
Newsarama: Tom, you don't back away from shocking readers, do you?
Tom Taylor: Nope. I used to juggle knives over my wife for a living. I believe in the power of shocks.
Nrama: This week's chapter ended with Batman holding guns and - it appears - killing Amanda Waller and Rick Flagg. And he's got the rest of the Suicide Squad at gunpoint. When the first Injustice ended, Batman told Superman that there'd been "enough killing." Has he changed his mind? Can you explain what just happened?
Taylor: It’s right there on the page. Batman just shot two (very well-known) people in the head. I can’t explain it any more than that. Something’s off with the guy.
Nrama: From what we've seen of the Injustice 2 game, at least a couple of these Suicide Squad members survive (and appear to be playable). So I assume we'll see more of this awesome Suicide Squad you've created, even though it looks like some of them might have just died?
Taylor: I’m not going to lie. There are a few more deaths to come. But there will still be a larger roster remaining in the end.
Nrama: You said "something's off" with Batman. Can you say anything about what we should expect from Batman in coming chapters?
Taylor: Not much I can say really. But certainly more shocks.
Nrama: At the center of the first two chapters is Harley Quinn, who was a fan-favorite character from your last Injustice run. Does Harley continue to play a role as Batman's ally (and maybe even his Robin)?
Taylor: She is heading off on her own journey for a while, one that involves the Suicide Squad and some big villains. But I hope they’ll be reunited eventually
Nrama: Harley's character lends itself to a lot of humor, which is obviously still part of this comic, as evidenced by the first couple chapters. Is it important to utilize humor in the world of Injustice, with all the death and darkness?
Taylor: Absolutely. I don’t think this series would be as successful as it is without the humor. Whenever I see panels shared on social media, it’s almost always the moments of absurdity and humor. Honestly, I couldn’t write the kind of grim and gritty events of Injustice without adding strong character moments and levity to balance it. I’d get bored, and angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m bored and angry.
Nrama: I don't think I would if you juggle knives! One thing we haven't seen yet is Supergirl, even though she's been in the trailers and marketing for the game. What is this Supergirl like? Does she evolve into the game version?
Taylor: We’ll see Supergirl around Chapter 12. Her origin will be told, and fans will learn who she first encounters.
She absolutely evolves into the game version, and that evolution is at the heart of our story for her. Who she’s influenced by, who she herself influences, all of this is explored here.
She has a beautiful soul, and its hard for her honesty and hope not to rub off on the most unlikely people. There’s one relationship in particular which I’m really enjoying writing. It’s with a character I never expected to warm to, but Kara’s influence on him has changed my view too.
Nrama: Superman still plays a part in the title (we already saw him, though still imprisoned). What's Superman like now? He seems to still believe he was right, but has he changed because of defeat?
Taylor: He’s the same man we saw in our series. He’s done terrible things. He knows he has. I’m sure he feels guilty for a number of his actions. But, deep down, he also believes he’s the right man to save the world.
Nrama: The title has also highlighted Doctor Fate, as well as Black Canary, Green Arrow and their son Conner. Are these key characters at this stage in the comic (and why them)?
Taylor: The death of Ollie in Injustice: Year One, and Dinah’s vengeance in Injustice: Year Two steered so much of my early work in this book.
I’ve always loved the characters and, in the first game, they were both supposed to have died. This is something I couldn’t quite handle, especially after what I’d had to do to Lois and Clark.
I used Doctor Fate as my own voice in the final acts of Year Two. His actions were really my own as he worked against Fate itself to save both of them and their child. Bringing them back here, and having NetherRealm use what we wrote and bring the same story into the game, was a big buzz. They’re the down-to-earth heroes we need.
Nrama: What other characters will be getting the spotlight in future issues? Anything you can tell us about the different types of characters we'll see and how this world has shaped who they are now?
Taylor: Almost every living character is up for grabs. There will be some big surprises along the way. The cast so far is huge, and I’m getting to play with some beloved characters for the first time.
Nrama: Such as…?
Taylor: As a tease, we will see characters like Ted Kord, the original Blue Beetle, and Steel.
Nrama: Very fun. Let's talk about the story overall. There was a lot of room for story in the prequel for the first game. Do you feel like you've got a similar amount of room and freedom for this title, or is it different this time around?
Taylor: I’ve always enjoyed a huge amount of freedom on this series and this is just as true in Injustice 2. In a way, I may have even more freedom this time. The time between the two games isn’t so fixed, and the events between are a little more vague.
When the game starts, we see the alliances established, but we don’t know how these came about. We’re telling whole stories between. We’re telling the rise and fall of big characters who won’t even appear in the game, but we hope these stories will make the game richer.
Nrama: What's it been like reuniting with Bruno Redondo for Injustice 2?
Taylor: Take a look at this week’s chapter. That’s what it’s like. Bruno’s a good friend and he just gets me. As a former theater director, actor and writer, I can’t tell you how good it is to work with Bruno again. Having Bruno in our corner is like having an entire dream cast of ensemble actors.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Injustice 2?
Taylor: We have a lot of shocks to come. But I promise we also have a few moments where you can catch your breath. Just hold your breath until around chapter 16 or so…