With Injustice: Gods Among Us, Liam Sharp and co’s Madefire team are facing a challenge as big as the Justice League themselves, transferring iconic characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to their motion book platform. How have they managed with their biggest challenge to date?
Injustice: Gods Among Us is possibly the most digital of digital comics – a DC Comics digital first title, that is a prequel to a hit iOS game, and is now ported onto the Madefire platform and turned into a motion book – it couldn’t be more digital if it tried!
The series begins in an alternative DC universe where Superman has become an conquering dictator and Batman the leader of an insurgency, before tracing back 5 years to give us the back story to this new world. With Lois pregnant, Superman is lured into a trap by the Joker who tricks the Man of Steel into actions which will have epic consequences for this alternative timeline – events that will lead to Superman taking justice into his own hands and pushing the relationship between him and Bruce Wayne/Batman to breaking point (while also setting up the aforementioned Man of Steel dictatorship).
It’s familliar DC story telling which we have seen in other titles (and you will have course have seen if you’d read the Injustice series the first time round), but the tried and tested dynamic between the black and white morals of Superman and the shades of grey of Batman is always great for this kind of epic story telling. By creating an alternate world, it’s a great way for new fans to embrace it without getting bogged down in post-52 timelines, and gives writer Tom Taylor and Jheremy Raapack the chance to play with the big guns of the DC Universe in an exciting and original way.
With the kind of slick gloss you expect from a DC Universe title, Injustice takes a while to elevate itself above your average DC/Justice League adventure, but by the time you get to the world altering events of issue 3 then it begins to really fire on all cylinders bringing in characters from across the DC universe into the kind of world spanning story that they do so well.
Released at the same time as DC and Madefire‘s ground-breaking DC2 Mutliverse title Arkham Origins, Injustice: Gods Among Us has been something of an after thought when compared to it’s more high profile sibling – partly because it is a retread of an exisiting title rather than something new and exciting. As we’ve seen with their other transfers of titles like Hellboy in Hell or IDW’s Star Trek and Transformers, Madefire have become more than just a publisher of original, slightly avant grade, digital comics which use flashy graphics and effects and with Injustice they have continued that great trend establishing themselves as the premier digital publisher on the market.
With Injustice previously formatted for a digital release it was already a landscape book, making it a more natural fit on the iPad and making for a smoother transition. Seeing such iconic characters as Superman and Batman within the Madefire framework is a true delight, with the pages animating together and giving every page a sense of life and motion.
As with all Madefire transfers though there is an element of fitting a round peg in a not so round hole as panels designed for a static page (even one on an iPad screen) will never be as vibrant as those designed specifically for the format. As such Injustice relies heavily on animated panels assembling themselves on the page, which can be over whelming and repetitive when reading for long periods. Because it has been created in a very traditional DC Comics format (albeit in a landscape orientation) it lacks the more dynamic layouts that we saw in Hellboy in Hell and so can also feel a bit flat, especially when compared with the dynamic nature of some of the ground breaking Madefire originals.
The quality is there though and it is still a fantastic read with the Madefire transfer giving the book a pheneomenal sense of action and excitment (and of course an immersive soundtrack as well). As a sign of things to come, the idea of more DC Comics making the move to digital via Madefire is an incredibly exciting one, but as for Injustice: Gods Among Us it just feels a bit too gimmicky.
“Madefire continue their march towards digital comics domination with this superb transfer of DC Comics’ hit digital-first series to the motion book platform. However an over reliance on digital trickery makes it feel more gimmicky than cutting edge.”