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DC Universe's Injustice series and its weird, wild backstory

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NetherRealm and Warner Bros.’ Injustice 2 makes its way into the hands of gamers and comics fans today. The sequel to the 2013 hit Injustice: Gods Among Us takes place in an alternate world where the Joker tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane, so Superman murders him and becomes a fascist dictator — and things only get wilder from there.

If all of that sounds ridiculous, that’s because ... yeah, it is. Luckily, we’ve got a handy recap of all the power players in this relatively new universe. Here, it’s divided into three sections: the five years between the game’s prologue and Injustice: Gods Among Us; the major events of the original game itself; and the gap between it and Injustice 2.

Pre-Gods Among Us

Our story begins, as previously mentioned, with the Joker duping Superman into killing Lois Lane. The Clown Prince of Crime uses Scarecrow’s fear toxin, combined with kryptonite, to gas the Man of Steel into thinking that Lois is Doomsday, and the ensuing fistfight takes the two to space. Superman snaps out of his fear haze only to realize that he’s just beaten his own wife to death. To make matters worse, this was only days after discovering that she was pregnant with their child. To make matters even worse, the Joker has also rigged a nuclear device to destroy Metropolis when Lois’ heartbeat stops. Enraged, Superman bursts into Gotham’s prison and puts his arm through Joker’s chest right in front of Batman’s eyes. The loss of his family and city spurs him to save the world from itself, revealing his identity as Clark Kent and ordering the world’s leaders to all lay down their arms before he forces them to do so the hard way.

Naturally, this causes a division among the superhero community. Most of the Justice League sides with Superman, while Batman becomes convinced that this can lead to no good. Aquaman doesn’t heed his friend’s ceasefire, declaring that he rules the seas and Superman can have the surface world. So, Superman, Shazam, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern literally lift Atlantis out from the Mediterranean and drop it in the Sahara, to force the Atlanteans to bow to his rule.

Clark and Bruce’s relationship becomes even more strained when Damian Wayne (Batman’s only biological child and current Robin) accidentally kills Dick Grayson (the first Robin and Nightwing) with a rock, while dealing with an inmate uprising at Arkham Asylum. Batman blames Damian for Dick’s death and Clark takes Damian under his wing. Shortly after that, Lex Luthor, having survived the destruction of Metropolis, also becomes an ally of Superman’s.

Also, Superman tweets that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Everyone notices.

Batman tries multiple times to bring down Superman’s regime, using the Martian Manhunter to infiltrate the group (he’s shapeshifted into the guise of Hawkgirl) and infiltrating the Fortress of Solitude to steal the super-soldier pills Luthor was working on for Clark. Neither work: Manhunter is outed as a mole before long and killed by Superman, and Clark arrives at the Fortress and beats Green Arrow to death, though Oliver is able to get one of the super-pills to Batman’s team before dying.

Batman is able to synthesize the pill for others to use, and Alfred uses the pill Green Arrow stole to beat up Superman before he and Bruce escape by teleporting. The super-pills are eventually replicated and used by Black Canary, who takes one herself, and Oracle and her Birds of Prey, who give pills to Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock of the Gotham City police in hopes of forming a resistance within Gotham. Harley Quinn later joins Batman’s Insurgency, bonding with Canary after learning that the latter is pregnant with Green Arrow’s son, Connor.

As year two of Superman’s reign begins, news of the chaos on Earth reaches the cosmos, drawing the attention of Sinestro and his Yellow Lantern Corps. Seeing the war as a chance to gain new members for his fear-based Corps, Sinestro kills Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and arrives on Earth to offer his help to the Regime. Once the Green Lanterns arrive on Earth to take down Superman, a war between them, the Regime, and the Yellow Corps ensues, with Gordon’s superpowered GCPD officers joining the fight as well. It’s at this point that Lex Luthor offers to become a mole for Batman’s Insurgency within the Regime.

A lot of characters die during this war, and Hal Jordan trades in his green ring for a yellow one. Black Canary is saved from death by Doctor Fate, and teleported to an alternate universe where she can live with her son and that universe’s Oliver, who’d already lost the Canary of his world, in peace.

Injustice year three takes us into the realm of magic. Batman turns to paranormal detective John Constantine, who sells out Raven of the Teen Titans to her demonic father, Trigon, in the hopes that the demon lord will be able to kill the Man of Steel, who has a weakness to magic. Batman and Constantine manage to capture Raven, and later assemble a team of powerful magic wielders. The pair also go to Swamp Thing in the hopes of bringing him and his ability to see the world through plants to their side, but he refuses their offer. Still, Constantine is able to summon Trigon during a battle against Superman and his team, duping him into thinking that Superman has kidnapped Raven.

Unfortunately, the reality-warping villain Mr. Myxzptlk comes to Superman’s aid and protects him from the demon lord. The fight takes both Superman and Batman’s sides back to Swamp Thing’s domain, where they fight yet again. Wonder Woman kills the Huntress during the fight, Raven is recovered by the Regime, and Swamp Thing is trapped in Hell after Trigon and Myxzptlk accidentally distort reality. With the help of Doctor Fate, Shazam is able to teleport the two magic users away to another dimension and restore their world. With everything back to relative normalcy and Trigon off the board, Constantine vanishes.

In year four, the Insurgents are in a bad way. Several are growing disillusioned with Batman’s decisions, especially after Huntress’ death. Fueled by grief and rage, Renee Montoya takes a stash of super-pills and challenges Superman to a fight, only to die from an overdose before she can kill him. During this time, Wonder Woman’s longtime foe Ares instigates a fight between the Regime, the Insurgency, and the Greek Gods, promising Batman an Amazon army to fight Superman’s forces. The three factions battle, and as a result, the Gods outlaw all other religions and declare themselves as the authority on Earth. That, of course, doesn’t go over well with the Man of Steel, who convinces Poseidon to help him turn the tide of battle.

DC Comics

After learning that Ares was working with the alien tyrant Darkseid to cause war on Earth, Superman makes a beeline for the planet of Apokolips and fights him. Superman only decides to let Darkseid live with the promise that if he meddles in Earth’s affairs again, Superman will kill him. Thanks to Batman, the alien race of the New Gods also get caught up in the fight. Their Highfather and Zeus talk it out and agree to end this war — because ruling over a dead world is no fun. Upon returning to Earth, Superman learns the world’s governments tried to betray his forces while he was away, and declares himself the High Councillor of the planet. He also dumps Ares on Apokolips for Darkseid to do whatever he wants with, and reiterates that if he sees either of them again, they’ll both be dead.

Year five of Injustice kicks off with Superman’s Regime hunting down escaped supervillains. Having escaped, a group of the Flash’s villains known as the Rogues ally themselves with the Insurgents, despite the reservations that Batman’s friends have about them. Meanwhile, a clone that Luthor made of Superman, who escaped the year prior, winds up in Germany and is taken in by an old man who thinks the clone actually is the Man of Steel. Said clone, later dubbed Bizarro, winds up in the path of the Rogues, killing two of them. When Luthor learns of Bizarro’s continued existence, he uses a reprogrammed Doomsday to kill Bizarro and keep his involvement in the clone’s creation a secret from Superman.

Having become increasingly unsettled by Superman’s behavior over the years, members of the public have formed a movement in full support of the late Joker. Batwoman and Harley have both been keeping tabs on the situation, and Harley manages to convince the group to get organized with the Insurgency, so they can at least protest the right way. Sadly, Superman has also discovered the movement’s existence and murders them all in their hideout.

With video proof of Superman murdering the Joker supporters, Batman, Batgirl, and Batwoman attack Cyborg and attempt to use his implants to publicly upload the footage so the public can see the Man of Steel’s true colors. But Raven manages to use magic to block the transmission just in time, cementing herself as a full-time member of the Regime.

DC Comics

Yeah, so ... all of this is pretty freaking crazy, right? The comics have been telling an ongoing story since the original Injustice game’s release in 2013, and it’s a lot.

But take a deep breath, because we’re almost done. We’ve almost reached the events of the game itself, which, yes, take place after the comic series that’s been running since the game came out.

Desperate for a win against the Regime, Batman consults Luthor and learns that he’s been monitoring the exploits of a Justice League from another universe, one where the Joker’s plan failed. Luthor’s been siphoning the runoff from the Flash’s energy to create a device powerful enough to make a portal to this other Earth, but he needs a Mother Box, an Apokoliptian teleportation device, for the plan to work. Batman recruits the assassin Deathstroke to steal the Box, and while he doesn’t get the Box himself, he does upload the schematics to Batman and Luthor so they can make one of their own. Meanwhile, Catwoman goes to Superman and gives up Batman’s location in the hopes that Bruce won’t be harmed.

Before the Good Justice League is pulled from their Good Universe, we see what they were up to and how their universe is different. Bruce and the Batfamily celebrate Alfred’s 75th birthday, Clark and Lois reveal that they’re pregnant, and all is well. Or it would be, if it weren’t for the fact that a gang of supervillains have attacked the Watchtower and the Joker is planning on detonating a nuke in Metropolis. It’s here, during this scuffle, where our story for Injustice: Gods Among Us begins proper.

Injustice: Gods Among Us — the game

The Insurgent Batman brings over the Good Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Flash, Aquaman, and Green Lantern. Good Batman and Joker end up in this alternate universe as well, the former captured and sent to Stryker’s Island. The Good League meet with Insurgent Batman and learn of the world’s situation, where he tells them he needs their DNA to unlock a Kryptonite weapon that can defeat Superman, since their counterparts are evil and part of the Regime (or in Ollie’s case, dead). The Insurgents break into Stryker’s Island to rescue the Good Batman, where they fight and defeat Damian.

Luthor outs himself as a traitor to Superman and uses the Kryptonite weapon on him. Shazam gets in between them and Luthor is killed as a result. Unfortunately for Superman, everyone saw him kill Luthor, and it causes him to have a full breakdown. Fueled by rage, he decides to destroy Gotham and Metropolis so the world would know what it would be like without him. When Shazam expresses doubts about the plan, Superman burns a hole in his head. Ouch. Finally fed up with everything, Flash defects to join the Insurgents and inform them of the evil Superman’s plan. To help them, the Insurgents decide to bring the Good Superman over to their world in the hopes that he can beat his counterpart.

Good Wonder Woman fights her counterpart to stop the Amazons from invading Metropolis and convinces them to switch sides. At the same time, both Batmen manage to get the Good Superman to fight and defeat his evil counterpart. The Regime is dismantled, and its members are jailed to face public trials. The Good Justice League and “good” Joker return to their world, with the alternate Batman declaring that if the other world’s Superman goes as evil as his, there’ll be hell to pay. All is well.

DC Comics

Prologue to Injustice 2

Except yeah, no, that’s definitely not the case. While Superman is in prison rotting away, it falls to Batman to undo all that he’s done. Luthor has, for his part, posthumously granted Bruce access to his vast fortune to help set the world right, along with a list of candidates to help him do so. Harley offers her help in restoring things, but she’s immediately captured by Amanda Waller, under orders from the U.S. government, and forced into the Suicide Squad.

It’s at this moment that a guy wearing a Batman costume (complete with a red bat) comes to rescue Harley, taking command of the Suicide Squad and blowing up the members that he deems useless. The imposter takes the rest of the Squad with him and kicks the crap out of the real Batman. Oliver and Dinah, informed by Dr. Fate of Superman’s defeat, leave their peaceful alternate universe life to help Batman bring down the impostor. Unfortunately for them, it’s at that moment that someone cuts power to the prison that Superman’s held in, and the Man of Steel begins his process of trying to escape.

What happens after that point is up in the air, as the Injustice 2 prologue comic has yet to wrap. (Superman, however, will still be behind bars as the game opens.) But we do know a few things that’ll happen to line up with the game’s actual story. Jaime Reyes will become the Blue Beetle and get recruited into Batman’s team alongside Firestorm. Hal Jordan will be rehabilitated by the Guardians and given another green ring. The Flash will attempt to redeem himself as a hero. Deadshot and Captain Cold will both leave the imposter Batman’s hold and join Gorilla Grodd’s Society of Supervillains alongside other bad guys. Black Adam uses his home country of Khandaq as a refuge for the remnants of the Regime. Swamp Thing comes back from Hell to protect all plant life from the oncoming war. And finally, Supergirl will come to Earth in the hopes of getting her cousin’s help in dealing with Brainiac, who’s discovered that he didn’t wipe out Krypton completely and is coming to Earth to finish the job.

And that’s what you need to know going into Injustice 2. Lots of punches, lots of dying, lots of parallel Earth nonsense — all in the name of setting up 1v1 punch outs between your childhood heroes.

Justin is a Kansas City, Missouri freelance writer and is on Twitter often, @GigawattConduit. He also is an avid lover of M&M McFlurries from McDonald’s, and accepts that he has an addiction to them.


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