Injustice: Gods Among Us, the comic book tie-in to the upcoming video game with the same name, was first brought to my attention on the Word Balloon podcast, where, in all honesty, it sounded pretty good. Host John Siuntres is an old-school DC fan, so when he gets ebullient about a DC Superhero story, my ears perk up. Writer Tom Taylor was the guest and Taylor sounded genuinely excited about the amount of leeway he'd been given, to play with the biggest stars of the DCU outside of regular continuity. In retrospect, this freedom was probably a bad idea.
Chris Sims, who does great work over at Comics Alliance, drew my attention to the comic in a different way, through the masochistic joy he gets in finding the worst of the worst comic books. He took a look at the first few issues of Injustice, and declared it "the dumbest comic you'll read all year." He mentioned a few specific plot points, most of them idiotic, and the most offensive of these bits takes place in issue #3 - a comic that finds Superman punching his pregnant wife so hard that it kills her and sends her flying into space. Sure, he's hallucinating that Lois Lane is Doomsday, but the event still happens. Sims has a pretty thorough critical breakdown of the series, so I'm not going to do that here, but I am going to pound the stump, pull up a soapbox, and cry in the streets to anyone who will listen that DC Comics allowing Superman to punch Lois Lane and his unborn child to death is easily one of the stupidest things that the company has ever allowed in its long, long history.
And somewhere, some editor (Jim Chadwick, editor of Injustice?) is wringing his hands with glee, thinking, "This is exactly why we allowed it! We want to get people talking about comics!" Well, that's all fine and good, but how about we do it without resorting to the most pure fictional symbol of Truth, Justice, and the American Way slugging a woman in the gut so hard that she leaves the Earth's atmosphere? There's a lot of discussion about sexism in comics and video games, and hooray - DC gets to be a part of that discussion now, on the totally wrong side of it, by promoting their upcoming video game with a story that, and I can not understate this, hinges on Superman beating a woman to death.
The death of another Robin just got a bunch of press, but for whatever reason, this Lois Lane death isn't getting talked about. I understand that it's "just" a video game comic, and therefore has no bearing on the "real" DC Universe, but we're still talking about a comic book product that DC published starring their flagship characters, and geared specifically toward non-comic readers. They are asking for an audience outside of their usual buyers, and with Injustice specifically, they seem to be courting the video game audience by giving them what they think that audience wants, namely extreme moments of shock value violence. They want to show the Mortal Kombat crowd how awesome and dark Superman can be by having him be a woman-punching baby-killer.
First of all, this is insulting to video game fans because the assumption is they're all immature, bloodthirsty, and desensitized. It's insulting to comic book readers because - while it's all fine and good to tell a story outside of continuity - there are certain things you just don't do with the characters. I would say that Superman beating women to death, hallucination or not, is so beyond what people expect of Superman in an all-ages comic that all may be lost with DC's new editorial regime. If there's one thing they should care about, it's the sanctity of their individual properties. If they don't care about that, then they really shouldn't be safeguarding these characters. Thirdly, and it's the point I shouldn't have to make, it's especially troubling to female readers. There's a conversation going on right now about the marginalization of female geeks that can not be ignored. Injustice #3 does its best to ignore that conversation, and reinforces DC as an ignorant company that doesn't understand why decisions like this would offend anyone. It's an all-around stupid creative decision, and they should be called out for it. If DC can't even comprehend why Superman beating ladies to death is wrong, then it's time for a complete housecleaning at the top of the creative chain.