Interview: Injustice: Gods Among Us comic writer Brian Buccellato on the end of the series

In 2013, in conjunction with the fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us, DC Comics launched an ongoing comic of the same name to serve as a prequel to the game's story. With the comic now coming to a close, and the hardcover collection Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Five: Volume 1 (the first of three) hitting bookstores, we sat down with writer Brian Buccellato (Detective Comics, The Flash) to talk about what it was like to write this series, and whether he'll be involved with the new one DC Comics are launching in conjunction with the game's sequel, 2017's Injustice 2.

GameCrate: Obviously, if you're writing a regular comic with Superman, Batman, and the rest of the Super Friends, you have conversations with DC Comics to make sure you're not doing something that conflicts with whatever's being done in Batman's own comics, etc. But in writing the Injustice: Gods Among Us comics, did you also have to consult with the developers of the game, NetherRealm? Or did they leave you alone?

Brian Buccellato: Actually, there was no conflict with the main DC books at all because Injustice is a completely different and self-contained universe. So when folks die in our world, they stay dead.

As far as working with NetherRealm, there were definitely some loose parameters that we needed to follow so as not to conflict with Injustice 2. But, again, the Injustice comic was unique in that it took place in the five years between the incident that incited the game's story and the beginning of the game.

GC: Were there any instances where you wanted to do something and either DC or NetherRealm were like, "No, you can't do that...and we can't tell you why"?

BB: Nothing as dramatic as that. Though there have been a few characters that I wanted to write into the comic that I had to pull back on because they are in Injustice 2.

GC: You starting working on this series towards the middle of Year Three, taking over for original writer Tom Taylor. When you started, how familiar were you with the game and with the earlier comics?

BB: I was familiar with both. I had read Tom's first collection and loved it, and I had bought the game for my son when it came out. We had a few Injustice game nights the year it came out. I remember that I hated fighting Aquaman because I felt his reach was too long with that damned trident.

GC: Yeah, Aquaman sucks. At the time you took it on, what made you interested in doing a comic that was a prequel to a game that had already come out?

BB: It was a chance to write virtually every character in the DC universe. I had decent sized runs on Flash and Detective Comics but, at that time, hadn't had the opportunity to work on Superman, Wonder Woman, or some of the other iconic characters. For me, saying yes was a no-brainer because it allowed me the chance to work with everyone...even Damian, who is a big ole jerk in this universe.

GC: Did you know when you started that the plan was to end this series with Year Five?

BB: Absolutely. That was always the plan because the book fills that five-year gap I mentioned earlier.

But I never viewed it as a bad thing. Knowing the parameters is super helpful when planning and plotting. That said, it was sad to see the story end. I enjoyed every minute of my time with the characters, even knowing full well how the story was going to end.

GC: How difficult was it to make sure that everything you'd written, and what Tom Taylor had done, would ultimately lead right up to the beginning of the Injustice: Gods Among Us game?

BB: It was definitely a challenge. There were a lot of moving pieces in the story across the five years. When I started the gig, I loosely outlined what each year would focus on, so that helped. And in the end, (Editor) Jim Chadwick and I did our best to make sure that all of the threads of our book were sewed up by the end of our run.

GC: While this comic series is ending, there's a new game due out next year, Injustice 2. My understanding is that the Injustice 2 comic is going to be written by Tom Taylor. Not to sound like your mom or anything, but why aren't you writing it?

BB: Personally, I'm glad that Tom is writing the book. He only left because he was so busy that he couldn't continue. He loves this universe, he set the tone for the series, and he is going to absolutely kill it. I can't wait to read it.

Also, because of a writing fellowship I won, I had to drop out of Injustice: Ground Zero {a comic that retells the story from the Injustice: Gods Among Us game from the perspective of Harley Quinn}, which is out now, so I know what it's like to quit something you love doing. Fortunately, Chris Sebela has been handed the baton and he is killing it on the Ground Zero series. 

GC: So how often, when you were talking to the NetherRealm people about what you could and could not do in the Injustice: Gods Among Us comics, did you ask if they needed help writing Injustice 2?

BB: Honestly, I might have had only one or two conversations with them. But from what I've heard, they really like the comic and use the continuity we established in the sequel. That's pretty cool.

GC: Finally, if you could write a comic based on any other video game, just not one that's based on a comic book, which would you want to write, what would it be about, and where in the game's story would it take place?

BB: Hmm, I'd probably want to write a GoldenEye comic. I love James Bond and loved that game when it came out. That or an NBA Jam comic. Or maybe a Contra comic….

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Five: Volume 1 is out in hardcover now. Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Five: Volume 2 will be out in February.

Injustice 2 will be out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android in 2017.