WARNING: This Article Contains Spoilers for Injustice 2 #39 & #40
Comics readers were stunned last week when it seemed that Batman had broken his infamous code against taking a life. The incident occurred in an issue of Injustice 2 - a comic book series based on the video game of the same name.
The Injustice series is set in a reality where The Joker, in his efforts to prove that "one bad day" could tarnish even the most sterling of souls, successfully pushed Superman over the edge with a scheme that ended with the destruction of Metropolis and the deaths of Lois Lane and Superman's unborn child. The Joker died for his efforts and over the course of five years Superman began to sink deeper and deeper into fascism in his efforts to build a better world. The Injustice 2 comics series is set between the events of the video games Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2 and details the efforts of Batman and his allies in the new Justice League Task Force to rebuild society following the collapse of Superman's Regime.
Related: 15 Times Batman Has Killed People
Batman's attempt at murder came after he received the news that his ally Ted Grant (a.k.a. the vigilante Wildcat) was in an irreversible coma due to the injuries acquired during their most recent mission. Apologizing for what he was about to do, Batman pulled the plug on Ted Grant in the final pages of Injustice 2 #39. As Injustice #40 opens, Batman is still standing the death-watch as Ted Grant's heart fails, fighting to prevent the hospital staff from reviving him.
Unsurprisingly, there was a method to Batman's apparent madness, as Ted Grant awoke in seemingly perfect health moments after his heart stopped. Batman once again apologized for having to take one of Grant's "nine lives" but explained that he needed knowledge only Ted Grant had - the location of the greatest surgeon in the world, Charles McNider. Grant knew this because McNider, in addition to being one of Wildcat's oldest friends, was also once the superhero Doctor Mid-nite and his enhanced senses made him the only person capable of performing a revolutionary and difficult surgery on a fatally wounded Superboy, who had been trapped in The Phantom Zone following a near-fatal battle with Superman. The Phantom Zone preserved the young hero's life but also left him - and his allies in the Teen Titans who refused to abandon him - trapped apart from the world.
This masterful command of comic book trivia and tense drama is par for the course for writer Tom Taylor, who turned what might have been a mere video game tie-in series into a critically acclaimed New York Times Best Seller. While Wildcat has a strong following among comic fans, few remember that the former heavyweight champion also has a magical gift that gave him the allegorical nine lives of a cat - a conceit first thought-up by author Grant Morrison as part of his legendary JLA run.
While some DC Comics purists have rejected the Injustice universe for being too dark, the series has a devoted fan base who enjoy Taylor's twisted take on the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe. This latest Injustice 2 issue is notable for its inclusion of characters who don't exist in the current Rebirth reality, including the Conner Kent version of Superboy and the classic Justice Society of America line-up. It also includes a heroic version of Harley Quinn, who is quick to remind people that she is a qualified medical doctor and indeed assists Doctor Mid-Nite with the surgery.
Injustice 2 #40 is available for download now on Comixology.