When Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons first released Watchmen, the universally-lauded superhero dissection widely regarded as a landmark in comic books, it was intended to be a standalone piece. Sure, it had one point been conceived as a reimagining of some unused Charlton Comics heroes DC had acquired the rights to, but the parent company weren't keen and, as the idea evolved into a medium deconstruction, it became clear things operated in their own universe.
In recent years, however, that's begun to change. First came Before Watchmen, a series of prequel comics that looked into unexplored parts of key characters' backstories, but that has nothing on what came next: The events of Rebirth, DC's latest cross-title reboot, were instigated by Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan, and all signs point to the likes of Nite Owl, The Comedian, Rorschach and Silk Spectre making the leap into the main continuity. That may not be all, however, if recent gaming developments are to be believed.
Ed Boon, the director of NetherRealm Studios, the developer behind beloved DC fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us, has tweeted out a poll asking fans if they'd like to see Watchmen characters in the upcoming sequel, Injustice 2. The final results are 74 percent "Yes," 26 percent "No," which definitely suggests there's a fan desire -- although the simple fact someone so high up in the game's development has even asked the question is what's so intriguing. Why would Boon tease the characters if they weren't going to appear? Unless he's having some early Thanksgiving fun, that's pretty leading.
The first Injustice earned plaudits for its balance of fascinating story (following the death of Lois Lane, Superman's become a violent dictator that DC's greatest heroes must fight to take down), inspired model design and extreme character upgrades, and the sequel announcement trailer promised more of the same. The plot of the follow-up will deal with the aftermath of Superman's defeat, and boy could Batman and co. use someone like Doctor Manhattan to rebuild. Boon has already teased that Image Comics' Spawn may be available as DLC, so the game is clearly expanding the scope of the roster, and something owned in-house by DC being worked in is a distinct possibility. This wouldn't be the first time the Minutemen have been playable though; to tie into the release of Zack Snyder's film, an episodic prequel was released to less-than-stellar reviews.
While it's at first deliriously exciting to imagine controlling Rorschach and taking on an amped up Flash (hence the strongly positive results of the poll), there is a dilution fear; Watchmen remains so lauded in part for being self-contained and focused on its unique tale. As with bringing them into Rebirth, having the characters part of the DC Universe fabric makes them that less special, meaning Boon and co. need to tread carefully.
That's not the only bit of Injustice news we've got today; another rumour sparked by a GameStop upcoming IP calendar suggests the game could be arriving in the first quarter of 2017. This is certainly believable, although it's worth remembering that games can be postponed for all sorts of reasons and the lack of a public release date doesn't make this binding. Still, better get those enhanced suits at the ready.
Injustice 2 is expected to be released early in 2017 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.