Ever since Injustice: Gods Among Us was first announced, fans have been speculating about the possible story that would explain why normally honorable Justice League members would resort to savage in-fighting. Watching The Joker and Lex Luthor face-off is par for the course in comic book history – since super villains are known for backstabbing and power grabs; however, without a frame of reference, watching Green Lantern mercilessly electrocute his best friend, The Flash, was a little bit harder to reconcile.

Up to this point, every single trailer for NetherRealm Studios‘ Injustice: Gods Among Us has focused on character reveals and out-of-context gameplay mechanics – showcasing special moves, costume designs, and super-powered finishers without a hint at the cause for division in the Justice League. Now, with a new trailer, we finally have some answers.

Yesterday (at the time of this writing) we reported on the release of the Injustice: Gods Among Us Prequel Comic – which helps set the stage for the upcoming video game. In the first five pages of the comic, Batman arrives in Metropolis to investigate a theft at Star Labs and is confronted by a friendly Superman. While the two heroes catch-up, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson are attacked by The Joker and Harley Quinn. Any thought of a light-hearted Justice League story goes out the window when the Clown Prince of Crime fires a bullet into Jimmy’s eye, killing him on the spot, before kidnapping Lois. The Joker’s abduction of Lois, along with the missing Star Labs tech Batman mentioned, sets the stage for a larger super villain scheme – a scheme that is revealed in the new trailer.

While certain details are still unclear, The Joker detonates a powerful weapon of mass destruction (presumably forged from the stolen Star Labs equipment) in the heart of Metropolis – killing millions of innocent citizens. In response to the devastation, the Justice League questions how, despite their best efforts, they failed to thwart the disaster.

Personal losses fuel anger and frustration, creating a rift in the superhero team. Certain members (Superman and Wonder Woman, among others) decide that the only way to protect humanity is to round everyone up, villains and regular people alike, and reform society under fascist super “hero” control – stripping away freedom in exchange for order. “Injustice” and “Gods Among Us” indeed. Other members (Batman and Green Arrow, for example) believe that the Justice League has a responsibility to find a less-oppressive solution.

As the lines between good and evil, hero and villain blur, former enemies join forces – Harley Quinn fights alongside Batman and Catwoman allies with Superman – in an effort to either maintain order on Earth or free humanity from its well-meaning but still oppressive overlords.

Whereas the Mortal Kombat 9 story mode served as a thin, albeit entertaining, excuse to test out the different playable characters, the Injustice: Gods Among Us plot is surprisingly rich. It’s a smart setup for hero-on-hero brawling but also serves as a timely commentary on post-911 culture – where politicians debate government’s role and balance in protecting the homeland. The best comic book stories, the ones that truly stand the test of time, reflect the challenges of our culture at various moments throughout history (just look at the actual story behind that “Red Son” pre-order DLC for proof). As a result, it’s possible that not only will Injustice: Gods Among Us deliver an enjoyable fighting game experience, it might also provide a memorable entry in the larger Justice League comic book mythos.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us releases April 16, 2013 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U.