This book is the culmination of years’ worth of storytelling. Truly, it is the result of multiple plots nurtured since The New 52’s dawn. Did it satisfy? Yes.
Without spoiling too much, the events of Trinity War led to Forever Evil, which means that the Justice Leagues are incapacitated. Save Batman and Catwoman, they are completely out of the picture. So when the Crime Syndicate invades the planet and promptly gains control, there is no one left to challenge them. Or is there? Lex Luthor releases his own personal Superman, recruits Captain Cold, Deathstroke, Black Adam, Sinestro, and Black Manta, and even convinces Batman to join his efforts, and this unlikely band takes on the Crime Syndicate and their Secret Society of Super Villains.
I enjoyed this book. I like Johns take on Lex Luthor, and I believe Luthor’s motivation to appear the hero. Johns brought about a renaissance with the Rogues back in the early 2000’s, and his new take on Captain Cold is equally engrossing. Always entertaining, Johns introduced some old favorites to The New 52, and even set about a new direction for several popular characters.
I will say this, though. While I always have a great time with Johns, the book felt a little too much like Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. Super hero comics are largely derivative, and everything old tends to be new again, but I found it hard to consider anything I read as breaking serous new ground. Of course, I guess one could argue that Luthor was president before Osborn’s ascension to power. At any rate, I’m a DC guy, have been since 1980, and it was a blast seeing new takes on old favorites—especially the Crime Syndicate with the additions of Atomica and Deathstorm.
Let’s move on to the art. David Finch is an amazing artist, no doubt. Unfortunately, in my opinion, his work never seems serviced by color. In other words, his pencils are truly astounding, but, after they are colored, his art always looks a little busy to me. However, comic books are a sequential medium, and Finch does well moving the action and story from one panel to the next. I would love to see this book in black and white sometime.
Overall, at 240 pages, this book is well worth the money. It resolves several plots and also sets up several more for the future. It gives most of DC’s preeminent villains a moment to shine, and positions Lex Luthor to be more than just Superman’s antagonist. If handled correctly, like with Norman Osborn, this multifaceted bad guy could become one of DC’s most fascinating characters.