The Crime Syndicate is settling into their new home world nicely, while the rumblings of resistance are starting to arise, in the unlikely form of Lex Luthor.  With the Justice Leagues (all three of them) supposedly dead, it looks like the self-appointed champion of humanity is the Earth’s last line of defense.  Luckily, Luthor is a man who always has a backup plan, so he returns to Lex Corp to collect a couple of things.  (In an homage to the original Superman movies, he encounters a security guard named Otis.)

He isn’t the only one planning to fight back.  Red Robin rallies the Teen Titans and leads them on a mission to try and rescue Nightwing, who the Syndicate  captured last issue and then exposed his secret identity on a live broadcast.

All over America, super villains are rampaging, while the solar eclipse that Ultraman artificially created last issue is causing earthquakes and other natural disasters.  With all communications on Earth blocked by Grid, the robotic parts of Cyborg which were reprogrammed by Atomica, the turncoat Atom from the Justice League, relief efforts are struggling.

We glimpse the prisoner the Syndicate brought from their world, but not much else is revealed about him.  It’s possibly the Luthor of their world, but that seems too obvious.  There are allusions to ‘Justice League’ #23.3/’Secret Society’ #1, which embellished the back story on Owlman and The Outsider.  There are also some interesting developments for Power Ring and Superwoman.  And once again, it’s not spelled out, but we learn something catastrophic happened to Earth 3, necessitating the villains takeover of Earth 1.

Finally, there’s a bit of a surprise at the end, which may turn the tide.  But then again, maybe not.

Overall, this is an intriguing tale.  The Crime Syndicate are classic villains, but their story has been retold numerous times, most notably in the fairly recent graphic novel ‘Earth 2′ written by Grant Morrison.  Geoff Johns’ take here borrows liberally from Morrison’s, but he adds a few fresh spins, so it’s not completely derivative.  He handles these characters quite well.  The same goes for Luthor, the unlikely savior.  The twist at the end also hints at good times to come.

David Finch’s pencils (inked by Richard Friend) are suitably grimy, for such a bleak series.  The level of detail in his renderings is very impressive.  I have no idea how someone draws that many lines on a monthly basis.  But he uses the hatch marking only where needed.  The Crime Syndicate and The Outsider have loads of lines and shading on their faces.  Lex Luthor a bit less and fresh-faced Titans, hardly any.

That’s not to say everything is perfect.  There are a few inconsistencies.  Supposedly all power and communications are being jammed by Grid.  Yet a fleet of police officers arrive at the crashed Watchtower.  How did they coordinate this?  Especially when one cop says they came from several precincts all over the place?  Likewise, Luthor and another pair of scientists are able to make a few devices here and there work.  I feel, at some point, someone should have caught these “mistakes.”  Also as far as reading the book, there are a couple of times when conversations are conveyed through caption boxes, but I had no way of knowing who was speaking initially.  A simple logo would have clarified that, but none was used.  To be honest, since Geoff Johns is now a publisher at the company, I suspect he’s being very lightly edited, which maybe isn’t for the best.

Overall, though this is a good story with good characterization.  The art is perfectly suited to its dark tone.  There are a couple of (what could be) flaws, but all in all, it entertains.



Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by David Finch
Cover by Finck, Friend and Sandra Oback