DC released their Year of the Villain Special #1 and when the one-shot was announced, I was really excited. But then, when I started thinking about the story and what it was supposed to be setting up, I realized that all of these stories were already being published. We’re already getting Perpetua, the Legion of Doom, and Leviathan… So, I became a little less excited after that. Regardless, I figured DC had some reveals up their sleeve to help increase intrigue, so I shifted back to being a little more excited.
Alright, before we jump into this, be warned that my review will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t read the issue, turn back now!
The first story on the docket is “Doom” by Scott Snyder and Jim Cheung. Amanda Waller is desperate to meet with the President, but when she finally reaches his office, she finds Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom instead. There’s not much meat to the story, but something quickly becomes clear: Lex is up to something. Aside from going after the President, Lex fires everyone that works for him, and vaguely discusses his plan with Brainiac… Which essentially him just saying he has a plan.
I wasn’t overly impressed with what we were given because, let’s face it, “Lex has a plan” is pretty much his status quo. But then, in the last panel of the story… Lex blows himself up. Whhhhaaaaatttttt???? Did… Did they really just kill Lex Luthor? It would seem that way, but I think we all know DC wouldn’t just throw a character of this level away (then again… looking over at Heroes in Crisis…). Considering the explosion is the last thing we see, it’s unclear what actually happened, however, we get some answers later in DC Insider.
Overall, “Doom” doesn’t offer much more than shock value thanks to its final panel. It’s not a terrible read, there just isn’t much here to digest. Cheung’s art is incredible, as always, as are Tomeu Morey’s colors.
The second story in the issue is “Leviathan” by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. This is easily my favorite story of the lot, but part of that could stem from the fact that of the three stories featured here, this arc is the least developed in the main titles. If you’ve been following my praise for Action Comics lately, then you know I’ve been loving what Bendis is doing over there. Not only is he creating a believable, connected universe, but he’s also establishing some incredible stakes that are wrapped up in a mystery.
Here we see Batgirl teaming up with Green Arrow, and it is awesome! The two are going after Merlyn, but they quickly discover that things aren’t as they seem. Batgirl has been tracking Merlyn, and that’s what has led her to Seattle to cross paths with Ollie. It’s not until the two actually come face to face with Merlyn that they realize he’s terrified and running for his life. So, not only has Leviathan gone after ARGUS, the DEO, Spyral, and others, but they’ve now turned their attention to the League of Assassins as well.
As gripping as all of this is – and it is, especially considering the context and execution of the Action Comics issues – the really intriguing part is the ending of the issue, when Leviathan tries to recruit Barbara… And you can tell she’s actually considering it! No, I doubt she wants to join the bad guys, but I do feel as though she’s weighing, “How effective can I be from the inside?” But that’s not even the last twist of this story, as the last page reveals that Damian believes Jason has already defected to Leviathan – something that I could completely believe!
I thought this story was excellent, and I can’t wait to see what Bendis and Maleev bring to the table with the Leviathan mini-series. Also, I want to point out that this is the best depiction of Batgirl we’ve gotten in a long time, and Maleev’s art is amazing!
The final story in the issue is “Justice” by James Tynion and Francis Manapul. Much like “Doom,” there’s not a lot of new information here, but it does focus on the threat facing the Justice League again – with the spotlight on Perpetua this time instead of Lex/ the Legion of Doom. The story takes place after the current arc in Justice League, and in a nutshell, this story is nothing more than the Justice League (*cough* Batman *cough*) deciding that the only way they’re going to beat Perpetua is to call on all heroes for help (except Nightwing because nobody likes Ric).
While the call to arms amps me up a little bit, I naturally assumed the fight against Perpetua would lead to this. This story does give another glimpse into Lex’s situation, showing him in some type of tube or chamber, but there’s no context as to what’s going on. Again, it’s an ok read, but nothing really happens. If someone hasn’t been reading Justice League, then this might encourage them to check it out. Other than that, there’s nothing earth-shattering in this story.
DC Insider: Year of the Villain
Most of the juicy details that we get from this issue come from the DC Insider portion of the book. Not only do we get to see how far Year of the Villain will reach, but we also get a better idea of what to expect. For instance, it is now clear that Lex will be at the center of this event, but he’s going to be quite different from the man we know… In fact, he’ll hardly be a man as its revealed that he’ll be turned into a human/ Martian hybrid. Beyond that, we also know that Lex will be offering other villains a chance to “upgrade” as well. If handled correctly, this could be really good.
Moving on to a reveal that I’m less excited about… Joshua Williamson will be launching Batman/ Superman, where the World’s Finest will be opposing The Batman Who Laughs and his Secret Six. Who will make up the new Secret Six team? That remains a mystery, but DC gave us a tease by revealing it will be dark versions of the characters featured below. I’m not crazy about this idea- especially in the hands of Williamson – but I’ll give it a fair chance.
Overall: There are a few, light teases in the stories featured here, and unless you haven’t been reading Justice League or Action Comics, I can’t imagine these stories will do anything to make you more interested. However, the DC Insider portions offer a TON of information and details. More than anything, these pages got me pumped for the future, and I’m excited to see how things unfold in the coming months!