It’s been three issues since we first saw the star-shaped alien invaders of Earth-3, and things have never looked worse for our heroes(?) than last we left them. The entire world’s metahuman population is bearing down on them, and their only plan is coming from a terrifying urban legend holding a tentacle and a glowing green battery. Is it a good plan? Who knows! Let’s find out!
Andy Schmidt’s third installment in the Crime Syndicate saga is a doozy. The story is from the perspective of Superwoman this time around, and her narration provides us with some interesting insight into her character, though her actual origins and motives are reserved for the back story. We start in Metropolis, picking up immediately after the last issue left off. Owlman’s plan is to summon the lead Starro to Metropolis, in the hopes that killing it will bring down all the others on Earth. There’s a slight snag in the plan, however, when it seems all of the Syndicate’s attacks barely seem to make a dent. Collateral damage flows through the streets, and who better to clean it up than Alexander Luthor. That’s right! The Luthor of Earth-3 makes an appearance in this issue, and it’s an absolute treat. His antagonistic relationship with Ultraman gets its first glimpse here, and I gotta say, it is absolutely charming.
Ultraman being a petty jerk is my favorite thing ever. It’s also nice to see Alexander being a goody two-shoes, and it makes for wonderful banter between the two.
There’s one other big thing I want to touch on here, but it’s VERY spoiler heavy, so I’m including it in the tag below. For those of you not inclined to be spoiled for this, I’ll sum it up as best I can. There’s a twist at the end that I really liked, and didn’t even take into account just based on the nature of this story. Alright, spoiler time.
The back story (heh) of the book is a look into Superwoman’s past. It’s a very interesting origin, and gives a particularly fascinating insight into Donna’s philosophy. That’s right, in case you missed it, this Superwoman is not Diana Prince. Rather, Diana’s younger sister Donna Troy has taken the mantle of Superwoman, and she’s learned everything she knows from the man who broke her heart: Steve Trevor. This is probably my favorite side story yet, and I hope we get more of this quality for the rest of the mini.
The team of Kieran McKeown, Dexter Vines, and Steve Oliff return for this issue, and they’ve ramped up the art yet again. Maybe it’s because I’m three issues in now, but the more I look at this art, the more I like it. It has a very comic-booky vibe that falls right in the sweet spot of modern and classic, and it works tremendously to this book’s advantage. One panel in particular that stood out to me was an opening shot showcasing the Emerald Knights.
This panel caught my eye for a couple of reasons aside from just being a good group action shot. Firstly, and most importantly, there is an evil Ch’p in the bottom right corner, and I am upset we won’t see more of him. Secondly, I REALLY like these designs for the Emerald Knights. Something about the green piping on an all black uniform really works, and the use of the lines to create “gauntlets” was really clever. Third, I apprecate the sense of scale this panel gives us. The rest of the story shows off how big Queen Starro is, sure, but this is the first and probably only panel that communicated, at least for me, the giant cosmic horror this thing is.
The art in this book is fun and exciting, and while Owlman still looks bad, I think the team’s designs work really well together.
- EVIL JUSTICE LEAGUE!! HELL YEAH!!!
- That’s honestly kind of it, honestly. This is an easy book to decide if you’re interested or not.
- You want an in-depth characterization of some previously 2D supervillains
This mini has been a lot better than I expected. It had a rocky start, sure, but it has been steadily increasing in quality since issue 1, and I’m excited to see where it goes. The tone is super goofy and campy without shying away from some darker source material, which is a nice surprise. It’s easy for a book like this to slip into a grimdark gorefest that attempts to shock its readers at every turn, but this is just a fun ride I can easily recommend for any fan of the Crime Syndicate.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.