We’re at issue #4 of Crime Syndicate, and I gotta say, this mini has earned way more of my trust than I thought it would in issue #1. What started as a fun and cheesy, if a bit generic, retelling of the origin of the Justice League has become a fascinating look at Earth-3 that we don’t usually get to see. Safe to say, I liked this issue, and it’s wormed its way into my heart. Let’s take a look!

A New Light

I’m going to start this review off with a little tangent. Okay, well, technically I already started off this review talking about how much I liked this issue, but just pretend I didn’t do that.

I absolutely LOVE what Andy Schmidt has done with the Earth-3 Lanterns. The Emerald Knights are a legitimately good rework of Power Ring, and the Overlords of Oa were an amazing touch to the lore of Earth-3.

Normally, I’d leave a big change to a character like this for spoiler tags, or just out of the review entirely, but this change is so ingrained in this issue that it feels wrong to leave it out, and is something that I feel could make someone pick up the book. I know several people personally, for instance, who did not like Power Ring at ALL because of the confusing “so Hal Jordan is just scared now?” shtick that never had the chance to be fully explained. The change to Emerald Knight, the Overlords of Oa, and the Power Ring in general really set this mini apart.

Basically, the Power Ring used to be more akin to a parasite than its Earth-0 namesake, requiring a weak-willed host in order to enact its vicious will on the universe. This book changes all of that. The ring is now a weapon, like Green Lantern’s, that was sent by the Overlords of Oa to find a suitable wielder, and reinforces their will. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“But Cam,” I hear you asking, “how is that a warped version of the Green Lanterns?”

I’m getting to that, jeez. Please don’t interrupt me, it’s really rude.

Anywho, the twist here is that being worthy of the ring, instead of being about using your will to serve others and protect the universe, is about imposing the fascist will of the Overlords on everyone and everything in sight.

Like, damn, dude. An interesting take on evil Green Lanterns that doubles as a commentary on the idea of space cops? Sign me up.

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

As for the actual content of the issue, things are starting to shake up for Earth-3.  The world is dealing with the fallout of the incursion of Starro, and the metahumans can’t hide any longer. Johnny Quick and Atomica are hunted, and Superwoman and Owlman are looking for Ultraman, who has gone into hiding. Emerald Knight, however, is busy keeping the US government out of Coast City.

The Knight’s internal monologue actually gives him a surprising amount of depth, more so than the previous characters who have starred in an issue so far, in my opinion. The thing that stands out most to me is that, unlike his corrupt comrades, Emerald Knight not only considers himself a hero, but is actively doing what he thinks is the right thing.

It’s fascinating to me that John here is trying to be a hero. He’s a genuinely good (if flawed) person that’s taking all the steps he thinks are right in order to save the world, and the ring has corrupted him so deeply that he can’t tell that he’s changed.

Meanwhile, in space, Alexander Luthor has constructed a satellite in low orbit, a TOWER of sorts, from which to WATCH over the world… You get it. It seems he’s planning on putting a posse together to help stop the rising number of evil metahumans, and who better to start us off than… Thaal Sinestro?!?

BLUE S

That’s right!! Sinestro is here, and he’s going to show John how to overcome the ring. This is SUCH a good premise for a conflict, and I am so excited for its aftermath.

I want to take a second to praise the artists, though, Kieran McKeown, Dexter Vines, and Steve Oliff absolutely knocked it out of the park this issue. My absolute favorite thing in Green Lantern adjacent books (other than Sinestro’s blue suit) is when ring wielders have personalized auras from their rings. It happens here, with John having a green lightning and Sinestro being surrounded by that water-esque shape, and it’s beautiful. Another shining panel comes from Ultraman’s Fortress of Solitude, which appears as a self-centered pastiche of our favorite Boy Scout’s.

HE HAS A SHIELD-SHAPED BENCH

The colors really pop in this issue, and a lot of the art, especially in the Fortress, is full of cheeky nods to the mainline continuity.

Schmidt also makes the best use of his editor’s note gag I’ve seen from him so far this issue. There are a couple great ones, but this one is by far the funniest:

Speaking of backup stories, we get a glimpse into Emerald Knight’s origin, and it’s some pretty powerful stuff. There’s the foundations of John’s obsession with being the controller and not the controll-ee, as well as some juicy drama with his daughter. Bryan Hitch is once again illustrating, and his art, as usual, is solid.

Recommended if…

  • A fresh take on the Power Ring interests you.
  • You want more in depth and interesting Earth-3 stories.
  • Emerald Knight struck you as compelling when he showed up.

Overall

This issue is what turned Crime Syndicate from a fun little Earth-3 romp into something that could potentially genuinely intrigue me. I recommend picking it up if you’re interested in a story set on this Earth that’s not tied down by its connection to the main Earth.

Score: 8/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.