I’m going to start off my review for this last issue of Crime Syndicate the way that I started off my review of the first issue:

I. LOVE. Alternate. Universes.

From the second this series was announced, I knew that, no matter how the actual quality turned out, I was going to have a blast. Lucky for me, this mini ROCKS. I came for Evil Justice League Shenaniganery™©®, and I walked out with a surprisingly good character study on what were previously the physical incarnations of a Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain Justice League. Needless to say, I’m very pleasantly surprised. Let’s dig right in, shall we?

All the…

It’s Atomica’s turn in the spotlight, as much as you can still hold this mini to that. The whole “one character’s perspective” thing was kind of half-dropped around issue 4, but we still do get her narration over the massive Ultra-fight we’re all really here for. That fight, by the way, is just the framework for some of the best characterization of Ultraman I think I’ve ever seen. Throughout his whole Kryptonian slugfest, we get the sense that he doesn’t really want to be fighting. This all comes to a head as he practically begs Kara not to fight, desperately clinging to the fact that he’s finally found another of his kind. Not only is it oddly touching for such an evil character, but the moment showcases an absolutely fascinating choice on Andy Schmidt’s part.

Our Earth’s Clark Kent is defined by his humanity. This isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a controversial take, and it’s a massive part of what makes this iteration of Earth-3’s Clark so special. This is a Clark Kent that has grown up alone. He’s pushed away his family, furious at them for not telling him he was an alien. Ultraman has defined himself on being the sole Kryptonian in the universe for his entire life, and he knows that means he’s stronger and better than everyone else. For him to see the only other Kryptonian, the only other family he has, getting beaten to a pulp, screaming about how she hates him… His whole worldview is absolutely destroyed. You can see the pure anguish on his face as he’s trying to reconcile everything that’s happening in front of him with his incredibly distorted worldview. Kieran McKeown and Dexter Vines perfectly capture these characters’ inner conflict throughout the whole issue. I know I was ragging on the art a little in the first issue, but over the course of this series, I’ve completely fallen in love with it.

The other breakout star of this issue, other than Steve Oliff’s colors (which are, of course, the other OTHER breakout star of the issue), is Emerald Knight, for obvious reasons. His arc has been by far the most interesting of these characters, and while I won’t talk about it here for fear of spoilers, let’s just say I was both surprised and completely satisfied with where he ended up.

…Small Things

Bet you thought they forgot about Atomica, huh? I sure did. The backup story for this issue, written by Schmidt and illustrated once again by Bryan Hitch, focuses on Atomica and her frankly odd fascination with pain (I thought that was going to go in a VERY different direction than it did). There’s enough there to give a decent look at her backstory, mostly in relation to Johnny Quick, for obvious reasons given the events of last issue. I think it’s the weakest of the back stories, but it does its job and isn’t bad at all.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been following this since issue 1.
  • A fresh take on the Crime Syndicate interests you.
  • Like me, you’re a sucker for good character work.

Overall

GIVE ME THE ONGOING YOU COWARDS

Also, buy this book. It good.

Score: 9/10


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