Do you love Lex Luthor? I know I don’t love Lex Luthor, but so far with this latest incarnation of Justice League Mr. Luthor is a crucial to this story as any member of the Justice League themselves. I honestly can’t recall a JL title that gives this much of a spotlight to the antagonist. I doubt that Synder or Tynion will try to redeem Lex, but I can’t help but be fascinated at the direction he’s being taken in. The best part is that it still feels authentic to Lex Luthor as a character. Warning the following review will contain spoilers. So read your comic before reading this review.
Since this is yet another villain takeover issue, I think now would be appropriate time to say that these specific issues need to be further spaced out. The overall structure of this series has been very refreshing, but after last issue centering around both J’onn and Lex and of course having the Legion of Doom pop up from time to time outside of these villain issues it’s starting to make this particular chapters feel not as significant. Personally I think the book might be leaning a bit towards more towards the L.O.D. than the JL. What makes me not grow a distaste for this format is how strong the villains (namely Lex) are written. No one really likes a villain, but Tynion channels what makes these villains compelling.
If this entire issue was Lex and Brainiac trying to outwit each other I would have given this book a perfect rating instantly. Now I understand that this issue centered around heavy exposition and two of the most iconic villains trying to gain the upper hand might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I found this issue (at least the sections with Lex and Brainiac) just as compelling as a giant fight scene where a city gets blown up. What makes it even better is despite all of attempts of a hostile takeover by Brainiac, both of Superman’s greatest foes find common ground and if that isn’t terrifying to you I don’t know what is. Plus I feel like this was a tipping point for both of these two, since they both appear to enter a cult like attitude to brining Doom to the universe.
Despite my love for Lex and Brainiac, most of this issue is dragged down a bit by exposition/ flashbacks with Vandal Savage and his tour across the early days of the DCU. Compared to most exposition dumps, this didn’t feel to difficult to read through as time but to me it didn’t feel nearly as engaging compared to other sections of the comic. It also feels a bit disjointed to have the Source Wall be broken in the recent annual and create a sense of urgency only for the next issues to focus on Lex.
What can’t be argued is Pasqual Ferry’s gorgeous art, and I was quite surprise to see his artwork here. It’s not surprising that his art work really shines during the sections that are inside Brainiac’s mind scape, as it allows him to be abstract with the page something that really doesn’t happen within the world of superhero comics. Even the sequences featuring Vandal Savage and Lionel Luther has this ethereal quality to, which makes sense given that we are simply observing this from the perspective of Lex and Brainiac. Despite his unique style, Ferry’s storytelling is consistent from start to finish. I know that Ferry’s work isn’t everyone cup of tea but if this issue doesn’t wow you due to art then you might need your eyes checked. Not my favorite issue of JL but a very interesting one that has set up a lot of potential for the future of this series.
Justice League #18 earns a 3/5