In Review: Justice League #52

I love the focus on Lex Luthor. I want more!

The covers: Lex Luthor smiles as he opens his shirt revealing the iconic Superman S. The image by Paul Pelletier, Tony Kordos , and Adriano Lucas is accompanied by text that reads “Meet the New Man Of Steel…” Metropolis, and the world, is in a whole lot of trouble. Great artwork, with the smug look on Luthor’s face perfect for what he’s doing and the coloring is also great, putting his face in darkness to keep him evil and the glow from the S and his suit showing he’s not the same Superman. This is a sweet tease! Overall grade: A

The story: What a sensational story! “That Which You Manifest Is Before You” is by Dan Jurgens and focuses on Lex Luthor. Fresh from living on Apokolips after the Darkseid War, Luthor is back in Metropolis at The Daily Planet. He’s learned that the recently deceased Kryptonian’s cape is on display under glass. The bald baddie can’t understand why it’s there. Perry White appears and tells him, “We decided to honor his heroism and sacrifice with this display. People want to pay their respects. They can do so here.” This comes off as maudlin to Luthor, but before he can probe the editor further the title group appears. Luthor reveals why he’s back on Earth and the JL tells him what happened to Superman. In seven pages Jurgens has brought Luthor home and gives him a purpose: to be Metropolis’s new hero. The issue focuses on Lex’s attempts to be a superhero. His final words on Page 8 give readers a fantastic peek into this megalomaniac’s mind. He hasn’t returned to Earth empty handed; in addition to the power suit, he’s got an item that could reintroduce several characters back to the DC Universe after the Rebirth. Pages 14 – 15 perfectly show how he’s willing to be a hero, but how he goes about his heroics will cause harm. Just when the reader thinks that Luthor is going to finally do the right thing, 18 and 19 show his horrible heart, with the final page being a fantastic, arrogant climax. This is how Lex Luthor should be written. Overall grade: A

The art: The penciller of this issue is Tom Grummett and his inkers are Danny Miki, Mark Morales, and Scott Hanna. I wish that DC had specified who did what pages, so that I could address my comments to the correct person. Regardless, the visuals on this book look good. The first page is a full page splash of the Man of Steel’s cape. It’s a great visual to open the book because of the importance Luthor places on it. Pages 2 and 3 are a double-paged splash showing the lobby of The Daily Planet which contains the cape on display. It also establishes Lex’s new look and how imposing he is compared to those guarding the cape. 6 and 7 show the League confronting the former villain, and they don’t look happy. I’m grown used to seeing the Flash be a happy go lucky character in other books — not here. This is the angriest I’ve seen the fastest man alive in some time. The tight close up on Luthor at the bottom of Page 8  is great. The reveal of his takeaway from Apokolips on 9 is cool and I love where he keeps it. The heroics he engages in on 11 – 13 are purposely similar to actions that Superman would engage in, which had me thinking he might be changing, but 15 – 16, in strict six panel pages, visually show that a tiger can’t change his stripes. This six panel layout returns for 18 and 19, returning him to his horrible roots. The final page is a full page splash that is both thrilling and awful. The position of the American flag in the illustration is like a cherry on top. I’m liking this art. Overall grade: A

The colors: When a book focuses on Superman, the colors should be bold to match his iconic stature. Even if the Superman is Lex Luthor, I want the colors bold, and Gabe Eltaeb makes them so. The first page of the book uses colors to create depth in the man of steel’s cape. The glow that continually comes out of Luthor’s armor makes him seem like a cobra ready to strike at any moment, and also makes him visually different from all other characters. The Daily Planet’s lobby is decorated in the expected classic gold trim. When Luthor goes out to prove his heroic nature it’s night, but Eltaeb keeps things bright while maintaining the feel of the evening. The greens used on Page 11 are great, and I love that Luthor’s inner thoughts are also green, giving an envious feel to all that he’s thinking as he tries to best the memory of the fallen Superman. Strong work. Overall grade: A

The letters: Carlos M. Mangual creates dialogue, the story’s title, the issue’s credits, sounds, narration, yells, newspaper text, and the tease for Action Comics. I’m never happy when a book’s dialogue is done in the same font as the narration, and that is the case with this issue, but Mangual does something I’ve not seen before, and it makes me happy. Luthor’s thoughts get quotation marks; this is more than enough to set it apart from dialogue and keeps me a happy camper. The sounds on this book also deserve a mention, especially those coming from the item Lex has secreted back to Earth. Overall grade: A

The final line: I love the focus on Lex Luthor. I love how he tries to be as good as Superman. I love that he’s continuing to be the awful, arrogant character he is. I want more! Overall grade: A

To find out more about this book or other titles with characters from the Justice League go to http://www.dccomics.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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