Lex Luthor is now wearing an S shield of his own and fighting crime in Metropolis alongside Superman. He’s relishing in this new found admiration from the public, but can he escape destiny? When a prophet from Apokolips captures Luthor and brings him back to rule, the Man of Steel and his family are pulled along in the wake.
Superman and Action Comics have been a one-two punch of awesome in DC Rebirth. The two titles play well against one another and occasionally, storylines are started in one and then completed in another. In this case, an arc from Action Comics: Volume 3 has a follow up in Superman #33. A few months back, a warrior named God Killer tried to kill Lex Luthor because of a vision of the future where he had ascended Darkseid’s throne of Apokolips and destroyed Earth. Luthor was being punished for something he might do. Superman was able to put a stop to all this and Lex has been fighting on the side of good…but what if that was all destined to happen?
It’s clear based on an early scene where Superman and Luthor are fighting side-by-side that one is happier about this than the other. Superman is glad for any additional help, however Luthor is living it up. He’s been trying to one-up the Last Son of Krypton for ages, but now he’s found glory in working with him instead of against him. He’s mugging for the cameras and putting on a show for the crowds, while Superman heads back home to his family. Their priorities are very different.
Artist Doug Mahnke captures Luthor’s sparkling grin perfectly. He’s so smug that you almost want to smack that smile right off his face. Luthor oozes confidence. This is a man that can outsmart anyone and knows it. Instead of toiling away in the shadows, he’s out in the spotlight. If he was a little younger, I’m sure he would be blowing up Instagram or Snapchat in between bouts of heroism.
This contrasts nicely with the modesty of Clark Kent. When he hangs up the cape and insists on a night out with his wife and son, he’s an average guy, just looking to relax a little. He hears a distress call from Luthor but chooses to ignore it because the guy’s been bugging him non-stop lately. Of course, this is the one time it’s something serious.
The scenes with Clark, Lois, and Jon are pitch perfect. Writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have fine-tuned this new status quo for Superman and it works wonderfully. Although only two of them have super powers, they’re a team. Everything is done together and seamlessly, like they’ve been working alongside one another for ages, and in many cases, they have. When trouble strikes, Jon and his father leap into action. There’s an awesome panel of the two of them opening their shirts at the same time to reveal the S shield beneath. It’s the kind of moment that every father would kill for.
I’m still a little iffy on the New Gods and Apokolips, but between this and recent issues of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, I’m starting to come around. It’s such a polar opposite of our world and specifically Metropolis that it’s almost unsettling. This is a planet of pain and fire. There is no hope there. I can see how the people would be desperate, but what is it about Luthor that makes him their savior? This could create all kinds of internal struggle for Luthor. Does he accept this alleged destiny and rule for evil? Or does he fight against that and continue his journey as a hero?
Regardless of Luthor’s decision, his destiny has put Superman’s family in harm’s way. I’m very curious as to how this will play out. Will Superman blame Lex? Or will he continue to work with the man he’s come to call an ally? It’s this dynamic that has made Lex Luthor a more interesting character than he’s been in years. That’s saying something in a book with a main cast that is already incredibly strong.