Tynion IV And Mahnke Bring On The Bad Guys In Justice League #5

by Olly MacNamee

We take a break of sorts from the coming crisis brought on by the breakdown of the Source Wall and look into the Machiavellian mind of Lex Luthor as we turn back the clock and witness his new found zeal for evil and his recruitment drive for his new Legion of Doom. Villains not arbitrarily chosen, as we would have guessed with anything Luthor plans, but individuals who posses a talent, skill, or character trait absolutely essential to Luthor’s complex masterplan.

Written by guest writer and regular collaborating partner of Scott Snyder’s, James Tynion IV, Tynion IV delivers another epic issue of this immense book. It’s the fifth issue in, and the stakes are high, and it’s given over to Tynion IV to give us a glimpse behind Luthor’s stern, arrogant stare and into the mind of a criminal genius, his absolute belief in himself and his world view being the only one that is correct. Doug Mahnke has always been a skilled artist, especially when depicting some of the more unsavoury corners of the DCU, and he doesn’t disappoint, giving this book a sense of impending doom and horror suitable for the script.

After all, this is an issue focusing firmly on the bad and ugly, with no sign of the good anywhere. The darker hues of colours provided by Will Quintana only accentuate this dominating mood and tone. This is a book that has yet to have taken even one false step, and it’s a worthy edition to the top ten lists it continues to dominate. This is one of DC’s best books on the market today, and it isn’t afraid to be daringly large in scale and scope. When this saga is all done and dusted, it has the potential to be another classic Justice League story, remembered and referenced for years to come. These are the kind of universe changing threats the Justice League should be facing. They have in the past, but this one feels huge, even by other examples. who’d have thought a hokey concept form a kids’ cartoon, like the Legion of Doom is, would be so well reimagined that there isn’t the remotest hint of anything other than the direst of doom? Well played, DC.

This issue is purposefully grim to read, especially when we glimpse the dystopian future – one million years in the future – Luthor could only ever have dreamed about. But, it’s a fascinating, enthralling read. We’ll never understand the Joker, and that’s part of his appeal, but we want to understand the greatest minds, even if they’re devoid of any humanity or compassion. Luthor is one of DC’s greatest villains, and his newfound motivation is the best yet to explain away his reborn vision for all things evil. It’s a far better reason than losing his hair, am I right? But, it’s a book that shows what price others will charge for their loyalty. From Sinestro to Gorilla Grodd, Luthor persuades them all to join his gang. With Luthor, arguably, the gates intelligence on Earth, how can anyone hope to beat him? 

The book very much delivers up an Empire Strikes Back kinda ending, and I can only see this getting worse for the newly expanded Justice League in issues yet to come. This is an epic storyline with so many different plates spinning and ready to fall and shatter. Just like the DCU. 

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Olly MacNamee

A unashamed DC Comics fan and sometime teacher for over 20 years! I got lucky and found the escape hatch. Now, I just read and write about comics all day long. Co-host of the ICE-Cast podcast and one third of the brains behind Birmingham's street art and graffiti festival High Vis Fest.

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