Justice League #18 Reveals Startling Secrets Of Vandal Savage & Lionel Luthor’s Shared Past

by Oliver MacNamee

Justice League #18 is another issue that focuses once again on the Legion of Doom and in this instance, the burgeoning Luthor/Brainiac relationship which has always been a staple of the Superman canon. But here extrapolated and transferred onto the Justice League, no doubt only building on their growing problems. 

And, it’s another revelatory, recon issue in which we learn a great deal about Lex’s pater, Lionel, who we last saw experimenting on a young J’onn J’onzz in this year’s JL Annual. Seems what we thought we knew about this supposed deadbeat needs some major revision after this startling issue from James Tynion IV and  – to my great surprise and delight – Pasqual Ferry, making his return to DC Comics with this one-off issue. 

What I like about these Legion of Doom issues are their focus on the past of their rank and file. Here, however, as mentioned above, it’s Lionel Luthor we are fixated on, but there’s also more than a nod to Vandal Savage and the part he plays in the rich history of the DCU. Dead or not, his part in this is not over yet, methinks. And, in this review of Savage’s own past, we now have the inclusion of a fragment of the Totality that has crossed through space and time. A fragment that sees him eventually cross paths with Lionel Luthor.

Some may have tired of this long-lasting saga – but not me. I think we’ve simply got used to the kind of storylines that last just long enough (5 issues, usually) to fill a trade paperback. It’s good to see the Justice League writing team confident enough in themselves, their grand plans and their readers, to keep up. Or, maybe it’s just me and my own experience of the never-ending, but highly enjoyable sagas Judge Dredd would embark on from the ‘Cursed Earth’ onwards. And, hey, what’s wrong with a little bit of delayed gratification anyway?

Besides, it’s not like we’re being offered a slow moving, stagnant epic. No, we are witnessing  Doctor Manhattan-level rewriting of DC’s past, present and future. These things take time, and I for one am more than happy to take it as it comes.

Another storming issue with Ferry’s art giving it the feel of a European comic, and Tynion IV enriching Luthor’s own backstory, making it far more intriguing and interesting. And, isn’t that what we all want in a comic? Something old, something new, and something spectacular, too. I think this issue has all of those qualities and more and is available now from DC Comics.

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