Starro the Conqueror is on Earth 3. The alien starfish collective has invaded the minds of metahumans across the planet and only a few remain free to challenge their attacker. Among them are Johnny Quick, Owlman and Superwoman
Separated from the regular DC Earth by vibrations, the people of Earth 3 are inclined towards self-interest, even evil, and that includes these superhumans. But there are out-and-out good guys.
Is a team-up between the Brave and the Bolshy what’s needed?
Well, as this book is called Crime Syndicate, don’t bet on Alexander Luthor getting a seat of honour at the table. His treatment by Ultraman sets the tone, and when the climax of the battle comes he’s more witness than participant.
I do see a bigger role coming for Luthor, though, if not in the next three issues, then in the ongoing series which DC must bring out BECAUSE I DEMANDED IT! He even gets the best line in the issue, telling Ultraman, ‘Even with ultra vision you don’t see us, do you?’
Which isn’t to say I need a good guy at the centre of things; I’m enjoying the time spent with the aforementioned stinkers and allies Atomica, Ultraman and Emerald Knight. They’re a twisted bunch, an off-kilter take on the Justice League which works. In this first meeting of malevolent minds, they’re forced to do good because if the world is taken over, that’s them reduced to tentacled toadies. But with Starro gone by the end of this issue, the door is open for the Crime Syndicate to see what havoc they can wreak on the world. It’ll be fun.
Yet again Andy Schmidt gives us a fast-moving script mixing high-stakes drama with humour – Ultraman’s treatment of his arch foe is a hoot – while there’s mystery as Starro claims a surprising motivation. And how lovely to see that the cameoing Pantha doesn’t lose her head.
As for the art team of penciller Kieran McKeown, inker Dexter Vines and colourist Steve Oliff, they produce more standout storytelling. The humanoid members are full of character, while Starro has rarely looked so impressive – the opening spread of a battle between the Earth 3 universe version of the Green Lantern Corps is a knockout. The memorable moments continue right to the end, as we hit a Who’s Who-worthy group shot that simply has to be the trade paperback cover image.
Superwoman Donna Troy is our focal character for the story, and she takes centre stage in the latest secret origins back-up. It’s a take on the classic Wonder Woman introduction, with Steve Trevor crashing on Paradise… sorry, Demon Island in the Second World War. Knowing these aren’t the friendly Amazons we’re used to, I had an idea where the narrative was heading, and I’m happy to report I was wrong. Writer Schmidt’s clever tale informs the main strip, while illustrator Bryan Hitch and colourist Alex Sinclair bring the classic Wonder Woman vibe. As with the lead, Rob Leigh does a cracking job on the lettering.
The cover by artist David Finch and colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr is terribly New 52, but it gets across the scale of the metahuman conflict inside the comic. I do hope, though, McKeown gets to do his own cover by series end, he’s too good not to get the showcase he deserves.
So, the origin of the Crime Syndicate is done and dusted, leaving me with just one question – on Earth 3, who’s the Snapper Carr?