It’s the Crime Syndicate vs the Legion of Justice as this terrific mini-series reaches its penultimate issue. And the prize? John Stewart, Emerald Warrior.
Before the big battle begins, though, a smaller scale tussle, as members of Alexander Luthor’s team of good guys come looking for Syndicate sadists Atomica and Johnny Quick. The pair killed hundreds of people the previous day on a whim.
The fight at Quick’s family farm isn’t as one-sided as you mIght expect, with the heroes suffering a major casualty before one of the villains falls.
Later, back at the Legion’s satellite HQ, Luthor is furious that John’s inability to control the energy of his innately corrupt power ring led to slaughter.
The argument is interrupted by the Syndicate, who are on a recruitment drive to persuade Emerald Knight to leave the side of the angels.
A furious fracas follows, and while the Syndicate seem set to crush their foes, a wild card appears on the scene, giving one member a very big surprise…
Writer Andy Schmidt expands the scope of his new Earth 3 with closer looks at heroes who, up til now, have been cameos. We learn a little about Power Tower, aka Giganta on Earth 0; and Savanna, who seems to be a version of tragic Titan Pantha; and Red Hood, whom you may have recognised in that earlier panel.
And I realise that’s not a hood – what can I say, Dr Quinzel is bonkers.
Penciller Kieran McKeown and inker Dexter Vines once again make the pages sing. The storytelling is clear as a bell, the characters smartly choreographed and the action sequences thrill. Even the black humour is nicely sold. And it’s all cleverly coloured by Steve Oliff, his hues always informing and emphasising the mood. Letterer Rob Leigh, meanwhile, further pumps up the emotions with his treatments, and there’s a very good looking title when the creator credits page arrives.
Johnny Quick narrates the main story effectively, providing a doorway into his head. His voice continues as we learn the speedster’s origin in the latest 4pp back-up strip by Schmidt, illustrator Bryan Hitch, colourist Alex Sinclair and Leigh. And surprisingly, they have me sympathising for this vilest of villains. Well, his younger self, at least.
Hitch does a fine job of conveying the elation Johnny feels as, after a lifetime lived around brutality, he finally sees a way out.
The cover is again by one of my faves, Howard Porter, with colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr, but still I yearn to see what McKeown could do with a showcase image. He’s earned it.
More and more I want to see this world continue in a monthly comic, to enjoy the twisted schemes of the Syndicate and watch the rest of the metahuman community react. Schmidt, McKeown and co have surely done enough now in terms of ‘proof of concept’ so come on DC, give us an ongoing… or I’ll send the Crime Syndicate after you!