Crime Syndicate #6 review

Last issue ended with the revelation that Lex Luthor’s low-key assistant was secretly the metahuman known as Ultragirl. This issue it’s time for a family reunion, as cousin Kal welcomes her in his inimitable style.

While Ultragirl seems firmly on the side of the angels, Emerald Warrior has yet to be persuaded to sign on with either the Crime Syndicate or Lex Luthor’s opposition.

Finally, after prevaricating for several issues, John Stewart picks his team. A winner emerges in the battle of the Ultra cousins. And unnoticed, the most insidious member of the Crime Syndicate plots…

Andy Schmidt and Kieran McKeown’s six-issue mini series ends in fine style, with the Crime Syndicate finally fully formed – if far from unified – and future storylines seeded.

While I enjoyed this issue, like those that came before it, hugely, I was disappointed that the heroes didn’t put up any real fight. Their leader, Alexander Luthor, is commendably decent, but he lacks the edge of regular, bad Luthors, failing to exploit the character flaws of the Syndicate members, and their fundamental hatred of one another.

Mind, this may be writer Schmidt playing a longer game, banking on having hooked enough readers that he’ll win an ongoing for The World’s Greatest Super-Villains, and that’s where Lex and friends will begin the true fightback.

As I said, he certainly has ideas for more stories.

I’m certainly up for more Crime syndicate tales from Schmidt, who gleefully sketches in his characters. There’s Superwoman trying to play all sides against one another; Owlman letting the Appalling Amazon know he’s at least one step ahead of her; and Ultraman, his love for his last living relative obvious even as he pummels her.

Emerald Knight’s ultimate decision as to which side to join was pretty predictable, but I could say that if he’d thrown his lot in with the other team – the cases for each side were equally compelling. A scene with his daughter, Liza, shows he may come to regret his decision.

Let’s go back to the fight between the Earth 3 Superman and Supergirl.

That’s puzzling. Ultragirl says Ultraman is disgracing the House of El’s crest, but that symbol on his chest is clearly a ‘U’, not the symbol of El we know, the one that just happens to look like an ‘S’. Maybe she misspoke, and on the Multiverse 3 Krypton they were members of the House of Ul…

Either way, the family disagreement, like the rest of the issue, is excellently drawn by McKeown, who captures the Ultra Cousins’ power and rage well. The rest of the cast is equally well served, with sneers and sarcasm alway evident. The clarity of the storytelling is appreciated, as are the finishing touches of inker Dexter Vines and colourist Steve Oliff. Vines’ lines are smooth and sharp, while Oliff’s palette sings with superhuman sass.

There’s also elegant artwork in the back-up, as Bryan Hitch brings Schmidt’s Atomica spotlight to life. We see what makes the Tiny Terror tick, and it’s not pretty. The fourth and final page sees Schmidt lay down another story thread, and I dearly hope we’ll see it grow to fruition. Hitch’s soft but strong stylings are sensitively coloured by Alex Sinclair, while Rob Leigh – who also handles the lead strip – gives us yet another great story title treatment.

A few times in my reviews I’ve expressed a hope Kieran McKeown would get to produce a cover before the series was out. Sadly he doesn’t, Howard Porter draws and Romulo Fajardo Jr colours the final showcase illustration, and while it’s OK, McKeown had earned a shot to have get final word on the book he visually co-created. Maybe DC will commission a cover from him for the trade collection? Hey, doesn’t everyone loves an optimist.

For the past six months, Schmidt, McKeown, Hitch and friends have given us a consistently great alternative to DC’s other team books. There’s a whole world of characters, locales and situations to explore, and Crime Syndicate #7 would be a fine place to start. How about it, DC?

5 thoughts on “Crime Syndicate #6 review

  1. Apparently it’s been the House of Il in the past (which doesn’t look right in this font – it’s a capital i, then lower case l).

    The solicitation refers to her as Kara Zor-El, so it’s been El all the way with this version I guess.

    Speaking of which, given the solicitation already gave away that Ultragirl would be in this issue, why wasn’t she on at least one of the two covers?

    I’m not sure Ultragirl is exactly of pure motive. In fact she might be worse than Ultraman, who is thrilled to discover a relation. She says “You’re not the savior the world needs – I am.” She’s a little budding authoritarian herself!

    I wonder what she means when she says he’s done horrible things. He’s by far not the worst of the lot, and has some redeeming qualities – maybe she’s embarrassed he’s not evil enough. He’s sentimental; she isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, Atomica is horrifying. Wasn’t thrilled with how Kara ended up, hope they find a way to bring her back and keep her a ‘hero’…and really wonder what will happen with Alexander…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is a panel where Kara is floating in space supported partly by Ultraman’s knee, and surrounded by a number of purple rays. But I guess he’s just right outside their meeting room where there is a latticework of bars that look like beams. And he does say, after that, “Nobody has the right to kill a Kryptonian ‘cept me” – implying she’s dead.

      But his statement doesn’t have to be interpreted that way. Maybe he’s just telling them they had no right to try and shouldn’t again.

      Superman came back from death, and I in any case don’t really see how Atomica could truly damage a Kryptonian’s brain in a permanent way. I think if they want to bring her back, they can. But Schmidt has set up more than enough possible future plot threads that they probably don’t need her. Maybe it depends on how well this book AND Tom King’s book sells!

      Liked by 1 person

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