27th Sep2019

‘Lex Luthor: Year of the Villain #1’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Jason Latour | Art by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie | Published by DC Comics


Speaking as a, ahem, more mature fanboy I have got quite jaded of late with all the crossovers, mega events, ‘end of everything you know’ type stuff. I have been pleasantly surprised then by the fact I have really enjoyed DC’s Year of the Villain event. Just when you thought that everything that could be done with Lex Luthor had been, we have been introduced to Apex Lex (I love that name just too much), a supercharged villain for a supercharged event. Lex has been given the gift of near omnipotent power, and has been dishing out gifts all over the place, giving villains new powers or enhanced ones to take down their heroic adversaries once and for all. It’s been great fun to read. This One-Shot now sees Lex take centre stage, after popping up in everyone else’s books for the last few months. Not like Lex to want to hog the limelight is it?

Page one takes us to Earth-38, and Superboy arriving at a high school science fair. I miss those more innocent days, when Superboy zoomed around Smallville dealing with hidden aliens and hiding his identity through more and more ridiculous schemes. But I digress. Clark Kent is missing from his desk, for obvious reasons, but so is Alexander Luthor, trapped at home with his alcoholic father Lionel. Our Lex appears. He is travelling the multiverse, seeking out other Lex Luthor’s to seemingly either recruit or dispose of them. After all, who would be the greatest threat to Lex but another Lex. Skip to Earth-45, a time in the future when Earth has been devastated by a battle between LexCorp and Wayne Industries, and its Luthor is actually Doomthor, a gigantic Doomsday style beast. Still smart though.

We shift again to Earth-32 in its future, where their Lex Luthor appears to be a hero, a Batman no less. It’s Superman is a Martian, Kal. Lex doesn’t like his Earth-32 doppelganger being secondary, and unleashes Doomthor on Kal, while Bat-Lex fights our Apex Lex. Hope you are keeping up with all this. Bat-Lex is clearly as smart as our Lex, even outmaneuvering him, and assures him that his partnership with Kal is a strength, not a weakness as our Lex thinks. On again, to Earth-1’s future, where Apex Lex is angry that this Lex wanted Superman’s downfall more than his own success, a weakness, to Earth-50, to Earth-44. All the time young Alexander has been travelling along, witnessing the different worlds, the different Lex Luthor’s, not entirely sure why Lex is doing this.

On we go. A shoemaker Lex, who never amounted to anything, a Ruler Lex, and on Earth-47 a hugely talented botanist Lex seemingly addicted to the hallucinogenic Black Mercy plant. He is a Lex that started as a villain but moved on from that, to the point where he helps mankind and actually has an admiration , and understanding of, Superman himself. This Lex also seems to have a very good handle on our Lex, telling him this isn’t about eliminating weak Lex’s, it’s about simple jealousy. He wants to be unique, wants to be individual, wants there to be just one Lex. So he is killed. Not by Apex Lex, as you would guess, by young Alexander, clearly a chip off the old Apex block. Alexander is happy to be the sorcerer’s apprentice, given his own power suit and off to learn the trade. Only he doesn’t. Lex has in reality attached a Black Mercy plant to him, allowing him to live out the fantasy. Ah, that’s nice isn’t it….actually not. Young Alexander is a Lex DNA back up. Never make a deal with the Devil.

I really enjoyed this, partly because it had such a retro feel to it, a sort of Crisis on Infinite Earths vibe, and partly because multiple Lex’s can never not be fun. We all love Elseworlds, What If, Multiple Earths and we get all of that and more. I would say it was rather more style and crowd pleasing than substance, slightly confusing at times, but the multiple Earth’s and their Lex Luthor’s was an interesting way of psychoanalysing Lex himself. Nice job by Jason Latour. The art by Bryan Hitch, with inking assist by Andrew Currie, whom I am a big fan of, was excellent. Expressive and cinematic, lovely clean lines and perfect layouts and panels. Had a real Silver Age feel to it, which is always a good thing.

Being Lex Luthor’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Just don’t be like Lex.

**** 4/5

Lex Luthor: Year of the Villain #1 is out now from DC Comics.


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