Justice League (2018-) #5
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Why is Lex Luthor a villain again? This is the question that I kept asking ever since Scott Snyder announced his run on Justice League. Luthor’s transformation from the reluctant hero, to Superman’s partner, was one of my favorite things to come out of the New 52. However, I feel like Lex’s heroism was not fleshed out in Rebirth. Lex appeared in Action Comics, Superman, and various other titles, but his heroism was not explored to the extent I think it could have been. So when Snyder announced that Lex would be reverting to villainy, I was disappointed, to say the least. However, with his first few issues of Justice League, Scott Snyder completely won me over. Although Lex’s reasons to lead the Legion of Doom felt unbelievable, Snyder has delivered one of my favorite interpretations of the character in years. After accepting the true nature of humanity, Lex plans to unlock the secrets of the universe (and couldn’t be happier doing so). Lex has always been a brooding villain, angered under Superman’s shadow. But now, Lex has the power to achieve all of his wildest dreams. It’s this excitement for world domination that makes this version of Lex so appealing. And in this issue, we see how it all started.
Following Snyder’s plan for the book, James Tynion IV steps in to tell the villains’ side of the story. Snyder and Tynion plan every fifth issue to follow this pattern. The issue follows Lex Luthor as he recruits Sinestro and Grodd into the ranks of Doom. The continuity in this issue pleasantly surprised me. Sinestro’s story addresses Soranik Natu after her irrational departure in Hal and Pals. The only thing I would have liked mentioned is Grodd’s recent battle with Barry Allen in The Flash.
One of the best moments of the issue is the opening. The narration about the Hall of Doom mirrors that of the first issue of Justice League. The 3rd person narration gives the book a larger than life feeling. The minute details of the Hall of Doom really flesh out the setting and story. Snyder and Tynion are definitely expanding and exploring the DC universe in ways that haven’t been done before.
Tynion was a student of Scott Snyder, so his writing doesn’t feel out of place. In fact, this issue clarifies some of the points the Snyder brought up in previous issues. Particularly interesting is the motive for the Legion of Doom. The Legion realizes that justice is a concept that conflicts with humanity. Justice is creating morals and ethics that go beyond the nature of humans. Instead of Justice, the Legion believes that humans must embrace their wants and desires. For example, the Joker is true to his nature, despite however sadistic and psychotic it may be. Tynion does an excellent job at clarifying Snyder’s take on Justice and Doom. The ideological difference between these two teams is more complex and compelling than I first thought.
I feel that I don’t have to spend too much time talking about Doug Mahnke’s art. As always, Mahnke’s work is excellent. He is no stranger to working on Justice League and makes each page a pleasure to look at. I felt particularly nostalgic about Mahnke’s work on Green Lantern, seeing him draw Sinestro again.
Justice League has been a phenomenal book since its reboot, and the stand-ins for writing and art keep the same level of quality. I was first skeptical of Lex’s return to villainy, but believe me, Snyder’s Lex is too enjoyable to dislike. If you’re a fan of heroes, villains, or just good comics, Justice League #5 is worth picking up.
Justice League (2018-) #5
Lex Luthor takes center stage in an issue of excitement, origins, and villainy.