Syndicate Rules, Part Four.
Written by: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Ron Garney
Inker: Dan Green
Colorist: Sno Clone
Letterer: Jared H Fletcher
Editor: Mike Carlin
Four issues into this pleasing and enjoyable story arc, and still there has been no confrontation between the two groups. The Crime Syndicate wind their merry way across the “prime” reality, and the Justice League remains blissfully unaware that their evil counterparts are even here – for the most part.
It’s classic storytelling stuff in terms of pace – allowing the story to tell itself, not forcing any issues unnecessarily, while not having anything happen until it’s absolutely vital to the story that it does so.
Of the Syndicate members, Ultraman, Johnny Quick and The Ring are posing as JLA members, desperately searching for the power source that previously destroyed and rebuilt their reality. Whilst, Owlman and SuperWoman have their own agenda they’re living up to.
Busiek (he only lets certain people call him that) demonstrates his usual deft touch to characterization and pacing that we’ve come to expect, and he skillfully entwines several story strands around the Syndicate that demonstrate their underlying motivations and personalities perfectly.
Take, for instance, the three way dance for power and position between Ultraman, Owlman and SuperWoman. Owlman and SuperWoman are both using and abusing each other – and having lots of fun doing it – whilst at the same time vying for position and control over Ultraman. At the same time, Ultraman, disguised as Superman (still with me? Good) is finding the hero worship accorded to his Earth 1 counterpart stifling, frustrating and bewildering, all at once.
It’s only a matter of time before his natural psychotic tendencies and volatile temper explode, and they do so near the books conclusion in spectacular fashion. He may very well have blown his cover, but he looks pretty damned pleased about it, all the same.
At the same time, The Ring and Johnny Quick – aka Green Lantern and The Flash – find themselves forced into literally playing the part of the JLA members to the full, going into battle against the Rainbow Raiders and Computron.
Admist all this, it looks like the JLA have finally become aware of the Syndicate’s presence, thanks to Martian Manhunter, and that can only spell trouble for the interlopers, although there isn’t any direct confrontation this time around – that’s still to come.
On top of all this, Qwardian are still on the fringes of things, and drawing ever closer to getting their sticky fingers on the super weapon, something that can only bode ill for all concerned – what price an enforced team-up at some point between the JLA and the Syndicate to try and put a stop to this?
With the promise (finally!) of a meeting between the Syndicate and the JLA next issue, it looks like the trigger is finally going to be pulled and the serious action is about to begin.
This isn’t a classic story arc that will stand the test of time and be talked about in hushed tones in years to come – and it’s not going to win any awards. It is, however, entertaining, fun and imaginative – everything comics should be.