Now let me preface this by saying that I am an active player of DC Universe Online, and that my love of the game had a lot to do with me checking out this issue. Well, my love of the game mixed with my being a fan of the entire creative team. So I check this out and I figure it’ll be a nice little companion piece to the game, maybe make the game’s story fit together a bit more cohesively. What we actually get her is a companion to the opening movie of the game, featuring a future of war between heroes and villains, one where the villains victory is the kiss of death for the planet, as Braniac now has nothing holding him back. This game picks up after the intro movie, before the main plot of the game.
This means our main character is Lex Luthor in his body armor, more machine than man by this point, and as the book opens up he’s killing Superman. Finally achieving his goal, he views himself as a savior of the Earth for the briefest of moments before Brainiac arrives to inform Luthor about how good of a puppet he is, and how his reward is that he gets to serve Brainiac until the planet goes boom. Whoops. At this point Lex starts doing anything he can to try and fight back, and that leads us into the premise.
The plot of the game is that the villains won the war between themselves and the heroes, only for Brainiac to show up and take over. Luthor traveled back in time to deliver a warning to the JLA, as well as to empower people in the past using Brainiac’s exobytes, which is the overall plot of the game (and how everyone gets super powers). It’s only through changing the past that the future can be altered, and Brainiac stopped once and for all.
The framing sequences of the book operate in two different timelines, the future one as drawn by Howard Porter, as well, as present day Luthor pencilled by Livesay. It works well, Porter has the experience in handling big action…I mean, he was the artist for Grant Morrison’s JLA, and he provides a nice fit for the chaos of the future of the DCU. Livesay does a great job with the modern Luthor, though there isn’t nearly as much time for him to shine in this issue.
After all, this issue boils down to Luthor assembling a team to fight Brainiac with. A team of survivors, what few of them there are. It’s a pretty motley group that’s managed to stay alive long enough to join up with him by the end of the issue, but I’m intrigued. The recruits come from battlefields, and with fallen enemies and allies at their sides, it’s a really nice touch to put over that this is hardly the A listers before the group is even established. Hell, this issue features the on-panel death of Black Adam, if he can go down then you’d have to imagine anyone can!
The future sequences offer a very nice sense of unpredictability in a very Elseworlds like atmosphere. Obviously, these event aren’t canon to the proper DC Universe, but that’s what makes it so much more fun. The same rules don’t apply here, the same restrictions on what can and can’t happen, on who can and can’t die, the entire universe becomes fair game. There is a ridiculous amount of potential here, and I think that Tony Bedard is the right guy for the job. I could bring up his run on REBELS, but I’d rather mention his Exiles run as well as Negation as evidence that he can turn things on their heads when he’s given carte blanche.
For a first issue, this does a pretty good job of establishing the setting and the plot going forward. It’s nothing phenomenal, or revolutionary, but it’s a good start for this maxi-series. There is a ton of potential going forward, and I have to wonder if the book will eventually contain characters based off of the in game avatars of players….because I think it would be pretty cool to pick up an issue and maybe see your own character, or someone you’ve grouped with. Of course, I would never want this at the expense of the actual narrative, so while it would be a nice bonus, it’s hardly a breaking point. I’m hoping that Bedard and Wolfman take risks with this book, as it’s seldom that writers are given the wheel with big name characters and aren’t stuck in continuity.
A lifelong reader and self proclaimed continuity guru, Grey is the Editor in Chief of Comics Nexus. Known for his love of Booster Gold, Spider-Girl (the real one), Stephanie Brown, and The Boys. Don't miss The Gold Standard.
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