Monday, July 12, 2021

Bullet Review: Crime Syndicate #5

Crime Syndicate #5 came out last week continuing a fun and entertaining look at the new Earth 3. Writer Andy Schmidt and artist Kieron McKeown continue to weave a story where the heroes and villains we are accustomed to have switched roles.

As I have said before, what I like about this book is that there is sly humor woven into the story of evil triumphant. Yes the Justice League analogs are murdering scum. But the book isn't an incessant trip deeper into darkness. I don't think I have seen one person have their hands cut off. Not one blood soaked brawl. Instead we have silly editorial notes and a ragtag group of heroes trying to save the day.

Not to say this is a happy book. We do get a barn full of dead people. It just doesn't feel like it is titillated by the evil. The tone is just right.

And I shouldn't bury the lede. Kara is in this book too. But more on that in the main review.

The art is done by McKeown who brings a crisp feeling to the action. The figures are lovely and the action dynamic.

On to the book.

In the continuity I grew up with, the Crime Syndicate were villains on Earth 3 and Luthor was the only hero. But that is looking back to the pre-Crisis world.

In this book, people we are used to being villains are now heroes. This is a more evenly swapped Earth. And that feels fresh. 

I also like that like the Crime Syndicate sporting new names, these heroes also are given different sobriquets. Giganta is Power Tower. Cheetah is Savannah. I like both those names and these looks.

I also like Harley Quinn looking very different as a hero, with this "Casey Jones' style mask.

Even better is her wielding a Fourth World hammer weapon, harkening back to Sam Humphries' wonderful run on the HQ book.

Plus, feel that very palpable hit.

I will add, Power Ring being a Green Lantern who moves from evil to good is a nice wrinkle, a sort of reverse of Hal Jordan going from good to bad.

Up on his Legion of Justice satellite (I presume 22,300 miles above Earth), Luthor tries to figure out how he can mobilize his Legion into some meaningful action.

Too bad his tech has been invaded by Owlman's nanobots opening the whole thing up to attack.

But hey, what is Luthor's normal blond secretary doing up there?

With the satellite compromised, the Crime Syndicate attacks.

Again, the action is solidly rendered by McKeown. 

Here, Owlman looks quite skilled as a fighter as he works his way through some of the Legion members. That kick into Harley Quinn looks like it hurts.

The fight looks like it is going to come to a quick end when Ultraman flies in to give Luthor the killing blow.

But ...

In flies Ultragirl, Ultraman's cousin Kara, to stop the punch cold.

It looks like Kara is a hero here, ready to fight her cousin.

Now I want you to think about that closely. I want you to think about how this reflects how DC looks at Kara these days.

This is a world where hero characters are villains. It is a book where villain characters are heroes.

And Ultragirl is a hero.

So what does that make her on the main Earth? What does it mean when DC okays this.

Maybe I am reading a bit too much into this. But this feels emblematic of the problem. DC regards her as so dark that she is bright and optimistic on a mirror world. That realization makes me sad.

Even if I love seeing this Ultragirl here and seeing her powerful enough to stand over Ultraman like this.

Great cliffhanger. Fun book. I'll be sad to see this all end next month.

Overall grade: A


Bostondreams said...

I honestly hope just that this is a world NOT where it is a straight 'heroes are villains and vice versa' swap, because there are at least a couple of the characters who remain what they were (ie, Harley, and certainly this isn't an unremittingly evil world this time). I hope Kara remains both good and, you know, alive.

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

I really like the cliffhanger, even if i hope to see in action sooner.

I have the impression that her costume resembles that of Elseworld : all in blue without a belt.

Anonymous said...

That feeling when you realize that the best versions of Kara is now in the injustice-verse and Earth-3. ����‍♀️

Martin Gray said...

Casey Jones? Steaming and a-rolling’ on the Cannonball Express?

Great review! I love this book and can’t wait to see what this Kara gets up to.

Anonymous said...

(apologies for the double post, I dropped this into the wrong string initially)

Man DC just loves that Tragic Amish Prom Gown on Supergirl....its sad & hilarious at the same time and emblematic of much DC willfully misunderstands the Maid of Steel.
Ummm I may not be up on all the continuity details but insofar as the TV Show was concerned "UltraGirl" was depicted as a Nazi Warlord, so perhaps "this version" of UltraGirl is the direct opposite, i.e. a person of decency and goodwill?
Just a counterintuitive thought from me...


Anonymous said...

It is a very good point that this reverse-Supergirl is good. But maybe, one can hope, she's just being thought of as someone able to resist the malign influence of Earth-3. Even Emerald Knight isn't evil per se - he's just someone with a bad temper who tries to resist the pernicious influence of his ring, and seems redeemable.

Fortunately she does still get many positive depictions - like in Bendis's and now in Johnson's Superman stories.

I think it's mostly intended as a surprise - a plot twist pretty carefully guarded, not appearing on any covers or solicitations. Though many people spotted Luthor's assistant, it's been a long time since Supergirl has had an eyeglass-wearing unassuming secret identity in the comics. And who else would be able to seriously challenge Ultraman or Superwoman? I wonder if the average reader would think "Oh, this means Earth-0 Supergirl is a villain", and I even wonder if DC thought very deeply about the implication.

She looks like the Supergirl depicted in the Elseworld's Finest story from 1998.