It's Good to be Bad: Crime Syndicate #1

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Crime Syndicate #1

The pre-Crisis DC Universe was a maelstrom of imagination, with all the different variant Earths in a multiverse of adventure. One of my favorite Earths was Earth-3, the home of the Crime Syndicate -- a mirror universe where the members of the Justice League were villains, and where corruption was frequently the victor over the meager forces of good.

The Crime Syndicate has gone through a number of iterations since the Crisis -- or, rather, since the New 52 brought back the parallel worlds concept. Grant Morrison's Earth-2 was a structurally beautiful way of contrasting the two worlds (even if it did put them on the wrong titular Earth -- forgiveable as there was not a multiverse at the time and the good/bad mirror universe setting made for a nice balance). In later years Geoff Johns spun the Syndicate into the bad guys in a major story arc in Justice League, modernizing the team to reflect changes in the New 52 team. 

Now the Syndicate gets yet another revamp with Crime Syndicate #1, the first in a 6-issue miniseries, with yet other changes. Superwoman is no longer Lois Lane, but Donna Troy of Themyscira. Power Ring is now John Stewart, agent of the Overlords of Oa. Johnny Quick has a punk rocker look to him, but is still paired up with the size-changing Atomika. And Ultraman?

Ultraman has been looking over Metropolis with an iron hand ever since young Clark Kent assassinated President Kennedy.

This first issue from Andy Schmidt, Kieran McKeown, and Dexter Vines doesn't delve too deeply into the story arc of this mini, focusing more on showing us who's who and how they fit together. In fact, as of the opening chapter, there is no Syndicate, as those other than Ultraman are relative newcomers to the scene. Donna Troy is busily exerting influence over the current president, Oliver Queen. Former cop John Stewart is conflicted over perceived injustices and how to deal with it using the Power Ring (which speaks in a bit of a slang akin to Evil Ernie's Smiley). Flash and Atomika terrorize Central City with high-speed thrill kills. And in Gotham, the legend of the Owlman continues to grow among the underworld.

All of that is presented to the reader against a backdrop of mystery attacks, revealed to be the coming of Starro -- fitting, as it was Starro on Earth-1 who first brought the Justice League together. I'm already very invested in seeing how evil bands together to face down bigger evil.

While I'm not a super hug fan of McKeown's art in this book (being a tad too angular and cartoonish), the backup story more than makes up for it, as Schmidt teams up with Bryan Hitch to provide the origin story of the boy from Krypton, and how his powers were taken advantage of by the Kents, who treated him like their own personal super-powered Cinderella. One hopes that each issue will have similar backups, giving the foundational structure of each of the main characters.

4.0 / 5.0