In the aftermath of the 2020 DC comic book series Death Metal, a multitude of books were launched or relaunched, including a 6 issue miniseries starring DC’s Crime Syndicate. This miniseries is the first series (excluding Convergence tie-ins) to star the Crime Syndicate. The series was written by Andy Schmidt (best known for editing Marvel’s Annihilation event). Additionally, it was drawn by Kieran McKeown.
As always, the review will be judging the comic based solely on the contents within the issue itself, disregarding any previous issues, and instead, judging it on its own merit. Luckily, this issue lives up to any expectation one could put on it. Within the span of 18 pages, Andy Schmidt is able to successfully introduce character motivations and interesting concepts in 2 characters new to the Crime Syndicate. With just those 18 pages, he is able to pack an interesting story within 18 pages that has single-handedly reignited this writer’s interest in the Crime Syndicate.
All of this is without mentioning the art by Kieran McKeown, who, despite being relatively unknown, is able to craft dynamic action sequences, fixing one of the biggest mistakes of today’s comics. This writer has never been much of a fan of fight sequences within comic books, but between the dynamic poses of McKeown’s characters and Schmidt’s focus on using action as a way to heighten the tensions between two verbally warring characters, the action sequences in this book are ones that do not feel like simple space filler.
Probably the most interesting part of the entire issue is that McKeown’s dynamic action poses remind me of Jack Kirby. There is quite literally not a single character not in an interesting pose throughout the story. You can most definitely see the Jack Kirby influences in the art, with one character quite literally outstretching his hand in the same way many Kirby characters would.
Lastly, touching upon the final, crucial part of the story, the inking and coloring of this book match the tone of the story completely. Inker Dexter Vines and colorist Steve Oliff knowingly (or potentially even unknowingly) created a perfect contrast for each other. Vines’ heavy lines on his ink darken the characters in an extremely fitting manner, while Oliff’s Silver Age palette helps create a contrast between the light tone of superheroes and the true, dark nature of the Crime Syndicate.
All of this is without mentioning the enjoyable, 4-page backup story starring Atomica (the Crime Syndicate and Earth-3’s version of The Atom). This backup story was, again, written by Andy Schmidt, but was drawn by Bryan Hitch instead of Kieran McKeown. It honestly is quite a good story about the motivations and origin behind a relatively new version of The Atom, and a relatively new character as well. She first appeared in 2013’s Aquaman #16 (Volume 7). Honestly, other than that, there is not much to say about it. It is a bit of a light read, but that is to be expected from a 4-page story, but looking at it as a bonus on top of the already great book, it certainly exceeds expectations.
This book is one of the best “modern” comics this writer has ever read. In the span of 18 pages, it created a fan of both Schmidt and McKeown, to the point where I would pick up a book solely based on their names being attached. Now for the less positive thing: the price. Four dollars for any 22-page comic is ridiculously expensive, but if you have the disposable income, I highly recommend buying it the next time you are at your local comic book store (or, even better, buy the entire series). If not, then keep an eye out specifically for this (or any other issue of this series) from the 4 comic DC Walmart bundles or from discount comic distributors.
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Now for a spoiler review of the story. Turn away now to avoid being spoiled of the contents of the issue.
I am not quite sure why there was never an Earth-3 version of Kara Zor-E (commonly known as Supergirl), but I am glad that the person who chose to tackle the concept is such an excellent writer. It honestly is a great subversion to have Supergirl be the one to be full of hope and optimism. Typically, in recent stories, Supergirl has been the character reserved and less dedicated to humanity, so it was refreshing and interesting to see her (as Ultragirl) combining the more aggressive version of late with the kind and caring version most people know and love. Sadly, they killed her quickly, but hopefully with all the multiversal shenanigans going on right now that she would be able to make a return in some form in future story.
Another new character (to the universe, first appearing earlier in the miniseries) that is interesting is a John Steward version of Power Ring. His motivations in protecting his daughter Liza is interesting and is probably the main reason for my wish to explore this series further. Sinestro being a good guy corrupted by the Green Lantern ring is another really interesting subversion of the status quo. Typically Sinestro was, at heart, a villain, with the Yellow Lantern ring fully unleashing that, so seeing him actually being a hero being corrupted by the Lanterns is another twist that makes it so disappointing the series is so limited and confined to the story they are currently telling.
Probably my only complaint about the entire series (and this issue) is that it was way too short and that it would have benefited greatly from an expanded story (and more of those backup stories that explore the characters and world).