Superman and Lex Luthor must return to Apokolips to give the planet a ruler to fit the Darkseid-sized vacuum in the power structure.
Superman #33 is the first issue of a plot that goes all the way back to the New 52 Justice League storyline, “Darkseid War.” The first issue of this new arc is a promising beginning with a feeling of fun straight from the start. However, there are some aspects that I was not too keen on that will be discussed later on.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“IMPERIUS LEX!” It’s a game of thrones on Apokolips as the lords of the dreaded world battle each other to claim its rule. Lex Luthor is summoned back to the warring planet, and he will need Superman to help him reclaim a crown he did not ask for. Meanwhile, Lois is confronted by the Female Furies and Jon faces the Children of the Firepits.
What’s the story?
Superman and Lex Luthor, or SuperLex as some like to call him, are working together to protect Metropolis. Meanwhile, on Apokolips, an all-out civil war is raging due to the power vacuum left by Darkseid’s death back in Darkseid War. Two citizens of Apokolips decide that it’s time to bring Lex back to their world to fill the throne he abandoned. They boom-tube to Lex’s tower where he has signaled that he requires Superman’s help who instead ignores it due to the small uses that the signal had been used for before and decides to go for a walk with Lois and Jon.
What was good and bad about it?
The interactions between Superman and Lex with their budding partnership in protecting Metropolis is great to see, with them acting like friends and being polite about taking turns stopping a robbery that’s in progress. The whole sequence of them stopping a group of robbers dressed in Justice League masks, a nod to Point Break/Spider-Man: Homecoming, while taking turns doing things to arrest the criminals and casually maintaining conversation has really shown how much their relationship has developed from the early days of Rebirth.
The idea that Apokolips is in a full-on civil war is also an interesting aspect that we’ll hopefully see more of in the coming issues of. Seeing some of the most war-like members of the New Gods and their servants fighting to ascend the throne of Apokolips before someone finally decided to bring in the person who originally took over on Darkseid’s death would have been interesting to see as a miniseries beforehand where it explored the different sides of the conflict.
The family dynamic between the Kent’s is always really nice to see, especially with how Lois and Clark treat Jon’s adventures with Damian. However I’m personally not sure that they needed to be included within the arc. I may be proven wrong in the coming issues but this has been a thing through the main title where Tomasi seems more interested in writing Jon than Superman. I may be wrong and Jon and Lois might be a big part of the plot going forward but from the first issue the inclusion of them going forward doesn’t seem too clear on why they’re being taken to Apokolips too.
And the art?
The art by Doug Mahnke is spectacular as usual. Manke draws really great looking characters, especially Superman and Lex. His drawings of the battles on Apokolips are some of the best scenes drawn recently. The detailing on Lex’s armor is exceptional and really gives it a layered look that many artists skip over. His drawing of motherbox technology from Apokolips is also amazing to look at as it really is given a futuristic vibe.