Recently Superman has been going through some mini-arcs and one-shot stories while Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason set things up for their next big arc. Now that for Tomasi and Gleason are back to give us their next big storyline with “Imperius Lex.” As the title indicates it looks like Lex Luthor will be front and center in this story arc. To go along with Lex’s spotlight we are all set up to have Apokolips to be the setting of this arc given that Lex also declared himself the new Darkseid since Geoff Johns final Justice League story arc. With all of this how will Superman and his family deal with Lex bringing them into the middle of his own story? Let’s find out with Superman #33.
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Jaime Mendoza
Colorist: Wil Quintana
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Apokolips Prophet tells Ardora that blood won’t stop shedding blood until the one who has forsaken them sits on Darkseid’s throne again.
Elsewhere on Apokolips it is shown that the entire planet is at war with multiple sides fighting at the same time.
Over in Metropolis a pair of robbers make their escape from the police. Superman and Lex Luthor show up and quickly put a stop to the robbers for the police
As they are swarmed by police and locals happy to see them Lex comments how good it is to serve the city.
At LexCorp, Lex thinks about how the city has final come to see him as their hero. Suddenly he is attacked and a helmet placed on him.
Prophet and Ardora are shown to be the attackers. They tell Lex that it is time to fulfill his destiny and teleport him away.
Elsewhere, Superman gets home and changes into his normal clothes. Clark then convinces Jon to come out with him and Lois for a family night out.
Lois tells Clark and Jon that she will pick the movie while they pick where to eat. When they try to flip a coin on who will decide the restaurant Clark and Jon react to some sort of noise that they hear. Clark mentions that the noise has a Kryptonian frequency but does not believe it is Lex’s doing. Clark tells Lois and Jon tha they should go enjoy their family night out as he is sure it is just some experiment that Lex is working on to make his suit stronger.
Later that night the Kent’s walk through the park while talking about the movie they just saw.
Suddenly some Lexbots show up in front of the Kents. A pre-recorded message from Lex tells the Kents that the Lexbots were made to track Superman’s Kryptonian signature. The recording request Clark help him out and that the Lexbots aren’t going to give him a choice.
Clark and Jon suit up and fight the Lexbots as Superman and Superboy. They are able to defeat all the Lexbots together.
The broken Lexbots suddenly reform into a cube that captures Superman, Superboy and Lois. The cube transports the three to Apokolips in three separate locations. End of issue.
The Good: Superman #33 sets the stage for what could be one of the best story arcs of this series since Rebirth started. The integration of Lex Luthor’s arc that dates back to Forever Evil was a welcome shake up to the work Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have been doing on this series. Lex’s involvement also brings into many bigger questions for the Superman’s family that could shake the up the franchise status quo.
Lex Luthor has not been a big presence in Tomasi and Gleason’s run on Superman. The character’s development has been reserved for Action Comics for the most part. Given that fact Tomasi and Gleason do a good job bringing readers not reading Action Comics up to speed when it comes to Lex’s way of thinking and approach as a hero in the present. At the same time, they don’t try to make it seem like they are just trying to catch their readership base up on what is going on. Instead, Tomasi and Gleason approach Lex’s development in Superman #33 as something that is a natural progression to the character.
Saving the day with Superman in particular showed that Lex is still the attention seeker he has always been. That feeds into the larger ego that Lex has built for himself since proclaim himself Metropolis new “Superman.” That self-proclamation has now reached a point he feels vindicated that most of Metropolis, including its officials, see him as a hero that will protect them.
This high that Lex is feeling made the disaster that is going on in Apokolips even more significant. Because while Lex has gone all in on his responsibilities as a hero for Metropolis he has completely dropped the ball in maintaining order as Apokolips new leader. That dropping of the ball made the fact that Prophet and Ardora would seek him out and bring him back to the planet by force an even more impactful action to be taken. In the way the pair took Lex we are left with a mystery around what role Lex will play in the war that is going on in Apokolips.
The way Tomasi and Gleason used Lex’s used to bring Superman and his family into the equation brought up a lot of questions. Because with the Lexbots being able to find Clark, Jon and Lois by reading Clark and Jon’s unique Kryptonian frequency this brings to question if Lex knows their real identity. If not then this arc will possibly lead to that unless Lois can explain away how she ended up in Apokolips with Superman and Superboy. It also makes you wonder how what other things Lex has prepared for situations against Superman and other heroes if he already had such a contingency plan in place.
Though the focus was on the Superman side of things it was a joy to see the Kent family spending time together. Issues that involve Clark, Jon and Lois being a tight family unit are always the strongest. The dynamic between the three is so strong that it has become just as important as the Superman side of this series. Superman #33 showed that strength once again by showing how they simply decide to spend a night together.
Doug Mahnke once again delivered the big time artwork we have come to expect from him in Superman #33. Mahnke does a good job teasing us with what to expect now that the setting has moved to Apokolips through the opening war double page spread. Along with that, Mahnke is able to get across what Tomasi and Gleason look to accomplish with the slower, dialogue heavy scenes with character reactions that match the dialogue.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Superman #33 is a very good start to the “Imperius Lex” story arc. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are able to get across how epic this Lex Luthor-centric arc will be with Apokolips being the main setting for the story. The way Superman, Superboy and Lois Lane are integrated into what is going on in Apokolips creates even further potential in what will happen in this new story arc. All this comes together for a story that Superman fans won’t want to miss out on.