The Imperius Lex story from Superman finally comes to an end. The arc was released almost at the same time The Oz Effect was released. As a Superman fan, I’ve been enjoying what both Durgens and Tomasi have been doing since DC Rebirth started. I’m probably one of the few people that loved New 52 Superman, except for the horrible Truth story arc which was handled slightly better in Tomasi’s hands, but since DC Rebirth started, Superman stories have been superior, and probably the best of DC Rebirth. Both writers handle Superman in their own respective ways with Durgens having a 1980/1990-ish approach to Superman, which is really welcomed, and Tomasi focusing more on the Family Man aspect of the superhero.
Usually I consider Durgens’ Action Comics slightly better than Tomasi’s Superman, but with Oz Effect, Imperius Lex was without any doubts a better story arc than Oz Effect, and this final part of the story arc shows it very well. Nowadays it’s very risky to touch politics in comics, especially considering what Marvel has been doing, but Tomasi is one that when he explores political subtexts, he does in a way that it doesn’t feel forced or stupid, but rather in a way that is subtle and interesting, especially because the way he does it is to enlighten values that sadly have been despised in the comics since a few years ago. One example of Tomasi’s approach to political subtext is seen in the two part Independence Day story arc, which is a story that is about remembering and honoring what the Americans from yesterday did and uses it to build the future. And again in Superman #36 he does it, but before I comment on this, let’s go to what the story is about, for those who didn’t read it.
For those who have read Geoff Johns run on Justice League during New 52, you know that Lex became a member of the group. During the Darkseid War saga, Lex was left to die on Apokolips by an altered Superman, who had his mind messed up after Lex pushed him into one Apokolips’ firepits, which restored his powers, but like I mentioned messed with his mind. There Lex was found by a group of people who were seeking a savior, an alien who was a farmer and the greatest champion of his home planet and who, according to their prophecy, would bring order and peace to Apokolips. Of course the alien they were talking about was Superman, but Lex, wanting to survive, says that he is the alien, and then he poses as their savior, which is how he got his Superman’s armor. But instead of staying there on Apokolips, Lex returned to Metropolis after one month, finding out that Superman died. Wanting to take Superman’s place and also wanting to show to his sister, Lena, that he can be a better man, Lex tasked himself with becoming the New Superman.
Almost a year later after all of this, Lex has been doing a good job as a superhero, and after some struggle with Superman he and the Man of Steel became partners after sometime. Imperius Lex starts with them working together to stop a robbery, and it’s very good to see two guys who have been enemies for almost 80 years behaving like almost best friends (which in some incarnations they used to be). But Lex’s absence on Apokolips causes problems for him, with his followers taking him by force to Apokolips, and Superman, Lois and Jon get caught in the middle of it with Lex also forcing Superman to be there. So there is basically Superman and his family in the middle of a civil war on Apokolips while trying to find a way to reunite and get back home.
The majority of the story follows Prophet and Ardora’s narration regarding having Superman as their true leader, discussing about if he is in fact their savior, if he is going to stay with them and if they should force him to lead them. In the end, they decide to follow him rather than force him to lead them by helping him saving Lex ,who was about to fall to his death. After defeating the army of Granny Goodness and after Kalibak, apparently (and hopefully, never liked his character), Superman accepts the quest of Prophet and Ardora to be their new ruler. However, after lecturing about how the values Jonathan and Martha Kent taught and the value in which the United States was built, Superman asks the people of Apokolips to follow this same values and make Apokolipis a beacon of hope.
Now here is the part in which I discuss the political subtext made by Tomasi. Just like he did with Independence Day about honoring the story of the United States, and pretty much his whole run about honoring the family, he does it again with Superman lecturing them to have their own path instead of waiting for a leader (State) to do everything for them, and to respect each other, help each other. Another part of political subtext present here is when Lois punches a female fury who called her weak for being married, having a son and that this made her “belittle the progress” of their sex. How could you not love this moment with Lois basically giving a “shut up, you moron”?
This end was great, but there was a part that was a letdown. Lex has been a struggling superhero, as many doubted and still does doubt that he can be redeemed. Many, myself included, feared that DC would soon make Lex go back to the bad guy, just like Sinestro became bad again instead of following the path to his redemption like it was showed in the future of New 52’s Green Lantern #20 (which was transformed in an alternate future instead of a definitive future to Hal and the rest of Green Lantern characters). It seemed that it wasn’t the case, but the closing page of Superman #36 gave the opposite idea. Superman angrily discussing with Lex about what he did, and Lex, tired of Superman doubting him, Lex rips off the S of his armor.
One thing is sure, it seems. The possible future with Lex becoming the new Darkseid and killing Earth, which was showed during the Men of Steel story arc in Action Comics won’t be happening. But about Lex’s own future, let’s hope he is kept as least as anti-hero.
(Review by Lord Fand Angus)
- The political subtext made by Tomasi
- Mahnke's art
- Lex (probably) goes evil again.