One of the best things DC writers did with Rebirth was not ignore everything that preceded it during the New 52. For as much griping as some of us fans — including myself — made through that time frame, there were some interesting concepts and stories worth further exploration.
Among them was Lex Luthor’s stint on Apokolips during The Darkseid War arc in Justice League, the basis for this new Superman arc — Imperius Lex.
Superman has had some decent to really good fill-in stories as of late, but it’s nice to see the regular team back. Writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason seem refreshed and Doug Mahnke’s artwork looks fully revitalized.
It’s a good thing that DC has so much talent to allow its top tier creators a chance to step off the treadmill for a bit. The breather did wonders for all of them.
There’s the now trademark family element with Clark, Lois and Jon deciding on a movie night. I love the family dynamic and how well Tomasi and Gleason have the parent/son relationship down. Jon is all set to do some crimefighting with Damian, but reluctantly agrees to spend quality time with his folks. At some point, Jon won’t be as willing and will prefer his teen pals’ company, but for now, Jon still gets to be a kid.
Gleason and Tomasi also add the new wrinkle of the heroic Lex Luthor. Typically, the villain turned hero storyline has become cliché, but with Luthor it doesn’t seem stale. That’s in part due to the writing, which keeps Luthor on zero-humility and that ever present tinge of arrogance. The ongoing friendly tension/rivalry with Superman also keeps this from becoming too predictable.
With Apokolips under siege, Luthor is dragged back to help bring order. But Lex isn’t keen on ruling the Apokolips throne and summons Superman for assistance leading to the Kent family on Darkseid’s home turf.
Mahnke has been deprived of driving Apokolips and the New God characters. There’s a liveliness to his panels here that’s more fresh and energetic than his normal solid work. It helps that Gleason and Tomasi give him so many exciting scenarios. Mahnke tends to need a strong inker to fully showcase his work and Jaime Mendoza delivers with bold and striking inking. Ditto for colorist Wil Quintana, who provides an outstanding final presentation.
Superman (and family) & Luthor on Apokolips with all of Darkseid’s goons gunning for them? This has all the elements for another exceptional Superman arc. Anyone worried about Superman’s status in Rebirth will easily put those concerns to rest with this one. — Jeffrey Lyles
Rating: 9.5 out of 10