Year of the Villain: Lex Luthor #1 Review

Lex Luthor #1 Cover
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Writer: Jason Latour / Artist: Bryan Hitch / DC Comics

One Lex to Kill Them All

Lex Luthor has been a pivotal figure this year in the DC canon. He instigated the “Year of the Villain” that has impacted almost every single on-going title in some way, shape, or form. Apex Lex is quite possibly the biggest bad we’ve had since the last universe altering event, Dark Knight: Metal. This feels appropriate given the contents of this Lex Luthor one-shot. This is a quintessentially weird issue of comics that manages to curate a series of bizarre sequences into a truly chilling look into the psyche of the current face of DC’s villainy.

Latour does an incredible job of projecting two fundamental aspects of Lex Luthor:

  1. There is a very tragic element to his existence.
  2. There was at some point the possibility for him to be one of the good guys.

Latour takes us through a tour of the multiverse, showing us different manifestations of Lex Luthor. We see a younger version of Lex in an abusive home. We see heroic and villainous iterations of the character, all through the lens of the Prime Apex Lex as he drags his younger alternate self to bear witness to his prowess. It is a fascinating introspective into the character’s motivations, chock full of fanservice and callbacks to some of the greatest moments in Luthor’s (and by association, Superman’s) history. And all of it shows us exactly what makes the Apex Lex… well Apex. Without peer, without equal, the “Only Luthor” as the story’s title proclaims.

It’s such a fascinating way to analyze one of the smartest characters in the DC Universe and offer some brilliant dialog.

Apex Lex: What will you offer to live?
Earth-38 Lex: I don’t know… what will living cost me?

It’s these quiet moments of sinister reflection and ruthlessness littered throughout that make this one-shot so intriguing and engaging. And on top that, the comic just looks incredible. Hitch’s pencils, Hitch and Currie’s Ink, Morey’s colors, and Napoliatano’s lettering are in top form for this special one shot. The various earths each have their own flair, and the different variants of Lex each feels unique while still being easily identified as “Lex”. There is an ethereal, dream-like quality to this journey across the multiverse, and the combination of visual work and narrative is wonderful.

But perhaps the biggest compliment I can give Lex Luthor is that I felt like I more deeply understood him and his pathology by the end of the issue. I got a new level of nuance that only a deep dive into the multiverse could properly give. I’m deeply impressed by how the creative team manages to make the person behind the Year of the Villain even more villainous.

9.3 “Alexanders” out of 10

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  • Mikkel Snyder is a technical writer by day and pop culture curator and critic all other times.

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