There is still no information for The Never-Ending Battle at this time. But we can check in on the new protectors of Metropolis in Supergirl and Team Luthor #1.
Supergirl and Team Luthor #1
Writers: Roger Stern and Louise Simonson
Pencilers: June Brigman, and Denis Rodier
Inkers: Jackson Guice, Dennis Janke, and Denis Rodier
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterers: Albert De Guzman
Supergirl and Team Luthor was a bit of a way to get people to keep thinking about the Superman books while still looking like they were serious about the whole ‘death’ thing. Much like The Legacy of Superman, this was an issue that I had right after it came out because the bigger size made it more appealing to my mom. But rereading this it is shocking how little of it I remembered.
In part that’s because this oversized issue is, for the most part, monstrously dull. It’s broken down into a main story and a backup, and while the backup is slightly better, neither of them is particularly good. The action within the issue is minimal, which can work, but the story in this one was just a little too unstructured and bloated.
The first six pages are literally Lex Luthor showing a highlight reel of Supergirl’s activities to local politicians in a bid to get police powers for Team Luthor. The only real action of the issue comes with Lex Luthor putting on really bad Iron Man armor and going with Team Luthor flunkies and Supergirl to stop a terrorist attack on STAR Labs. The only thing I remember from this issue at all is Lex somehow breaking his leg in the armor.
The rest of the main plot basically just emphasizes the callousness of Lex Luthor II. He’s just a genuinely cruel and sour man throughout this special, while still hiding behind a face of altruism to the public. It’s great for the character development, for sure, but I’m not sure that we needed an entire deluxe special devoted to it. It feels like it’s one of those things that works better in the background than it does as the only focus. This special did fully resolve the Hellgrammite plot, though, with Lex Luthor deducing that Markham was the one who tried to have him killed, and using Supergirl to pretend to be that very monster to coerce a confession out of the executive.
But therein lies my biggest problem with this issue. Supergirl’s characterization in both stories is absolutely terrible. I get the feeling that this issue was meant to show what an ill effect Lex was having on her, and if that was the goal it does a good job of it. But the way Supergirl behaves throughout the issue is just vapid and mean, the antithesis of what most readers want from the character. She’s a lovestruck school girl, and she’s becoming just as self-centered as Lex himself is, as evidenced by her conversation with Lois.
But there are two things that get me more riled up about her characterization than anything else in this book. The first is when she encounters (while shifted into the form of Dr. Kelly) two gossiping women in the hallway telling blonde jokes. She gets extremely offended, likening blonde jokes to horrific discrimination. This is extremely weird because, again, her natural form is purple goo. She’s not actually a blonde, that’s just the form she uses most often. The entire sequence just doesn’t land for me and feels a little bit short-sighted, to say the least.
The other big problem I have comes from the backup story by Louis Simonson. I’ve mentioned before that Simonson’s Underworlders are basically cut whole cloth from the Morlocks of the X-Men comics, and this story just reinforces that statement. A few of them go above ground to see if a shelter might be amenable to them, but as soon as a guy sees that they aren’t entirely human, he lashes out in violence. This is entirely a Marvel mutant plotline, down to the poor Underworlder’s powers flaring up because he’s scared and the sparks he produces setting fire to the orphanage. And here’s where the problem comes in as Supergirl saves the day. She holds both sides equally accountable for the destruction of the shelter, and when she returns to Lex she reacts in fear to the “monsters” of Underworld. I don’t ever want a Superfamily member to be what I’d consider to be an X-Men villain, so this plot just out and out disappoints me.