Writer – Matthew Sturges
Pencils – Sean Chen
Inks – Walden Wong
Another entry in my rambling, editor unaware, multi-column theme conceit. This time around it’s the “Vs” theme. Check out my first entry “Batman V Superman XXX” in my Adult Continuity column.
Comics on the can is a scenario where I grab the top comic from a box I got several years ago and read it while pooping (peeing is optional). Then I pass on my thoughts and feeling about it to you, the loyal reader who apparently isn’t so bothered by over sharing.
Joker V Lex Luthor?
These late winter, early spring months have been leaning hard on the INSERT SUPERHERO V INSERT OTHER SUPERHERO motif. This makes sense as a natural extension of the place superhero and/or comic book movies now occupy in the zeitgeist. Why? I’ll leave that to my next Cultural Junkdrawer. Anyway You may have heard of a small, limited release art film called Batman V Superman: Dawn of justice:Die Harder: The Spawning 7 and you know Captain America: Civil War: Avengers 2.5 will be grabbing your hard earned scratch soon. Not to mention Daredevil V Punisher, Justice League V Teen Titans, Ted Cruz V wanting to punch Ted Cruz in his smug looking cakehole and Supergirl v Flash. I put a small ‘v’ for Supergirl v Flash because they don’t fight they just have a race, make cute eyes at each other and eat ice cream.
Superhero fights are part and parcel in the comic book world; everyone wants to flex nuts especially when you get punched through walls for kicks. The old school team-ups even follow a particular pattern: Heroes meet – either through the teamed up villains mechanization or simply super powered folk’s tendency to punch first, ask questions later – A fight ensues. This is pure fan service by the way; a reference point to be set when the school yard or Magic: The Gathering: You spent $35 on a trading card soda and pizza break debate breaks out. So the heroes slug it out then realize “You refrained from hitting me with that bus filled with people… Hey, you’re a Hero!”
“You are too!, I’m sorry. I’m upset because my arch nemesis is hanging out with some new guy. I saw them at Menchies.”
“Did this new guy have, like, metal octopus type arms coming outta his back?”
“In fact he did.”
“That’s MY arch nemesis! Let’s go get those fuckers!”
I’m paraphrasing, of course.
The villains teaming up was always a bit more entertaining. They don’t give a wet magic lasso about busloads of innocent people and, presumably, they aren’t bothered by killing. So even though you know Lex Luthor won’t kill Doctor Octopus it COULD happen. This makes super villain “getting to know you fights” pretty brief…
“Your robot arms are impressive. I look forward to using them in my next plan to defeat Superman!”
“Superman! Guy sounds like a tool to me.”
“You got no idea.”
“Spider-Man is my enemy. Some punk kid who hops around every time we fight.”
“Ugh, sounds like a pain in the ass. I bet he quips.”
“Never shuts up.”
“I’m jealous. Superman’s humor is so stale, I could use a good laugh… You know Menchies’ now has dole pineapple whip!”
“Serious! I’ll find the nearest one on Yelp!”
I’m paraphrasing, of course.
It’s odd, though, that the bad guys are quicker to put their personal bullshit aside in favor of defeating their enemies. One would think that the myopia that characterizes your average villain would cause more problems than solutions.
That’s what Salvation Run is all about.
Amanda Waller uses the Suicide Squad to round up all the villains of the DC universe. Presumably Waller has a comprehensive DC pull list at her local comic store because dudes like Flash’s Rogues gallery, former President Lex Luthor and “so old and powerful he makes Dick Cheney look like an amature” Vandal Savage have been bagged along with second stringers like Hyena and Crazy Quilt (da fuq?). The whole motley bunch are then tossed onto a primitive planet via Boom Tube and left to fend for themselves.
Focusing on the bad guys when they have to worry about some giant mobile fanged plant trying to eat them is a great idea. These cats already have social grooming problems as it is; take away the rules and raise the stakes and watch the sparks fly.
I’ve read issue six and it seems like an ass-load of sparks have flown already. The two strongest personalities; Lex and Joker have assumed leadership of two factions consisting of the majority of the exiles (Vandal Savage has his own little evil manipulative Charlie’s Angels thing going on elsewhere). Management styles couldn’t be more different for the alpha males of the rogues gallery. To put it in Dungeons And Dragons: 2nd edition terms Lex is lawful evil and Joker pushes the boundaries of the chaotic evil envelope. Lex wants to hold things together and get off the prison planet… under his superior leadership, naturally. Joker… well, I think you can figure out where the Joker stands with the whole authority figure and maintaining order bit. To ratchet up the tension they bad guys have captured Martian Manhunter and Lex (that big meanie) has forbade Killer Croc from eating him. When two of the exiles are caught giving some food to Manhunter and Luthor denies Croc another snack, shit really hits the fan. Joker pushes the tension till it breaks, ok… he bitch slaps Luthor… then Lex and the clown prince of crime go at one another real savage like.
Fights can inform character just like any other actions and this fight is no exception. Luthor is sick of Joker’s shit; a lot of anger and frustration come out in Lex’s assault. This may not seem congruent with Lex’s character but for a cat that thinks he has all the answers and very little challenge to his authority, dealing with the Joker would be a particular type of irritant. Herding criminal knuckleheads into working together while the local flora and fauna are trying to food you must be hard enough. Add in a smart-ass psychopath who cultivates chaos pulling at the threads and even someone as calmly sociopathic as Luthor will eventually snap. As for the Joker pushing Luthor to this point it is the foundation of his philosophy; he’s thrilled to make someone want to kill him. He’s enjoying the shit outta Lex becoming unhinged. Proves the Joker’s point. He likes it even more because Lex can’t match his ferocity or entirely lose himself in the blood lust.
Short answer – Joker wins the fight. But as he’s about to jam his knife into Luthor’s skull boom tubes open and a swarm of Parademons attack!
Salvation Run is a great idea even if you have to suspend a large amount of disbelief to get to where the story sets up. Waller’s black ops shenanigans aside folks like Luthor and Savage wield a lot of influence and political power. Someone like Mirror Master might not be missed but those two guys would be. Having these characters smash against one another, figuratively and literally, is great juicy fun. I’ve always felt that the villains, when done well, are way more interesting than the heroes. Sticking them in a hothouse scenario where life is on the line only intensifies the interest. To draw from Heat Wave’s opening monologue “Why? To watch it burn, no other reason.”
I get how he feels.
THINGS TANGENTIALLY RELATED TO THE COLUMN THAT I COULDN’T FIT IN ORGANICALLY
I cheated a bit from my rules; Salvation Run wasn’t the next book in the box. But seeing Joker and Luthor at each other’s throats was too serendipitous for my high concept theme crap to pass up.
According to the Wikipedia entry Salvation Run was based on a pitch from George R. R. Martin. Naturally DC Editors avoided the presumed rape scenes, the lesbian three way between Catwoman, Scandal Savage and Cheetah, killing Joker, Lex, Martian Manhunter, Captain Cold, Man Bat… pretty much the wholesale slaughter of the DC villains gallery, Gorilla Grod sodomizing Weather Wizard to death and a mysterious character that only says “jimminy jillikers” in the original pitch.
Yes, it’s true; Menchies’ does really have Dole pineapple whip. I’ve had it twice already this week!
I keep picturing myself stealing Ted Cruz’s favorite baseball cap and holding it over my head as he struggles to grab it… Is this wrong?
I have no idea who Crazy Quilt is but they should’ve thought the name thing through a bit more. Just sayin.
This book has Captain Cold, Heat Wave and Vandal Savage in it. Legends of Tomorrow has brought these characters a long way into the mainstream.
Same goes for Deadshot and Killer Croc in Suicide Squad.
If the DC cinematic universe Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) was part of this line up Killer Croc would’ve eaten him first.
NEXT: I’ve bent my rules again and picked up the Civil War GN for obvious reasons.
LATER: Looks like another Ultimate X-Men title.