By: Andrew Fontana
The Super family books have been firing on all cylinders since DC’s much lauded June relaunch, restoring at last Superman’s primacy in the DC canon and giving fans a preferable alternative to the Zack Snyder’s grim and dark Man of Steel. However, one crucial ingredient has been curiously absent: that of a villainous Luthor. Having Lex compete with Clark over the mantle of Superman definitely makes for a fun read, but sometimes you just long for a bald maniacal genius to give your favorite hero a bad day. Phil Jiminez definitely agrees; by making a newly powered Lana Lang cross swords with Lex Luthor’s crazier (and more intelligent) younger sister Lena, he crafts a super family story that is more familiar than many would expect in the new Superwoman book.
There isn’t exactly a throwdown between Lena Luthor and Superwoman this issue. Instead, we see Luthor secure her stronghold over Metropolis with an army of Bizarro women and advanced technology, while Lana struggles with how to fight back. Jiminez truly gives her a voice distinct from others in the super-family; she is self-reliant where Superman is open to allies, brash and assertive rather than hopeful. Jiminez is able to balance these qualities of her personality while keeping her likable.
Lena Luthor is more of a mixed bag. She is visually distinctive, taking the bald head and armored suit of her brother into a monstrous new direction, but her machine god shtick obscures the really interesting aspects of her character. She too is dealing with the legacy of another, of course, but making her into a veritable deity turns her from intriguing antagonist to throwaway villain that Superwoman must defeat.
In terms of art, this book is no slouch. Santorelli’s Lena Luthor is truly a monstrous reflection of her older brother, familiar yet entirely distinctive. All the scenes involving Luthor evoke a terrifying futurism that stands in sharp contrast next to the mundanity of Metropolis. Indeed, the detail of his figures and his unique use of layouts make each panel pop with energy. His pencils have some difficulty with distance, but that is only a complaint when compared with the rest of his artwork.