REVIEW: ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Crime Syndicate #2 - But Why Tho?Crime Syndicate #2 is published by DC Comics. Written By Andy Schmidt. The pencils are by Keiran McKeown and the inker is Dexter Vines. Colours by Steve Oliff and letters by Rob Leigh. There is a short backup story at the end of the comic also by Schmidt. The art is by Bryan Hitch, colours by Alex Sinclair and Leigh on letters.

The first issue presented a retelling of the origin of the Crime Syndicate, twisted versions of well-known heroes that reside on Earth-3. The members are all lone wolves at this point, living their own lives in individual cities, mostly unaware of each other. Some cracks are beginning to form regarding Ultraman’s hold over Metropolis. Their individual ventures are interrupted when star-shaped aliens appear in the sky. Starro’s minions descend on the cities, possessing Ultraman and Quick. 

In this issue, the “heroes” are given a chance to react to the intruders. Superwoman and President Queen are trying to fend off the oncoming storm, which is made even more difficult when Ultraman joins the attack. He is there to capture the Amazonian and turn her into one of the controlled metahumans, but that will prove harder than he thinks. In Gotham, Owlaman tries to dissect and analyse the situation. He discovers one critical component to repelling the aliens: Power Ring.

The plot is incredibly fun, the pace getting even faster in the second issue. There is still a lot of jumping between characters and locations. This is lessened as the characters start meeting and joining together, however. It primarily becomes two different aspects of the story, Owlman in Gotham and Ultraman and Superwoman fighting in space and on Earth. When other members do join in, it is at the end of the comic. The fight between arguably the two most powerful metahumans on Earth is full of energy and exhilarating. 

There is exposition, but Schmidt laces it into the script so that there isn’t too much of it. When storytelling and world-building happens, it is interesting and natural. It is clear that the metahumans on Earth-3 are a new phenomenon, many of them not known to the public. This is possibly going to be a crucial feature of Crime Syndicate going forwards.

The key points of the plot still match that of a standard Justice League comic, but there are still key differences and changes. The ending has some reveals that aren’t surprising, but there are a few moments that are definitely unexpected.

One of the narrative techniques that Schmidt will use is made clear within this issue. Every chapter is going to have an individual character as a focal point. Ultraman was the figurehead of the premier issue, while Owlman takes centre stage in Crime Syndicate #2. He is on his own, or with Alfred, in his own arc within the comic, and has his own backup story. Owlman has all the darker aspects of Bruce Wayne without any of the redeeming features of his Earth-1 counterpart. He is analytical and clever but is also intensely cruel, absolute, and arrogant. 

His reimagined origin story is superb in its twists and will certainly stun many readers. Hitch and Sinclair effortlessly switch from the Superman story to this one, the atmosphere shifting entirely. Owlman is terrifying, complete with the glowing yellow eyes that strike fear into anyone that sees them.

Owlman may be the main character of the issue, but the other five team members have roles to play as well. More of their personalities are revealed as they start interacting with each other. As solo operators, each one thinks they are the most powerful on Earth. The dialogue continues to be phenomenal. The derision with which some of the members talk to each other is incredibly funny. Ultraman is being manipulated by Starro, so his voice has changed. Superwoman spends most of the fight talking about herself, obsessed with her own power. Superwoman is a dominatrix, using her strength and sex to control those beneath her. 

The art is fantastic. McKeown and Vines do a superb job at making these characters so physically similar to their doppelgangers, with small details to add individuality. The starkest difference is Quick. The topless, tattooed costume twinned with the smug smirk makes him stand out on his own against other speedsters. The battle itself is epic, the inks by Vines depicting speed and impact brilliantly. The location changes quickly but each time it is easy for the reader to keep up. And covering many of the metahumans within this story are the gargantuan tentacles of Starro. The immense size of Mother Starro is portrayed well, the full body never able to be shown. There is often very little in the background in regards to detail, focusing all attention on the characters.

Something Oliff does well within Crime Syndicate #2 is make the colours in this issue so similar to what you may see in a regular Justice League comic. At a quick glance, a reader may think it is an issue containing Green Lantern and Superman before they notice the subtle changes. The shades are bright and vibrant, the iconic colours of many of the heroes still present on their brutal alternate selves. It is considered a common stereotype that light colours such as these are seen heavily in comics for children, so it is a clever idea to use them in such a cruel world.

Leigh’s lettering is very good, which is important considering there is a lot of dialogue in this issue. The word balloons are large but the font is easy to read, so the reader can effortlessly skim them without getting bogged down in the conversations. 

Crime Syndicate #2 is an extraordinarily fun read. Schmidt and the art team are creating a parody of the Justice League whilst also telling an effective origin story that can stand on its own. Brimming with energy and violence, this series is perfect for new readers to learn about the Crime Syndicate. We have seen this group at the peak of their powers and at the end of their reign. But this is a new and updated piece of history. Much of the darkness is in the dialogue instead of the action, and the world-building is done through subtle comments instead of huge montages. Even within the second issue, the readers have discovered a lot about this Earth just from references and hints. 

Crime Syndicate #2 is available where comics are sold.

Crime Syndicate #2
4

TL;DR

Crime Syndicate #2 is an extraordinarily fun read. Schmidt and the art team are creating a parody of the Justice League whilst also telling an effective origin story that can stand on its own. Brimming with energy and violence, this series is perfect for new readers to learn about the Crime Syndicate. We have seen this group at the peak of their powers and at the end of their reign. But this is a new and updated piece of history. Much of the darkness is in the dialogue instead of the action, and the world-building is done through subtle comments instead of huge montages. Even within the second issue, the readers have discovered a lot about this Earth just from references and hints.