REVIEW: ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Issue #6

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Crime Syndicate #6 - But Why Tho

Crime Syndicate #6 is published by DC Comics. The writer is Andy Schmidt. The penciler is Kieran McKeown and Dexter Vines is the inker. Colours by Steve Oliff and letters by Rob Leigh. There is a backup story with Bryan Hitch on art and Alex Sinclair on letters.

The Crime Syndicate was born during Starro’s invasion of Earth-3. Several Metahumans on Earth were brought together to battle the alien, and they successfully destroyed the invader. In the aftermath, the recently-revealed metahumans went back to their lives, but not all of it was doing good. Alexander Luthor and a team of super-powered beings hunted down the murderous Johnny Quick and Atomica, and Power Ring killed Quick. Atomica joined the alliance of Ultraman, Superwoman, and Owlman and defeated Luthor’s squad, but their victory was interrupted by the arrival of fellow Kryptonian, Ultragirl.

Inside this issue, the fight between the two Kryptonians is taken to Earth, with the metahumans continuing their fight. The Kryptonite addicted, uncontrollable Ultraman is being beaten by his more composed, heroic cousin. With all of the different parties getting involved, there is only one way this will end. Meanwhile, Power Ring fights himself, Thaal Sinestro and Superwoman as they land at Superwoman’s home of Themyscira. 

The finale of this series features two monumentally important battles. The pacing and structure of the fights are intense without being overwhelming. They aren’t all-encompassing, as there is still a powerful plot unfolding as the story reaches its conclusion. Whilst there are two conflicts running parallel to each other, they are very different in how they unfold and what they entail. The fight between the two Kryptonians has some powerful emotional moments, but it is incredibly physical and rapid. In contrast, Power Ring’s subplot is based on the manipulation coming from three different voices. When reading the ending, it should be remembered that this is a world in which heroes don’t really exist or succeed. Despite this knowledge, the last quarter of the comic is incredibly surprising. The status quo for a familiar but yet very different Crime Syndicate is set by the end of the issue.

The last of the main characters to not be used as the central protagonist for an issue is Atomica, which is rectified inside Crime Syndicate #6. It may have been perceived that this diminutive character is an insignificant, throwaway member of the team. But with the death of Johnny Quick, Schmidt has elevated her personality tenfold. She is incredible and the application of her powers is terrifying. It is evident that she is as remorseless as her partner was, with a love of causing pain just as intense as the larger person she accompanied. 

But it isn’t just Atomica blessed with brilliant writing. The conflict between Ultraman and Ultragirl is fascinating. The change in respect from a human to Kryptonian is so apparent. He considers him and his race to be so much more important than the weaker beings he protects when he chooses to. Not one of the main characters in this book is particularly likable, but that is intentional. To be a hero in this world shows weakness, and that is not a great recipe for survival. 

What was mildly disappointing was how the fellow Amazon warriors were used in this issue. Donna’s return and anger towards her people had been mentioned before in this series, so when she finally does set foot on the island it is hotly anticipated. But their presence in the comics serves largely as cameos and voiceless appearances, which is a shame.

The art has been tremendous from the first issue through to the last. The violence in Crime Syndicate #6 is highlighted but not reveled in. There are comics in which the brutality of what these alternate reality characters unleash is glorified, but it is not the case here. McKeown presents it quickly, the violence shown in a “blink and you’ll miss if fashion”, with the inks by Vines also not over-glamorising it. It is still revealed how much certain characters enjoy inflicting pain, but that is presented by the fantastic facial expressions and dialogue.

The colours are superb. There is still a vivid nature to the shades inside this comic, Oliff using very similar colours to how the Justice League are in Earth-1 books. This same palette creates a remarkable cognitive dissonance within the readers’ minds. These are metahumans in vibrant costumes doing despicable things; which isn’t seen regularly. The letters are very well done and always easy to tread. It is also dynamic, changing in size to match the intensity of the panel.

Crime Syndicate #6 is a powerful conclusion to the series. Understated is not a word this comic knows, and Schmidt ensures that the series ends with the same amount of action it began with. What started as something that could have been considered a tongue in cheek reimagining of a Justice League origin story, but with bad people blessed with incredible superpowers. Instead, Schmidt completely reinvented a world that was filled with conflict, depth, and politics. The little backstories at the end of each chapter, visually enriched by Hitch and Sinclair, provided history to a new world. The ending is left open and this seems to be just the start of a new beginning.

Crime Syndicate #6 is available where comics are sold.

Crime Syndicate #6
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TL;DR

Crime Syndicate #6 is a powerful conclusion to the series. Understated is not a word this comic knows, and Schmidt ensures that the series ends with the same amount of action it began with. What started as something that could have been considered a tongue in cheek reimagining of a Justice League origin story, but with bad people blessed with incredible superpowers. Instead, Schmidt completely reinvented a world that was filled with conflict, depth, and politics. The little backstories at the end of each chapter, visually enriched by Hitch and Sinclair, provided history to a new world. The ending is left open and this seems to be just the start of a new beginning.