Though Lex Luthor appeared as one of the main characters in the last two issues of “Action Comics,” “Justice League” #52 serves as a bit of a prologue to that, offering a glimpse into the mind of the brilliant businessman who blackmailed his way onto the League. While it would have been nice for “Justice League” #52 to show up before “Action Comics” #957 and #958, it’s telling that Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Danny Miki, Mark Morales and Scott Hanna turn out a fun issue regardless of the fact that part of the ending was revealed two weeks ago.
“Justice League” #52 is an odd little character study that lets us see what makes the character tick. It’s easy to simply portray Lex Luthor as a power-mad character, and Jurgens skirts that by sticking with a more interesting take on the businessman. He’s massively arrogant, someone who simply cannot accept the idea that others don’t instantly fall into line around his ideas and leadership, and his narration along those lines ultimately clinches it; the idea Lena Luthor hated her brother is so unfathomable to Lex that watching him struggle with such a basic truth is both delightful and painful.
It’s almost sad to see Lex trying to do right, even as he does it by stepping on everyone in his path. Jurgens delivers a character readers can ultimately love to hate, even if they have a little bit of sympathy for him. His actions at the Daily Planet, his method of fighting criminals and his decision to leave Apokolips instead of trying to rule it are all the product of immense hubris, and — while Lex’s eventual fall will be mighty — it’s not without misplaced intentions. That makes him readable and a good co-lead for “Action Comics.”
Based on his work in “Justice League” #52, I’d like to see Grummett as a regular artist on one of DC’s new titles. His overall style hasn’t changed since I first encountered him on “Adventures of Superman” and “New Titans” in the early ’90s, but it’s more refined and controlled than it was then. The tight close-ups on Lex’s face as he faces off against the gunman is chilling under Grummett’s pencils, which provide a cold and relentless gaze that zooms closer and closer onto Lex’s eye as he rattles the shooter. With an attractive glimpse of the rest of the League and solid Metropolis backgrounds, it’s a good looking book. Miki, Morales and Hanna’s inks are consistent to the point it’s not easy to tell who inked which pages, and Gabe Eltaeb’s colors finish off the look with bright colors that aren’t over the top.
“Justice League” #52 may not be a dramatic way to wrap up the series, but — similar to how the previous issue served as a lead-in to future issues of “Titans” — it works well to accentuate what’s happening in “Action Comics.” Ultimately, Jurgens, Grummett, Miki, Morales and Hanna’s “Justice League” #52 is a success: you’ll hate Lex Luthor, even as you want to see more of him.