SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Justice League #5 by James Tynion IV, Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Wil Quintana and Tom Napolitano, on sale now.
Lex Luthor has had an interesting few years in the DC Universe.
He went from being mostly absent at the dawn of the New 52, to leading the fight against the Crime Syndicate of America and joining the Justice League. He became the New God of Apokolips and donned the iconic “S” shield to protect Metropolis following Superman’s death. Now, he’s leading a brand new Legion of Doom, which is unlike any previous version of DC’s assembled supervillains.
This week’s Justice League #5 — or as the New Justice team have been referring to it online, Legion of Doom #1 — goes behind the scenes and bridges the gap between what Luthor witnessed in the pages of Justice League: No Justice and the formation of the new Legion of Doom. Along the way, we learn exactly what he saw that convinced him he needed to abandon the concepts of justice and heroism in favor of following his own moral code, a code which is directing him to change the future and steer all of humanity towards Doom.
Lex Luthor was recruited by Brainiac as part of Team Entropy, one of the four teams assembled to stop the Omega Titans which were invading through the hole left in the Source Wall. As a member of Team Entropy, Lex had his worldview fundamentally altered, realising that there was no justice in the universe. Lex’s experience in space caused him to reckon with his own existence and how insignificant it truly was, but if there’s anything that’s going to motivate Lex Luthor to bigger and better things, it’s making him feel insignificant.
Lex’s experience during Justice League: No Justice made him realize that it doesn’t really matter what he does; the universe just doesn’t care. Meanwhile, the Justice League’s actions during Dark Nights: Metal literally broke the shape of the DC Universe as we know it, so if Luthor was going to make his mark and cement his legacy for the future, he’d need to up his game and start thinking bigger than he ever had before.
It actually makes a lot of sense for Luthor and it’s less of a heel turn than people might think. It’s not just DC reverting Lex to villainy because that’s what he’s best known for; it’s an evolution of the character’s outlook and motivations. When all he knew was Earth, that was all that mattered to him and the person standing in the way of Lex being the most important person on the planet was Superman. Now, Lex has seen the joys and cosmic horror the entire universe has to offer, so he needs to move beyond his petty jealousy of Superman if he wants to be remembered throughout all of time and space.