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Year of the Villain: Lex Luthor #1 Sends Lex On a Murderous Mystery Tour

Year of the Villain Lex Luthor #1 cover
Story by
Art by
Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie
Colors by
Tomeu Morey
Letters by
Tom Napolitano
Cover by
Publisher
DC Comics

Ever since the start of the summer, DC Comics' extensive cast of fiendish villains has steadily been stepping into the spotlight as part of DC's Year of the Villain publishing initiative. As part of a wave of special one-shots leading up to the climactic confrontation between the Justice League and Legion of Doom, Lex Luthor -- newly empowered by the omnipotent being Perpetua -- has traveled throughout the DC Universe to similarly upgrade the various antagonists in stories examining the motivations and inner character of each of the villains. The latest special, by t and Bryan Hitch, focuses on Luthor himself in a multiversal tour that shows just how sinister the iconic foe can be that truly depicts him at his most megalomaniacal.

Now given the ability to traverse the DC Multiverse with his newfound powers, Luthor seeks different incarnations of himself across the numerous alternate realities, eradicating those he deems unworthy of sharing his name. He also takes a young version of himself from a parallel world as a sort of impromptu P.O.V. character and foil to the nefarious machinations of the main universe's Luthor on his magical murder tour through time and space.

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Latour, in his debut with DC after years of extensively working with Marvel and Image Comics, is no stranger to penning adventures in alternate realities, having previously co-created Spider-Gwen. Given the premise and protagonist here, Latour's work is understandably darker as Luthor cuts a bloody path across the DC Multiverse, but Latour keeps his signature wit and flair for superhero action, blending both as the issue juxtaposes the various Luthors against the prime one as a means to explore Lex's twisted inner psyche, with a genuinely laugh-out-loud surprise version of Luthor that may not have the ambitious aspirations that many of his counterparts share.

In doing so, Latour has created an issue that is sometimes wacky, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes surprisingly funny at times while keeping the sinister agenda and unrelenting evil of the main Luthor as its steady heartbeat.

As his first major writing gig with DC, Latour is clearly having a blast packing the story with as many nods to classic DC characters as he can while keeping the focus to Lex. If there was ever a superhero readers wanted to see reimagined as Lex Luthor, the creative team more than delivers on that promise while providing a sly, meta-textual wink to the nature of superhero comics.

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This level of self-awareness is all the more apparent in the work of the issue's illustrator, Bryan Hitch, joined by inker Andrew Currie and colorist, Tomeu Morey. Hitch had previously deconstructed the genre's tropes as the artist of The Authority and The Ultimates and, in a way, Latour has scripted a slightly nonsensical love letter to The Authority here. This comparison is made all the clearer with Hitch rendering this particular tale, though the writing and art lack the sardonic edge of the fan-favorite Wildstorm series. However, Latour and Hitch are celebrating the genre's potential while playfully acknowledging its more fantastical elements.

For the past several months, Lex Luthor has served as a constant across DC's Year of the Villain, usually on the periphery while other classic enemies take the spotlight for their respective, standalone adventures. Jason Latour and Bryan Hitch's one-shot special puts the upgraded nemesis right in the spotlight, with a colorful cast of alternate Luthors to better understand what makes the main DC Universe's one tick. Packed with plenty of twists and turns, the creative team has embraced the possibilities of the genre and invited readers to have some fun along the way.

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