Writer: Mark Verheiden
Artists: Thomas Derenick (p), Wayne Faucher (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Lex Luthor makes his way to the arctic in a stolen plane when he comes under the attack of an O.M.A.C. Upon hearing news of a dead pilot and a perpetrator matching Lex's description, Clark changes to Superman and makes his way north. On the way he is ambushed by the new Blackrock as Lex finds his position growing more precarious. Both men find the will to fight from different sources and succeed in defeating their enemies.
Commentary: This issue is further proof that Mark Verheiden was a good choice to write this title. While it is a little bit formulaic, the way the story was told had enough impact to transcend cliché. Verheiden has a clear view of who Lex Luthor and Superman are and how they should be written. It's nice to see the focus shift back to Lex and I was happy that Verheiden kept his own unique version of Lex while still sticking to what other writers have done with him.
Verheiden definitely showed his Smallville roots during the flashback sequences but they worked. It took me a little while to get used to the new origin for Lex Luthor, but now I kind of like it. While it does stretch my willing suspension of disbelief to think that Lex knew Clark in Smallville and wouldn't put two and two together later, their friendship adds a great connection between Lex and Clark and brings in some of what the Smallville has done with the mythos without decimating what has come before. Verheiden also addressed some of the problems Luthor has been having lately in other titles and does something to resolve the matter.
With this issue Superman continues to come out of his funk. One of my favorite scenes from Infinite Crisis #2 was the moment Superman decides to step up to the plate and be the hero he needs to be. Verheiden took this ball and ran with it, but adding a deeper emotional angle that does a lot for Superman as a character. What really made this work was the fact that unlike Lex's motivation and inner strength which came from his hate, Superman's came from love. The final page said it all. Superman's doubts were gone and now he was once again doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
In The End: A tight little issue that really furthered Superman and his arch enemy Lex Luthor. This had to be one of the best single issues of Superman in a long time and had a great ending that held a lot of promise for the next few months. Derenick and Faucher's art was solid, and I especially liked the last page where Superman, renewed from his experience in the desert, flies off to face his enemy with a clear head. I can't say for sure that Superman's rejuvenation will end with him making the right decisions again, but it certainly adds to the dramatic edge to the character.
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