Crime Syndicate #1 Review

by Carlos R. on March 02, 2021

Crime Syndicate #1 Cover Image
The New Deal Part 1: Strange Visitor
Written by: Andy Schmidt
Pencils by: Kieran McKeown
Inks by: Dexter Vines
Colors by: Steve Oliff  
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics

The Paranoid Titan
Written by: Andy Schmidt
Art by: Bryan Hitch
Colors by: Alex Sinclair
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics

Crime Syndicate #1 is odd.

I enjoy it, but wish it had a different approach. It’s a good first issue: introduces the characters, sets up a conflict to bring everyone together, and looks great; but its plot-driven narrative draw more of a focus to the surrounding world as opposed to these devilish characters.

This miniseries sets to explore the newly reborn Earth-3 and the origins of the Crime Syndicate. Schmidt gives us glimpses at each of the protagonists, with a few more pages dedicated to Owlman and Ultraman. With this being an origin issue, most of the protagonists are flying solo which doesn’t work in the book’s favor, as the thrill of this title is seeing how these diabolical titans interact and scheme against each other. With seemingly no one to stop their villainous deeds, each character comes off in a similar fashion: wicked and overpowered. Emerald Knight is seemingly the lesser evil of this group which makes me curious to see how he’ll interact with the rest of the team. I love the homages to Superman and Brave and the Bold #28 included in this book, there’s a shot reminiscent of Action Comics #1 that is terrifying. The snippets of backstory we get to Earth-3 made it all the more intriguing and I can’t wait to further explore its history in this rebirth.

The backup story is enjoyable, and I would love to dig deeper into the notion of Clark being an exploited immigrant from another world. Throughout the issue Ultraman is blended with personality traits of figures from our reality that make it easy to dislike him and cement him as evil. His origin story shares much in common with that of the Man of Steel with minor changes. I don’t mind it and can see how this trauma would lend to young Clark’s transformation into Ultraman, but I wish there was more to it, a shift that would set apart Ultraman from Superman.

Both art teams do a stellar job and the transition between stories and points in time are smooth. Ultraman’s shading and McKeown’s choice in framing him in from low angles amplifies just how intimidating Ultraman is. Bryan Hitch was a solid choice for this back up story, the familiarity with his work in DC and recent ties to Justice League add to the classic tones of Ultraman’s origin. Sinclair’s colors are great and though bright, they are muted enough to make Clark’s heat vision glare on the page.  

While not the strongest opening, there are some enjoyable moments in this issue and I’m hopeful the story will ramp up once the Syndicate comes together. If you’re a fan of previous iterations of the Crime Syndicate or just want to explore this new multiverse, this book is fun and sets up a great contrast to our heroes’ main Earth.

Our Score:


A Look Inside