Action Comics #898 (DC Comics)
by Paul Cornell & Pete Woods
I stopped following writer Paul Cornell’s Luthor story a while ago, but he and his editors’ plan to lure readers in by featuring certain other characters worked on me. I thoroughly enjoy the “Rainbow Corps” concept from DC’s Green Lantern comics, and Larfleeze is a fun character when handled properly. Cornell plays it straight with the greedy little alien, but it works in this context and allows him to say a lot about Luthor in the process. Unfortunately, I really don’t get what’s going on in this story — not just this issue, but this story as a whole. I get that Luthor is on the trail of spheres of black energy that are supposedly connected to the Black Lanterns, but what the energy goes, why it changes when it finds them, why Larfleeze is interested and why other DC Universe villains have access to these spheres isn’t at all clear. Cornell offers up some strong instances of characterization, but I’m absolutely lost when it comes to the plot, and I’ve read at least half of the chapters of this “Black Ring” storyline. Luthor as the protagonist doesn’t quite work, but then again, I see the real heroine and focus of the story to be the Lois Lane robot that serves as Lex’s gal Friday. She’s much more interesting and seems far more human than her master, and I suppose that’s the point.