Page 45 Review by Stephen
From the writer of 100 BULLETS, this comes highly recommended to those who demand more from animosity than pugilism.
Lex Luthor stares into space and broods about humanity being subject to the whims of a potentially untrustworthy alien being, whilst those around him - from employees in the form of construction workers to a cherished servant in the form of his own artificially created, female metahuman - find out what it's like to be subject to the bitterness of a decidedly untrustworthy human being.
Far more interesting for me than Azzarello's team-up with Jim Lee (SUPERMAN FOR TOMORROW), there are some credibly vocalised motivations, an ingeniously manipulated climax designed to discredit Superman through his own benevolent nature, and a tense stand-off through a plate glass window as Luthor stands way above the streets in his skyscraper tower, and Superman, floating outside, stares back. Hard.
This was the second time Azzarello and Bermejo had worked together on one of DC's top properties, the first being BATMAN/DEATHBLOW wherein Bermejo rendered a Gotham in almost permanent, smog-shrouded twilight, the third being JOKER which will have you wincing on the edge of your seat throughout
Here we join Lex Luthor as the sun sets over a futuristic Metropolis, sharpening its edifices' corners and reflecting off the glass of the vast monuments to man's imagination, aspiration and ingenuity. At the end of another long day Lex sits and chats with Stan the cleaner, as they gaze out across the skyline at the Metropolis Science Spire, the billionaire's latest project whose grand opening is due shortly.
Bermejo's expressions are quiet and subtle, Lex all delightful smiles, his brow only furrowing with concern when he learns that that Stan's son, though bright, is cutting classes. It's then that you see Luthor as a human being whereas Superman throughout the first chapter is depicted as volcanic, his eyes burning with the fire of a thousand foundries. Here's the beautiful Mona:
"The Von Raunch Academy's Benefit Ball is tonight. I'm going to present your very generous donation, and tell them that though you would have loved to be there, some matters came up and --"
"Hmm. That's that exclusive school, isn't it?"
"Well, if you mean by exclusive it hand-picks only twelve students for acceptance each year, then yes. It's exclusive."
"Right... an employee of ours has a son who I think merits inclusion in that twelve. Joey's a bright boy. Tell the Head Master I'd consider it a personal favour."
"I will, but next semester's class has already been selected. One of those children would have to be -"
"A personal favour, and I would be very grateful. Have a good time, Mona. Give everyone my best."
See, he's not all bad.
That scene is played to perfection - just like the reader.