"When you write an antagonist, you always write him, in his mind, as the protagonist. That means, every villain of a story, to be a good villain, must believe himself to be the hero. Not the villain at all."
In his foreward in this book, Jim Kreuger speaks about how he writes a villain and what he has learned about writing effective villains. This really caught my attention because this is what I have always believed when I read a book that features a pronounced antagonist. I really can't stand to read books where the villain "raise[s:] his head from his pillow that morning to consider what "evil" he might do that day." People in my reading groups and anyone who reads my reviews know that I hate Evil for Evil's sakes villains. I want to villain to be someone who really thinks what he is doing, from his perspective, is right. Yes, what he is doing is...,well,...evil. But he doesn't think so and he has a real motive of why he's doing it.
In this very well done and provocative first volume, Kreuger does just that. He takes some very well known DC universe villains, (Lex Luthor, Riddler, Black Manta etc.) as has them banding together to solve Earth's woes. Their reasoning is that the Justice League heroes (Superman, Wonderwoman, Batman, Aquaman etc.) haven't really made the world a better place with all their super powers. They haven't cured diseases, they haven't eradicated poverty etc. And in fact their presence has made man lazy. Their ability to save men from dangers hasn't allowed man to grow and reach for the stars themselves. And actually, this is pretty darned sound reasoning. Really, what have they done except fight each other and other supervillains? So Lex and co. actually go about doing all that stuff. And it is pretty darned awesome.
Of course the painful part is seeing the heroes number among the fallen now. Knowing that the villains are carrying out a carefully constructed and well orchestrated plan to remove the heroes for good, is kinda awful to read and see. And it is a plan that looks like it just might work.
Of course this is just the first volume. There are, I believe, four or five total. This means that eventually the heroes will possibly come out of top again. Because, frankly, no matter how well drawn or reasonable a group of supervillains are, they are, at heart, villains. Somebody is going to do something that will make their fragile alliance collapse. But that is for a later installment possibly.
For now, this volume really works for me.
And let me take a minute to talk about Alex Ross. I FLOVE his art. If his art were human I'd have it's babies. It is beautiful, almost living. I try to buy any books he illustrates because his art just speaks to me. I have the giant posters of Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel that he did as a limited edition. And I love the character he puts in their faces. Especially Wonderwowan. She isn't just a pretty woman in satin tights. She looks like an Amazonian Warrior who just happens to be gorgeous. They all look like they've been fighting a lot and seen a lot.