The presence of a seemingly heroic version of Supergirl on Earth-3, home to the Crime Syndicate, suggests this reality is built on a lie.
Warning: spoilers for Crime Syndicate #5 ahead!
Supergirl may have just proved that Earth-3, home to the Crime Syndicate, isn’t at all what comic fans believed it to be. In Crime Syndicate #5 – from Andy Schmidt, Bryan Hitch, Kieran McKeown, Dexter Vines, Olyoptics Oliff, Steve Oliff, Alex Sinclair and Rob Leigh – the Supergirl of Earth-3, known in this reality as Ultragirl, makes her stunning debut, and in the process shows that there may be more to Earth-3 than meets the eye.
DC’s multiverse has long contained a world touted as the reverse of the mainstream reality, where heroes are evil and villains fight to protect the world. In fact, Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly’s JLA: Earth 2 even suggested that on this world, the moral arc of the universe was reversed so that unlike in regular comics, evil always wins the day. DC’s newly rebooted Crime Syndicate presents the reborn Earth-3 as the home of the evil Justice League, and initially seems to play by the same rules, introducing it as a place “where everything we know is turned upside down! Where the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Where Benedict Arnold was a Founding Father of Amerika…” On this world, history unfolded in bizarre and terrifying directions, and most of its metahuman population are villains, with Ultraman (Superman), Owlman (Batman) and Superwoman (Wonder Woman) uniting the most powerful among them. Thankfully, Lex Luthor has brought together a team to oppose the Syndicate, called the Legion of Justice.
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The Legion’s first mission, to retrieve Atomica and Johnny Quick (an evil version of the Flash), goes quickly awry, and ends with the Emerald Knight killing Quick. Atomica and the rest of the Syndicate swear revenge on Luthor and the Legion of Justice, invading his satellite headquarters and making quick work of the Legion. Just as Ultraman is set to deliver the killing blow to Luthor, someone stops him… and it is revealed to be his cousin, Kara. The issue ends with a shocked Ultraman kneeling before Ultragirl, overpowered.
Ultragirl’s arrival raises serious questions about the apparent natural order of Earth-3. Kara has been accompanying Lex as his apparent assistant, and he seemed aware of her powers, which implies she’s on the side of angels in this world. Yet, if every mainstream hero is evil on Earth-3, why would Ultragirl side with Luthor? The Crime Syndicate miniseries has dropped plenty of potential breadcrumbs to indicate Earth-3 is not as black and white as it seems. There may be evil equivalents to Batman and Wonder Woman, but they’re not Bruce Wayne or Diana Prince, and each hero’s flaws are clarified thanks to the back-up origin stories included in each issue, adding suspicious complexity to the idea that they’re just reflecting the virtue of their heroic opposites.
Future State: Suicide Squad revealed Amanda Waller’s plan to take control of Earth-3, believing its people are ready for peace. With an incredible level of insight into the functioning of the multiverse, the fact that Waller doesn’t seem to believe evil has to win on Earth-3 offers a startling counterpoint to how this reality’s natural laws have always been understood, as does the presence of Harley Quinn and Ultragirl as heroes in both realities. Finally, the series’ focus on known history being the ‘good’ version of reality has felt tongue in cheek, and may be building to the reveal that while Earth-3 has a different history, it doesn’t necessarily always answer objective good with objective evil.
Fans will have to wait for the final issue of the miniseries to find out if the “evil” Supergirl is really going to disprove the foundational logic of Earth-3, but if she does, it could open up a wealth of storytelling opportunities for a cast of characters which Crime Syndicate has already taken pains to explore in more detail than simply making them the opposites of DC’s celebrated heroes.
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