The Man of Steel’s time on Apokolips comes to an end as the dark world gets a new leader, but at what price? The IMPERIOUS LEX arc comes to an end in the latest issue of Superman!

Superman 36
Written by Peter Tomasi and Patrick GleasonĀ 
Art by Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza and Wil Quintana

Between what happened in the issue and what led to the issue and what could follow, there’s a lot to unpack with the finale of the latest arc in Superman. The IMPERIOUS LEX story brought Superman, Lois Lane and Jon Kent to Apokolips, a planet thrust into chaos without their leader, Darkseid. All of Darkseid’s generals are jockeying for power while resistance fighters are trying to place either Lex Luthor – who was deemed to be the new leader during Geoff Johns’ DARKSEID WAR in Justice League – or Superman, who seems to fulfill a prophecy about the new leader.

With Lex taken out and the Kent family taking care of business with the leaderless throngs of Darkseid, Superman is basically guilted into becoming a leader and a symbol of hope for the formerly evil world.

This seems like an odd direction to take Superman in, especially with all the other big stuff happening in other books featuring Big Blue. But with Darkseid growing in power (if not in age) in the pages of Wonder Woman now, another showdown between Darkseid and Superman seems to be imminent.

The most interesting aspect of the issue, though, comes in its final pages, as Superman confronts Lex Luthor about the nascent hero’s means for calling him out to Apokolips, but Lex doesn’t want to hear it. Showing some of the resentment that caused his original hatred of Superman, Lex lashes out about how Superman doesn’t see him as a partner, despite Lex wearing his symbol and working to do good in the world. Lex tears the S-shield off his chest, and the crazed look in his eyes – drawn beautifully once again by Doug Mahnke, one of my favorite artists – doesn’t bode well for Metropolis or for Superman.

We’re set up for a lot of potentially great stories here, as Superman prepares for his 80th birthday in a few months. This issue will likely be an important one to look back to once some of these threads start to unravel.