Spoilers ahead for this week's Justice League #5.
Lex Luthor has been to the future, and it ain't bright.
In Justice League #5, readers learn about Lex Luthor's previously unknown journey between the end of Justice League: No Justice and the first issue of Scott Snyder and Jim Cheung's Justice League #1.
This journey not only gave Lex the mysterious doorknob he now wields, but it took him one million years into the future of the DC Universe and unlocked mysteries about the DCU's past and future.
Justice League #5, written by James Tynion IV with pencils by Doug Mahnke, is informally re-named "Legion of Doom" for this chapter because shows things from the villains' point of view. Snyder will be back as writer on issue #6, continuing the plot from the point he left off in #4.
But although this sort of "one-off" issue didn't forward the current Snyder plot, it filled in a lot of the blanks from the past - including what prompted Lex Luthor to visit his father's Legionnaire's Club and why a doorknob there intrigued him so much.
Included in the revelations about Lex's journey was a trip he took one million years into the future. What he discovered was a place called Lexor City where Lex Luthor is worshipped and villains rule the universe, embracing the dark side of human nature.
And because the villains in the future told Lex he "missed" something that could have unlocked doom earlier, he embarked on the current mission that's rocking the world in Justice League.
Let's take a look at what we learned in this week's Justice League #5...
Facts and Figures
As the issue starts, readers are shown that Lex's success in his quest to control the Totality and the Multiverse can be felt all over the world.
Nay, it is felt all over the Multiverse itself, even in the depths of Hell and in the fire pits of Apokolips.
Then the issue switches gears and educates readers about the Legion of Doom headquarters.
The structure is protected by a spell stolen from Felix Faust, and it's made of a non-reflective material that Vandal Savage mined in Skartaris. Because of this material, the Legion's headquarters is able to absorb light and heat, making it invisible to radar or satellite imagery. The structure itself has an arsenal, an interrogation/torture chamber, and Lex Luthor's private quarters.
In Lex's room, there's a special case where the mysterious doorknob is kept. But it's not there now. It's in Lex Luthor's hand as he "pilots" Superman and enacts his plan of doom.
But before we get to that...
The issue switches to a series of flashbacks.
Not long ago, Lex Luthor recruited Gorilla Grodd by revealing that he knows how to "stop the Speed Force in its tracks."
He also recruited Sinestro by promising him access to the Invisible Emotional Spectrum.
Lex told Sinestro that he had "unlocked the secret history of the universe in full" and held the key to it in his pocket.
He was presumably referring that doorknob...
... so what the heck is that thing?
Flashback: To The Future!
Another flashback shows what happened just after the conclusion of Justice League: No Justice. In that story, Lex Luthor helped save the planet, but he discovered that the most "dominant" energy of human life was entropy.
Using that information, he decided that his time as a hero was wasted. He broke into his Mother Box and used its energy to travel forward in time. He became "adrift in Hypertime, jumping timeline to timeline," trying to reach their most "likely conclusion."
What he found, one million years from now, is Lexor City, where an enormous statue of Lex Luthor stands in a place of honor.
In this future, humans have embraced Lex Luthor's philosophies from the past, realizing that they can never sustain a heroic society.
"The people embraced what they really were on the inside," someone tells Lex in the future. "No matter how ugly it was. And then we conquered the universe in your name."
Lex learns that he's known by these villains as "the Great Tragedy" because Lex missed the key to unlocking what they call "doom."
The people of Lexor City show him the symbol that represents doom.
The symbol is the same one that's on the doorknob.
Flashback: Doorknob Discovery
After his trip to the future, Lex was determined to find what the villains from the future meant when they said he "missed" something.
The only thing he hadn't pursued was some invitation to his father's Legionairre's Club. He decided to go there and let off some steam, unaware that he'd find the missing key.
To review, in Justice League #2, readers saw Lex visit this Legionnaire's Club and blow it up, only to discover a secret door that no one else could see.
And on that door was the mysterious doorknob…
Now, in Justice League #5, we learn that the Legionnaires Club's hidden door led to a secret chamber beneath the building. After the loose doorknob came off in Lex's hand, he descended the staircase to discover papers that told of a "strange, twisted history of the universe."
The documents had information about the coming of "a great totality of power" and described seven powerful forces.
On the papers was the symbol of "doom" that Lex had seen in the future.
And that symbol also marked the doorknob.
The narration calls the doorknob "an object more powerful than a hundred atom bombs." With this doorknob, Lex would "unlock the hidden energies of the universe" and "take the totality of universal power and wield it."
And as Lex gets closer to his quest to control these forces and rule the Multiverse, the doorknob's symbol will light up more and more with each step.
Legion of Doom
So why did Lex recruit other people to help him bring "doom" to the universe?
The issue explains that Lex needs Sinestro to utilize the Invisible Emotional Spectrum and command the gigantic groups of people he's forcibly enslaved from Earth. (And at the end of issue #4, this Corps was ready to consume the Earth.)
Lex needs Grodd to control the "Scion of the Turtle" that unlocks the Still Force, which not only halted the Flash at the end of issue #4 but, according to this issue, the Still Force can "stop creation in its tracks."
Each of the other members of the Legion of Doom, the narration explains, are "best suited" for one of the seven forces.
(Hmm … there are only six members including Lex …so...)
Anyway, Lex Luthor's success in the current plot of Justice League is apparently so important that not only is it felt all around the universe (as we at the beginning of the issue), but the one-million-years future Lex visited is destroyed because of it.
This apparently changes everything.
The issue ends by reminding readers that Lex Luthor's entire philosophy is that humans have selfish, animal impulses, so they should embrace and celebrate them.
On the final page, Lex's philosophy is summed up in five words (and although the issue censors one of them … we get the idea…)
"$%^& justice. Side with Doom."
Justice League #6 is due out August 15.