Lex Luthor/Porky Pig #1
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessey and Andrew Dalhouse
Lettering by Troy Peteri and Dave Lanphear
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
What do you get for the man you owe everything?
For Porky Pig, the answer is loyalty — and the beneficiary is none other than Lex Luthor. While not as heartbreaking as his recent Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, writer Mark Russell teams up with artist Brad Walker to weave a compelling morality tale in Lex Luthor/Porky Pig, tackling society’s modern greed in the forms of social media, pharmaceutical inflation and corporate consolidation.
But how does Looney Tunes’ stuttering swine get high on the hog as a titan of industry? Russell presents Porky as a patsy, a has-been CEO who becomes just another tool for Lex Luthor to exploit. The sad twist, however, is how long it takes for Porky to recognize his complicity to his own downfall — he’s so blinded by gratitude that he can’t see Lex exploiting online hatred to co-opt privacy across the globe. “He isn’t a monster,” Porky says at one point, after watching his savior have a violent meltdown. “He’s the man who gave me my life back.”
Yet I would argue that in many ways, Porky feels like the odd man out in his own story — beyond the irony of seeing a stuttering capitalist pig getting shoved through the meatgrinder of corporate malfeasance, that is. But while our point of view character is off investigating lunch room thieves, Russell’s story really feels like it’s owned by Lex Luthor, flanked by his villainous associates Professor Ivo and Dr. Sivana. While his targets might be a little scattershot, it’s these characters that Russell seems to really savor, particularly when Ivo and Sivana give only the most half-hearted dodges to Congressional hearings about jacking up the prices of life-saving drugs. (“So… cancer is your Coachella?” asks one senator, in one of the book’s best lines.)
Artist Brad Walker, meanwhile, is at his best when he’s able to get in some sight gags in the book, particularly a hilarious homage to Frank Miller-era Daredevil as we watch Porky sobbing in the fetal position. Another great gag, meanwhile, involves a collection of over-the-top backup dancers, as Lex Luthor gives his latest presentation to the world — or a hilarious panel of Lex’s “Lexema” logo curling up just behind Porky’s posterior. Admittedly, though, Walker’s take on Porky himself will be an acquired taste — there are going to be some who are just genuinely repulsed by the too-human-but-somehow-too-animal pig, which sometimes comes across like the first Howard the Duck film. Some of that is likely by design, however — because Walker’s take on the slick, insincere Lex has just the right amount of polish, making the two characters a weird visual odd couple.
Casting a wide net across his 30 pages, Russell and Walker take aim at everything from Twitter trolls to racist employers to open carry laws to corporate policies that pay lip service to basic human necessities. There’s a lot going on, but given the craziness of the book’s high concept, that actually gives Russell’s gags some teeth — like our porcine protagonist, our guards are dropped just enough with Lex Luthor/Porky Pig that this creative team is able to get some choice skewering in.