Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: Flashpoint Lois Lane And The Resistance

Of all the Flashpoint mini-series that were solicited, Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance was the one I was most anticipating. Lois is such a great character and has held her own in solo stories whether it was her own comic, stories in Superman Family, or backup features in Daring New Adventures of Supergirl. And given the lack of Lois in DC recently (she hasn't exactly been in the Superman titles for about 3 years), I thought she was being underused. She has played a bigger part in Supergirl than anywhere else ... and Supergirl fans are all the richer for that.

So I wondered if this might be a sort of Showcase style run to see if Lois could carry her own book.

Despite that anticipation ... or maybe because of it ... I found this opening chapter to be somewhat average. The Lois characterization is spot on. She is smart, courageous, and heroic ... risking her life for a story and for what is right.

But the rest of it falls a bit short. First off, an awful lot is covered in this first issue ... maybe too much? I understand that this mini-series is only three issues long, but 8 months of time elapses here. And we basically gloss over the part I would be most interested in reading about.

And there are a couple of plot points that also seem rushed or too easy. Part of that may also be the lack of time there is to tell the story. Maybe this first chapter needed to be rushed to set the stage for the later issues.

The art by Eddie Nunez also looked a little bit rushed in places. There is also an Ed Benes feel to some of the characters bodies and positioning. The cover is actually the sharpest pic with Lois really looking like a spy with black trench coat and pistol.

The story starts with Lois reporting on a fashion show in Paris. Reporting on it, and complaining to Perry White that she is reporting on it. While Perry's point is well taken ... that people need a break from the brutality of life (especially in this Flashpoint universe) ... is Lois the right person for that job? Does she know enough about the high world of fashion to appropriately report?

So I was glad to see that Lois is so unhappy.

She is there with Jimmy who seems completely enthralled and impressed with Lois' rant to Perry. I thought his comment about making a good dog break his chain was funny. Lois is that sort of woman ... people will want to be with her and will do anything to be there.

Now we know that Atlantis is at war with Themiscyra (currently the UK). So why would Aquaman bring a tidal wave down on Paris and all of mainland Europe? This is one of those plot points that is hard for me to wrap my head around. Wouldn't that just unify other people to fight Atlantis?

Anyways, Lois and Jimmy head for the high ground of a cathedral bell tower. But when Jimmy goes back to save someone, he is caught in the flash flood and dies. Now killing off Jimmy Olsen is a pretty big thing to happen, even in an alternate universe, but since we barely met him it didn't resonate as much as I thought it would. Still, nice to see such street level heroics from Mr. Action.

The Amazons actually come around to gather any survivors from the disaster. Well, almost all survivors. A priest gets left behind because he preaches about a 'false god'.

The gathered are taken back to the UK/Themiscyra and put into what seem to be internment camps. Men are put on one side, I assume to be either treated as prisoners of war or enslaved and possibly castrated (given earlier comments in Flashpoint).

The women are placed in more suitable living conditions.

So here is another one of those plot points that was just a little hard to swallow. Lois discovers that Jimmy's camera is actually a secret communication device. He was an undercover agent for the NSA, working for Cyborg to learn more about the Amazons. It seems an odd choice. Why not pick a female agent to really infiltrate the group?

Lois didn't know about Jimmy's 'other life' but she is so struck by his sacrifice that she wants to help, she wants to complete Jimmy's mission. Amazingly, Cyborg agrees.

So what was his train of thought? 'Hmmm ... my well trained undercover agent has failed. But this untrained reporter wants to join the fight. And she is being placed in a Amazon propaganda camp where she will be force fed the Amazonian way of thinking. I don't know her or her ideas or how she will hold up to the Amazons, but I'll trust her completely to not betray me.' Seems like a stretch. Yes, I know war leads to strange bedfellows but this just seemed fast. He agrees in about 2 panels. I would have rather seen more about this ...

Part of that is probably the short nature of the mini-series.

And that again bothered me here. In the span of a 2 page splash we learn that Lois has spent 33 weeks in the Amazon re-education camp. She learns their ways. She learns they have a risky procedure to make humans more Amazonian in ability (although with limited success). 33 weeks! In two pages!

I would have been very interested in seeing more of that. Did Lois ever question if the Amazons are right? Did she hold out her resolve? What about the other women there? What do the Amazons do to women who reject their teachings? How did she sneak her communications to Cyborg? Was he ever concerned about Lois' loyalty given the propaganda being drilled into her head?

My guess is that the short nature of the series forced the truncation of these plot points.

The day before her intended procedure to Amazon-ize her, Lois decides to escape and reunite with Cyborg's troops.

We don't see her plan the escape. We don't see how she escapes. We only see her being chased by Amazons. Again, something I would like to have seen some more of.

But Lois' pursuers are Amazons and Lois is not. They are about to capture her when a British secret agent, Penny Black, steps in and saves Lois.

Why wouldn't Cyborg (or his British equivalent) send Penny Black in as an undercover agent? Wouldn't she better equipped going in than Lois? I know Lois did the job ... but wasn't that risky? And I don't know about the breast pouches. Are they really necessary?

But even a well trained human agent isn't in the same class as the Amazons and their allies. Lois and Penny are detained by Artemis and Hawkgirl. I hope we hear more about Hawkgirl and her decision on joining the Amazon army.

So a lot happens in this issue. Maybe too much. And I don't exactly know where this is headed. Who are the resistance? What will Lois be able to do for them? What are they hoping she will do? What exactly is happening in the Amazon camps?

I suppose this is just another look at the Flashpoint world, a pretty bleak world. Lois seems right here, brave and strong and willing to do what's right regardless of the risk to herself. But everything else around Lois hasn't grabbed me yet. Maybe the 'real' part of the story happens next, once Lois actually joins the resistance.

Grade: C


Martin Gray said...

Fine review, as ever. As a member of Lois's profession I am most affronted that you don't see her as a perfect undercover agent - we're so brave and wily ;)

Why does Cyborg allow her to be his new agent? Well, she's on the inside, she has the same basic skills as Jimmy and she has the smart metal - doesn't the story have Lois tell Vic she's his best shot, or similar?

My question us, how is Jimmy meant to be reporting on the UK when he's overseas?

As for how Lois could get her dispatches to Cyborg, that'd be the same way she's talking to him here - smart metal.

The SM likely provided the means of escape but yes, it'd have been nice to have been told.

valerie21601 said...

Where it concerns Flashpoint and all of these mini-series and one shot deals connected to it. There's way too many issues to read in it and there is no way I can afford to buy it, on my little budget.

I will simply wait for the Greg Cox novel of Flashpoint to find out what is truly important to the story and even then most likely I will first get it from my local public library, read it to see if it's any good before I will buy it.

Anj said...

doesn't the story have Lois tell Vic she's his best shot, or similar?

My question us, how is Jimmy meant to be reporting on the UK when he's overseas?

As for how Lois could get her dispatches to Cyborg, that'd be the same way she's talking to him here - smart metal.

Thanks for the comments.

You are right that she is his best shot, also a big risk. I guess he had no other choice.

And I knew the metal was how she communicated. I meant to ask how she could break away an report to him in this camp with all the watching eyes.

Anj said...

There's way too many issues to read in it and there is no way I can afford to buy it, on my little budget.

Thanks for the post.

I agree, I don't have a great sense of this world from the 3 minis I am buying. So I do feel disconnected.

valerie21601 said...

From the reviews of Flashpoint by the professionals and the amateur reviewers it sounds like their world is full despair, tons of death (yes, I do know it centers around a war). And mostly apathetic heroes, it appears most will still be little characters in the main DCnu, if they even show up at all after Flashpoint is over.

Just reading the solicits for the DCnu gives me a sense this new world is meaner, harder and even on a personal level cold world. Hope and looking forward to tomorrow is rare.