I have, in the past, been somewhat persnickety in my reviews of Scott Lobdell's Superman. There have been times when the book has not felt like a Superman book at all.
Happily, Superman #28 feels like a Superman book. It is a wild ride of new plots, quick scene cuts, and some nice character moments. Perhaps the best part of the book is the inclusion of a strong Lois working a story and interacting with Clark.
Adding to the fun is some slick art by Brett Booth. I think Booth's style works best on high energy stories, injecting just enough pizzazz to make the sequences pop off the page. In this issue, he shines in quieter moments - Clark talking to Cat in his apartment or Clark and Lois talking in a police station. Really wonderful art here.
Lobdell isn't on the book for much longer. Hopefully the remainder of his tenure will have this quality.
The book opens with Lois being Lois, out with the Metropolis Police Force, investigating crimes in the Suicide Slum area of the town. The lone car is suddenly pinned down with serious fire power. Just when things look their bleakest, Lois shouts for the criminals to stop and ... they do.
And so it seems that the Parasite didn't drain off all the Brainiac power from Lois. But it does seem he drained off enough to remove the memory of Superman's secret identity. I have to admit ... I was hoping for a 'normal' Lois. But I guess we will have more psionics from her.
Meanwhile, Superman just happens to be scanning the sky when he sees an odd crystal door to nowhere floating in space. Covered with odd glyphs and looking ornate and ominous, I am sure something awful will emerge soon enough.
What we do learn we get from the omnipresent Shay Veritas. From deep in the block, she has scanned the thing and moving it will do something ghastly to the space/time continuum so it is best left alone.
I have talked about Veritas a lot in the past. There is this faint whiff of malevolence in her. I think her thirst for knowledge probably blurs the lines between good and evil in her. Almost everything she says could be said in a subdued evil tone. Even here her saying 'It's weird. I love it.' is just odd.
Will she eventually turn heel?
Back home, Clark enters his apartment to find Jimmy crashed on the coach.
It seems all the money has made Jimmy feel lost.
I thought this scene was solid showing the friendship that Clark and Jimmy have. It is almost a cry for help from Jimmy who needs to feel grounded again. Of course Clark is going to open his doors to his friend. It might seem cheesy, but I thought the fist-bump worked as an image of them coming together.
Now it isn't a perfect issue. I like the idea of Sam Lane being elevated from warhawk general to Senate insider. I wonder if suddenly being in the belly of the political beast will soften him. He was becoming rather two-dimensional as the gun-toting anti-Superman warrior. And here he is suddenly confronted in his own apartment by a black-clad group willing to share what they know about The Tower.
Of course, before we get to that scene, we have to see the General's girlfriend in post-coital bliss saying how 'athletic' Sam is in the sack. It is one panel ... but felt gratuitous. I don't need to know about General Lane's prowess.
Okay, enough of being a downer. I thought this was supposed to be an upbeat review.
As I said above, I like the quiet character moments in this book. And I have really liked how Lobdell has handled the Cat Grant character over his tenure. She has become something more 'real' here, not just vamping and being catty.
In this issue, she talks about selling ClarkCatropolis to Morgan Edge for 13million. She likes being well-off. A poor Cat isn't a happy Cat. While Clark understands the sentiment, he tells Cat she should be proud of making a true news site, something with integrity. He believes in her.
I love how Cat responds. Despite her overly confident exterior, she sounds like she has an inferiority complex. No one has believed in her before. Nice.
Of course, Jimmy knows you have to follow the money. Why would Edge offer that unless they were close to something? I wouldn't mind a rehash of the Edge/Intergang connection. Any other guesses.
Contrast that Cat/Clark hug to this Lois/Clark hug in the police station in the next scene. Clark heard the police scanner talking about Lois' encounter and heads to the station.
It is clear Lois is worried about what is happening to her but isn't ready to talk to Clark about it yet. That hug speaks volumes. She loves Clark on some level. And the lack of background really makes the reader focus on the act.
But I love Clark's reaction. Contrast that to his happy smile with Cat. Here he is shocked, unable to finish the hug, his arm poised away from her. His feelings for Lois have been confused in this title ... loving her but keeping his distance. That expression he has here is perfect to convey that.
In one of those Lobdell leaps, we jump from Clark talking to a police officer to Superman standing in front of a tattooed individual claiming how powerful his group is. I have to assume that it is one of the goons brought in from the Lois crime scene. And Superman wonders what power the guy might be talking about, noticing some odd movement in the evidence room.
But before he can investigate further, Starfire (who saw something on her team's monitors that threatens Earth) arrives, blows through the police station wall, and tells Superman to get out of her way so she can save the world from this mystery threat.
Outside of the Sam Lane moment, this one also felt a bit off. I wish we were in a DCU where heroes didn't explode through walls or yell at Superman. Wouldn't it be a better place if Starfire flew through the window and said 'Superman I need your help to save the world?' I suppose that it is more a criticism of the New 52 than to Lobdell.
Still, overall this was a pretty good Superman issue with some zaniness, some action, and some great character moments with the rich supporting cast of the super-family. Add to that the slick Brett Booth art and I have to say I was entertained.