Friday, October 16, 2015

Review: Superman:Lois and Clark #1

Everything old is new again.

Superman:Lois and Clark came out this week, a title featuring the pre-New 52 Superman and Lois, born from the Convergence mini-series starring the famous couple. For the last nearly 4 years, fans of Superman have mostly suffered with a different style of Superman, a less aspirational figure. And certainly Lois has been thrust into the background of the Superman mythos in the New 52. It hasn't been easy to read books where the characters you love are either absent or unrecognizable.

Writer Dan Jurgens brings back a much more classic take on Lois and Clark in this book and that makes me happy. (Maybe this book is what Dan Didio meant when he talked about the core qualities of their characters?) Here is Superman, helping others tirelessly, completely in love with Lois, living a simple life, and teaching his son values. Lois is an incredible investigative reporter and a loving supportive wife. And these characters comment on this new world they live on with almost meta-level commentary. It is a joyous read.

The feel of the book is complemented completely by the art team of Lee Weeks and Scott Hanna. This Superman is larger than life, a barrel-chested hero reminiscent of Wayne Boring. The pages are composed nicely with a great mix of smaller panels and splash pages to keep the story flowing. It is a beautiful book. And the subtlety of colors by Brad Anderson adds a richness to the story.

I have only one complaint about this story, a sort of continuity blip that I think I just need to move past. But it involves Supergirl ... and I am confused and conflicted.

We start out with this Superman, which is the post-Crisis Superman based on some history we hear later, being flung from the Convergence planet to the New 52 Earth. Superman, Lois, and their son all arrive on the planet during the Darkseid invasion, when the Justice League first formed. We know that was 5 years prior to the New 52 #1 issues, so maybe this is 7-8 years ago?

This Superman almost joined in the fray but Cyborg ended the conflict before that was necessary. But this seasoned hero looked upon the heroes and the world in general and found them "suspicious, doubting, edgy, without faith." I couldn't describe the New 52 world any better. Who would want to live there?

I absolutely love this splash page. This iconic shot, looking up at this larger than life Superman, fists clenched, cape billowing, sun in the background is perfect. Weeks and Hanna open this title with a classic Superman shot worthy of a classic take.

Now onto the continuity blip. We hear from Superman that the Convergence-world Supergirl, Flash, and Parallax did indeed change the outcome of the original Crisis. The multiverse 'reset' itself. Basically we are back to infinite Earths.

And then Barry, Kara, and Hal (at least those versions) decide that they will simply leave to 'find their destinies'. 

First off, I don't know why DC would feel it necessary to undo the Crisis, one of their most famous stories. (Imagine if they wrote a Watchmen sequel where the heroes go back and actually stop Ozymandias?) Second, I am completely conflicted about Supergirl surviving. I probably hammered this home with my Crisis #7 monthly review but I have come to appreciate Kara's death in that story. It helped define that Supergirl's heroism and selflessness. It resonated forward. I don't think I am happy about this.

Now I also don't understand some of the character decisions after the multiverse is reborn. Why would Supergirl run away? Why not go back to her Earth? Why would this Superman and Lois not go back to their Earth? Why would this Superman choose this Earth? WHY???

But a now-alive Supergirl just taking off doesn't sound like something she would do.

But Lois and Clark do end up on this world, a world where the people 'don't trust their own Superman.' If Superman is going to be a hero here, he needs to do it undercover.

Lois is the rock here, reminding Clark that they are resilient, their love is immutable, and their son Jon is a treasure. She reminds Clark of all the things they have going for them. She is right ... as always.

Flash forward approximately 7 years. The couple, now living as the White family, is living on a farm in middle America. (They named themselves after Perry! Meanwhile, the new 52 Perry is bashing Superman on national TV.)

Their son Jon is being raised with the same sort of traditional values that the Kents fostered in Clark. There are morning chores. And making sure schoolwork is done. And honoring your parents. Even his name, Jon resonates named after Pa Kent.

He might be a bit precocious and a touch flippant. But he seems like a good kid, one who maybe knows more about his parents origins than he is letting on.

These farm scenes look idyllic and a colored gold.

As for Clark, he has continued to do super-deeds undercover. Lois has a whole scrapbook of press clippings of natural disasters averted miraculously, a nice way to let us readers know that this Clark has been busy.

I also like that Clark has been keeping his eyes on this world's doppelgangers of people who became villains on his. Here we learn that Hank Henshaw space trip is returning to Earth, the same event which eventually led him to be the Cyborg Superman elesewhere/when. This Clark isn't going to let history repeat itself.

That isn't going to be easy. We learn that Clark's powers fluctuate on this world. (Maybe he processes this sun's rays differently?)

But let's take a step back. How great is it to read Lois and Clark talking to each other like this?

And having public displays of affection which disgust.

I love Jon's reaction.

Clark isn't the only one who has been busy on this new world. Lois has been an 'amazing agent of change' with a bookshelf full of exposes. Author X has written about the glass ceiling, the impending water shortage, the loss of intergrity, etc.

Welcome back Lois ... err ... Author X!

I will ask the question though, if this Clark wanted to be undercover why wear an S-shield uniform?

Lois' next book is on Intergang, one of the big bads over on her original world. Maybe she is doing work similar to Clark, trying to proactively stop threats from coming to fruition.

Unfortunately it looks like Lois isn't as anonymous as she would like to be. Someone is watching her pass off the manuscript.

A solid Lois plot! Hurrah!

Meanwhile, Clark seems to have saved the Henshaw ship. Maybe this time the Henshaws and crew won't die or become villains.

But things have taken a different turn all together. Henshaw's wife, friend, and brother-in-law (the original crew on the post-Crisis Earth) aren't present. Only Henshaw himself.

Things are different already.

And again, great art here. That first panel is just perfect.

And then, one more hook. In a far galaxy, the Oblivion Stone has been stolen.

Hopefully it has come through that I loved this issue. Lois and Clark are in love. Working together. Supporting each other. Raising a smart kid with good values. Helping people. This is Superman. This is Lois and Clark. And it fascinates me how this Clark describes the current DCU. A suspicious, edgy, place where good has to be hidden, work in secret.

Add to that some nice hooks to keep me coming back. Lois investigating Intergang. The Henshaw shuttle. The Oblivion Stone. And a young Jon trying to put the clues together.

And, of course, the unbelievable Weeks/Hanna/Anderson art is gorgeous.

I think I just have to forget that part of the genesis of this book is the undoing of the Crisis and Supergirl surviving and running away.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

I reckon Kara realised she married that alien Salkor in her sleep and is running like the wind!

Im OK with the Crisis being undone because if there are infinite realities once again, in one of them the Crisis happened! Slivers of continuity and all that.

I think one of the pre-publication interviews places the Whites in California; it'd be fun were they to be in Pittsdale!

Nobile said...

As I wrote on Martin's blog, I did not read Convergence so it baffled me to discover that Superman landed in this strange, dark universe so long ago (BEFORE Convergence itself? Please help me...)
This results in NU Kal-El being unaware of another kryptonian Superman performing super-deeds for eight years or so. Place huge facepalm slap here.

This said, since you mentioned it, an Oblivion Stone in an universe where everybody has discovered Superman's identity rings more than a bell. :-)

Nobile said...

I forgot: in which exact point did Convergence happen in post-Crisis reality? I assumed it was around zero hour, but after their wedding, thus erasing ten or more years of Superman continuity from his past. Considering that this include electric supes and other exploits that are better left forgotten this really could be the best Superman one could hope for!

But he still had a mullet...

Godzylla said...

Not having read the main Convergence series either, I have no idea why they didn't go back to their own world, though if the Crisis never happened then the amalgam of all worlds was never created so their world doesn't exist. Head spinning, no? I don't see Supergirl "leaving" so much as taking a different path in that situation. What, she & Hal were going to move in with her cousin? :) I doubt all would have agreed to stay out of view.

Love love love this book already. Bizarro is almost over, so this will be my sole DC comic for the foreseeable future.

Figuring the math, DC's initial announcement placed Jon as 9 years old (it also listed this as an ongoing, but I guess ads have called it a limited series, so who knows?). "Five years before" + 4 years means that DC is keeping the current line in "real time," which is bizarre.


Nobile said...

Wow. Did not come to my mind, if CoIE never happened (or ended differently 'cause Flash and Supergirl called a day off) so pC universe never was, and this makes Lois and Clark actually homeless, not just stranded. Their situation is therefore similar to Kal-L, Lois a Alexander Luthor's.
This also left bronze age universe in an uncertain state: did it survive unchanged or was it destroyed because of two heroes copping out?

I see Infinite Convergence approaching...

Anonymous said...

"I wish ... Kara ... would have stayed. But they wanted to find their destinies elsewhere."

...well, it's not a wet fish to the face slap, like JLU's "She Bolted..." comment, but it doesn't
take away the sting(k) that DC seems to have slapped a company-wide unwritten editorial mandate and/or
self-fulfilling prophecy that Supergirl should be persona non grata in ANY comics continuity...
pardon the noise as I gnash my teeth at this latest round of stupidity with TBTP at DC.

Taking this, the lack of news at NYCC, the halfhearted reissue / re-cover of New 52 Supergirl #1, the
mealy-mouthed answer of Jim Lee regarding an actual book... WTH, DC?! And don't get me started on the
shaky ground that Bombshells and JL3001 -- the last two bastions where we CAN see a comics version of
Supergirl, seemingly -- I can't help but fear SOMEone, SOMEwhere is sharpening the knives.

To end things on a positive note, I do appreciate the reintro of a heroic Superman (finally). Will
watch your reviews of the next issue or two, and see if this interests me enough to pick up.


Anonymous said...

I only gave this issue a quick read through before my physical copy arrives in the mail but I enjoyed Lois and Clark very much as well. It was great to get a feeling of familiarity in Pre Flashpoint Superman and Lois' personalities again, the meta commentary on the New 52 world from a Pre New 52 perspective was all too spot on for my tastes and I did appreciate the little touches Jurgens put in place that you picked up on too.

Clark and Lois taking the last name White was a touching reminder of what Perry meant to them, Clark's beard is much better kept and makes more sense than that shaggy mess New 52 Superman had under Pak and Jonathan has some potential as a son of Superman and Lois too. What surprised me was that my favourite parts of the issue were Jon doing chores and Lois working as Author X to expose corruption and injustice without being a reporter. That's solid writing that the supporting cast have the most entertaining moments.

Granted, the first issue was a little heavy on the exposition, it was kind of a slow burner and I could so do without another Superman losing his powers subplot, I wish Jurgens hadn't included this in Lois and Clark. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons in my eyes. I'm glad I have a Superman book I can enjoy buying.


Martin Gray said...

I wonder if someone at DC decreed that the older Superman can't be more powerful than the New 52 guy, so he'll be weak, too, until Docker Clark powers up again.

Give him an exoskeleton and bracelet I say!

Anonymous said...

Here's how I interpret what happened:

COIE still happens, since:

Pre-Crisis Earth-1 -> COIE -> Post-Crisis Earth -> Infinite Crisis -> Pre-Flashpoint Earth-0 -> Flashpoint -> New 52 Earth-0

Brainiac simply created a parallel reality where a Crisis didn't unfold the same way, giving us infinite universes again. Unfortunately as mentioned above, for Lois and Clark to get to their real home, they need the original Crisis to occur (which it had to since New 52 Earth-0 exists)... but they also need Flashpoint to not occur (but it had to have occurred since New 52 Earth-0 exists).

Lois and Clark needed to settle down quickly since they had a burgeoning family. New 52 Earth-0 is the "successor world" of their pre-Flashpoint Earth-0, so I suppose it was their best bet at the time. (But they were wrong! Bwahahaha!)

For Kara and Barry, there's a chance that pre-Crisis Earth-1 still exists in some form somewhere in the multiverse (since it doesn't require the original COIE to occur to exist), so they'd obviously go searching for their home. I don't see that as "running away".

As for the legacy of Supergirl's death in COIE, that legacy is defined in the real world, not by comic book minutiae. This is just official confirmation of what fans have long suspected: that some version of pre-Crisis Supergirl survived COIE, as seen in "Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds" (and featured as a tiny Easter Egg cameo at the end of Multiversity #2).

Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments,
There is a lot of head scratching trying to piece all this histOry/continuity together. Still love everything about this.

As for the fluctuating powers, my guess is this is 'different sun' physiology. He can gain power from The yellow sun but not as efficiently, We have seen something like this when Kryptonite from other universes don't effect Kryptonians for a different reality.

Uncle Screensaver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uncle Screensaver said...

None of this makes sense, really, as others have pointed out, for if COIE had not ended as it had, then the original Earth-1 and Earth-2 never merged and Post-Crisis Earth never existed, thus there would be no Infinite Crisis or any events afterward. Barry Allen never died, so he would never have emerged in a timeline where his mother was murdered and thus Flashpoint would not have happened, meaning New52 by right shouldn't have happened. In fact, Barry Allen would never have entered into any Speed Force after death and by Post-Crisis explanation, had never become the lightning that would change him into The Flash.

Convergence would never have happened then either, so then the heroes never went back to change the Multiverse, so COIE would have still happened, and we'd have this crazy time loop. It suggests then that to avoid a time loop such as it would be, not unlike the end of COIE with heroes at the beginning of time remembering how things were initially, this group of "Forgotten Heroes" are "Challengers of the Unknown" as they are literally "living on borrowed time (and space)".

Another idea is that Convergence was clear in that while the Multiverse was not destroyed in the battle with the Anti-Monitor (which would have meant the Crisis ended either before any earth was destroyed or when Kara almost killed him herself) it was altered to that of the Multiverse shown at the end of Convergence. If that is the case, then those heroes were so far removed from time and space that they couldn't just return to their previous positions, and as noted in an above post became the new "Post-Crisis Four" (Earth-2's Clark and Lois, Superboy-Prime, Earth-3's Luthor II).

What should of been addressed is that one reason why Clark didn't want Kara to leave was because he didn't want to lose another version of his cousin, as Post-Crisis/ Pre-Flashpoint Kara Zor-El no longer existed. As for Pre-Crisis Kara and Barry, perhaps their destiny was to merge into their TV counterparts, live on "their" Earth-1 which lives on in a new/ altered timeline, or - with Hal - soaring the Omniverse with Ariella Kent/ Supergirl.

As mentioned in the above posts, Kara's death occurred in comics, and no amount of retconning can change that. Supergirl's legacy was still shaped by this, and while DC may be vindictive enough to try to take that away from her, ultimately they can't. I'll try to be positive and think that the original Kara Zor-El is alive and well in comic books and maybe, just maybe one day we'll see her again.

Anonymous said...

In this case, I don't think it's fair to treat DC as a monolithic entity. In Jurgens' case, I think he knows what it feels like to have a creation that he helped shape in a major way just tossed into the dustbin of history because The Powers That Be wanted it that way.

He is lucky to be able to give pre-Flashpoint Clark and Lois a second chance, and I'm sure he realizes it. (If DC never moved offices...) He's not going to deny that opportunity to someone who one day might want to write a new adventure featuring pre-Crisis Supergirl.

Anj said...

That's a great point about leaving that Kara around for someone else,

Heck, maybe that will be the 'TV' Supergirl we see in a comic. She lands on an alternate Earth and works for Cat Grant.

Anonymous said...

Jurgens said this in an interview:

"Jeff King has already revealed that Parallax will enter the story of Telos from here, but do YOU know where he sent Barry and Kara? Is their story still ongoing?

Yeah, we have some thoughts on Hal and Kara. But we can’t give everything away all at once!"

Ny the way, there's also this interesting bit in another interview:

"Nrama: OK, but why the change to the black costume that we've seen on covers? I was kind of liking seeing the red trunks again.

Jurgens: It might be called Earth, but this is a foreign world to him.

As we say in the story, it’s a darker, more suspicious world. If we go back to that time, when the Justice League first emerged, heroes weren’t automatically accepted and admired. There were skeptics, cynics and doubters.

Clark is leaving room for that world’s Superman to create his own place.

So he put the costume aside and pretty much went back to working like he did in his younger days.

Until he gets the black costume, of course. And we’ll have a story dealing with that coming up soon."

Jay said...

The entire internal logic in regards to them being on this earth still falls completely flat. The story did not make it make sense at all, in fact only compounded the illogical nature of things. One, I'm sorry but no amount of rationalization will make me believe that Superman would wait and test the waters with the first Darkseid invasion. Don't care if he was a second away from interfering or whatever. He would have dove head first in there, regardless if this was his Earth or if his doppleganger was there or not. So that was quite weak. And that's not mentioning the many other catastrophes the Earth has gone through via crossover events that he was now present for. None of this works. Then you get to present day and the secret identities. Staying anonymous is like, the most important thing to them. Even more so now that this Earth's Superman has been revealed. So Superman does his thing with a huge S emblazoned on his chest and Lois invites conspiracy theory by choosing a deliberately mysterious pen-name in "Author X" as opposed to some normal generic name. Huge plot conveniences there that don't match up with their circumstances. Finally, there's Clark's alternate mission of trying to keep up with some of his classic foes before they get a foothold. I don't get why you introduce this at all because its right off the bat a massive failure. All the baddies are still around, and Clark's internal rationalization of some not being threats and some who weren't threats to him now are doesn't hold water with actual continuity.

Now, the entire set up making absolutely no sense aside, I actually found myself enjoying this more than I thought I would. There were some fun things, and sometimes fun can forgive certain things. I liked Jonathan and Lois, and I was intrigued by a new (second new, actually) introduction of Hank Henshaw. Now, this falls into my gripe above of Superman's pointless mission statement, but, I love Henshaw and if this somehow leads to him becoming the Cyborg Superman foil to the New 52 Superman, that'd be nice.

So for now its got a bit of my attention. Its well behind the main Superman titles for me, but I didn't outright hate it, which I kinda thought I would going in.

Anj said...

I agree that it was odd that this Superman didn't just dive into the fray with Darkseid.

But I can understand Lois going with 'Author X'. No matter what name she took, people would want to interview her, put her on TV, research her background. So I suppose being completely anonymous is just a smidge better.

mhunt said...

I have stopped reading DC.. Crisis should have left un-touched.. same with Kingdom Come..

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

For what it is worth, I see Parallax going back at the end of CONVERGENCE as a way to erase ZERO HOUR from ever happening. But I'm leaning more and more than editorial edict wanted the Anti-Monitor alive simply so he could be involved in FOREVER EVIL and the current JL storyline where he fights Darkseid. And,without Earth-Prime Superboy, no need for INFINITE CRISIS.

Granted that disconnects much of what Grant Morrison wrote in the Multiversity Guidebook, but I can see it happening because, of course, Geoff Johns is writing JL and it is his play-thing.

The heroes lived, Barry Allen likely went back to the future of Earth-Whatever to be with Iris, maybe Kara will show up again in the comic as Kara White. While some of this book is nice, I won't be buying it. I do enjoy youyr reviews.

WhiteDwarfStar said...

I haven't read this issue yet. But this is what makes sense to me:

The multiverse never vanished. Ever. It was simply inaccessible. Those who thought that COIE ended with history being revised into a single universe were wrong. They just couldn't reach the worlds/universes that were once reachable because they were now vibrating at different frequencies than they used to vibrate at.

I would think that Hal, Barry and Kara simply went back in time to meet their destinies. If they haven't yet done so and show up again in this series, they will, eventually.

The world that Clark and Lois are from isn't really a merged version of anything. It's just one more world in the infinite multiverse.

They've been led to believe that it's been erased. But it hasn't been. They just have no idea how to get back home.

This is a 12-issue limited series, or so I've heard. So Clark and Lois and Jonathan will eventually get back to where they belong -- which is somewhere in the multiverse. The only difference is that instead of being labeled Earth-Zero, it's Earth-14, or Earth-28, or Earth-some-other-number.

I hope I'm right.