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.
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?
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?
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.
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