Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review: Superman Lois and Clark #3

2016 keeps rolling along but I have a few issues from the tail end of 2015 to review.

Superman: Lois and Clark #3 came out and did a little bit of deepening of the world for these versions of the iconic title characters. One of the things that writer Dan Jurgens is doing in this book is not only showing us the current lives of these characters but also giving us glimpses of their years on this current Earth. This 'Superman' has been living and heroing on this Earth for 5 years. What has he be doing during all that time? But the flashbacks we are shown have some impact to the now, impacting the current plotlines. This sort of felt like world building to me, which would be wonderful. In fact, if this was an ongoing, I wouldn't mind seeing 'secret adventures' of this Superman.

But Superman is only half the story. Lois is as big an element in this book and she is a joy to read. Adventurous, brave, strong. This Lois is everything Lois Lane should be. I wouldn't mind reading her 'secret adventures' either.

Artist Lee Weeks is aided by some pages being inked by Scott Hanna and Sergio and Cariello. The art is a solid and powerful. I don't want to say 'old school'. Nor do I want to say it isn't 'overly stylized'. But the style is perfect for this more barrel-chested, classic Superman.

The book starts out in a flashback where Superman is fighting a nearly omnipotent madman called Blanque. The name works well as everything about this villain is bleached white. But he also has an eerie calm about him, an almost blank or flat affect. He is chilling.

And that is shown beautifully in this opening panel. It is a wide shot, Blanque as a small element in the middle. But it gives us the scope of what he has done. This is a town afire, destroyed. The arm in the lower panel shows he has no qualms about killing. This immediately lets us realize the power of this person.

But he is calmly strolling down the street, surveying what he has done, and calling it art. Madness.


The pre-Flashpoint Superman flies in and does battle with Blanque. During that squabble, we get a sense of Blanque's powers: telepathy, telekinesis ... he even implies he is close friends with the devil. Clark has little choice but to just get Blanque out of there. He flies him into the upper atmosphere where Blanque passes out in the thin air.

But this is Superman. He won't kill. He isn't an 'artist' of death.

Now that is Superman.

In current time, Lois and Clark are dealing with the aftermath of the Intergang attack on Lois and Jon. Clark thinks that Intergang simply followed them because they were speaking with her publicist. It might be Pollyanna of him to think they don't know about Lois' life as 'Author X'.

I did love this exchange. Both Lois and Clark know their partners deal in danger. Both wish their partners would live a safer life. But both know that would change who the person they love is.

So when Clark says he wished Lois wouldn't go poking around danger, she says he is using her words against her. He then says he is 'kidding'.

They know each other and love each other. It is this drive for justice that make them perfect for each other. But they still worry. Why can't I have this sort of relationship in the New 52?

Jon is the other part of this family. We have already seen hints that he knows what's what. So he doesn't seem to buy Clark's explanation that the guys who attacked the family were just car-jackers. He is too smart for that.

And I like how we see that Lois and Clark are trying their best to raise him with the same folky wholesomeness of the Kents. When 'crap' gets a stern language warning, well, we are back in Smallville.

Things kick up a notch when we see where Superman has stashed Blanque all these years. This Superman also has a Fortress of Solitude, which also serves as a prison for people he has captured and a variety of trophies.

It was fun to see the classic 'Jor-El and Lara holding Krypton' statue in a Fortress. But the other trophies are nifty too. I especially liked the 'Iron Giant' head here. Could this be a riff on this Adventures of Superman story, which I loved loved loved?

Remember in the first issue when Superman was chasing down Hank Henshaw and Henshaw's rocket crashed to Earth? Well it turns out that Superman brought Henshaw away from the crash to the Fortress to examine him. This kind of sounds like kidnapping to me. I know Clark is worried about the Cyborg Superman but this is a little gray to me. Multiverse ethics are hard!!!

Alas, Blanque is able to usurp control over Henshaw, knock out Superman, and escape. There is a lot to digest here.

We learn that Henshaw has been oddly stable since being brought there ... uncannily stable. So maybe there is more to him than meets the eye.

And Blanque has been trawling Superman's mind for information. He knows about the other reality, Henshaw having a connection to Coast City, and about the existence of Lois and Jon. Things are about to get scary.

We get a page reminding us that Intergang is still out there. And we get another page about the Oblivion Stone. Those plots are simmering. In fact, the Oblivion Stone one has been really simmering. What is going on there?

Anyways, this book remains a treat. I love the Lois/Clark dynamic. I am even warming up to Jon, the thing I was worried about the most in this book. Blanque is a nice nihilistic effete villain. And the art is a treat.

Kudos to Jurgens and Weeks for a great comic for Superman fans.

Overall grade: B+


Dave Mullen said...

Only Grade 'B+' ? :)

I concur that this is a great book and fine example of Superman, like you the ethics Superman is seeming to adopt troubled me a little, particularly seeing a he directly lied to Lois when she asked about the Excalubur and Henshaw. I am not able to rationalise why he would lie to her like this.
With Blanque I can accept the fear that since no jail can hold him decisive action would be needed to isolate the villain from humanity, but this in itself raised a number of questions about how Superman is adapting to this world and just how practical it is to work covertly like this when the threats to the world can be so severe and regular. If Blanque came to his attention just after the Apokolips invasion and this villain had been roaming around annihilating one town after the other where was the response from the authorities and the Justice League? If this was an event Clark felt he had to take an intervening hand in why then no intervention in subsequent similmar occurences?
Just how can he keep trying for secrecy and a quiet life when he is seemingly so active and has his own impressive Fortress complex to aid in his work...? The rationale to the series is becoming rather suspect all things considered. There simply isn't room for two Supermen.

Nontheless quibbles aside this is a wonderful and evocative read that captures the characters perfectly. Subplots abound and it is hard to accept this is a limited series rather than an ongoing. If only I could enjoy the regular Superman books as much as this .

Martin Gray said...

Another very good issue, but I agree, Superman's imprisoning of Heywood was dubious; mind, in the old days he did jail lots of innocents alien animals in his fortress...

Blanque is intriguing, though I'm less keen than you in the name, it's a bit TOO Nineties. I did find Superman's thought processes ambiguous as to whether his execution of the Phantom Zoners survives in his continuity. Is it a case of 'I would never' or 'Never again'?