Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review: Superman Lois And Clark #4

Superman Lois and Clark #4 came out last week and the book continues to be a very good read. I really like this book. I mean, I would happily read this as an ongoing monthly.

And this is my quibble.

This book is only 9 issues (maybe 8?). And this book's pacing is deliberate. This issue moves the plots forward somewhat. But there isn't too much progression. And that is the one thing that sort of gnawed at me as I read it. I don't like when the reality of a project pulls me out of the story. I enjoyed the story here, even the slow pace. But when done, I was immediately brought out of the story and started to wonder if we'll get where we needs to get to overall if the story goes this slowly. Remember, this book was initially billed as a 12 issue run before being truncated. Did writer Dan Jurgens think he had room to draw things out? Right now this title is half-done, not 1/3 done. I struggled with this dual struggle of enjoying the story but worrying about the end of the series.

Regardless, the book is great with nice moments between Lois and Clark. And that is why I read this book. Jurgens has the two truly be on equal footing in the book. Each has their own plot line and page count. And there is a nice flashback scene with the two together.

Art is done by Lee Weeks and Marco Santucci with inks by Scott Hanna and Sergio Cariello. They bring a nice classic weight to the proceedings. But I love that they also can tone it down to something more soft for the more romantic scenes. Really good stuff.

The book opens with a flashback of Lois and Clark enjoying their anniversary on this new world. In a bit of a risky move, they decide to head to Metropolis for a dinner and night away. They run into a blind street musician who recognizes Clark's voice. They almost run into Jimmy Olsen. It seems to me the two of them would weigh the risks and benefits of this trip.

But what I love is how Jurgens shows just how dedicated the two are to each other, how still in love they are. We see Lois buying a Superman shirt for Jon, teasing Clark about the New 52 S-shield. But that panel of them holding hands is just wonderful.

There is an ease to this conversation and interaction. This just sounds natural and much more believable than much of what I have seen with Diana/Clark.

This Clark has been tracking down the people who were villains on the pre-Flashpoint world.

His investigation of Luthor has come up empty. But Clark isn't buying it. Luthor is and always will be dirty.

I loved this panel.

Alone in their hotel room, Lois gives Clark his gift, the black Superman suit he has been wearing. She pretended to be this world's Lois to pull some strings and get it made. This is another sort of risk. Lois knows ... well ... Lois. If this world's Lois hears she was involved in creating a suit, you know she'll track down Lois. (Confusing, I know.)

But I also loved how these two realize that even though they are marooned on this world, they have to be true to themselves. Clark has to hero. Lois has to investigate. And they are in love.

Now this was a great scene, adding some depth to the backstory of the couple and showcasing their character. So I loved it. But I also thought 'did we need this' scene. Or could those pages have been used to move the plots along. Because this series is half done!

We shift to the present and get a scene with Lois. I have some minor quibbles with this.

Lois, worried about the safety of her publisher, heads to the office. Remember, Lois was attacked by Intergang and Clark thought that they followed her by tracking the publisher's movements.

The office appears deserted. But there is a very old school, almost film noir message left for Lois to see. 

I just wonder if Lois would have actually just walked in like this, knowing how hard she has been trying to hide her identity. And I wonder how Intergang knew that 'Author X' would be the first to head to the office as opposed to anyone else, the cleaning crew, a secretary, the supply person.

I have talked about how the super-son Jon has been vacillating between precocious and obnoxious. But it is clear that he is putting the clues together that his parents are more than they claim.

Here he sees the Daily Planet revealing Superman as Clark Kent. There has to be a picture on the front page that shows a young Clark. Jon will probably put two and two together.

This is a very interesting wrinkle. But would it take this for Jon to see Clark? Wouldn't this be all over the news? Haven't we seen him on a tablet in school? I just think he would have seen it already.

Waiting outside the publisher's office just as Lois is there ... Bruno Mannheim! Head of Intergang.

Again, would Mannheim reveal himself and therefore put Lois on the defensive? Wouldn't he just have his flunkies follow her?

Regardless, this world is closing in on Lois and Jon.

Meanwhile, Clark is stuck battling both Blanque and Hank Henshaw in his fortress. We get reminded that Clark's powers are weakening for some reason.

Blanque is controlling Henshaw. And Henshaw seems to have some latent powers which are now manifesting. Is this the beginning of the Cyborg Superman?

With Clark reeling a bit and somewhat weakened, Blanque is able to leave the fortress and then bring the whole mountain down on Superman. Before leaving, Blanque plucked the information of Lois and Jon from Clark's mind. Blanque will know hunt them down for revenge.

Much like with Lois' plot, the world is closing in on this family.

So maybe next issue we get some significant movement forward.

But don't forget there is one more subplot brewing. A woman alien is coming to Earth to find the Oblivion Stone. She is in our solar system now. Getting closer.

This is the fourth issue of us seeing this woman tracking. I suppose this plot is creeping forward too.

I know that I have been picking at pacing and the length of this series. But I think I just have to pack that up. Because it isn't my job to determine the length of arcs of series. It is my job to enjoy books.

And I will say again, I love this book. Because it is here that I can read a Superman who acts like Superman. It is here I can read Lois ... any Lois ... and a Lois that reads like Lois. And I get to see Lois and Clark together.

I have said all along. Good stories trump all. And this is a good story. So thanks again to Dan Jurgens for bringing this book to the racks! I miss classic Superman and classic Lois! And I have them again.

Overall grade:B+/B


Anonymous said...

Here's my theory: the DC "Rebirth" has something to do with the pre-Flashpoint universe. Since Jurgens is also on board with Rebirth, I guess the story being told in "Superman: Lois and Clark" is going to be continued in a new monthly taking place on pre-Flashpoint Earth, or the New-52 Superman is going to tie up pre-Flashpoint Superman's loose threads after pre-Flashpoint Superman, Lois, and Jon return to their world.

According to rumors, DC is going to have 24 titles post-Rebirth, so I'm guessing one title on pre-Flashpoint Earth (replacement title for "Lois and Clark", one title for Earth-2, one title for Earth-1 (Wonder Woman?), and 21 titles in the post-Rebirth New-52 Earth-0.

Jay said...

Today was a horrible day to be a Superman fan. These Rebirth rumors, if true, make it seem like DC is set out to bury Superman by design.

Dave Mullen said...

I have said all along. Good stories trump all. And this is a good story. So thanks again to Dan Jurgens for bringing this book to the racks! I miss classic Superman and classic Lois! And I have them again.

One aspect of this book that continually strikes me is the number of plots and subplots unfolding and how fluidly thay are all presented - I can think of precious few, if any, other books today that can present and juggle so many threads and make it all feel balanced and natural. Easy and absorbing to follow.
This is a tribute to Dan Jurgens' training in the Superman office of yesteryear, but also an example of a skill most writers today do not have thanks to the Direct Market style of writing. Old pro's like Jurgens, Levitz, Giffen, and Roger Stern, all trained in the newsstand era and all fine examples of writers who can still write a book this way... I read Lois & Clark and enjoy every aspect of it. Largely thanks to a writer trained and skilled in how to write a good mass audience read rather than something open ended and monotonous for the Direct Market. Lois & Clark shows us how superhero Comics today have adopted some might bad habits in terms of accessibility and presentation.