Monday, July 8, 2019

Review: Lois Lane #1

Lois Lane #1 came out last week and was a great opening issue to this maxi-series, giving us a sort of quick cross-section of what the investigative reporter's life must me like on a day to day basis. I was very entertained by the issue and was instantly wanting to read more. That is always a good sign for a first issue.

Writer Greg Rucka is known for his adept handling of female characters and this issue puts that on display. We get a very three-dimensional look at Lois, making her feel like a real person living her unreal life. From a very topical expose of the President, to her beginning an investigation on the apparent suicide of a Russian colleague, to the complicated private life of being Clark Kent's wife and Superman's paramour, we get just about everything. And Lois responds to all those chunks of her life impressively. She is determined, quick-witted, intelligent, angry, blase. But mostly she's unfazed. She has been around the block a couple of times. This read like the way I want Lois to read.

And Mike Perkins on art gives a very real portrayal of all this. I think Perkins' style works best in the dark, seedy corners of investigative journalism. But even the bright shiny press conferences and sun-dappled romantic scenes really crackle here. The work really shines.

Paul Mounts contributions as colorist can't be dismissed either as the scope of the book goes light to dark, dingy to spotless and his colors capture it all.

If the whole series is going to be like this first issue, I'll be thrilled. We need a Lois book on the racks. And this is a great one. On to the story ...

Now I definitely spoke highly of the issue in the introduction to the review but one piece to Lois' story that I hope Rucka answers is her current living arrangement. She is estranged from Clark, living in a Chicago hotel, and kind of has a marital relationship with benefits.

We open with her furiously tak-tak-tak-ing away at her keyboard, sending off an article to expose some 'arrogant #$%%$#'.

This single life veers a little close to a film noir reporter diving into tricky places. Lois tells the maid she always wants the mini-bar filled, like a hard-drinking ink-stained newspaper person from the 40s. And she smirks when the maid brings up her marriage to Clark and the well-publicized kiss with Superman.

I still don't quite get why they are separated and why they would kiss as Lois/Superman in the middle of a city street. Hopefully we get there.

Perry contacts Lois about the article she just sent hoping she has proof for the claims she has made. As always, she stands by her piece and she wants her name on the byline. She'll face the slings and arrows for those upset with it. I suppose that dogged pursuit of the truth and her being the face of the investigation is one of the things I love about Lois.

So right off the bat we see her as the hard-hitting reporter.

But Perry gives us a subplot. Mariska Koronova, a Russian reporter, a sort of Lois analog, someone critical of the Kremlin, has seemingly committed suicide. And that doesn't seem right to Lois. Looks like a new mystery has cropped up.

So then we see Lois as a wheeler dealer.

In classic Hollywood fashion, she meets someone in a parking garage. She tells the Question that she wants Koronova's suicide looked into. More importantly, Koronova had a copy of all the Kremlin information stashed somewhere and told Lois. She wants it retrieved.

I loved this little bit of dialog. Lois doesn't mind a little lying to get information. But she doesn't like being dishonest to get a story. The Question heading into Russia to grab that intel, probably with a clenched fist, is inherently illegal. That isn't being a squeaky clean, above reproach member of the 4th estate.

But sometimes the ends justify the means.

So now we see a Lois willing to bend the rules a bit.

Again, Perkins use of shadows and blacks here is perfect.

Heading back to her hotel room, she spies Clark in the shower and slips into it with him.

Later, in the post-amorous sunrise, she sees that he has been watching her sleep.

It is a tiny little throwaway line, but I like how she reminds him that he needs to sleep. We have all seen stories where a sleep-deprived Kryptonian gets a little nutty.

Now we see the head-over-heels in love Lois, the concerned spouse.

Perkins now has to give us a sun-kissed romantic morning right out of the pitch of the nighttime garage. Lovely.

Heading out in public for breakfast (hope they can explain Clark being in Chicago), Lois is called a slut by a passerby. After all, she is Clark's wife and kisser of Superman.

She laughs it off as sexism. Superman never gets insulted because he is a guy.

While Superman might be above insults, I am sure Clark could face some troubling words or mocking phrases. I wouldn't mind seeing that side of this as well.

And then the story that I am most interested in reading.

Lois has moved out. Moreover, she learned something when in space with Jor-El that she hasn't shared with Clark yet. And she needs to trust him. She has her reasons.

He takes it all with a smile.

Yes, I am very intrigued by what it could be she has learned.

But I don't know many married couples that would be thrilled with one person saying 'I am keeping secrets from you. Don't worry about it.'

Meanwhile in Russia, in the dark of night, the Renee Montoya Question beats the snot out of some goons sniffing around Koronova's dead drop site. They came too late. Montoya has the thumb drive.

These are gorgeous, well-executed fisticuffs all done in the blacks, blues, and purples of twilight. These were my favorite pages by Perkins and Mounts.

But then we get back to that story from the beginning pages.

In a White House Press Conference, Lois asks about her story. She has uncovered that private companies are sending kickbacks to the administration in order to get contracts to build 'tender care camps', the DC equivalent of the current detention centers at the border. The government is monetizing the separation of families.

Even when the Secretary says she cannot reply, Lois continues to push.

Obviously the dollar numbers she quotes are the bits that Perry wanted confirmation on.

The line of questioning gets Lois escorted out, her credentials stripped. But I love that look of defiance at the top. She did her job. She lit the fire. Now the other reporters can fan the flames.

The proud walk away in the last panel really sells the issue. She is Lois Lane. Nothing can stop her.

This whole last page is just phenomenal by Perkins. So much of the feel is left to the art to convey.

I do worry when such a hot button issue like detention camps gets inserted into comics today if only because it can date the story. But this would be an issue Lois would tackle. So I suppose it works. And clearly this whole scene with Lois hammering away before strutting off is just about perfect.

So overall a great sort of 'days in the life' look at what it means to be Lois Lane. I suppose now that we have a foundation of Rucka's take, we'll have the new plots become more front and center. But I liked this for what it was, a primer on Lois with some plot seeds planted.

And Mike Perkins shines no matter what scenario he has to take on.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Nice review. You liked it just a tad more than me, I hate Lois cursing, and the drinks cabinet bit was off, she's never been a Rosalind Russell. Plus, both Lois and Clark could show some concern for their son. But overall, this was good stuff.

If only they'd sort the living arrangements bit.

Anonymous said...

I really wish it wasn't under Bendis run, because any issue or panel that's touched by that writer's (IMO) horrible takes on Lois and Jon will be tainted.

Not that anything will stop me from getting and supporting a Lois book. And, aside a few Rucka's bad habits (smoking, drinking, and even the old misspelling thing), he very much gets her and her relationship with Clark.

Also - and that's a more general complaint - I really hate how other writers are incapable of picking up newly created, useful characters such as Jackee (from Geoff Johns' run) and using her, for instance, as a supporting net for Lois. Instead, they prefer their usual characters (like Renee) or create new pets characters (such as Robinson and Trish). Not surprising, no new character have been established in Superman comics (aside from Jon) since the 90s. Also not surprising, it took Dan Jurgens to do it. [/END RANT, hehe]

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I loved it. This is my favorite Lois-the veteran reporter determined to get the story. Her healthy contempt for politicians and their lackeys is right on the money. I agree that Lois shouldn't be portrayed as living on alcohol and cigarettes, but the misspelling isn't Rucka's invention. It's a nod to Margot Kidder's portrayal of the character in the 1978 Superman movie. I thought it was funny, especially Perry White's line about her Pulitzers.

I don't have a problem with her being willing to bend the rules a little to uncover the truth. She may be in love with Superman, but she isn't him. Loved the espionage subplot. It feels like a grittier version of what we might have gotten in the seventies if Cary Bates had continued in that direction with Lois in Superman Family.