Friday, August 9, 2019

Review: Lois Lane #2

Lois Lane #2 came out this week and was another hard-boiled noir chapter in this close up look at Lois. There are a couple of plot lines working their way through the book, a couple of mysteries to sink my teeth into. But the true strength of this issue is just the character of Lois and the multifaceted look at her.

Writer Greg Rucka really gives us a three-dimensional look at Lois. We see her capabilities as a reporter, deftly getting information and backing up people she interview into corners where they have to talk. We see her dogged determination for justice but how her focus is on the root of a problem, not a symptom. And we see the human person who can still be vulnerable even though her facade is one of invulnerability. It truly is impressive work, showing us just who she is.

We also get to see how the world views her. And, interestingly enough, it isn't always shining. But people often want to tear down, not build up.

Mike Perkins is again on art with colors by Paul Mounts. Perkins realistic but semi-grungy approach is perfect for this story so steeped in the real world. And with scenes that jump from nighttime murder scenes to dimly lit bars to sun-soaked walks on the street, Mounts perfectly captures the tone with his palette.

This was a great read, a perfect blend. Maybe this maxi-series will pave the way for a monthly?

On to the book.

Last issue ended with Lois being tossed out of a White House press conference when she revealed corruption around detention centers for refugees/illegal immigrants. And there is a significant media pushback.

But what we see of that has nothing to do with Lois' bombshell of a story, neither the content or the veracity. Instead it is personal attacks on Lois herself.

First we have a TMZ style show, complete with the 'falling out of her dress' young host, talking about how Lois is cheating on Clark. (How perfect is it that the photo of Clark is him getting mustard on his shirt. I love that!)

Then we see the Press Secretary wondering if Lois shouldn't 'get her own house in order' before attacking other people.

What does that have to do with kickbacks and corruption? Nothing.

 And then on a show akin to 'The View', one host talks how they would sleep with Superman if they could.

Another talks how Lois is only interested in being in the spotlight, whatever she needs to do to get there. Lois fooling around with Superman is a tarnish on Superman and the symbol he is.

Again, Lois is a hot topic because of that story.

And yet, in all these pages of media responses, not once is the story mentioned. It is all just attacks on Lois and innuendo.


 Later she talks with Clark about it.

He wonders if Clark or Superman should give an official statement but Lois knows either would be twisted by her detractors. Instead she'll just ignore it.

And then, this wonderful moment of vulnerability. Lois has been steely in her response to all this. But with Clark she reveals that it all hurts.

But it won't deter her from reporting the truth. If she stops, 'they' win.


 Meanwhile, the subplot of The Question investigating the death of Mariska Voronova takes an expected turn. Voronova's apartment is clearly a murder scene, not the site of a suicide. Montoya returns from Russia to give Lois the news.

The two meet in a crowded burger place, a 'hide in plain sight, we aren't scared' tactic Lois uses.

There is some playful banter between the two compatriots. I love that Lois knows she is always hot.

 Lois suspected Voronova was killed. And the Russian reporter's notes include a list of names and a lot of money changing hands. It is time to dig deeper.

But here is that drive for justice in Lois. Yes, she wants to catch the people who tortured and killed Voronova. But they were just a tool. Lois wants to bring down the people who hired the killers.

She wants the arm ... not just the hammer.

Look at the look in the last panel. That is determination.

And the reds of this restaurant by Mounts add to the feeling of dread, a sort of bloody haze on this crime.

 But the detention center story is still bubbling.

Lois lets a businessman named Agger that she has dirt on him. Money that shows he profited on the detention center deals and probably bought political support to get into the business.

Agger has two choices. He can let Lois run her story without his response. Or he can meet her and tell his side.

It is almost a cat-and-mouse game. Lois effortlessly pushes him into the corner of needing to meet with her and talk about it. He knows he's defeated in that third panel. And her smile shows that she knows it.

I love that we are seeing just how effective Lois is as an investigative journalist.

 While she knows she is great at her job, I love that she still respects Perry and his experience.

He is editing her story and she isn't complaining. She knows that Perry knows what he is doing.

I really like this relationship.

And I like that Perry is still old school, printing the story and making his edits old school, pen to paper.

 And he continues to ask Lois about her sources. He even tries to get her to reveal one but Lois won't take the bait.

Either way, they both know that Lois is agitating powerful people. She needs to be careful. After all, Mariska Voronova was killed for doing the same thing.

Love that very cinematic last panel, Lois look out her window into the rain-soaked night, the color similar to a bruise. and it is such a wonderful transition from the pink, smiling Lois from 2 panels earlier.

 Agger agrees to meet Lois at a restaurant to talk things over.

Renee joins her as backup.

This is a sort of film noir mystery so seeing Montoya flirt with the bartender fits right in with the tone.

I do love this technique Perkins is using panel borders within a panel to show where Montoya's attention is drawn, a way to draw our attention there as well. Slick use of panels there.

And then, no surprise, a killer disguised as a waiter mows down Agger.

Was Agger the target? Or was Lois and Agger was just an unfortunate bystander.

Great ending salvo to a powerful issue.

This issue had so much story that just worked. The response to Lois' story and her own feelings about the attacks. The Voronova reveal and Lois' demand for vengeance. Her skills in trapping Agger. And then the ending. All worked.

But my favorite scene was that conversation with Perry. I loved that back and forth. I hope we see more of those two interacting.

I would love to hear what other folks thought!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

The Perry scenes have been my highlight so far. Mind, while I find Perry being so old school amusing, sliding timelines mean that he'd have been using computers for most of his working life at this point. When I started on a local newspapers in the early Eighties we still had electric typewriters, but WPs soon came in, quickly followed by computers. Newspaper offices have been using computers for about 30 years, so Perry really is being shown as a dinosaur, and it's really unrealistic - a boss who refuses to use the tech he'd have his staff use would be in trouble.

And amusing as the gags about Lois' spelling can be, they're too frequent nowadays and, again, not truly something you'd find in a professional journalist - it's not actually easy to get on a good journalism course, the competition is massive and if you don't bother to spell things correctly, you application goes straight in the bin.

Russian plotlines in comics have always bored me. No idea why. Actually, I make an exception if Rocket Red is involved. Otherwise, this business with Renee isn't for me. And I thought that was Lois in the flirting scene, thanks for putting me right.

What I really don't like about this well-crafted, thoughtful book is the cuckolding plotline - what IS Lois's endgame? OK, so she's resigned to letting people gossip about the situation, but why not fix the situation? Come up with a story to explain the kiss... this is the DCU, say she was being mind controlled or something. Clark is being humiliated, Jon's feelings are being ignored, Perry is confused - what's going on? Lois was so happy with her married life under Tomasi and Jurgens, now she wants to pee it away. I just do not get it.

Rob S. said...

I'm really enjoying this one, too -- and trusting that the public perception of relationship difficulties will blow over for Lois & Clark. Lois knows talk is cheap, and what she has with Clark is true, and can withstand it.

I'll be interested in seeing Vic Sage join the party next issue!

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think Rucka is saddled with the job of furthering the Lois/Superman kiss plot - but it is inconceivable Bendis had them kiss in public without having some endgame in mind. Maybe after 12 issues, Rucka will leave it "unsolved" and toss it back to Bendis. But maybe there is nothing really to solve. Maybe it just is what it is. It's not the only strange thing Lois has done.

But not every writer has to explain every action of every character. Neither Bendis nor Rucka is doing 1st person narration (though it wouldn't be out of place in noir), and thank God NO 3rd person narration!!!! (I hate that more than anything.) So everything unfolds through speech and action, and that's what we get to observe. And not everything we observe from the outside makes sense.

I had a bit of trouble following parts of this, in the darkness, figuring out there were - I think - 2 guards at the apartment building, one on the street and the one inside that Montoya knocked out. And telling the difference between Lois and Montoya in some scenes took some effort, though in the end was possible.

Eventually I made sense out of all of that, and I love the noir moodiness. It all clicks, the art and the color. (I know he's been around a long time, but am only familiar with Paul Mount's work with frequent collaborator Amanda Conner, and boy could this not look more different!)

The script is more than on the nose - it is literally today's headlines, at least as presented in some media. It's a bit jarring to read a comic that references current events so directly. Still, I like it, for the language, settings, and art.

Lois put a decal on her laptop that reads "This computer kills fascists." They've been warned!