Monday, October 7, 2019

Review: Lois Lane #4

Lois Lane #4 came out last week and continued to impress me as a reader. Writer Greg Rucka and artist Mike Perkins continue to give me just the sort of Lois book I am looking for. And that's saying something.

I think the thing that impressed me the most about this issue is that it is a purely character driven issue, showcasing Lois' relationship to Jon, Renee's relationship to Vic, and even Lois' relationship to Renee. None of the plots that we have seen Lois investigating are moved forward much here. Washington's kickback deals to detention centers? Russian journalist being killed? Lois' informant shot in what may have been an attempt on her life? Barely mentioned.

While I love character issues, I usually want some plot line advancement. And yet, this issue that didn't bother me at all. I wonder if that is because I have been so thirsty for a Lois book and Lois moments that this was just the sort of drink to slake.

And I haven't mentioned the elephant in the room ... er ... issue. There is a whopper of a Leviathan clue in here. Remember, this is the review column. Leviathan clues get there own post, most likely tomorrow.

Mike Perkins art is his usual solid stuff. There are a lot of scenes of people eating in diners which doesn't allow him to stretch his muscles too much. But the Leviathan scene is appropriately moody.

On to the book.

Last issue Lois almost walked in on Jon showering thinking it was Clark. After some quick red-faced cover-ups, the two head out for a late night slice of pizza.

I love how proud Lois is of Jon. And I love how she just soaks in these parent moments. Of course, what parent wouldn't be thrilled if their adolescent child felt cool with a early morning snack run and conversation. I suppose it shows just how healthy this relationship is.

Jon drops the bomb about the Legion offering him a spot on the team.

Lois' expression in the last panel is perfect, just annoyed enough.

After all, Jon was sent into space with the insane Jor-El. He aged a handful of years while being tortured. He has just returned home. And now he wants to leave again.

The bliss of sharing late night pizza is replaced with the 'are you kidding me' expression of knowing she is probably losing him again.

That pizza place isn't the only late night eatery.

In a different diner, Vic and Renee are sharing a slice of pie.

I think Renee does a great job here of saying what it must be like to live in a comic book universe. Vic died. That happened. Then it didn't happen. None of it happened. But it all did happen.

Welcome to universal reboots and time wipes!

But she is annoyed by the whole thing. How could Vic be alive? What happened?

A little bit about this scene tomorrow.

We then cut to the UK where an unnamed woman is holed up in a grimy apartment.

When the police are called in to investigate, she appears completely disoriented, spouting chess moves, talking about being replaced, and pulling a gun on the officer.

She is clearly addled and confused.

And then she tries to kill herself.

It isn't clear if she has successfully shot herself or if she simply collapsed out of exhaustion. But that is a big old Leviathan sigil she is sprawled on.

Hmmmm .....

This looks almost like a glyph or magic circle of protection. Hmmm ....

Back in the states, Jon basically asks for Lois' permission to head to the future.

He has learned the lesson that he needs to go where help is needed. And the Legion needs help.

Understanding that pull, and realizing that the pursuit of justice is in her blood too, she agrees.

It is a nice moment. Jon literally isn't a kid anymore. It is time for him to make his life decisions.

And in one of my favorite moments, Jon calls Lois his hero.

Awwww ...

Again, this is an issue of just personal moments like this. I loved it.

Back in the other diner, Vic and Renee recall their final moments when he died. I have to say, I would need to go back into the long boxes to read this original scene.

But he is dragging her in the arctic. And she tells him how he told her the old tale about the man who dreamed he was a butterfly but then wondered if he was a butterfly dreaming of being a man.

He tells Renee to be a butterfly.

It is all very zen-like and perfect for these two. He wants her to ascend to be something more.

Renee gets called out to meet Lois and when all three get together, it is clear that Lois not only knows Vic but is working with him. She knows better than most what he is up to.

Appropriately, this completely irks Renee. How could Lois be working with her friend, know Vic was alive, have Vic working some lead and not tell Renee.

Renee acts like it is a breach of trust. And she isn't happy.

Now we know that The Question has been working with Lois in Event Leviathan. But that seemed a more serendipitous team-up than something planned. So what has be been working on? Or was she working with him before the Leviathan attacks trying to figure it all out?

The angry Renee keeps pushing Lois to open up not only about Vic but about everything.

It leads to a rather philosophical discussion about truth and the subjective nature of the concept. How many truths are there?  And why is Lois being so tight lipped with Renee?

Lois isn't taking the bait. She knows what is right, what she should share, and what she needs to hold on to. That is basically her job. But finally Lois gives in. She'll tell Renee the biggest secret of all, something only two people know.

Is it Clark's secret identity? Or something different?

I would love to hear from other Lois fans what they think of this series. For me this is a pretty well-rounded representation of Lois. We see the intrepid reporter, the tough as nails journalist, the muck raker and rabble rouser. We see the loving wife, the doting mother. We see the woman if integrity, parsing out truths and wisdom when ready.

And we saw all of that in this issue without one punch, gun shot, or red cape anywhere. I have been waiting for Lois to shine. Now she has the spotlight all to herself!

For me this series has been a big win.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Interesting issue.

I'm sorry for the off-topic, Anj, but you might be interested to know DC has announced they're developing an official timeline going back all the way to 1938.

It's very blurry, but fans have done their best to decipher the text. Here's a clean pdf:

There're several noteworthy developments House of El-wise:

- Wonder Woman debuts before Superman for some reason. Superman operates as Superboy in secret, though. The Legion isn't mentioned at all.

- Supergirl is mentioned three times: her arrival, her death in COIE, and her return/rebirth around the time of Identity Crisis. Her arrival takes place between Dick and Babs' debuts, which I fully support.

- Kara's legacies are not mentioned anywhere in the timeline. Maybe they will be included in the completed chart, but I doubt it. I think their absence -as well as the fact that Cass and Steph's Batgirl tenures have been acknowledged- speaks volumes about DC/WB's opinion in the matter.

- I'm not shocked about Matrix being disregarded, but Power Girl isn't mentioned at all, either. THAT, I'm shocked about. Neither Miss Zor-L nor the remainder Infinitors are accounted for.

- What does "Supergirl returns/reborn" means? Are we supposed to believe Jeph Loeb's Supergirl was Pre-Crisis Kara reborn?

- Jon's birth is now placed around the time of Identity Crisis. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

I like the book a lot, and I think Perkins' art is a huge part of it for me. Can't leave Paul Mounts out of this either as the coloring is just stunning.

The choice of the unusual and very moody color palette must have been a collaborative decision before work started. Maybe it was a Perkins/Mounts choice, or maybe it was Rucka's vision.

Is it odd that there is a white box drawing our attention to the word "Leviathan" on the sigil?

The secret only 2 other people know can't be Clark's secret - how many others know who he is? Everyone in the Justice League? Countless others have been taken into confidence or figured it out from time to time.

Maybe the secret has to do with the Leviathan plot, which is advancing rapidly. It seems that the Lois book's publishing schedule is intelligently coordinated with Event Leviathan.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

If DC were to publish an ongoing Lois Lane comic by Rucka and Perkins I would certainly buy it. Hopefully, sales will warrant a regular series, or at least another limited series. Same goes for Jimmy Olsen.

We already know that Jon will be joining the Legion, but Lois has to have some guilt feelings about the whole situation, since she was the one who agreed to Jon going off on that magical mystery tour with crazy grampa Jor-El. True, she went along, but then she came home, leaving Jon to fend for himself. Because of that, she and Clark missed his growing up. Now he wants to take off again? Different circumstances, but you would think Lois would have some difficulty being okay with it.

I thought the woman shot herself. We "heard" the KRAK of the gun. But maybe not. There doesn't appear to be any blood.

The rectangle around the word "Leviathan" was too obvious. But what about the other words and symbols? There's a Biblical theme here. In the book of Revelation, Jesus referred to Himself as "the Alpha and the OMEGA". The word "Eheyeh", partially hidden, is part of the phrase "Eheyeh Asher Eheyeh" or "I Am that I Am", God's answer to Moses' question at the burning bush ( I had to look that up). And there's the Star of David.

By the way, the woman's "rantings", "Hunting all of us. Erasing us-like we never existed" made me think of the Crisis, where entire universes and timelines were erased, and characters like Kara Zor-El were said to have never existed.

Regarding the new timeline that Anonymous mentions...apparently, Clark will once again have a career as Superboy, but he will operate in secret.

Martin Gray said...

Great review. I took it that Lois knew Vic was back but not that she was working with him. When she said he was off his beat or whatever, I took it she meant Hub City.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Good point about Clark’s secret identity. I guess that is known by more than 2.

Glad folks seem to be liking this as much as I am.