Friday, June 12, 2020

Review: Lois Lane #11

Lois Lane #11 came out this week and I am finally willing to admit that I am ready for the maxi-series being over.

Because, as has been shown throughout this title, it *really* isn't a Lois Lane book.

This is a backdoor pilot for a new Renee Montoya Question book. Maybe writer Greg Rucka has had a Renee story germinating in his mind and used Lois' book as a way to tell that story. But I was really looking forward to a Lois book. It has been too long since we had one.

Instead, we get this book which instead concentrates mainly on Renee and her relationships. We get a callback to a book that was on the shelves over 10 years ago. And Lois is just a sidebar. To make matters even worse, the book is confusing and sort of clumsily presented.

Moreover, all the plots which are Lois-centric have basically been pushed aside. Detention centers? Dead Russion reporters? Grief over Sam Lane? Changes over Clark's reveal? All of that hasn't been touched on in a while.

The art remains very solid by Mike Perkins. He is the perfect choice for a street level Question book, inky and moody and dynamic. And this variant cover by Joelle Jones is just beautiful.

But where is the Lois book we were all clamoring for? Because this isn't it.

On to the book.

Last issue ended with a teleported Kiss Of Death firing a bullet into Renee's gut.

In that apartment, the Kiss Of Death decides she is going to finish the job.

She begins to quote some text which Renee is able to also quote.

It gives the Kiss some pause.

Hmmm ...

Meanwhile, Lois realizes that the gun was in mid-discharge when the Kiss teleported off.

Since Renee isn't answering the phone, Lois intuits that Renee must have been shot.

She begins frantically texting Renee to put on the Question mask. She needs the Kiss to recognize Renee as the Question. Bleeding out, Renee sees the message and puts it on.

It certainly brings up a ton of questions for me. If the spell simply teleported the Kiss, wherever she went she would be able to shoot her gun. Didn't this make one of her friends being shot a highly probable event? Isn't that risky?

And why this recognition only with the mask on?

Regardless, putting the mask on works.

The Kiss has a sudden flood of weird memories overwhelms her. And she has words from that text she was quoting before enter her mind. In particular, the word faceless ... perhaps why Renee needed the Question mask on.

But what are these memories??

Well I know this is a direct riff from the 52:Five Books of Blood mini-series in which Renee as the Question tries to take down the cult of Cain.

Wait ... you don't remember this small mini-series which came out 13 years ago? You mean the mini-series which is a huge plot point in the current maxi-series you are reading?

I love the Books of Blood mini-series. So much I own the hard cover.

But how many people actually know that mini-series and would put this together? It seems unfair for 2020 readers to have to know that without some exposition or note.

This whole time Jessica Midnight has been sparring with the Kiss, wrestling with her. And she keeps saying that she can save Renee. When the Kiss recognizes Renee after that memory reverie, she decides to help.

It turns out Jessica remembers more magic now. And she can do some sort of life force transference.

But before she can do a life transference, the Kiss grabs the ritual knife and stabs herself. Anti-Life!!!

So I don't know why Anti-Life?  I don't know why this should work for the Kiss to do it instead of the actual magic-user. But here we are.

Incredibly, this spell not only saves Renee, healing her. It also changes the skull-faced Kiss back into the gorgeous blond from the memories.

Now I know this is Elicia Sanchez from The Books of Blood.

But this must be very confusing for others.

And can I just say that what Renee says about waking up in a bed with someone with no idea of how she got there isn't quite as playful in this current world of 2020.

Lois finally gets through to the other room and shows up the next morning.

She apologizes to Renee. Renee could have been killed. Lois was being too clever.

Or maybe not clever enough?

Teleporting an armed assassin somewhere else for your friends to face? Maybe she should have thought this through.

And the preamble to the secret she should have kept? I don't quite understand.

The Kiss awakens.

She says she is Elicia Sanchez and describes how she and Renee know each other from the Church of Sin.

And because they loved each other, Elicia was cursed.

Hey, do you all remember this is a Lois book and not a Renee Montoya book??

Now I know that I read books where I readily accept magic, super-powers, aliens, and ghosts.

But Lois could tell by the attraction between the  disguised Kiss and Renee that they were star-crossed/reality-crossed/continuity-crossed lovers that she knew bringing them together would lead to this.


Renee, who seems to flirt with everyone, flirting with the maid led to Lois KNOWING they were lovers from a splintered reality?

That is a stretch.

But now that Lois has her team together, she is ready to finish off all the plots that have been started here ... all in one more issue.

I don't know.

This is a Lois Lane book, the first solo Lois book in a long time. And this issue is really not a Lois book.

Instead this is Greg Rucka revisiting a very good Renee Montoya story from 13 years ago. This is a Question story. And a confusing one if you don't know that older story.

And if this was an ongoing and this was an arc. I might be more forgiving.

But this is limited series. I wanted this to be a showcase on Lois all the way through. But somewhere along the way, this book has lost that focus. So I feel the Lois title is sort of a bait and switch mentality.

Look, I like Renee. I like The Books of Blood mini-series. I even, oddly enough, like this little subplot. But that's what it should be, a subplot. And I think Perkins is killing it on this book.

All the actual Lois plots, as I said above, have been sort of forgotten.

Should I be judging this on my expectations? The expectations of the title? The actual story? All of it?

I say all of it.

Overall grade: C


Martin Gray said...

As the Religion of Crime people might say, Amen. Or not, I don’t know; I began reading that mini all those years ago but gave up because it got on my nerves. Thanks so much for putting the issue into context. The whole idea of a Lois series that’s really a Question book isn’t just questionable, it shows contempt for readers. As a Lois fan, I’d have run a mile had this been advertised as what it is.

Anonymous said...

At least the Joelle Jones cover is neat. Very different from the stylized purple/black Catwoman covers she's drawn for nearly two years. Glad it was not card stock, so it's nice art for $3.99. Mine copy is slightly damaged through.

Editors often refer people back, by a note, to even one or two issues back in the same title! The lapse here is head-scratching. I probably wouldn't have remembered even if I'd read the old series being referenced.

A lot can be done to tie up a story in 22 pages but -- don't expect too much. Orlando used his final Supergirl as a promo for The Unexpected. Remember how that was also kind of an insult? We sometimes think of him as Saint Orlando around here, but it's all relative.


Nutation said...

Why did Joelle draw Lois left-handed? There are words in that lovely cover, so it's not that her art got flipped.