Monday, December 18, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #9

Superman Lost #9 came out this week. That means the series wraps up next month. And frankly and I suppose appropriately, I am lost. I am also sorry if I have already used that joke in my reviews.

There is a kernel of a good story here. What if Superman lived on a dying planet he couldn't save? What if he wasn't rocketed away as a baby but lived, loved, and failed? How would he respond? And then let's see that response through the lens of his friends and family by doing a timey-wimey jump, living 20 yrs on the doomed planet but gone only hours on ours. 

That could be a good story! Superman reliving in a way the death of Krypton. Superman failing to save everyone. Superman despondent. Throw in a lot of Supergirl talking about her similar history and there is a great 4 issue mini-series there. Heck, make the doomed planet have similarities to Earth and the current climate problems and you have a 6 issue mini-series. 

Instead, we have a 10 issue series which has had a few too many plot threads to keep the story compact and comprehensible. Luthor giving Lois cancer. Lois tracking down some shady Senate crime. Another time jump Superman talking about his lost Earth. A maniacal love interest. 

And it is all told in a sort of sputtering, short chapter way to make it jarring. I simply don't know if one more issue will tie it all up. As you will see, there are a number of plots that are simply ended in this issue.

The art this issue remains strong. Carlo Pagulayan remains slick here. Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding are also present for some pages. 

On to the book itself.

Remember that Senate payoff mystery that percolated early?

It ends very quickly. In two panels, Lois says she has solved it all. It was an accident, the wrong car loaded with cash.

Extraneous plot one: solved.

The problem is I don't remember the details of the crime enough to know if this is a satisfactory ending. Plus, it is so brief and explanation that even if a clever ending I don't know if this thread added anything to the overall story.

A major portion of this issue is seeing Lex being killed by Superman in any number of ways, like being tossed into a moving bus for example. Or flung into space.

Some of these are Superman daydreaming about killing Lex. Some of them are Lex worrying about being killed. 

But it is a lot of pages. Again, it is a lot of pages. All of thes sequences pull away from the core plot of Superman and 'Kansas' and his recovering from the death of that world. They feel almost wasteful.

That said, they are all beautifully drawn by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding, Superman royalty. 

Then there is the subplot of Lex having given Lois rapidly progressive pancreatic cancer. So far Lois has been hiding that from Superman. But he discovers it by snooping on her phone.

From the beginning, I didn't believe that Lois would ever go to Lex to help Superman shake of his doldrums. That seemed foolish. At least here she admits it was stupid but she was desperate. 

In a nice flourish, she talks about how she lost Superman, linking to the title.

Perhaps motivated by his recent losses, Superman talks about wanting to destroy Lex.

She knows anything he does to Lex will destroy who he is. So she asks for him to fight for them.

I really like the art sequence here slowly moving to black and white, perhaps showing how there are no shades of gray here. Superman loves Lois. Superman doesn't kill. 

As for the pancreatic cancer? It was a fake. Lois determines that if she was exposed to something to give her cancer Lex would have exposed himself as well. So it has to be a fake. Her symptoms are from some other exposure or toxin. Mentally defeated by Lois, he gives her the antidote.

Extraneous plot 2: solved.

Certainly she had a thorough exam with physicians who confirmed the diagnosis before initiating chemo. 

Again, this pulled us away from the Lost side of this story.

At least Superman is still seeing the counselor that Kara recommended. Despite his dreaming of killing Lex, this man knows he won't. 

Nice moment. But nothing I haven't seen before.

And so it all seems like things are better.

Lois has solved her case and doesn't have cancer. Superman seems to have realized that he can both deal with his loss and be involved in the current world.

I don't know if this was enough of an ending to be satisfactory. 

At least we get a solid cliffhanger. Hope, the Green Lantern significant other of Superman on 'Kansas', has arrived. And she is expecting!

Beautiful picture by Pagulayan.

Because the kernel of the series, Superman dealing with the loss of a planet he lived on, is the most interesting plot. But we got mired down a bit. 

One more issue to finish this. Fingers crossed we get a decent ending to the one plot that grabbed me.

Overall grade: C-


PT Dilloway said...

The concept of that series did sound good. Too bad it's not working out.

Martin Gray said...

Oh dear, that’s what happens with the political plot? Sounds like something was abandoned, or at least truncated. And I don’t understand the Lois cancer bit at all. As for Green Loontern, that’s likely a green energy bump, Superman never actually did the deed with her, did he?

I’m so glad I stopped spending money on this series and I bet I’m not the only one, it’s likely a case of Readership Lost.