Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Review: Lois Lane #12

Lois Lane #12 came out last week, an odd finale to an odd comic that I don't think really knew what it wanted to be.

At its heart, it seemed like it wanted to be a Renee Montoya Question book. Renee has all the big moments in this book. Certainly, her page count is a considerable percentage of this book. And writer Greg Rucka loves her, bringing in other characters like Elycia who only have a connection to Renee.

There have been plot lines brought up early in the story - the apparent suicide (or was it murder) of a Lois-like reporter in Russia, the kickback scheme about for-profit detention centers, the personal internment of Lois' maid - that have gone nowhere. And in this issue they are wrapped up basically off panel.

And then there is the sudden 'the universe is fractured and other versions of this place are bleeding in' plotline. It suddenly became *the* plotline. Here is the thing. This plot is a big one and we have seen it in books like Superman, Young Justice, and Legion. But this is the first Lois Lane book in decades! Let it be ground level. Let it be her investigating. Leave the multiverse out here so Lois can shine ... not the mangled DC continuity.

The art by Mike Perkins is its usual solid fare. This issue is mostly people talking with one action sequence in the middle. He holds up his end.

In the end, I don't think I can call this a Lois Lane book. More like a Birds of Prey riff ... 'Birds of Prose'? With Lois as Oracle?

On to the book.

 So all the early plots of the book are basically discussed not by our characters but by the televisions which dot the scenes. Lois and others have their TVs on news channels and we hear the reporters discuss what has happened.

Here we learn that the President isn't responding to the implication that there is corruption regarding the detention centers. So somewhere along the way Lois' investigation was published?

Not that Lois even hears it. There is this odd scene where Lois is typing away, lost in her own world, not listening to the news or even her phone. She only cares of the President is indicted.

 Meanwhile, Renee and Elycia get 5 pages of action in Chechnya.

We don't know what they are doing there but since it is Chechnya I have to assume it is about the 'suicide' of Mariska Voronova.

But who knows what that entails. Why did it incite a full on shoot out with Russian military? What info did they get? What were they sent for? Did we need 25% of this last issue spent on bullets flying?

I get it Greg Rucka. You like Renee.

 I guess with all her investigations done, Lois heads to Metropolis and into the Daily Planet.

The newsroom goes silent as she walks through.

It is a bit on the nose for Lois to say 'powerful women have that effect'. I can be shown the respect she gets. I don't need her to tell me.

But, she hasn't been in the office for a while. Now she walks in and doesn't say a word to anyone and heads straight to Perry's office. Of course people would be quiet.

 We get the usual typo joke.

We get the usual 'this is solid work Lois but dangerous' Perry talk.

We get the usual 'I love you' from Clark.

And we learn that Renee was doing research for Lois. But can that research be used ethically if it was obtained in an international incident?

And did we actually see her do any of the investigation to wrap up the stories that she supposedly has wrapped up? Because if she did, it was off panel.

 Instead we get more of the multiverse arc.

Lois feels she needs to tell the world about Multiverses and the changes that has happened to people.

We get a dollop of self-aggrandizement here as she says that she must do this even if, like others, she'll be deemed an enemy of the state.

I don't know, maybe I am just sick of this series, but I don't expect Lois to be so melodramatic and somewhat sanctimonious in her speech.

 I told you about how the plots are tied up.

Take these panels where literally unseen news reporters tell us about how those storylines ended.

Show me. Don't tell me.

Am I even supposed to care about this Mariska Voronova? Let alone what the investigation into her death showed?

 As for the breaking news of the 'fracturing' of universe, Lois goes on ... The View?

That's the forum she chooses to break this truly world news?

But let's end on a happy note.

The maid has been released from detention!

How? Why? Is she now a legal citizen? Was her imprisonment felt to be illegal? Are the detention centers closing and all those held set free? Did Lois actually have anything to do with this personally?

Am I supposed to care this much?

Isn't Rucka supposed to care?

It is a shame this series meandered as it did because Lois really deserved some spotlight. And this book didn't do it.

I know I haven't mentioned the art much in this review. As I said before, give Perkins a Question book or a martial artist book or even a war book. His gritty style would shine there.

But I will gladly put this book in the rear view mirror.

Overall grade: D+


Anonymous said...

This book started strong... but didn't end that way.

Something I noticed on the last page - the editors gave thanks to Jessica Chen and Mike Cotton, and that reminded me I'd seen an article that had mentioned a shakeup in editing at DC.


So I did some research into the published credits.

Lois Lane:

Mike Cotton was editing, assisted by Jessica Chen. (Chen assisted on Lois Lane, Superman, Action, and Jimmy Olsen, and was lead editor of Supergirl.

#7 - a transitional issue - Brittany Holzherr was credited as an additional associate editor. (She is evidently on-boarding here.) This is the issue where Sister Clarice is introduced, and Kiss of Death pulls off her mask and blows up the hotel room.

#8 - Holzherr takes over as editor for the rest of the series. This issue has the search for the housekeeper, and more of the occult kicks in.

Holzherr inherited this - this was Rucka's story, as developed under Cotton. But maybe Holzherr could have reined it in?

This actually leads me straight to -- Supergirl!

Jessica Chen joined the Supergirl team as Associate Editor with #12 and #13, then was the lead editor from #14 to #36.

#36 - Supergirl got infected. This is the last issue with Andreyko and Panisca. Can't blame the infection on Chen as that was bigger than one book.

#37 - First issue with Houser and Stott. Last appearance of Ben. Final issue edited by Chen. (Why show Ben in #37 and then never see him again? Chen might have had different plans that were never realized.)

#38-#42 - Brittany Holzherr took over as editor and remained till the end.

The final 5-6 issues of both series went off the rails.

It's probably an unfortunate coincidence for Holzher. For all we know, Chen and Cotton left the messes for Holzherr to clean up, and they got out just in time!

Still, the editorial musical chairs did not seem to be kind to these two books.


C.H. said...

Lots of things to be disappointed about:

- RENEE (and all of her developments). Not her place and - I assume - not a friendship that'll be carried forward. I surely didn't feel there's a lot of real work put into it and/or that their bond had anything special going for it. I mean, tbt, she practically "stole" the investigation part of Lois' character.

- Jon. I hate the aging thing and everything after that, and I don't know if it had any effect on Rucka's usage of the character, but if one were to pick this up without any prior acknowledge of the status quo, they'd never guess Lois was a mother of a until-recently 10-year old (save for that tie-in issue). It just rubs me the wrong way that such an important element of current Lois gets practically ignored in what's supposed to be a seminal work.

- The Bendis status quo. There wasn't really a reason to Lois to be in Chicago, was there? All it did was take Lois further from the Daily Planet and the Metropolis setting. Which takes me to the next point...

- No supporting cast. No Daily Planet, no Lucy (their fight in issue #6 was left unresolved for God's sake!), Sam Lane barely there (and only there because of the event Leviathan tie-in, mind you), no new or old Lois supporting characters. I had hopes Jackee would finally be given a more proeminent role as a sort of Lois' confident/friend, but both Rucka and Bendis didn't even acknowledge her character (apparently, only one black woman's allowed in the Daily Planet). Seriously, her first book in decades and there's no element that one can pick and claim, "that's from the Lois Lane book!"

The only thing you could say that Rucka achieved was a positive representation of Superman and Lois as a couple, but that's something you can find in any Superman content (look no further than the Vendetti Superman stories). What a waste of opportunities this book was.

Martin Gray said...

I thought I’d commented on this yesterday... oh well, I said then that I agree, this was disappointing, a Lois book in title alone. Compare it to the Mindy Newell/Gray Morrow Lois ‘micro series’ from the Nineties. Like the just-finished series, ‘When it rains, God is crying’ engaged with real world issue - in that case, missing kids - but it was all about Lois and her world; her relationships, her work... heck, she was doing actual investigative reporting!

And compare Rucka’s Lois to Fraction’s Jimmy book, they’re night and day in terms of ambition and success. I look forward to your review of the Jimmy finale.

Rob S. said...

I had high hopes for this series, which I clung to throughout most of the run. But yeah, this was a train wreck. I think TN gets it right that a lot of it pivoted on the editorial changes... but I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to say the problem was that Holzherr just didn't rein Rucka in. I think there's also a chance he (and his superiors) shoehorned in the multiverse thing, and Rucka was left to make sense of it... which he did by using Renee's status quo as illustration, rather than Lois's -- since DC editorial would be more likely to vacillate on which way anything in Lois's continuity would shake out. In the meantime, a lot of things that Rucka had genuine interest in -- the immigration status of the maid, the murder of the Russian journalist -- got sidelined.

tl;dr: I don't think Rucka would have brought the multiverse into it unless he'd been directed to. That's not where his interests lie. I suspect he's every bit as frustrated with this series as we are, albeit for slightly different reasons.