Friday, March 17, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #1

Superman:Lost #1 came out this week, a delightful surprise in my pull list.

The book appeared in solicits a few months ago, described as a 10 issue maxi-series by (Christopher) Priest and Carlo Pagulayan with the overall plot of Superman being thrown into space and taking 20 years to return to Earth. I have always enjoyed Priest's stories but this one didn't strike me at first.

I wasn't too interested in reading a story where Superman returns to an aged Lois, a new world order, a (presumed) dystopia. This is why I am not a professional writer.

Because Priest sets the stage wonderfully here and takes the story down a path I wasn't expecting. A great path. Moreover, Priest always ... I mean always ... writes a great Justice League and we get a lot of the team here in this first issue. And then, surprisingly for a story throwing Superman into deep space with a long travel home, he throws in a very engaging Lois subplot. We get a lot of sweet moments of the Kents in their home. I finished the issue and wanted more.

Now what puts Superman into space might be a macguffin but it gets us where we need to be.

Carlo Pagulayan does great work here. The issue is a mix of quiet character moments and high action and his work is just stellar. His work feels almost like a Gary Frank merged with Mike Allred. High high compliment!

On to the book!

The book starts with Superman saving a young woman, catching her car as she pushed off the road off a cliff. When he catches the car, a ton of hard cash explodes out of it. The driver is a Senator's aide. That Senator as retired switching the voting power within the Senate. In the Senator's retirement speech he quotes the existentialist Kierkegaard. Seems fishy.

And so we get this wonderful conversation in the Kent household and Lois tries to unravel the news story. Clark putters around trying to fix a toaster and talking about how the simplest answer is often right. Maybe the Senator just wanted to retire and had cash in his car. Clark is optimistic, a trait he learned from Pa.

Lois is all about juicy news stories and corruption. Perhaps the Senator was paid off to retire. She is the cynic. 

This is what supportive and loving couples do, help each other. I love Priest showing us Lois in ducky pajama pants and curlers. I love Clark wearing a CKU sweatshirt. Central Kansas U? Clark Kent U?

Great characterization throughout. Read like a dream.

But they both lead busy lives. Maybe they have ten minutes free before the next crisis arises.

Perhaps it is time to show how loving they are.

This read so pitch perfect. And how wonderful that Lois is shown like a normal human would look like and Clark still is aroused. We don't see this sort of mature romance in comics. 

Like clockwork, a crisis in Asia arises and Superman flies off. Later that night he returns but is rigid and unmoving, barely talking. While it seemed like just a couple of hours (Lois talks about leftover dinner in the fridge), Clark says he has been gone for 20 years.

That doorbell noise is Bruce Wayne coming to tell Lois that Superman was lost in the adventure. He is just as shocked to see Superman there.

So here is where Priest threw me the curveball. I thought Superman would return 20 years later to a changed Earth. Instead he has returned to the present but it took him 20 years. 


So here's the macguffin. 

An international incident has occurred. At first it seems that a Chinese sub has grounded within the border of another nation, violating international law. But as the League comes in to basically stop a multination military battle, they find that what really is going on is an alien ship crashed and China was trying to loot it.

I love how Priest writes the scene with the League basically stopping the different nations from attacking each other. Does that overstep their authority? Or is it what heroes should do?

And the action, as drawn by Pagulayan is as great as the quiet home scene art was above. 

Priest really excels at character interplay. 

The alien warp drive creates wormholes. It has been breached, basically creating a potential black hole which could wipe out a chunk if not all of Earth. 

I just love the League workshopping the whole scenario. I like the Flash being 'the scientist' on the team warning them about singularities.

Someone has to go in and plug this thing before it explodes. More discussion happens and Batman makes the valid point. It has to be Superman. Green Lantern has to be back to possibly contain it should the breech occur. 

They act as a well-oiled super-powered machine quickly evaluating the situation, making a plan and a back-up plan, and 

So Superman flies in. The League ties the Lasso of Truth around him as a tether and the all brace to keep Superman safe.

The line about how Jor-El and Martha sent him into the danger to help people is just about as Superman as you can get. 

No surprise, given what we already know, they can't keep him safe. The engine involutes taking Superman with it. His last word before he seems to die is 'Lois'. The last word is always Lois.

I wish I could explain, but I love these two panels. You can see the strain on the heroes as they try to keep their leader safe. I love this whole scene with the League. The interactions and teamwork just crackled. I feel like I haven't read this sort of true super-hero action in a while. And Pagulayan just crushes it.

Things are chilly in the Kent home.

Lois 'blames' Bruce for being the one to order Clark into predicament. Bruce thought his friend died and was here to tell the widow. (I do wish there was a bit of happy surprise on Bruce's face that his friend is alive instead of the dour defensive Batman here but it is a small detraction.)

And I love Clark saying she should be mad at him. What else would Superman do but fly into danger to save the world. I love Lois' icy stare. I'd wilt like week-old lettuce before that.

The last page is Superman floating in deep space, a 20 year (or 4 hour?) journey ahead of him.

Whew! Some first issue!

A political intrigue plot. A great Justice League mission! The foundation of the story, the 20 year return, laid out. All with fabulous art. 

I want more. Always the best sign!

Overall grade: A

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

Thanks, I wasn’t planning to get this one as Priest books can go either way with me, and publicity hadn’t grabbed me (I hated that Joe Kelly story in which Superman and Wonder Woman spent a millennium in Valhalla), but after reading your first couple of sentences I put the review away and bought the comic. I don’t regret it. While the JLA mission didn’t excite me, despite the commendable teamwork, the domestic stuff was great (though the philosophy was over my head). I didn’t get the police bulletin on page one at all, what WERE they on about, it was like reading a Greg Rucka comic?

Superb art!