Friday, May 12, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #3

Superman: Lost #3 came out this week and I find that the initial significant fascination with the story that I had with the first issue is fading a little bit. Last issue Superman went to a planet that was clearly a metaphor for Earth and was sent on his way. Here he comes to another planet to learn about that world. I don't think we are settling into a 'world of the month' pattern here especially based on some clues we are given. But the planet we visit here, outside of one thing I loved, never quite got my interest. So in some ways this felt like a dense but empty read.

Christopher Priest continues to have Superman struggle to get back home. We learn in the issue he has been gone for about a year of his time. We know that he is gone for 20 years. So this issue is just a sliver of his time away. You might remember that Priest talked a lot about gravity and solar radiation in the prior issues. Here we talk a lot about time, distance, and the speed of light. I have to assume Dave Von Domeien PhD, given a special thanks credit, is helping Priest with the physics. I am reading this book for the Superman part and we get an okay Superman adventure here but with what feels like little stakes. Maybe I am just missing the point. Priest does plant some plot seeds.

That said, Carlo Pagulayan is just killing it on art here. This is a trippy issue with space dolphins, crackling energy fields, a brief super-powered fight, and a slice of Lois life. It all looks gorgeous. The art definitely elevates the book.

On to the book.

We start on Earth where Lois is investigating some political intrigue where a crucial vote in the Senate has changed when a Senator, supposedly bribed, retires.

It seems Lois has hit a wall in her detective work and takes it out on her laptop. I'm not used to this level of anger in Lois.

Angrily, she storms to do the laundry and complains about Clark expecting her to do it. She discovers his white solar suit he wore while in space.

I don't know if we needed this scene outside of reminding us that Lois is working on this.  Complaining about Clark's laundry seems beneath her but might be there to show us how upset she is at the story, lashing out. But we don't even get to see present-day traumatized Superman. 

We cut to Superman out in space wearing this suit that absorbs solar radiation, wearing a rocket pack, and equipped with an onboard stellar computer named Marquis. He is truly lost. Marquis has no idea where Earth is so all these times and light years and physics calculations are guesses.

But Superman wonders if 'Victor', the scientist who sent him away last issue, was trying to get rid of him. Could Victor be nefarious in some way?? This isn't the last time we hear about Victor and the planet 'Kansas' so a showdown is going to happen. 

And interesting that the computer is named Marquis. I thought of Marquis De Sade and wonder if the insinuation is that this trip home is akin to some physical torture.

Suddenly the very fast and nimble space dolphins Lobo loves show up. They can go faster than light and utilize wormholes so maybe they can help. 

This discussion with Marquis was my favortie part of the book. I like how Superman wonders if the empathic dolphins found him to help bring him home. I like how he calculates they must use wormholes because at current speed Earth is still (maybe) 14 centuries away.  I like his acknowledgment that Hal makes it all seem easy.

But mostly I like the dogged determination to get home. 

But they don't lead him to Earth. They lead him to a planet surrounded by a maelstrom of energy. Somehow Superman deduces that the dolphins led him here because this place traps dolphin cubs. That is a big big leap and I don't quite know how he could get there. Or why the planet wants to trap the dolphins. Or if the energy field keeps them away? Or it drops so they fly on to the planet and then it gets raised.

I don't get this at all. 

Superman does get it and decides that he should talk to the leaders of the world. 

Pagulayan's pages of the dolphin journey are trippy and beautiful!

Once again we hear about gravity. We know this system has a star whose radiation Superman can absorb. This he is able to doff his gear. 

There is a lot of scientific jargon in this book and I have to assume it isn't comic book science but real science. That makes it a bit more interesting to me.

On the planet, Superman encounters the 'leader' a giant version of him formed of sand.

As a mere image and concept, I loved this.

Heck, most know my avatar is the 'Sand Superman' from the Kryptonite Nevermore arc. I can only think this is an homage.

But a planet's environment forming shapes and simulacrum figures sounds a little like Solaris, a novel/movie I just love.

This made me smile!!

Again, Pagulayan crushes it here.

The planet's population is made of microscopic beings. The dolphins eat the beings. So it would seem the force field would be a good deterrent to keep them out. Why in the world would the planet want to trap them? Wouldn't they be stuck on the planet and eat more? Or is it they bring up the field while the dolphins are in it and kill them? I mean, why drop the field at all in that case?

The Sand Superman becomes a Sand Lois and the two hash out what to do next.

First off, these beings know Victor, another hint we are going to see more. Also, this planet fears aliens called The Contrectatio. They'll alter their defenses to not kill the dolphins. But they'll stay aggressive to this force.

Are the 'Contrectatio' a new race Superman will meet? Is it somehow tied to Victor?

Since I don't understand how this planet is like a 'venus flytrap' for the dolphins, as Superman describes it, I felt lost and there for disconnected here. Someone help me!

Their problem solved, the dolphins leave, pulling Superman's rocket pack with them. He is once again lost and now stuck. Marquis wonders if the next best course is to head back to Kansas and Victor. Vexed, Superman crushes Marquis.

It seems off for Superman to kill this computer guide. He might need that in the future. 

I didn't hate this issue. I didn't love this issue. I didn't like this issue. It simply was. And apathy about an issue isn't a good thing. The art and the Sand Superman raised things a bit. But my confusion around the planet and its purpose and perhaps just a dash too much science talk brought it down.

And I can't help but think of how excited I was after the first issue and keep hoping we get back to that feeling.

Overall grade: C

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

I disliked the front page with, as you say, angry Lois, and as an old hack I get really tired of Daily Planet reporters writing their own headlines and subheadings… it just doesn’t happen in print journalism.

But after that I enjoyed the issue a lot more. Yes, the science is over my head, but I loved the dolphins, was heartened by Superman’s determination and was thrilled to see a Sand Superman. And the art was brilliant. If I were rating it, it’s be a very solid B.

I wonder if this politician story will somehow prove relevant, because it seems very, very boring.

It’s a shame the GLs are a little shorthanded at the moment, at one time you could guarantee the local GL would show up, especially in a strip with thus strong a Bronze Age vibe.

Great theory re: the Marquis de Sade, I’d assumed the machine was named after DC editor Marquis Draper.