Friday, July 14, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #5

Superman:Lost #5 came out this week which means we have hit the halfway mark of this book. 

For those following along, I thought the first issue was amazing, really grabbing my interest. But the subsequent issues didn't keep up the momentum and I was losing my patience a bit. Although, regardless of the story, the art by Carlo Pagulayan has remained impeccable. 

This issue seems to have rebounded slightly with writer Christopher Priest giving us a little more story and a few new plot threads to mull over as a reader. We are still stuck on planet Kansas, a metaphorical Earth mired in political dissension and impending ecological disasters. The story definitely plays up the politics of this place but not as overbearing as it has in the past. And there is a more straightforward sense of time in this issue to at least let me wrap my head about where we are in the timeline. The story moves forward. I couldn't say that the last 2 issues.

That isn't to say it is perfect. Lois isn't treated well in this issue. I still don't know why her plotline about some unsavory congressman is in this (unless it eventually will echo 'Kansas'). And there are a couple of other plot points that feel off.

 But overall, this is a better read with more story and less pontificating. And certainly less confusing.

As usual, Pagulayan's artwork just sizzles. We get significant action in this issue as well as the usual quieter moments as Superman works through the PTSD of his 20 year absence. Everything is crisp and beautiful. 

On to the book.

We start out on Earth where Clark is struggling to reacclimate himself. 

Lois calls in a favor, asking Wonder Woman if she can borrow the magic lasso.

I had some issues with this scene. First off, Lois saying 'she never liked' Diana? That didn't ring true to me at all. In fact, it felt a little catty.

And then Diana just giving Lois the magic lasso? Also felt off.

We see Clark sitting at his desk, staring absently. He has been so alone for so long he can't just dive back in. Remember what was a couple of hours on Earth was 20 years for him. 

I did like that he accidentally calls Jimmy , Szhemi. Szhemi is the 'Jimmy' stand-in on 'Kansas'.

We then head to Kansas where Clark is living with Szhemi and the Green Lantern we met last issue. It is year 8. They are living a seemingly peaceful life on the 'Kent Farm'.

Interestingly, this Green Lantern seems quite content in staying there. She wants Clark to think of this place as home.

8 years!

I do wonder a little about this place. I mean, they are drinking coffee and eating fruit and sitting at a kitchen set. Is this place so much like Earth that Clark can just make all this stuff so easily? 

But we then jump back in time to the end of last issue.

Superman and the Green Lantern repel the Contrectatio from looting 'Newark', the polluted area of this world populated by people who deny climate change.

When the Contrectatio pester 'Victor', the elite leader of the intelligent 'Kansas' people who live underground, he says Superman and the Lantern aren't his problem. They are free agents acting freely.

Victor lives by the letter of the law and contracts. He also doesn't care about the people of 'Newark' at all.

Priest is sort of playing all the angles here showing us how a world torn in two politically can't survive. Victor isn't a good guy here.

Now I question this panel where Superman says Victor is a staunch Libertarian, living by the decision of the majority in voting. My understanding is that Libertarians value personal freedom over all. If an election is won that denies freedom, they bristle.

Victor doesn't feel like a Libertarian to me. He feels like a despot who thinks he knows what is best. An elitist.

This GL's world was destroyed by the Contrectatio. She followed them to 'Kansas'. But she just got the ring when that world's GL died.

She has no understanding of the GL Corps, Oa, or anything. And the ring hasn't informed her.

This part seems to be forced onto her to keep the plot where Priest wants it. She can't ask the ring to guide Clark home because it isn't talking to her. But that isn't explained more. It makes no sense.

Her name is 'Hope'. Which you could think is false Hope, since Clark thought she would get him home but she couldn't.

So Hope, Szhemi, and Clark have been living on the farm for years.

We see Clark accidentally get a look at Hope showering. She wants him to call this home. 

Is Clark tempted to recreate his family? His wife and pal?

Again, Pagulayan gives us great art here showing us just enough to wonder if Clark will succumb.

But then the twist.

Szhemi figures out how Clark can get to a wormhole to get home. 
Hope kills him. 
She wants Clark to stay.

I wasn't expecting that. 

I guess she loves him so much she is willing to kill to keep him with her on this idyllic plot of land.

Great panel art-wise. Horrific.

The book ends with Lois saying she will show Clark he is home and safe. She wraps him in the lasso. He collapses in her arms.

Is it suppose to imply that he recognizes the truth that he is safely back on Earth? 

I don't know why Diana would just give this to Lois. And I don't exactly know what it is doing here.

I guess I'd say I liked some of the story beats here. Hope's story of being a new GL just as lost as Clark is interesting. And her murdering Szhemi certainly was shocking. The art elevates the book at least a whole grade. I would call this an improvement.

Overall grade: B-


Anonymous said...

I wasn't surprised at all at the twist. It pretty much checks a lot of the boxes of the temptation trope: insecure wife, all women present relating to the male protagonist, the rival's love turning into an obsession...

I was disappointed in how Priest chose to present Lois & Diana's relationship, tho. I always prefer when Lois can actually relate to her because both of them know the struggle to work in a male-dominated field. Not this "beathing suit" superficial crap.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I agree that the "I never liked you" bit rings false. Perenially jealous Silver Age Lois might feel that way, but not modern Lois or any Lois since the Bronze Age.

Martin Gray said...

I really wasn’t keen on this one…

Lois being nasty to Diana?

Clark as peeping Tom?

Clark so distracted/befuddled that he can’t remember who Jimmy is, that he calls Lois by another name?

Does the lasso even work for anyone but Diana?

The art is still very good, and the shocker involving the World’s Worst GL grabbed me… but as you say, the unhelpful GL ring is a plot convenience (how is it even working after eight years?).

Martin Gray said...

Oh yeah, and why is Lois coloured like Katma Tui in the back half?

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

The Lois/Diana stuff does grate the more I think about it.

And yes Mart, Lois is pretty pink in the book!

Anonymous said...

Lois herself admits that she’s not very rational due to her fears & stress worrying about Clark these days & asks Diana to ignore her snide comments.

I really didn’t mind because sometimes our worst insecurities bubble up to the surface when under pressure. It’s actually admirable that Lois is immediately self aware of her flaw & asks Diana to disregard what she said under pressure.