Superman #22 came out this week, the next chapter in 'Black Dawn'. But to be honest, the cover should have had more trade dress. It should have said 'starring Lois Lane' because this is a Lois issue. And I loved it.
While Action Comics has been more invested in Superman's place in the entirety of the DCU, Superman has been much more of a family book. This has been the true Superman family book, showing life for Clark, Lois, and Jon. Recent turns in continuity has made who Lois is something of a mystery. Ms. Lane? Mrs. Kent? Mrs. Lane-Kent? Action hero? Investigative journalist? Suburban Stepford wife? All of the above? Did the streamlining of the Superman timeline somehow make Lois take a step backwards?
Story tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason hopefully put that to rest in this issue. Lois is following clues, investigating mysteries, throwing front round kicks, and taking names. Lois shines in this issue. And that makes me very happy. Because, especially this Superman - mostly templated on the pre-Flashpoint Superman - is really one member of a team, the team of Lois and Clark.
Doug Mahnke is on art and I have been talking about how much I love his art for a long time on this site. Nothing changes here. The book is beautiful to look at. Vivid and gorgeous, with brilliant colors by Wil Quintana.
On to the book!
Batman has gone missing.
Superman, Superboy, and Robin are out investigating.
And Lois' journalistic instincts are buzzing!
Something isn't right.
And then, almost as if she needed a physical sign, the old tree in the backyard is suddenly set ablaze. She knows there is no peace and normalcy for her family. Someone always wants to see the world burn.
This is a great image. Lois, small in front of this conflagration but unbowed. This is the size of the problem, a sort of representation of the threats she always faces. And the coloring is just brilliant here. Just gorgeous.
Lois heads to Farmer Cobb's who right now basically should be wearing an 'I am Evil' t-shirt. Ever interaction seems cold and heavy with subtext.
And then she heads into town to try and find Clark and Jon. There, we see her investigative skills on display. People she saw injured on news reports are up and walking around without so much as a limp. That includes Candice, the editor of the local newspaper that Lois works for.
That leads Lois to follow Candice, into Town Hall and down into a hidden sub-basement. This shows her courage. There isn't a pause. She needs to know the truth. She is going to find it out.
And then the sublevel turns out to be a high tech monitoring room honed in on the Kent family household.
This isn't just Cobb. This is a bigger threat. Maybe the 'aw shucks' small town feel of Hamilton was too good to be true?
Lois escapes by giving Candice a front round kick. I suppose it would be too much to think of it as a move in Klukor.
And then escape and preparedness take over. She rushes home to get Superman's Justice League communicator and get help. But when she gets there, a bunch of folks from the town including the resident doctor and teacher, are all sitting there looking rather ominous and making threats.
Again, Lois is pretty unfazed. She goes to plan B, running up into her room, donning the glove from the Bat-armor she wore, and blasting her way free 'Iron Man' style!
Now this is a Lois people can get behind and cheer!
The citizens aren't just people though. They clearly have some powers as they leap and jump around.
In a nice little twist, the gauntlet activates the Batmobile (we know to be nearby). Without pause, Lois jumps in and activates the weapons system. She is able to fend off most of the town but then Cobb arrives and stops the vehicle in its tracks. Lois is finally captured.
But this fight is almost the entire book. This is a smart, cunning, physical Lois who isn't going to surrender easily. This was her adventure.
On the last two pages, Superman finally shows up.
He has been exploring the weird ongoings in the town and has stumbled on to a dark lab of his own. Drenched in purple, this has to be Cobb's lair. And lots of characters in tubes. I assume these are the 'real' townspeople.
So Lois as hero ultimately captured and then we find this creepy place. I am liking this story a ton. But, based on leaks, it looks like my guess of Kathy being Halo is going to be wrong.
This is a quick read with lots of big splashes and big action but I loved it!