T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB
Action Comics #965 began a new story arc this Wednesday, but its star is not the Man of Steel… or even a man at all. Writer Dan Jurgens and penciller Stephen Segovia instead trained their focus on a central character in a familiar setting for the tale titled Lois Lane, Back at the Planet — Part 1. ComiConverse’s Superman correspondent, T. Kyle King, brings you his review.
Action Comics #965 Review:
Lois Lane, who (along with Clark Kent and Superman) made her debut in Action Comics #1, returns to work at the Daily Planet — only this is not the pre-Flashpoint Lois’s newspaper, she is not the journalist known to the New 52 continuity, and it’s not just another day at the office in Metropolis!
(WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW!)
Action Comics #965 Synopsis:
Since receiving a mysterious letter from her counterpart in this universe, the post-Crisis Lois has been having dreams in which the younger pre-Rebirth Lois is pleading for her help. She mentions these nighttime visions when discussing her own goals with her husband, and their review of the other Lane’s letter reveals that the correspondence contains the reporter’s computer password.
Lois visits the Daily Planet offices the following day, impersonating this Earth’s Lane in an effort to gain access to the files of the younger journalist, who has not been seen for two weeks. Her eventful day includes illuminating encounters with Perry White, Lex Luthor, and the non-superpowered Clark Kent. When her trip to the office proves fruitless, the Hamilton County Lois visits the Metropolis Lois’s apartment, where she discovers the vanished journalist’s fellow Superwoman, Lana Lang.
Action Comics #965 Analysis:
For the last year, Jurgens has been laying the groundwork for the Man of Tomorrow’s transition from the New 52 to Rebirth. It hasn’t always been easy keeping up with each overlapping Clark, Lois, and Superman, and Action Comics #965 requires readers to suspend their disbelief that an office full of reporters can’t distinguish the Lois who married Clark from her pointedly younger New 52 analogue. (Granted, this same staff of crack reporters couldn’t figure out that Clark was just Superman in spectacles, but at least there’s science behind the glasses disguise.) Such quibbles aside, though, Lois Lane, Back at the Planet — Part 1 delivered what its title promised.
Jurgens almost certainly crafts scenes between Lois and Clark with more heartfelt verisimilitude than any other writer in Superman’s 78-year history. Accordingly, it is no surprise that the pair convincingly comes across as a caring married couple contending with the real-world challenges of relationships, career choices, and parenting, but the easily believability of the duo’s interactions is as impressive as ever in Action Comics #965.
In the genre of superhero comics, “realism” all too often has been a euphemism for “grim and violent”, so the honesty of Jurgens’s portrayal of Lois’s and Clark’s marital relationship, while remaining understated, cannot be overemphasized. The former working woman reacts understandably to the family’s move to Hamilton County, their son reaching the age at which he no longer needs a stay-at-home mom, and Clark’s changed circumstances; it doesn’t really change matters that their California farm was invaded by a solar-flaring Superman duplicate, Jonathan is the new Superboy, and her husband has been busy flying and fighting crime in a cape. Clark’s response — “It’s time we focus on you” — highlights not just the hero he is, but also the team they are.
Action Comics #965’s emphasis on Lois’s and Clark’s partnership thematically sets the stage for the Kryptonian man to recede from the spotlight and the human woman to take over the central role. The title character of Lois Lane, Back at the Planet — Part 1 is both the story’s protagonist and its narrator, which allows for an insightful interplay between what she says and what she thinks. Lois’s trepidation over impersonating another version of herself makes perfect sense, as does her internal admission of the reason: “I’m used to having the truth on my side.”
Lane attempts to go about her mission expeditiously, but her surprising return sends shock waves through the newsroom that make a surreptitious surgical strike impossible. What follows is a sequence of interpersonal encounters with those she knew in another universe, which range from the amusing (Steve Lombard) to the awkward (Lex Luthor) and from the reassuring (Perry White) to the unnerving (Clark Kent).
Segovia’s pencils, inked by Art Thibert and colored by Arif Prianto, are serviceable but not exceptional. Occasional odd angles and strange body positions create some inelegant physical distortions, including a handful of panels in which Superman appears to have Ray Romano’s nose (which wouldn’t be the weirdest effect red kryptonite exposure has had on the Metropolis Marvel, I suppose). On the whole, though, the artwork of Action Comics #965 is workmanlike, and the cover by Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey (with Jurgens) is outstanding.
When Lois’s uncomfortable conversation with the new and inscrutable Clark is cut short by his clumsy destruction of her office computer, she realizes that, in her dream, the New 52 Lane was working on her laptop at home. This sends Lois off to her more youthful duplicate’s apartment and her cliffhanger confrontation with the superpowered Lana. This unexpected blending of the soaring storylines of Action Comics with the more troubling plot twists of Superwoman did not end the issue on a welcome note, particularly in light of the needlessly antagonistic approach of the erratically characterized Lang. For the five years since Flashpoint, Lana has existed primarily to serve as the ill-defined antithesis to Lois, which diminishes both characters and concluded this story on a down note.
Despite my misgivings about Lana’s sudden appearance in Lois Lane, Back at the Planet — Part 1, though, I am reserving judgment on that switchback until I see how it all plays out in the end. For the moment, my criticisms of Action Comics #965 largely are little more than cavils over an issue that shifted the focus slightly yet touched subtly on a number of ongoing storylines. “Lois Lane goes to work and speaks with her newspaper colleagues Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White” may sound like a rehash of innumerable comic books dating back three-quarters of a century, but, in Jurgens’s capable hands, it is fresh, compelling, and excellent.
Will you be returning to the Daily Planet with Lois in the next issue or calling in sick to work? Tell us what you thought of Action Comics #965 by ComiConversing with us in the comments!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
Quibbles with the artwork and the ending aside, Lois Lane’s star turn in this issue made for a compelling and intriguing read.