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.
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Action Comics #966, written by Dan Jurgens and pencilled by Stephen Segovia, concluded the Lois Lane: Back at the Planet story arc and helped cement the new norms for the Rebirth DC Universe. ComiConverse’s Superman reviewer, T. Kyle King, offers his thoughts on the most recent issue.
Action Comics #966 Review:
Together with the New 52 Lana Lang and the post-Crisis Man of Steel, the pre-Flashpoint Lois Lane comes to grips with the fate that befell the version of her that was native to the current continuity. What will the status quo look like for the DC Universe in the future?
(Some spoilers follow!)
Action Comics #966 Synopsis:
In the apartment of her New 52 counterpart, the Lois transplanted to this universe after Convergence encounters the Lana who serves as the surviving Superwoman. When Lana connects Lois to the Superman who replaced the Clark Kent whom the Smallville scientist knew, Lois surreptitiously calls the Hamilton County farm on her cell phone. Superboy, who has been out training with his father, picks up the receiver, and the pre-Flashpoint Superman rushes to his wife’s aid.
Lana reveals to Lois and Clark her true identity, the source of her powers, and the secret that her Lois is dead. Using the password her double sent her, the post-Crisis Lois gains access to the New 52 Lois’s computer, and they all watch the message she left for the other version of herself. Fearing her own demise is imminent, the departed Lois asks the living Lois to “step in and finish the work I started”. After talking it over with Kent, the remaining Lane makes a choice… while, near Metropolis, a hidden threat moves to bring its sinister plans to fruition.
Action Comics #966 Analysis:
In many ways, this issue doesn’t live up to its billing; Lois Lane: Back at the Planet — Part 2 features just two pages showing Lois at the Daily Planet, and the only action in Action Comics #966 is strictly for show, as there is nary a fight anywhere in sight. Despite there being three heroes wearing S’s on their chests, not a punch is thrown, not a beam of heat vision is unleashed, and there’s about as much flying on Clay Mann’s, Tomeu Morey’s, and Jurgens’s cover as there is in the actual story.
In light of all that, it may seem strange to say so, but this comic book was about as true to the characters’ beginnings 78 years and 965 issues ago as you can get.
That may sound like hyperbole, but bear in mind that, five years before the “Rosie the Riveter” campaign highlighted the significant numbers of women who had gone to work in the aviation industry during World War II, Action Comics #1 showed Superman stepping in to stop a wife-beating husband and Lois Lane independently handling matters for herself, both personally and professionally. Action Comics #966 may be mostly talk, but it’s good and valuable talk.
Jurgens, of course, was the ideal writer to script this issue. While he probably is most famous for The Death of Superman, Jurgens also was part of the creative team that brought fans the wedding of Superman and Lois Lane. When asked about the literal first lady of superhero comics, Jurgens said: “Lois is an independent, intrepid, caring, confident, uncompromising investigator who never gives up and does not take ‘no’ for an answer…. I’ve always thought that for Lois to work, she has to be Clark’s equal. By extension, that means being Superman’s equal as well. Somewhere in that relationship, their strengths define each and also make up for each other’s weaknesses.” (It’s notable that Jurgens credits Lois with never giving up, because that’s one of the numerous traits she and her husband have in common.)
Lois Lane: Back at the Planet — Part 2 is Jurgens conducting a master class in how he gets Lois, Clark, and the Man of Tomorrow. The splash page of Action Comics #966 depicts Superman and Superboy, but the accompanying narration comes from Lois, who is away from home, separated from her husband and son by her sense of duty to the truth and to a greater good beyond just the immediate comfort of her family and herself. Nevertheless, despite being physically distant and personally in peril, Lois is thinking of Clark and Jon. “Will I see them again?” she wonders.
Our attention then shifts fully to the costumed father-son duo as the elder superhero teaches the younger some tricks of the trade. The youth also shows his old man a thing or two, surprising Superman by outracing him home, but the tone of their interaction changes subtly when Jonathan realizes, to his chagrin, that his mother isn’t there waiting for him. Noting that “Mom was always home when I’d get back from school”, the boy pronounces her absence “weird.”
Speaking with some of the corny awkwardness that is less a part of the Clark Kent act and more a genuine expression of his Smallville inheritance — he calls Lois a “very, umm… cool person” — Superman explains to his son that Lois may be going back to work and tells him both what it means and why it’s good. The flying invulnerable Last Son of Krypton with the iconic red cape billowing behind him looks the boy in the eye and tells him all the things about Lois that “not only made her special… but helped her make you special.” It’s a beautiful and moving image that reminds us why Lois, who is brave and noble and devoted and determined to change the world despite being mortal and vulnerable and without superpowers, is at least as inspiring as the man she married.
Lois spends the rest of the issue justifying Superman’s faith in her — actually, two Loises do — and Lane then resumes her narration of Action Comics #966, explaining what she has decided to do, how she went about reaching that decision, and why her choices ultimately are both self-fulfilling and selfless. In an issue in which the audience is made privy only to Lois’s internal monologue, the reporter who once asked the musical question “Can you read my mind?” inquires when her husband acquired “mind-reading powers”. Clark, who clearly is inclined to give credit to the talented women he has had the privilege of knowing, replies: “It doesn’t take Saturn Girl to know you want more out of life, hon.”
Lois Lane wants more out of life, and, deservedly, she gets it. Fans of the Man of Tomorrow likewise wanted more out of Superman comic books, and, in Rebirth, we have been rewarded, as well. The brief arc ending with Action Comics #966 has been an important interlude, both for the circumstances of the characters in the story and for the messages their movements send to their audience. The subtle craftsmanship of Jurgens’s words and Segovia’s images gave Lois Lane: Back at the Planet — Part 2 the warmth and honesty that prevented it from being preachy and that answered, once and for all, the question of these heroes’ — plural, and not just the ones wearing capes — ongoing relevance more than three-quarters of a century after their debut.
How glad were you to see Lois Lane: Back at the Planet?
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T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
Dan Jurgens reveals the essential elements of each of these characters with no punching, no X-ray vision, and very little flying.