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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As the New 52 Superman wrestles with the challenges of the Justice story arc in the foreground of the mainstream DC Comics continuity, Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks are telling a different tale starring the pre-Flashpoint Man of Steel, the former Daily Planet star reporter to whom he is married, and their young son. ComiConverse’s Superman writer, T. Kyle King, is here to review Superman: Lois and Clark #2.
The post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Clark Kent and Lois Lane are hiding out in the background of the DC Universe, where they are living in California using a pseudonym, raising their son Jonathan, and working in secret to improve the world around them. Jurgens and Weeks follow up on the White family’s first adventure in Arrival – Part II.
Military personnel and clandestine agents have located the crashed Excalibur, from which they obtain mysterious images of a humanoid form guiding the shuttle through the atmosphere and the now-missing Hank Henshaw at the controls during re-entry. After Jonathan gets in trouble at school, Lois picks him up from the principal’s office. Intergang assassins force them off the road during their drive home. Lois and Jonathan resourcefully fend off the first wave of killers before retreating into the woods and calling Clark to deal with the heavily-armed reinforcements. Light years away, the alien forces searching for the Oblivion Stone uncover a clue that leads them toward the Sol system.
After covering a dizzying amount of ground in the series’ first installment, Jurgens allows Superman: Lois and Clark #2 to unfold at a more leisurely pace. The writer wisely takes the time to remind us what we love about these characters, opening with a scene centered around, and narrated by, Lois. The issue begins with a delightful flashback to the time when Jonathan was a toddler and his Pulitzer Prize-winning mother was making do by covering flower shows for the local Valley News.
This genuinely sweet sequence is replete with exquisite touches contributed by Weeks’s pencils and complemented by Scott Hanna’s inks and Brad Anderson’s colors. The street number on the Whites’ mailbox is 1938, the year Clark, Lois, and Superman debuted in Action Comics #1. Lois is working from home while wearing the New York Jets jersey of quarterback Joe Namath, who guaranteed and then delivered a victory in the Super Bowl. The facial expressions, physical displays of affection, and conversation (complete with young Jon’s guttural utterances) that pass between mother and son honestly reflect the domestic reality of the parent-child bond.
Having reintroduced us to the human side of these characters, Jurgens and Weeks then take us far beneath Chicago, where Clark is underground saving the city from destruction by an earthquake created by a vengeful Shockwave. Keeping himself concealed, Clark strips the villain of his empowering armor, uses his super-breath to save his plummeting foe from a fatal fall, and escapes the approaching airplanes to remain undiscovered. In four action-packed pages, the creators show Superman’s simple decency in the application of his powers, and his ensuing return home completes the circuit as we see the happy couple and their child reunited. Before the opening credits have even begun to roll, Superman: Lois and Clark #2 already has delivered the essential core of the iconic characters who were present at the creation.
From that idyllic image, we leap forward to the more complex present, in which suspicious, skeptical, and perhaps sinister forces struggle to make sense of the empty Excalibur’s currently incomprehensible return. We know their search for answers will guide them closer to Clark and his family, and we are offered incomplete glimpses that will lead eventually to the explanation of Commander Henshaw’s disappearance. As in the previous issue, the last page is devoted to developing the interstellar plotline that ultimately will bring barely-seen extraterrestrials to our world.
In short, Arrival – Part II is all about secrets, the effort to keep them concealed, and addressing the threat of their impending revelation. Because everything in Superman: Lois and Clark unspools from the fact that the former Daily Planet reporters have formed a family, that overarching theme begins at home, as Intergang’s pursuit of Lois overlaps with Jonathan’s mounting curiosity about his parents’ implausible excuses regarding his father’s surreptitious use of superpowers.
The issue’s primary focus on the story closest to home keeps this installment grounded and maintains the balance between currently unfurling events and those yet lurking on the horizon. Jurgens’s established familiarity with the characters enables him to shed light on personalities and relationships using limited lines of dialogue, while Weeks’s expert draftsmanship adds lifelike motion, urgency, and impact both to Lois’s and Jon’s automotive confrontation with Intergang on the road and to Clark’s methodical dispatching of the bad guys and subsequent clean-up of the crime scene. The verisimilitude of the utterances and actions in these sequences makes them play out convincingly with the feel of a tense action set piece on a movie screen.
Ultimately, I liked the first issue of Max Landis’s Superman: American Alien because it was the handiwork of a writer who clearly cares about the Man of Steel and the characters closest to him; I have enjoyed the first two issues of Superman: Lois and Clark for the same reason. Dan Jurgens understands what makes the Action Ace’s most important personal relationship special, and the writer’s heartfelt intention to echo the past where Lois Lane and Clark Kent are concerned is especially welcome in an era in which open hostility to Lois regrettably has become the norm.
The result of Jurgens’s devotion to these characters is an ongoing story that is intricately plotted but thematically unified, packed with action yet emotionally nuanced, and faithful to tradition while still fresh and original. In the hands of these conscientious creators, the old school has met and meshed with the New 52; the results (in the memorable words uttered on a sitcom filled with Superman allusions by an actress who would later play Lois Lane) are real, and they’re spectacular.
What was your favourite part of Superman: Lois and Clark #2?
How do you think Intergang found Lois, where do you think Hank Henshaw is being held, and why do you think the aliens are after the Oblivion Stone?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments and ComiConverse with us below!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks perfectly capture the look and feel of the real Clark Kent and Lois Lane in this terrific series.