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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The pre-Flashpoint Superman is back! Hiding out in the background of the mainstream DC Universe, the older Clark Kent is married to Lois Lane and raising their son Jonathan. Superman: Lois and Clark #3 has hit the stands, and ComiConverse’s Man of Steel writer, T. Kyle King, is here to review it for you.
Writer Dan Jurgens and penciller Lee Weeks once again have teamed up for the latest installment in the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Superman. In Arrival – Part III, Lois’s investigation of Intergang and Clark’s concerns about Hank Henshaw both take a sinister turn. (Some spoilers follow.)
Clark recalls his first encounter with Blanque several years earlier, when the supervillain’s wanton destruction of an entire town forced him to reveal himself in the course of capturing the bad guy. In the present day, Clark has determined that Intergang merely tailed Lois from her meeting with her publisher but does not know who she really is.
In the new fortress he has built, Clark examines Henshaw, who suddenly sits upright and begins exhibiting the power to control technology. Superman is knocked unconscious just after he learns that Blanque is telepathically manipulating the astronaut. Henshaw moves to free the caged supervillain while, in California, Intergang’s leader expresses his extreme displeasure that his best henchmen have failed to wipe out Author X. In space, a Dominator’s dying declaration points toward our solar system as the site of the Oblivion Stone.
Stephen Segovia’s and Ellery Santos’s cover is a tad edgier and angrier than the issue warrants, but the imagery is arresting and well crafted. The interior artwork of Superman: Lois and Clark #3 is, as we have come to expect after the series’ first two installments, wonderfully done in every respect.
Weeks handled the pencils and shared the inking chores with Scott Hanna and Sergio Cariello, resulting in convincing depictions of scenes that shift from a burning town to outer space and from a small bucolic farm to a vast metallic fortress. Brad Anderson’s wide-ranging colors cover the spectrum and augment the eye-catching images, which leap off the page in homey earth tones and space-age silvers, in bright orange flames and azure ocean waves.
What makes the graphics of Superman: Lois and Clark #3 so exceptional is the ability of Weeks and his colleagues to handle the big picture and the fine details with equal aplomb. Scenes of Superman flying out of the sun over the sea or across a mountain range toward his alpine hideaway are displayed in breathtaking scale. However, the nuances of body language and facial expressions are not slighted, as we see the steadfast resolve in Lois’s eye, the youthful enthusiasm in Jon’s smile, and the paternal pride in Clark’s face. These heroes think globally while acting locally, and the artwork expertly reflects that.
Jurgens’s writing is similarly adroit. His pitch-perfect presentation of the title characters’ essential selves is skillfully inserted into the narrative with graceful subtlety, offered as a matter-of-fact reality rather than as an indictment of the flawed portrayals of the New 52 continuity. When Blanque tells Clark the only way to stop him is to kill him, the hero proceeds to find another solution, thinking simply: “That’s not who I am.” Superman proceeds to build an underground prison to hold the villain, and both its concept and its execution mesh seamlessly with the character’s core.
Likewise, Lois’s combination of motherly worry for the safety of her son and dogged journalistic determination to follow the story to its conclusion strikes the right balance and shows how her roles as parent and reporter are complementary, not contradictory. In each case, she is trying to build a better world for the next generation, every bit as much so as her husband and teammate. At a time when Lois too often has been maligned and marginalized in the mainstream Superman comics, this emphasis on the way her professional judgment and her personal empathy inform one another is critically important.
Though Jurgens is juggling multiple plot strands, the writer keeps the pacing steady and never lets the human element slip to the back burner. The married couple’s shows of mutual respect and affection, and their young son’s emphatic reactions, ring true, as does Clark’s and Lois’s decision for Superman to track the safe arrival of Jonathan’s school bus, just to be sure. The natural inclusion of a close-up on Clark’s chest as he opens his shirt to reveal the costume underneath is just the icing on the cake.
Blanque’s mental manipulation of the hapless Henshaw is plenty sinister enough, but the issue’s final pair of pages each ensures that we do not forget the other threats closing in on the former Daily Planet reporters. The menace of Intergang is underscored by a poolside scene taken straight out of Justified, while the mystery of the approaching alien is maintained with another shadowy conclusion providing few answers but revealing harrowing hazards.
Arrival – Part III was, in sum, another satisfying installment in a most gratifying series. My only complaint is that, after dividing the narrating duties equitably for the first two issues, Superman: Lois and Clark #3 is told only in the husband’s voice; hopefully, the wife’s perspective will be given center stage in the ensuing edition in order to restore balance.
That, though, is a relatively minor complaint concerning a third straight excellent issue. Fans of the first couple of superhero comics should be sold on Superman: Lois and Clark and looking forward intently to where Jurgens and Weeks next intend to take the White family and the rest of us.
While we wait, share your thoughts on Arrival – Part III in the ComiConversation taking place in the comments!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks continue to deliver in this exceptional adventure featuring comics’ first couple.