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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Superman: Lois and Clark #7 brought readers the latest in writer Dan Jurgens’s action-packed love letter to the first couple of superhero comics. The story is picking up steam, and the series has taken on new significance since DC Comics announced that Jurgens will be taking his historic Clark Kent and Lois Lane to Action Comics in Rebirth. ComiConverse’s Superman correspondent, T. Kyle King, is here to review the latest issue.
Jurgens is joined for Arrival Part VII by a creative team composed of pencillers Lee Weeks and Stephen Segovia; inkers Scott Hanna, Art Thibert, and Jay Leisten; and colorist Jeromy Cox. With that combination of veterans and newcomers, will Jurgens and crew be able to maintain the consistently high quality that hallmarked the series’ first six issues? (Spoilers follow!)
Lois and Jon escape from the burning shed when the boy reaches through the flames and opens the door without being harmed. Clark, fresh from defeating Blackrock, arrives at Lancaster Elementary in time to rescue his wife and their son from Intergang’s gunmen. Once they are safely back at the farm, the family finally discusses who Jon is and how they came to be on this Earth.
As Jon begins coming to terms with his astounding origins, Clark gets a vision of the violence Hyathis will bring to the world, so he speeds off to track down the new threat. The High Panala is on the island, where she has come to take the Oblivion Stone from Hank Henshaw. Discovering that the disoriented astronaut has only half of the power source she has been seeking, Hyathis vows to find the missing piece, which is hidden away in Clark’s mountain fortress.
The addition of extra contributors to an established title often can be cause for concern, so the crowded masthead of Superman: Lois and Clark #7 produced some initial heartburn. Fortunately, the stylistic shift from Weeks’s work to Segovia’s, while noticeable, neither distracts the reader nor detracts from the caliber of the comic to any significant degree. Since Segovia will be part of the graphics team when Jurgens takes over Action Comics, this is a welcome development.
The inking may be a bit more inconsistent, though it is hard to tell when that is due to the handiwork of different contributors and where it is merely a function of different scenes’ divergent moods. For instance, the shadows are heavier when Hyathis confronts Henshaw than when Clark surprises Lois in a flashback sequence, but that might simply be because one sequence is celebratory and the other is sinister. Cox’s colors remain consistently vibrant throughout, even when deep greens, greys, and purples define Lois’s, Clark’s, and Jon’s long overdue discussion.
Jurgens continues to put on a master class on superhero comic book writing. The story never lags, the adventure delivers a steady diet of action, the plot threads move toward one another at a steady pace that is neither plodding nor rushed, and the author always finds time to keep the human element in the foreground.
Superman: Lois and Clark #7 continues one of the series’ most effective conventions. Each issue opens with a scene from the past depicting an important event from the White family’s adjustment to the New 52 Earth. Invariably, this initial sequence illuminates the characters, enriches their backstory, and establishes the motifs for what follows.
These introductory tableaux haven’t missed yet, and Arrival Part VII is no exception. Both as a journalist and as a novelist, the writer Tom Wolfe advocates an emphasis on status details — “the entire pattern of behavior and possessions through which people express their position in the world or what they think it is or what they hope it to be” — and, although his superhero stories are nowhere near as focused on materialistic concerns as Wolfe’s prose fiction, Jurgens makes good use of this bit of wisdom from the cool cultural chronicler.
By taking the time to highlight the relationships between the series’ central figures, Jurgens not only makes the audience care by showing how much the characters care, but he also provides meaningful insights into who these people are at their core. Superman: Lois and Clark #7 begins with Lois unloading groceries from the hatchback of the White family’s minivan as young Jonathan plays with superhero action figures.
“Who do you think is faster, Mom?” the boy asks, “Superman? Or Flash?” Always ready to engage her son’s effervescent curiosity, Lois answers, “Oh, I’m pretty sure Superman is, Jon. No question.” They enter the farmhouse to discover that Clark has hung a homemade banner, blown up balloons, and broken out bottles of wine and root beer to commemorate the publication of Lois’s first book as the anonymous Author X.
Grocery bags, action figures, and balloons may not quite be on the same level as the ostentatious opulence populating Wolfe’s books about the upper crust brought low, but they speak as eloquently to the essential simplicity yet inherent complexity of the three original characters from the very first superhero comic book: Superman, Clark Kent, and Lois Lane.
Their newfound role as parents gives Jurgens an unparalleled vehicle for revealing who they truly are. Superman: Lois and Clark #7 does not skimp on adventure — there are escapes from fiery doom and armed assassins, fistfights with armored villains, and alien attacks that carry the promise of interstellar invasions and coming confrontations over mysterious otherworldly jewels — but what makes the action matter is its impact on the real people at the heart of the story. Jurgens’s writing, like Wolfe’s, revolves around “big subjects, big people, and yards of flapping exaggeration” but stresses the small stuff.
The entire series has been building toward the day Jon would learn who his parents truly were and they would learn what part of their son’s Kryptonian inheritance would manifest itself in the midst of his intrinsic humanity. At the end of their intense and emotional exchange, Clark apologetically exits, explaining: “I can’t let it come here. Everything will be fine. I’ll be back soon. Promise.” Watching his father fly away, a wide-eyed Jonathan remarks, “That is just… so cool!” His mother agrees, telling him, “I feel the same way, honey. Every time I see it.”
Although she is looking at Jonathan when she says it, the arrangement of the panel causes Lois’s gaze to land not on the boy, but on the reader. Jurgens knows his leading lady is speaking for the audience as well as for herself, and everyone holding Superman: Lois and Clark #7 in his or her hands has great faith that Jurgens, Weeks, and their collaborators share that sentiment.
That is why so much excitement surrounds Jurgens’s assurance that “it’s all building to a very particular climax and finale that is crucial to who these characters are and what their future might be.” This series began as a nod to fans who were put off by the increasingly dour and disconnected Superman of the New 52 continuity, but it has thrived to the point that Rebirth now offers the promise of an accomplished Superman writer bringing the classic Superman back to the historically numbered Action Comics. This is what it felt like when Coca-Cola scrapped New Coke and went back to the original formula.
We have Dan Jurgens and his collaborators to thank for the fact that, for the Man of Steel, Rebirth will be a restoration. Superman: Lois and Clark #7 is yet another example of why this is such a positive development, and of just how good this revival can be.
How excited did Arrival Part VII make you for next issue’s The Final Battle?
ComiConverse with us in the comments below!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Dan Jurgens knows how Lois Lane and her son, Jonathan, feel when watching Superman take flight, and he has written a story to make readers experience that same sensation.