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 #8 wrapped up writer Dan Jurgens’s and penciller Lee Weeks’s uplifting tale of the pre-Flashpoint Metropolis Marvel hiding out in the New 52 DC Universe with his wife, Lois Lane, and their son, Jonathan. T. Kyle King, ComiConverse’s Man of Steel reviewer, takes a look at Arrival — Conclusion.
Last Wednesday marked the end of the New 52, the start of Rebirth, and the death of Superman. Not to worry, though; the Man of Tomorrow who was on the job for the quarter-century from 1986 to 2011 is tanned, rested, and ready.
(Some spoilers follow!)
Clark White arrives at the island where Hank Henshaw’s ship crashed and battles Hyathis, who departs after issuing an ultimatum. In the course of the struggle, Superman realizes he has half of the Oblivion Stone in his mountain fortress. Henshaw surreptitiously reclaims the other half of the jewel, which enabled him to survive his return journey from space.
At the White family farm, Lois helps Jon adjust to the revelation of his father’s identity and the discovery of his own superpowers. When the hero returns, he expresses his concern that “our cover is eroding.” Fortunately, the threat from Intergang has been neutralized, as the release of Author X’s expose has led to multiple arrests. Lois and Clark reassure Jon that all will be well, and the young man figures out how to fly.
As usual, the artistic team of Weeks, inker Scott Hanna, and colorist Jeromy Cox gives a classic look to Superman: Lois and Clark #8, delivering fluid and detailed images that convey the scale of a battle even within the confines of small panels. In more tranquil scenes, Weeks captures heartfelt emotions in elegantly intricate facial expressions and body language. The looks and gestures that pass between Lois, Clark, and Jon are movingly authentic.
This is nitpicking, but the lone flaw in the graphics of Superman: Lois and Clark #8 comes in the midst of the fight with Hyathis. The High Panala slashes the Man of Steel across the chest with her sword, recreating one of the most famous of Jim Kirk’s ripped shirts — but, one page later, Clark bursts free of his constraints, and there is nary a tear visible across the Action Ace’s flexed pecs. That, though, is quibbling.
Although Superman: Lois and Clark #8 technically represents the series’ swansong, the issue’s title, Arrival — Conclusion, speaks to the fact that the tale represents only the end of the beginning before Jurgens and the White family make their move back to Action Comics, complete with restored classic issue numbering.
As such, the issue serves as a fitting denouement to this initial phase as the characters and their surrounding universe transition into Rebirth. The wheels painstakingly set into motion by Jurgens along the way reached satisfactory resolutions in the context of this story while leaving open the prospects for future adventures featuring Hyathis, Henshaw, Chambers, Blanque, Dratania, Klon, and Blackrock.
Admittedly, one moment in Superman: Lois and Clark #8 felt slightly hurried: Clark’s internal monologue takes the reader through his realization that the Oblivion Stone must have been responsible for Hank’s salvation, but this is more exposition than explanation. However, this rush of revelation quickly gives way to intrigue as Superman wonders “what else did it do for him?” If Jurgens’s otherwise exquisite pacing is a bit frenetic in this single scene, it is forgivable, as it comes in the midst of perhaps the most challenging fight the Man of Steel has faced in the series.
The remainder of this installment’s discoveries are unveiled with the fine sense of timing Jurgens has displayed consistently as part of his master craftsmanship throughout this series. The advance excerpts made available to law enforcement on the eve of the release of Author X’s takedown of Intergang deftly dealt with the criminal organization’s threat while reaffirming that Lois, as much as Clark, uses the cover of secrecy to apply her extraordinary talents to making the world a better place in spite of the risks such good deeds entail.
The long game Jurgens has been playing from the outset came to fruition at the conclusion of Superman: Lois and Clark #8, as well. The cover of the series’ first issue showed Jonathan White marveling at the sight of his father’s red cape; the opening page of the story’s sixth installment included panels centered on the ladder descending into the Whites’ cluttered basement.
Those hitherto unexplained scenes, hidden in plain sight amid the subtleties of Weeks’s richly nuanced portraits of the three central characters, set up the thoroughly fulfilling payoff that formed the coda for this entire enterprise. As Clark brings a chest of mementos up from the basement and opens it to take out the cape he then hands over to his son, he and Lois offer assurances to Jon that Jurgens intends for the reader.
Distinguishing the New 52 DC Universe from the pre-Flashpoint continuity that clearly is making a comeback in Rebirth, Superman explains how this Earth differs from the one from which he and Lois came: “It’s more harsh and cynical. And of course, Metropolis already has its own Superman. Even though people didn’t embrace him the way I had been.” His classic costume, he hoped, “inspired people to be better.” Lois concurs, noting, “even in the darkest hour, they could hope.” (Earlier, she had summed up wonderfully for her son the defining attributes of Superman that matter more than his powers.)
With his face turned more toward the audience than toward his son, Superman says: “What I’m asking of you now, Jon, is to believe.” The youth’s confusion previously had elicited from his father the explanation that this talk was “my way of telling you not to worry. That everything is going to be okay.” Clark reiterates this reassurance, telling his son, “Mom and I will be there. Everything will be okay, Jon. I promise.” Imbued with confidence and freed to relax, Lois’s and Clark’s son finally takes flight.
It is no accident that, after seven issues in which the narrating chores were divided between the titular twosome, Superman: Lois and Clark #8 finally gives their son his turn at telling the story; Jonathan White is the kid each of us was when we picked up our first comic book, whether that was 30 days or 30 years ago, and Dan Jurgens is determined to speak to that part of each reader’s heart.
Lois, looking at her son yet facing the audience, says, “I know you feel lied to.” When Hyathis speaks to Superman in a way that sounds eerily similar to how Zod spoke to Kal-El in Man of Steel (“This can only end with one of us dead”), Clark declines to accept her terms, answering: “Your words. Not mine.” Jurgens knows what’s been wrong with the Last Son of Krypton for the last several years, and he knows how to right it.
I was nine years old when Superman: The Movie was first released. The posters promised me that I would believe a man could fly — and I did. I remember sitting in the darkened theater as the final credits rolled, and I remember the shiver that went up my spine when the last words to appear on the screen stated that Superman II would be coming soon.
It was the same feeling I had when I saw Clark Kent and Lois Lane smiling at the sight of their airborne son.
Thank you, Dan Jurgens.
Welcome back, Superman.
As always, we invite you to join in the ComiConversation and to share your thoughts on Superman: Lois and Clark #8 in the comments.
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Dan Jurgens simply understands everything that is right about Superman.