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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Superwoman #2 came out on Wednesday, following up on the blockbuster finale of writer and penciller Phil Jimenez’s series debut with a story whose title asked: Who Killed Superwoman? ComiConverse’s Krypton correspondent, T. Kyle King, assesses whether the second issue answered that question adequately.
Lois Lane and Lana Lang had just become partners, and were beginning to become friends, when one of the two Superwomen was slain at the end of the series’ opening installment. The remaining member of the superpowered twosome must fight on, but will she live long enough to learn the identity of her colleague’s killer?
(Some spoilers follow!)
Superwoman #2 Synopsis:
While Lex Luthor pontificates and the Gestalt is evacuated, a conspirator hidden in the bowels of the vessel launches the warship’s passive weapons at Metropolis, targeting Lexcorp-owned properties and knocking out the city’s power. Lana, left alone by Lois’s death and facing a pair of assailants with chalk-like skin, escapes and is joined by Steel shortly before the Special Crimes Unit arrives and takes the metahuman couple to the police station. Maggie Sawyer senses that the surviving Superwoman is being less than truthful, but the captain chooses to trust the costumed hero.
Concerned about Lana’s headaches and nosebleeds, John Henry Irons takes her to his niece’s Suicide Slum apartment building, which also is home to Steelworks’ experimental technology workshop. Lana tries to rest, but, after being awakened by nightmares, she joins Steel and the armoured Natasha Irons at the Metropolis anniversary parade, where the attacking Atomic Skull attempts to warn the heroes of the atrocities occurring at Stryker’s Island since Lexcorp began running the prison. Lex confirms his suspicions regarding the traitor in his organization, but he learns the truth too late when he is captured by the plot’s unexpected mastermind.
Superwoman #2 Analysis:
In Superwoman #2, Jimenez wrote and drew a dense, detailed, multilayered, and often clever comic book. This issue abounds with deep-track callbacks, including an outstanding allusion to Lana’s Insect Queen days. Commendably, this story showcases a notably diverse cast that includes Mercy Graves, John Henry Irons, Natasha Irons, Maggie Sawyer, and a significant female character who first appears in a last-page reveal. The artwork makes good use of perspective and space. Viewed in isolation, Superwoman #2 is a high-quality adventure containing action, humour, and suspense.
In spite of all those positives, unfortunately, there just is no getting around the 800-pound gorilla in the middle of the room; namely, the shabby treatment given to Lois Lane.
It is no secret that I am a Lois Lane fan. Well, actually, I’m a Superman fan, which makes me a fan of everything about the Man of Steel. Because I love Superman, I also love Martha Kent, Jonathan Kent (both of them), and Jimmy Olsen — heck, I didn’t just enjoy reading Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen; I wish I was writing Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen! It seems to me, therefore, that, as a huge fan of the Man of Tomorrow, I couldn’t fail to be a big fan of Lois Lane, as well. Lois, after all, was a part of the Superman story quite literally from the very beginning: Action Comics #1 — which introduced Superman, Clark Kent, and many of what have now become the defining tropes of the superhero comics genre — also showcased the first appearance of Lois Lane, who was present at the creation.
Now, unlike Clark Kent, I’ve never had to make a choice between Lois Lane and Lana Lang; as a fan, I’m free to like them both. Each has her own distinctive place in the Superman mythology, and, while the centrality of Lois is not seriously in dispute, each woman has played a unique role in aiding Clark on his progression from farm boy to Superman. Rather than being reduced to romantic rivals for the Action Ace’s affections, Lois and Lana each can be defined as an individual character in her own right.
That being the case, I might very well be willing to read a comic book starring Lana Lang. Granted, such a series would be something of a challenge, as Lana has been more malleable as a character over the years. By turns childhood friend, high school girlfriend, television newscaster, and electrical engineer, Lana’s persistent inconsistency has made her an easier character than Lois to manipulate and reinvent as circumstances warrant. Nevertheless, if offered a well-crafted Lana Lang story, I’d probably buy into it — and, to Jimenez’s credit, Superwoman #2 is, as far as it goes, a well-crafted Lana Lang story.
That, however, isn’t what we were told we were getting.
Fans were told we were getting a series starring Lois Lane. When asked to suggest new titles for DC Comics to launch, loyal readers unsurprisingly recommended multiple ideas showcasing Lois. When such talented comics creators as writer Marguerite Bennett and illustrators Meghan Hetrick and Emanuela Lupacchino collaborated on a standalone Lois Lane one-shot, the resulting book was well-received. A devoted audience was there, waiting to support a new Lois Lane-centered series, and DC Comics told them they were getting it.
Then DC Comics killed Lois in the first issue. Not cool, Robert Frost!
Granted, we’re talking about superhero comic books, where no one except Uncle Ben ever really stays dead. That’s why I thought Lois’s death was a fake-out, but, two pages into Superwoman #2, we watched Lois’s body disintegrate into dust. Even if that’s a trick, too, though, it’s still a straight-up fridging, which is much too prevalent generally and far too common for Lois Lane specifically. Her subsequent return, if it occurs, won’t change the cheap crassness of the heartless treatment Lane received in the debut issue of her supposed title.
It didn’t have to be this way. More importantly, it shouldn’t have been this way. Persistent problems with the New 52 Superman necessitated that the character be killed off when the post-Crisis Last Son of Krypton returned, but the pre-Flashpoint and pre-Rebirth Loises were perfectly capable of co-existing; the worst that can be said of the Lane incarnation that bit the dust in Superwoman #1 and became dust in Superwoman #2 is that DC’s marketing department ill-advisedly portrayed as a betrayal her revelation of the Metropolis Marvel’s secret identity, which Lois actually did for the noblest of reasons.
Tim Hanley, who knows a thing or two about Lois Lane, hit the nail on the head when he wrote that, but for the victimization of its supposed star and her legions of fans, Superwoman #2 would be a good comic book on its merits. The unavoidable truth, though, is that this series was marketed dishonestly and did a cruel disservice to the fans it deceived by employing a lazy and vulgar trope solely for its supposed shock value (which, regrettably, no longer even qualifies as particularly surprising). The answer to Superwoman #2’s titular question — Who Killed Superwoman? — is: “DC Comics did, and they should be ashamed of themselves for it.”
As always, we welcome the input of our fellow fans, and we invite you to ComiConverse with us about Superwoman #2 in the comments below.
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
This issue had a great deal going for it, but the insensitive treatment given to the purported star and her dedicated fans undermined those positives.