Thursday, January 4, 2018

Superman: Lois and Clark #1 (2015)

Superman: Lois and Clark #1 (December, 2015)
"Arrival, Part I"
Writer - Dan Jurgens
Penciller - Lee Weeks
Inker - Scott Hanna
Colorist - Brad Anderson
Letterers - A Larger World Studios' Joshua Cozine & Troy Peteri
Assistant Editor - Andrew Marino
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99

Over the years, I've taken a pretty firm "don't care about Comicon" stance.  I'll spare you all of the usual "old comic fan" complaints about what these conventions have become... just suffice it to say, I don't get excited for them.  Being a fella who discusses comics online and maintains a small social media presence... sometimes I feel like I'm dodging movie anvils, but whattayagonnado?

When Comicon actually gives us comics news... it's usually pretty uninspired stuff.  Marvel's going to launch a seventh Guardians of the Galaxy spin-off and the next in their line of "world-shattering, internet-splitting crossovers where heroes fight one another"... and DC's got a new book with "Bat" in the title.  But sometimes... sometimes, something comes along that genuinely excites me.

Today we're going to discuss one of those times.

Post-Convergence DC was a strange place to hang out.  I'd come back to the fandom in a big way after a half-decade on the fringes... largely in part to what I hoped would spin out from Convergence.  I was hopeful that this would be a return to my DC Universe.  What we got instead was... DCYOU, a weird disjointed approach by DC to seek out an audience that, shock of shocks, (for the most part) didn't exist.

I felt like I'd rolled yet another snake-eyes... and was already gathering my things for another DC-hiatus, when... in the late-Summer of 2015, two new titles were announced.  One was Titans Hunt, the other... the book we'll be discussing today.


We open on a pretty familiar scene... if you were a reader of The New-52!  We see bits from the opening arc of Justice League (vol.2)... only, we're seeing it from a different point of view.  The narration is coming from Lois Lane, who makes a few comments that hit kinda close to home for a pre-Flashpoint guy like myself.  She sees Superman... but it's not her Superman.  Wow, how many times have we said that?  Anyhoo, the Justice League takes down Darkseid... and from this vantage point, we can see that they were being watched over... by a man, in trunks!

This trunked-Superman takes his leave, as Lois' narration continues.  She talks of this new Earth and how it differs from the one they'd left.  More comments that hit close to home... she describes The New-52! Earth as suspicious... doubting... edgy.  An Earth without faith.

Superman returns home to he and Lois' dilapidated California farmhouse to discuss what he'd just seen.  He, like many of us, finds it weird that Cyborg is hanging out with the League instead of the Titans.  Yeah, tell me about it...

Clark uses his heat vision to start a fire and warm his wife... and new son.  From here, we get a quick and dirty explanation of how they came to wind up on this new Earth.  It's all Convergency... ad involves their going back to affect the outcome of Crisis on Infinite Earths... resetting the Multiverse, but also causing their home Earth to go a bit ca-ca.

We now jump several years... to the present.  Baby Jon is now a young boy... and their dilapidated farm is in much better shape.  We can see that Jonno is being raised similar to his father... very modest, and (unfortunately for him) chore-heavy.

Lois sends Jon up to get ready for school... and flips on Channel-52 News, where she learns about a tsunami in the Pacific that just "mysteriously" subsided.  Well, of course we know who was behind that miracle.

A sopping-wet (and bearded) Clark heads into the kitchen once he's sure the coast is clear.  They're keeping everything "Super" a secret from their son... at least for the moment.  This becomes a pretty big (arguably the main) plot point as this series continues.  Clark checks the newspaper, and sees that the shuttle Excalibur is scheduled to return.  Hey, that's the ship Hank Henshaw flew!

Lois and Clark discuss current events... including giving us a peek at the former's Super-scrapbook.  Seems keeping a scrapbook is part of the Super-legacy.  Jon heads down... and starts asking a whole lot of questions.  Picking up on some inconsistencies in the conversation, it seems as though he's already somewhat suspicious about his parents.  Not in a "sinister" way... more curious than anything, I suppose.

With Jonno off to school, the Whites (the name Lois and Clark have taken) can go about their day.  Lois, known professionally as "Writer X", delivers her latest piece on Intergang to her... agent (?) Cora.  She intends to keep her identity private... however, it looks like the jig might be up.

We join Superman in space, where he intends to ensure a safe return for the Excalibur.  We don't need this Henshaw to go all crazy and cyborgy like the other one.  The ship hurtles toward Earth, however, Superman is able to right it before it crashes.  Inside the cockpit (is it called a "cockpit" on a spaceship?) we see Henshaw... alone!  The rest of his crew are nowhere to be seen.

We pop in on Lancaster Elementary School to check in on Jon... who's mind is anywhere but on math.  He's actually sneaking a peek at the Excalibur rescue on his cell phone.  As you might imagine, Teach ain't pleased.

We wrap up our opening chapter in a far off star system.  Something, something... Oblivion Stone.


Okay... before I start gushing, let me get one thing off my chest.  This wasn't the Superman book I wanted back in the Fall of 2015.  It really wasn't.  When this book was announced, I was hopeful that these stories would take place on post-Crisis/pre-Flashpoint Earth.  I wanted to see how that Earth looked after our being away for a half-decade.  Would it be the same as we left it?  Would there be people and things missing?  Would there be new concepts that had been introduced in the interim?  That was the book I wanted to read... and when I heard that it was set to take place on New-52! Earth, I gotta say... I was a bit disappointed.

That having been said... Jurgens and Weeks absolutely knocked this out of the park!  How do I even start to say how much this meant to me?  Hmm... I make fried ravioli twice a year... once in the summer, and on Christmas Eve.  That first bite... that's how this book made me feel.  Also, the trepidation as I watch the raviolis disappear from the plate... that's how I felt with every turn of the page.

The word "apology" was bandied about a lot around the time of DC Universe Rebirth... an apology to fans like me.  The old guard that felt as though we were being driven away.  I still disagree with using that term... and this, like Rebirth, feels more like reuniting with an old friend.  Sure, they've gone through some stuff... and their lives have changed a bit (or a lot), but they're still the same person.  There's a familiarity and a comfort... and, for a fella like me... there's no better writer for that than the one we got.

I mentioned during our Convergence: Superman discussion that, without a doubt, to me... Dan Jurgens is the Superman writer of my generation.  I'm so happy to have him back where he belongs... and am so excited for him that he'll be taking part in the upcoming Action Comics #1000.  I'd be remiss to leave out the art... which is just wonderful.  Weeks and company deliver one helluva pretty book here!

Now... we probably ought to discuss the issue, right?  That's kinda what we do here.  I can't really be as objective as I'd like... because this one just felt so right.  In only a handful of pages, we get pretty much caught up on Lois and Clark's arrival and time on this new Earth.  If you didn't read Convergence... it doesn't really matter.  If you didn't read the first arc on Justice League... it also doesn't really matter.  Sure, if you read both these scenes will mean a lot more to you... but, you could, if you were so inclined, come in to this series cold.  Which is pretty great.

Now, my having read those arcs, really added to how I received this story.  It's weird... knowing that my Superman was present at the dawning of The New-52! gives me a strange sense of comfort.  At the risk of coming across a bit precious... it's now as though this world was being protected.  Suddenly, The New-52! is a bit less dark and edgy in hindsight.  Weird, right?

If I were to pick nits, the only time in which the issue kinda faltered for me was... the last page.  I don't really care about the Oblivion Stone.  Sure, it's necessary to facilitate the subplot... but it was at that point that I remembered that I was reading a comic book.  If that makes any sense...

Up until that point, I felt as though I was experiencing something rare and special... which, don't get me wrong... I was.  The Oblivion Stone subplot just reminded me that I was reading a comic... and eventually, we were going to have to break away from our reunion... and get to fightin'.

Overall... duh, check this issue (and series) out.  If you're reading and enjoying post-Rebirth Superman comics... you've likely already read this.  If not... this is where it all begins.  Well, after the Convergence two-parter... but you know what I mean.  Gonna cut it off here, as I'm starting to (starting to?) ramble.  This has been collected in the Road to Rebirth trade paperback (available... at least for the moment... at DC Digital for FIVE BUCKS).  Well worth your time!


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1 comment:

  1. This really was a great series (until the very end, for obvious Rebirth-accommodating reasons) and it didn't just resonate with the old guard--Jim and others absolutely loved it and its direction in the wake of what may have been one of the most misguided and annoyingly long Superman arcs in decades ("The Truth" and "Grounded" can duke it out for honors.) Honestly, I think Clark and Lois being remarried...or married in the first place and then shunted to our dimension, however you want to look at it...wasn't even the main draw for this. It was a compassionate, heroic Superman, and a take-no-bullshit Lois Lane that was generally a nice person. If I had to pick one word for the New 52, I'd call it "mean" (and if I got two words, I'd add "unnecessarily" before it), and this was refreshing in that the main characters were actually nice and something to aspire to.


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