Superman (vol.4) #22 (July, 2017)
“Black Dawn, Chapter 3”
Story – Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Artist – Doug Mahnke
Inks – Jaime Mendoza & Ray McCarthy
Colorist – Wil Quintana
Letters – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Andrew Marino
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
Another two-new-books-in-a-row! Not sure what it means that I’m so excited to discuss so many new books. Is it that this is this the first time in a long time that I’m actually enjoying new books… or has it just been so long since new books were actually exciting?
Either way… today we’re going to discuss a creepier-than-expected issue of Superman.
We open with Lois Lane watching the events that occurred last issue (which I just now realized that I didn’t review here) on her… er, Apricot-Phone? I dunno. She leaves the house and hops into their pickup truck before seeing the tree they buried Goldie the Cat under in flames. She calls out to Clark and Jon, but there’s no reply. She then heads over to check with helpful neighbor and disturbing dairyman Mr. Cobb to see if he saw anyone set the fire.
She drives down to Main Street, seeing the destruction all around her. She recaps the events of the evening… Batman visits, and vanishes. Clark, Jon and Damian fight giant squid, and also vanish. On the sidewalk she sees Candice, and wonders how she could be out and about… and so, she decides to follow her. She enters town hall, and proceeds down a stairwell into what must have been one of the town’s Cold War era bomb shelters… but it seems it has a far different use these days…
Lois sees that her family secret is out… and turns to find a gun-wielding Candice has joined her. She delivers a kick and flees back into the street, calling for her husband and son the entire time. Realizing she’s going to need some backup, she drives home to use Clark’s Justice League Communicator… however, upon return, she sees that Mayor Goodman (and Candice!) have beaten her there.
Lois runs to a back room where she opens a safe. The creepy townsfolk wonder aloud what the wife of Superman needs with a gun. Oh, but this ain’t no gun… it’s her souvenir Bat-Gauntlet!
Lois splits the scene delivering awesome gauntlet-blasts as she goes. Once outside, she finds that the Batmobile has arrived. This being an invite she can’t turn down, she hops in. Thankfully, her wearing the gauntlet is all the identification her sweet ride needs to engage thrusters.
With the townsfolk out of the way, Lois request the Batmobile contact the Justice League. Before it can, however… it is rendered immobile. Lois exits the vehicle to see…
We shift scenes to Superman, who has been exploring the miles of corridors which are hidden under the town. He happens upon a hatch, which he lifts to reveal a path that goes even further underground. What he finds there is rather eye-opening.
This was one hell of an issue. It’s not often that any comic gives me the actual “creeps”, but this one did. When we were first clued in to the idea that our friendly Dairy Man was something nefarious, I thought it was a neat concept… but awfully convenient that this oddball lived so close to the Kents. Now, with the creepiness expanded to include the entire town… I’m really liking it.
This was like one of the good episodes of The Twilight Zone. Not one that was trying to make a weak commentary on how bad people are (They were humans all along!)… but one that was legitimately trying to make you squirm in your seat. The use of Lois as our point of view character for this was absolutely wonderful, in that (obviously) she has no super-powers… and her loved ones that do… are nowhere to be found. That feeling of helplessness and isolation really helps to give this already creepy story an even more sinister bent.
I also appreciate that she was treated like an actual “action hero” here. She relied on her wits, her access to cool weapons, and understood the value of fleeing when it was the best option. She was able to use her professional investigative reporter skills to lead her into… well, not the belly of the beast… that came later, maybe the “brains” of the beast. And, I gotta say… the last panel for her section… with the creepy Dairy Man standing there, all emotionless. That was the best and worst panel of the week… because it made me realize I gotta wait a fortnight to see where it’s going!
The brief Superman scene was well done, and provided a great cliffhanger. When I first saw the Robin in the tube, I mistook Damian’s cape was Tim Drake’s Red Robin wing-things… gotta say, my heart raced a bit. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this plays out. If I were to guess… which is normally a stupid thing for me to do… I’d figure that this story might be the way they facilitate the Kents returning to Metropolis. Gotta figure that with everyone in town knowing that Clark is Superman and Jon is Superboy… they’re not long for this world. That’s always the way when people learn secret identities, right? I’d hate to be the first guy to see Peter Parker under the Spidey mask… you just know your days (minutes?) are numbered at that point!
Overall… loved this issue, heck… loving this storyarc and era. The Superman books are, for me, the tippity-top of what DC is currently putting out. This, along with Action Comics, are books everyone should be reading.
Note: For the next three days I’m going to be outta town… but I’ve got a very special three-parter we’ll be discussing here. It’s a fairly divisive little ditty… I hope you all enjoy.