The Grounded storyline having been grounded, here’s a fill-in, in which instead of Superman walking through small towns and getting introspective, Lois Lane walks through a small town and gets introspective.
The small town in question is Rushmark, Indiana, which so far as I can tell, doesn’t exist in the real world – is that even allowed in this storyline? Anyway, in this week’s history of the DC Universe, Lois Lane went to college there, and wore spectacles. Now she’s back and planning to collide with Clark as he traverses the town.
Before that, she runs into some Superman fans, and old boyfriend Brian. He takes her home for dinner, where she meets his gorgeous, accomplished wife, and cute, clever kids, and feels sad because no one recognises her professional accomplishments. To the world, she’s just Superman’s mouthpiece, his Girl Friday.
Much as I liked writer G Willow Wilson’s nod to Lois’s Golden Age days as a Rosalind Russell-style wisecracking newshen, er, no. Lois has long been depicted as the Daily Planet’s most famous journalist – never mind being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, as we’re told she was last year, Lois has won them. The idea that she’s been overshadowed by Superman just doesn’t convince. Lois has the life she dreamt of, plus.
What does ring true is the moment in which Lois worries about ageing where her husband doesn’t, and the scene in which she frets that Clark doesn’t really need her. Of course, she knows that she’s his equal, and that he loves her to bits, but when your chap buggers off to walk around America, and doesn’t ask you to come, moments of doubt are likely.
Issue’s end sees a reunion between wife and husband, and it’s sweet. While the Lois in this issue isn’t the sparky gal I adore, I can believe that where she’s at at the moment, emotionally and geographically, she’d be more vulnerable than in Metropolis, where her combination of talent and front means she rules.
I could, though, do without references to the Lane-Kents being unable to have kids. I hate that DC have said this out loud – I prefer to believe a superbaby will be along any day now.
The artwork by penciller Leandro Oliveira and inker Walden Wong is strongest in the opening and closing scenes, tailing off in terms of interest during the middle section at Brian’s house. The script gives Brian all the personality of a tin soldier, and that’s pretty much how he’s drawn, but – and this is a big but – this issue is a filler, likely produced rather quicker than the norm. So well done to the artists for making it look as decent as it does, in fact, all the creatives for ensuring ‘The Road Least Travelled’ is a diverting read.
John Cassaday’s cover illustration is my favourite of the Grounded storyline, as much for the lettering and David Baron’s colours as for the composition and execution. I won’t let the presence of Sad Superman get me down – I’m used to him by now.