Superman is dead. Lois Lane is dead. And Lana Lang will soon be dead if she doesn’t use her new powers as Superwoman to survive the attack of not one, but two shape-changing Bizarros.
Lex Luthor, self-proclaimed true Superman of Metropolis, fails to rush to Lana’s side, his Apokolips-tinged power suit having been turned off by someone who seems to have a vendetta against him.
Lana does have two allies in the second part of Who Killed Superwoman? There’s John Henry Irons, aka hammer-wielding hero Steel, who’s been her boyfriend for some time; and his niece Natasha, who has her own metal superhero suit. An inventor like her uncle, Natasha also has a new outfit for Lana, in case the powers she somehow inherited from the dying New 52 Superman vanish as quickly as they appeared.
Now there’s a nod to older fans, Lana having been Insect Queen several times in past continuities. We also get a couple of classic Bronze Age Superman villains. Writer/artist Phil Jimenez is a proper fanboy, full of affection for stories of days gone by, but he’s also a proper creator, adding to the Superman Legend rather than simply re-telling old stories in new clothes.
So he’s going us a new spin on the Lana/Lois rivalry. New relationships such as Lana and Metropolis Special Crimes Unit chief Maggie Sawyer, and ‘Aunt Lana’ and Natasha. He’s adding characters such as SCU man Clayton, the as-yet-unnamed beat cop who lends John Henry support, and journalists George and Nadidah. They may not all wind up playing big parts in the story, but they add to the texture of the book as Jimenez makes Metropolis itself a character.
There’s action aplenty, the mystery of who’s out to get Lex, romance, even humour as one of those classic multiple reaction shots…
… includes includes a blow-up Big Belly Burger mascot. There are more gags, but you should encounter them yourself, enjoy them in context.
Jimenez has plotted out his dense story with the craft of a veteran and instinct of a born comics creator, and he works hard to give his players distinct voices. His pencilling partner, one Phil Jimenez, produces page after page of great storytelling, with the emotions as dynamic as the fight scenes. He’s aided by artistic partners Matt Santorelli and Joe Prado, strong inkers who yet don’t overwhelm Jimenez, and colourist Jeromy Cox, a man who knows how to tone for maximum drama. Rob Leigh doesn’t get to show off much with his lettering, but without him this would be a pretty weird comic, and he does get to do some great work on the story title.
Add in a super-creepy cover by Jimenez and Steve Downer, and a lovely variant from Terry and Rachel Dodson, and you have a hugely attractive, compelling comic book. Five weeks ago, there was no Superwoman – today, it’s one one the best comic books around.