Superman #22 review

Lois Kent is worried. Husband Clark, son Jon and family friends Bruce and Damian have gone missing. And whatever can stop Superman, Superboy, Batman and Robin returning begs to be investigated. Luckily, Lois Kent is also Lois Lane, one of the world’s top investigative reporters. 
Outside her home, the tree often occupied by Jon and his friend Kathy burns. And beside it…
Taking the no-longer-burning twig, she leaves the family farm to see what’s been going on in Hamilton. Clark, Jon and Damian defended the town against a giant squid monster, and beat it, so why hasn’t she heard from them? Are they still looking for Batman, who vanished earlier? Have they been kidnapped? Or worse? In town, Lois’ instincts, as honed a weapon as any super-power, kick in. 
Realising there’s a massive conspiracy – is the entire community a honeypot to snag her family? – Lois rushes back home, where the town’s worthies are waiting. They underestimate ‘Mrs Kent’. 
Earlier in the comic I thought, shame she’s not got that amped-up Bat-Gauntlet from the Eradicator adventure on the moon handy, and here it is. This isn’t a deux ex machina – for one thing, it doesn’t entirely save the day – it’s writers Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason playing fair with the reader. There’s a callback to an even earlier issue, the first, in fact, in departed cat Goldie’s grave; I don’t see the clue in the burning memorial, but I’m not the reporter Lois is.  
By the end of this third chapter of the Black Dawn story, Lois has impressed even more, reminding us that her survival instincts easily match her reporter’s chops. Superman, meanwhile, comes across a shocking sight…
I’m getting dangerously close to taking the quality of this series for granted. It’s been almost a year and there honestly hasn’t been a bad issue. Even the one I had most qualms about, the debut in which Jon accidentally fried Goldie, looks set to have a different light shone on it. Last issue we learnt that neighbour Kathy isn’t as innocent as she seems, and has some kind of mind powers; I wonder if Jon losing control of his heat vision and killing the kitty wasn’t an accident, but a deliberate act to unsettle him. She was standing just yards away, ready to introduce herself.   

I read innocence into her expression, but it could easily be the concentration of a demon child. 

The storytelling team of Gleason and Tomasi, in their work here and with the Batman Family, have developed an enviable partnership; they understand one another, and their characters, meaning we get brilliantly crafted stories in which events feel organic, the players real. The credits don’t point to a single scripter – once I would have assumed Tomasi, with Gleason having co-plotted, but I’m not so sure at this point. Again, these guys are storytellers – even when Gleason isn’t pencilling, as is the case this time, his visual sensibilities will be informing the script, and Tomasi, similarly, has been around long enough to have an equal hand on the storytelling tiller. 
Doug Mahnke, this series’ main alternate penciller, is back for this instalment, and he’s always welcome. His style is a little less rounded than Gleason’s but not so different that it jars – the pencillers complement one another. I suspect Mahnke is a big fan of Lois, given the care he puts into every shot. 
Also impressive is the rural eeriness of the neighbours gathered in the Kent parlour, there’s a sinister Ira Levin vibe. As for the action sequences, they fair sizzle. Inkers Jaime Mendoza  & Ray McCarthy, and colourist Wil Quintana add further layers of goodness, while indefatigable letterer Rob Leigh adds emotion with his fonts and placement. 
Both covers are great – illustrator Ryan Sook’s main shot of Clark, and penciller Jorge Jimenez and colourist Alejandro Sanchez’ variant of Jon are majorly moody – but heck, where’s the star of the show? Forget that ‘Superman’ logo, this is Lois’ issue – having her on the variant, one of her classic mastheads atop an image of the ace investigator, would have been lovely. 
Still, the main thing is, this is a splendid showcase for one of comics’ top characters – who knows, it may be a step to getting Lois back in her own series. 
**** 8/10

13 thoughts on “Superman #22 review

  1. I picked up the Jon cover…but you're absolutely right: This should've been Lois's time to claim the cover spot.

    An excellent, exciting issue. I'm at a loss about Goldie's grave marker as much as you, but time will tell. And I loved the very appropriate shout-out to Ira Levin in your review!


  2. Loved this issue for all you say. Seems like the whole town has been set up to be a sweet Smallville-analog to lure them in. But this is Lois in all her glory, investigating, throwing kicks, using her wits, and just being generally brill.

    I guess this reveal that the whole town is evil makes my 'Kathy is Halo' guess a wash.

    The main thing is, as you say, this book has been great since Rebirth. Wonderful!


  3. Love the commentary. I'm pretty sure I don't want to see Lois in her own series right now, as they just got her and Superman back together. Tomasi has done a great job of making Superman, Lois, and Jon, a family, without having to “Mary Sue” Lois so she's involved in every aspect and adventure. Same for Jon. For now, I'm happy with the status quo. . .now that we actually have one.


  4. You notice how a positive portrayal of Lois throughout a whole issue gets almost no comments while a page or two of her serving her man gets tons? This is classic internet right here…


  5. Sorry Martin!! Life with two teenagers, work and this political debacle has me behind. I did tweet about how happy I was about this but I did neglect to leave a comment.

    This issue was much more like it. I was happy to see Lois more involved with the story. I've been enjoying Action too though I haven't read the latest (will try to catch up this weekend).


  6. In case you think I'm making this up, here is the tweet! Anj replied to it but I think you missed it.

    FYI? These past couple weeks in to the next month has been and will be crazy. I think last you saw the kids, the boy was just starting high school? I can't remember. In a couple weeks he ends his Junior year.

    The past couple weeks he had a bunch of AP tests and the SATs. Finals are on the horizon for next week. I haven't been to the comic book store this week so I haven't read anything. Action was out right? I hope to get there this weekend. But I don't know that I will.

    So give me a shout out on Facebook or twitter if you feel there is something important I should read or comment on. I can't promise I will make much more than a “tweet” like comment as I did for Superman 22 though. But as you can see I did acknowledge it. Because contrary to the implication? I do acknowledge when things address what I've previously criticized.


  7. Between work, life, and all the political turmoil here in the states, comics and other things have been set aside.
    I had dropped the book but got this when you mentioned it. Just got around to reading it.
    This is more like it! This looks like they're finally figuring out Lois. It's still too decompressed for my tastes, and I'd have liked some footnote to explain the glove (fortunately I have you ��), but this is the best issue I've seen from this team.
    If they have seeds going all the way back to issue 1, I have new respect. (Don't think I'll run out to get the rest of the series just yet, mind you, but I'll follow through with this story at least.)


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