Lois Lane #1 review

Lois Lane is on the case. She’s investigating government wrongdoing from her base in a Chicago hotel, but has one big concern.

Later, talking to Daily Planet editor Perry White, Lois gets some disturbing news.

Wanting to learn the truth behind Voronova’s death, Lois brings in a contact.

Next morning, after a conjugal visit from her husband, a morning walk is interrupted by a passer-by giving his opinion of Mrs Clark Kent’s recent public behaviour, motivating a tough conversation.

In Russia, The Question – Renee Montoya variety – investigates the death of Voronova.

And in Washington DC, Lois closes in on a dodgy government mouthpiece.

Well, that was a Greg Rucka comic. Hard-drinking characters, a swear word never far from their lips, in a political thriller. A supposed good guy murdering an assumed bad guy. A character spouting unbelievable, irrelevant dialogue to show off the writer’s research.

As a lifelong fan who adored Lois’ Silver and Bronze Age book, I so wanted to love this comic. As it was, I like parts of it. When Rucka is good, he’s great. The scene with Perry White rings true, he actually sounds like an editor, which is rare. The chemistry between Lois and Clark is undeniable. Lois at the press conference is terrific.

But there’s just as much I’m really not keen on. Lois implied to be a heavy boozer. The Question as surprise co-star. Son Jon namechecked but not given a moment’s thought by his parents.

It’s not like I want Lois to be a saint. She’s been shown as difficult previously, most notably in the brilliant Mindy Newell/Gray Morrow micro-series of the Eighties (which this issue echoes in featuring Clark, but not Superman). In the Golden Age she liked a drink when out on the town with that milksop Kent. But she’s never been someone for whom a well-stocked minibar is an essential. She’s never been one to keep secrets from her husband. And having spent years trying to net Superman, it’s unbelievable that having nabbed him she’s spent months living apart from the man she loves, with no end in sight. Yes, the situation was set up by Brian Bendis over in Action Comics, but I suspect it was at Rucka’s behest – he’s really ramping up the hard-ass hack bit, the notion that a partner is someone for sex, not companionship.

When DC Rebirth began we had a Lois who was a writer, but also a wife and mother; now her son is off-panel and about to be exiled to the 32nd century, and her husband is an inconvenience. The beautiful stories of the Superman Family have been pretty much disavowed so Lois can be a gritty solo character.

How much more interesting would it be to see Lois and Clark continuing to balance their lunatic lives with being good parents to a Super-Son?

Judging this comic for what it is, a piece of political noir featuring a version of Lois Lane, it’s pretty decent. I’m all for powerful personalities getting their time in the spotlight. But does Lois have to be a Ruckawoman? We already have the damaged charisma of Renee Montoya on display. Having recently been shown by Bendis to be a secret smoker, will Lois be joining The Question in some superhero smoking room?

Something I have no complaints about is the art of illustrator Mike Perkins and colourist Paul Mounts. Perkins’ characters are consistent, they move through a realistic world, the action scenes are unashamedly messy and brutal. Mounts’ tones add to the naturalistic feel, and I like the subtle way he adds accents of purple, a colour that’s become something of a Lois signature, to the pages. Perkins’ cover is stunning. And the lettering of Simon Bowland is as effective as it is unobtrusive.

Do my problems come down to a bad case of ‘not my Lois’? Yes and no. I’d argue that this isn’t my Lois, but neither is it DC’s Lois – certainly not the character we’ve known for decades.

That said, I’ll be back next month… hey, Lois Lane has a book again. There’s top talent on it. I’ve only read Chapter One. Who says I won’t be pleasantly surprised as the story gathers momentum?

14 thoughts on “Lois Lane #1 review

  1. The atmospheric boozing like an old black and white movie doesn’t work at all. It’s not just “not my Lois” but it’s not Lois. This isn’t Dex from Stumptown or Renee (I didn’t like how booze was used in that either). Heck, we’ve met, you know I like my booze. However the way it was used here made no sense.

    Lois isn’t a jaded lonely single reporter. She has a husband. She’s also a parent not a twenty something. Even if this used to be a habit it would have long been broken because of responsibilities of being a parent. It has been bothering me no end the way both Superman and Lois have been written around Jon because this is their child and their reaction to what has been going on doesn’t ring true to them as characters and just in general. As a parent of older kids, one a legal adult the other about to be one next year, I can safely attest that there isn’t a magic off switch for mom (or dad) mode.

    I really like the framework of journalism used to expose corruption, especially considering the current state of affairs globally let alone here in the US. However this was an uneven first chapter. I hope it gets better.

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    1. Great points, thanks Maya. The circumstances of Jon’s growth spurt were so weird that I’d expect his parents to be mourning, in a sense; certainly I’d expect them to be holding him close now he’s returned. But he’s nowhere.

      And now Lois has some space secret?

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  2. I enjoyed this immensely as well. The name Rucka on the cover warned me what side of Lois would dominate tho’. I’m okay with that. Tomasi made her just a mom and that was fine. This is just the other side given dominance. Rucka’s good but he’s no Bendis so I didn’t expect the balance we get with Lois’s character that Action and Superman give us.

    Renee in costume was no surprise in Russia and would have been less of a surprise even if I’d paid attention to the silhouette she Lois was speaking to in the panel you featured. Multiple Questions is very cool with me since i t could give us an actual tag line in the comic about ‘there being many questions out there’…

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts Steve. I remember when I saw that cover advertised The Question seemed likely. I really hope Renee doesn’t hang around. I like her as a cop, not a legacy hero.

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  3. I love the question “But does Lois have to be a Ruckawoman?” I’m reminded of an old Dave Cockrum interview (in Amazing Heroes, I think) in which he says he doesn’t think Claremont writes strong female voices all that well because all of his strong female voices sound the same.

    Although I still love me some Claremontwoman & some Ruckawoman. 😉

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  4. “he’s really ramping up the hard-ass hack bit, the notion that a partner is someone for sex, not companionship.”

    I noted this as well. Superman will be there for the shag, Clark Kent will be there to be the cuckcolded husband, but there will be no genuine intimacy, romance, or love between them.

    It’s a dodgy prospect, as with a character like Lois Lane, especially with no one wanting to be accused of an inability to write “strong female characters”, which just sounds ridiculous in 2019, certain boxes need to checked, perhaps to the exclusion of a good story or a genuinely intriguing Lois Lane. . .let alone a likeable one.

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    1. It is weird that, with Lois and Clark, DC have really gone back to the New 52 notion that heroes can’t be married… well, they can be married, but they can’t live together or be seen to have a kid?

      Honestly, I’d rather the Jurgens/Tomasi/Mahnke Superman Family were given their own Earth than be split up like this I mean, I’m enjoying the Bendis’ Action lots, but it didn’t need Jon aged and (presumably) as good as exiled, and Lois and Clark split up to work.

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  5. After reading your review I wasn’t sure I would like this.
    But I quite enjoyed it.
    Honestly, I think you’re making too much of Lois and the mini-bar. I was imagining scene after scene of Lois with red rimmed eyes… constantly blotto… one step away from alcoholism…
    and this wasn’t that.
    She’s a lady that likes her drink. And goofs around with the cleaning stuff about it. No big deal to me.
    At least, that’s how I read it.
    The art is too grim and gritty for me… but it suits the tone of the series. I may not like the current weird situation with Lois and Clark and Superman (she’s cheating on her husband with her husband? and they’re living separate lives, but still happily married), but on the whole… Rucka made all the various weirdnesses of the set-up work within the book. Different series focus on different aspects of different characters and I’m quite content to have this series focus on Lois the investigative reporter (knowing that there is far more to her).

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  6. I’m sorry this Lois isn’t hitting the right notes for you. I’m fine with the swearing and occasional smoking. Less thrilled with the drinking if she’s downing a fifth of whiskey every night (but I prefer to read it as Murray does, as banter with Alejandra that plays into the hard-drinking reporter stereotype, rather than Lois getting hammered every night). But man, do I love the bare-knuckle grit Lois has in this issue. She’s gonna take no prisoners. I’m all in.

    As for Jon — I like to think those conversations happen off-panel in this book. Not every book can cover everything, and I’d rather get a page of Lois taking down Sara Huckabee Sanders, or the conversation Lois and Clark have on slut-shaming, than a page of discussion of Jon in space, if he’s not going to be in the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, I agree — a background photo on her desk wouldn’t derail the story.

      That said, do you go with Young Jon? Older Jon? Would there have even have been time for a photo of older Jon by now? Maybe a photo of her, Clark, and Baby Jon is the way to go — clearly setting the photo in the past, rather than potentially confusing readers about Jon’s in-continuity age.

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