In which we learn the identity of the woman who tried to kill herself a few issues ago.
The Question, Renee Montoya, sorts out a snoopy photographer.
Lois is challenged by Renee about her recently very public private life.
Renee flirts with someone about whom she should actually be very suspicious.
Lois isn’t impressed by Renee’s evidence gathering.
And, yep, the maid was dodgy.
Mr Bones dodgy?
OK, that’s probably not the boss of DCU superhero surveillance organisation the DEO. For one thing, around the time this story is set, he’s slap bang in the middle of the Leviathan mess. For another, invisible skin or not, he’s pretty manly.
Still, the appearance of a skull-faced would-be killer is the most interesting aspect of another very drawn-out issue. Do we really need so much naturalistic chat when there are just 22 pages to play with? The business with Renee questioning Lois about her apparent cheating on Clark has been overtaken by events in Brian Bendis’ Superman books, in which the secret identity has been revealed to the world. What it actually does is emphasise what a terrible detective Renee is – it really doesn’t cross her mind that perhaps the two powerfully built brunettes into Lois are the same guy?
That flirting scene with ‘Molly’ makes the Question, a former police detective, look even dumber… unfamiliar maid found in hotel room going against Lois’s express instructions not to touch it and she lets her just wander off? Lois doesn’t look too bright, either… this is an award-winning investigative reporter and neither does she have the instincts to suspect the stranger? Poor old regular maid Alejandra is likely choking to death in the broom closet… Brothers-in-podcasting Hub and Cory of the Titan up the Defense show, a fantastically funny look at New Teen Titans and Defenders comics, have a section in which they ask ‘who just had to be a sucker?’, that is, act outside their established characterisation in order to move the story along. In this case, it’s definitely Renee and Lois, and it harms the story.
I don’t even know why Lois has Renee working for her – Lois is the investigative hack, it’s her name in the cover, she should have a lot more agency in this series. Well, I know why The Question is in here, Renee is one of writer Greg Rucka’s favourite characters… I just don’t know what the in-story need is. If Lois doesn’t feel able to get the dirt herself, she could have her husband – who has super-powers and a degree in journalism – help her, not a minor league vigilante. Lois is either fiercely independent or she isn’t.
I’d love to have had more with Jessica Midnight – a former Checkmate agent, apparently – and Sister Clarice, or more likely, ‘Sister Clarice’. The Leviathan business is much more interesting to me than the stuff about someone ordering a hit on Lois – this is Lois Lane, when wouldn’t there be a contract out on her? – or the series’ apparently forgotten plotline involving Russian gangsters.
Rucka is very good at what he does – convoluted spy and politics in a superhero universe – but I wish he’d do it at a faster pace; this maxi-series will likely read well when collected, but as a monthly serial it’s losing my interest.
So, what did I like? The scene with Clark worrying about what people think when Superman snogs Lois is very well done (though it’s repeating ground already well covered in previous issues). And the art by illustrator Mike Perkins and colourist Gabe Eltaeb remains stunning, with this issue’s particular highlight being a splash page meeting of Renee and Superman.
I guess my main problem is that while Rucka’s comic work has many fans, it simply doesn’t chime with me; the decompressed pace, the subject matter, the assumption we’ve all read his previous comics work… I like my comics to provide a balance of action, soap and intrigue, and while we’re getting the latter two here, it’s taking far too long to get to the point – 12 issues are likely at least four too many for the amount of story Rucka has.
But I’ll keep reading because, well, I’ve loved Lois Lane all my life. The cranky, messy-minded, super-stubborn version we’re getting here isn’t my favourite, but if I don’t support this series, we may not get another – and I might like that one more.