THIS WEEK: Three stories inform add depth to the world of Superman & Lois in Earth-Prime #2.
Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Writers: Jai Jamison, Adam Mallinger, Andrew N. Wong
Penciller: Tom Grummett
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Kim Jacinto
First things first, the thing that excited me most when this issue got solicited was getting to see some new Superman art from my all-time favorite Superman artist, Tom Grummett. I espoused Grummett’s art many times over the course of my “The Never-Ending Battle” series, and that praise holds up here. This issue is exemplary and feels like Grummett never actually left the character. However it was a bit weird to see him drawing a Superman with perennial five o’clock shadow and a Lois with straight hair, but both of them were still undeniably the versions of the characters that he made me fall in love with thirty years ago.
However, a close second for things I was excited about is that one of the writers for this issue was Superman & Lois staff writer Adam Mallinger (aka BittrScrptReadr on Twitter). Adam’s been a part of the writing staff for the entirety of the show’s run, and his love for the characters of Superman and Lois Lane are apparent in everything he does. I’ve been following Mallinger for years, and have taken many great insights about Superman from him during that time. We’ve even bonded over our shared love of the Triangle Era, his liking of my series was one of the biggest compliments I could imagine.
Like the Batwoman issue two weeks ago, this issue has multiple stories set in the universe of its particular corner of the CW DC Universe. The first one is a really fun and romantic story about why Lois and Clark celebrate their anniversary late every year. It’s a story of each of them trying their best but also continuing to get tied up in their other obligations, be it saving the world or being the world’s greatest investigative journalist. It’s a really cute look at how both of them work hard to make their unique relationship work as well as it does. And in this story, Grummett got to flex a bit and draw some great Superman splash pages. If you’d have told me a year ago that I’d be getting a Tom Grummett drawn page of Superman fighting Nuclear Man? I’d never have believed you. On top of that, Mallinger and Grummett brought in some real deep cuts from Tom’s time on The Adventures of Superman in the early 1990s. I never thought I’d see Loophole or Hi-Tech again, let alone in the same issue.
But the story that really got to me out of this issue was the second of the three stories. This story was a tribute to two fathers, one fictional and one less so. At its core, this story was about the values that Pa Kent instilled in a young Clark, especially respect for the value of the news, and the power of reporters to change the world. Before that though, it opens with a scene that parallels 2013’s Man of Steel. In that film, a young Clark Kent risks his secret by saving his fellow students after their school bus goes off a bridge. Afterward, there’s a conversation between Pa Kent and Clark that never really sat well with me because it goes against everything I loved about Pa from the 1990s. Clark asks Kevin Costner’s Pa if he should have just let his fellow students die, and Pa responds “Maybe, but there’s more at stake here than our lives or the lives of those around us.” The Pa Kent I grew up with would have never made that comment, and neither does the Pa Kent in this story. On the opening page, Clark saves a smaller child from getting hit by a bus, and in a flip of the conversation from Man of Steel, Clark apologizes for maybe jeopardizing his secret, while Pa is the one who responds “What were you supposed to do, Clark? Just let him get hit?” This is the Pa Kent I grew up with, the one that instilled the right values in Clark Kent to make him the hero that I’ve loved for thirty years.
The remainder of the second tale is about the power of reporters and Clark’s struggle to live up to his father’s expectations. It’s about how he doesn’t know if Pa would really approve of his flashy deeds in spandex and a cape, but about how Clark hopes that he’s done his dad proud. Not by being a superhero, but by making a name for himself as a journalist.
But more than just a story about how Pa inspired Clark, this was a deeply personal story for Adam Mallinger to tell. Mallinger lost his father in 2020 due to Covid complications, something he’s been incredibly open about on Twitter. As such, his dad never got to see his son’s name in the credits of a show about the character that meant so much to him. But much like Pa and Clark’s first solo by-line, I’m sure that Stuart Mallinger is incredibly proud of what his son has accomplished, and will be even more proud of what’s to come in the future.
The final story is the one that ties this book into the overarching Earth-Prime series plot, with an origin of the evil Superman from John Henry Irons’ Earth. It actually gives readers a lot of insight into that version of Superman and does a great job of selling his motivation. It’s also the part of this book that requires the most knowledge of the show because it hinges on readers knowing certain plot points to really follow what’s going on.
All in all, this book is well worth the cover price due in part to the very emotional stories by a great team of writers. Much like the writing room that they come out of, this was a concentrated group effort, but there are certainly places where certain voices were distinct. I haven’t followed either Jai Jamison or Andrew K. Wong for as long as I have Mallinger, so their takes on the character aren’t as evident to me, but this book was seamless between the three of them. Coupled with great Tom Grummett art throughout, this book is an absolute must-buy for Superman fans. Getting to see him draw both a teenage Clark again (remember Superboy #8 where young Clark fought as yet unnamed Kon-El? That issue’s a highlight of my childhood), as was getting to see him draw Superman in the Fleischer suit that made a brief appearance in the pilot episode of the show. I can’t recommend this book enough.
- Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #2 continues its hot streak as a book playing a little looser with continuity set sometime in the past of both crime fighters’ careers. This issue completely won me over on the strength of the Robin and Supergirl interaction alone. I would pay good money to have a one-shot dedicated just to their horrifying first date.
- Nightwing #91is the second part of a really fun Nightwing and Flash team-up, and does a great job of showing the friendship the two characters have. Tom Taylor excels at quippy humor, and this issue was no exception.
- Tini Howard’s first arc of Catwoman comes to a close with issue #42, and she has already established herself as one of the best writers Selina has ever had. Howard’s Catwoman is relentlessly feminine and unabashedly queer, and this first arc did a fantastic play on a revenge story.
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