THIS WEEK: Let’s talk about how enjoyable this Lois Lane solo series is! Also: the lovable misfits of the Doom Patrol are back.
Note: the reviews below contain 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 verdict.
Lois Lane #3
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Continuing on the foundation laid by Brian Bendis in Action Comics, this story places the Daily Planet squarely in the modern world. We’ve seen plenty of previous attempts to update the Planet (along with the portrayal of journalism in general), but none as convincing as what we’re seeing in Lois Lane.
In this book, the world is a chaotic place where truth is not always easy to recognize. Or sometimes the truth is easily guessed, but it’s difficult to get people to admit it out loud and on record. Lois is doing what she does best — working every lead, following the money, getting to the hard truth by any means necessary. She’s been following the story of a Soviet dissident who supposedly committed suicide. When Lois pushes on a lead a little too far, bullets start flying and Superman pops his head in to see if everything’s okay.
The relationship between Clark and Lois is written as a partnership between true equals. He often takes the lead when his family’s security is threatened, but in the moments between crises Lois helps Clark to navigate a world full of people unlike himself. Like any couple, they fight and have difficult conversations. But it all stays above the belt and they trust each other completely. In this issue we get to see the fairest of fights, as Lois lovingly scolds Clark over the course of a romantic flight over the Chicago skyline.
Renee Montoya is a brilliant addition to this story. It makes so much sense to have Lois handing off assignments to Renee for investigation. They make a great pair: a cop who doesn’t always play by the rules and a journalist who barely seems to notice rules. Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first time since FlashPoint that we’ve seen Renee moonlighting as The Question, and doesn’t it just feel right? This issue even brings Montoya face-to-face (so to speak) with her mentor Vic Sage, and it looks like Greg Rucka just sneakily restored the 2006 series 52 into continuity.
The page art here really captures the grimy, gloomy mood of Chicago at night. You can almost feel the sticky air and smell the lake. The use of panel overlays is clever and draws the eye toward the action. It’s a dark book, with a lot of black on the page. The boldest pop of color by far is Superman’s billowing red cape. Lois & Clark’s nighttime flight is especially gorgeous, with the glow of the city radiating through the mists that circle the lovebirds. Also cool: Question fight!
I won’t go into my theories about where this story may ultimately be headed, but I think this one has the potential to get explosive. Lois has already admitted to her husband that she’s hiding something big from him and waiting for the right time to reveal it. Knowing what we do about her character, the real question is how far will she go? At the very least, we know that Lois Lane will continue to fight for truth, put herself and Renee in danger repeatedly, and look good doing it.
Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #3
Written by: Gerard Way, Jeremy Lambert, Steve Orlando
Art by: Evan “Doc” Shaner
Colors by: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by: Simon Bowland
I am so happy about the resurgence of the Young Animal imprint. For a moment there, it wasn’t altogether clear if it would return after the wrap-up of the post-Milk Wars titles. And to be honest, DC’s strategy around imprints still seems to be evolving. But here we are, with new titles Collapser and (soon) Far Sector. And of course a return to Doom Patrol.
Doom Patrol is about a team of super-powered outcasts with unconventional abilities. The reason Doom Patrol works is that its ideas don’t quite make sense. Here, I’ll give you an example: The character Danny is both an ambulance and the magical theme park inside that ambulance. Discuss.
The many absurdities in this book have a curious effect on the brain. In order to follow a story about a sentient ambulance-slash-theme park, you’ve got to turn off that part of your mind that asks logical questions (like: wait, what?) and take on a ‘just roll with it’ attitude. Once you’ve relaxed into that permissive mindspace, the story becomes both more playful and incredibly enjoyable.
This issue, #3 of the series, is written as if it was a reprint of a comic many issues in the future (both the original and its reprint are in the future from our point of view). The narration boxes remind us of events that “happened” in comics we’ve not yet seen. The characters have all obviously had some life-changing arcs in the decade of issues that were skipped. We’re told that Flex Mentallo “heroed himself into oblivion” and then the editor points us to the 96th issue of this series for more information. Casey seems to be in control of Jane’s body and Robotman became a robot planet. Don’t ask questions, just roll with it.
It’s probable that this flash-forward thing is just a one-issue flourish and we’ll be back to the regular story next month. But regular doesn’t mean normal.
Beyond the absurd leanings of the book, another thing that makes Doom Patrol work so well is all of the brilliantly bizarre powers and backgrounds the team members have. Crazy Jane is a woman with multiple personalities, all of whom hang out in The Underground (the neighborhood of her subconscious, roughly) when not driving. Larry shares his body with an alien energy being. Whenever the alien leaves the body, Larry falls unconscious and experiences entire human lifetimes that feel real to him. Rita is a shapeshifting space-Christ. You know, the regular. Throw all these guys in a room together and watch the fun.
The quality of the writing and art on this book has been solid all the way through the first season’s 12 issues and the few we have of the Weight of the Worlds volume so far (which, if you’re counting, are #1, #2, and a reprint of #172). The creative team seems in flux, but that may be by design. There were two credited writers on the first two issues, three on this one, and a completely new team announced for November’s issue #5. Shaner and Bonvillain provide the beautiful art for this issue, with extra-bold linework and a neon glow showing through the blues and purples of the future scenes. It’s a different art team than the issue before it or either of the two issues that follow. Again, this may all be by design. Like the Doom Patrol, the story is brought to you by a rotating crew of lovable misfits who just want to make the world a little weirder and better.
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