WRITER: Grace Ellis
ILLUSTRATED BY: Brittney L. Williams
COLORED BY: Caitlin Quirk
LETTERED BY: Ariana Maher
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
In this charming middle grade graphic novel, readers are introduced to a young Lois Lane who is still searching for her path. Yet, while this may seem like a straightforward set-up – she becomes a reporter, right – this delightful comic nevertheless manages to sneak in some outstanding surprises that are likely to catch any reader off-guard and leave them eager for a sequel.
BREAKING NEWS: THE FRIENDSHIP CHALLENGE
Lois is on a quest to make a #FriendshipChallenge video for her VidMe channel, “Lois! Camera! Action!” While Lois wants to be in the spotlight, she hasn’t quite figured out why.
As implied above, there’s never really any question about Lois’s fate: we all assume she’s going to end up being a star reporter. Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge knows that this is Lois’s ultimate destiny, and it knows that you probably know that, too. As such, the story focuses on more deeply examining why Lois wants to be a reporter.
In order to answer this question, the graphic novel examines the purpose of journalism. One of the clever elements of the story is the way that it initially casts Lois as a skeptic so far as becoming a journalist goes. This gives the protagonist the opportunity to voice some of her misgivings with the idea of being a journalist – and it gives the story the chance to help her better understand exactly what it is a journalist actually does.
The comic accomplishes this goal through the character of Henri, a college student who is home in the town of Liberty View for the summer. She’s interning at the Liberty View Daily Patriot, and she appears at key points throughout the story to offer Lois guidance and insight. She helps Lois (and by extension readers) understand why journalism is essential for the survival and welfare of a community.
In spite of the important, factual nature of the insights Henri offers about journalism, Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge never comes across as preachy. In part, this is because Henri is a realistic and believable character: she talks exactly like you would expect an interning college student who is passionate about journalism to communicate. However, the other part comes from the text allowing Lois to be very wrong about some of her assumptions regarding journalism, and Henri serves as a great foil that teaches the younger character about the importance of the news.
Passionate About Bikes
Meanwhile, another subplot involves a bike race that has led to a rift between two local bicycle shops: Wheel Fun and Cyclone Bikes. While Cyclone Bikes is a cutting edge store filled with the newest technology, Wheel Fun is a long-standing pillar of the community that has small town charm to spare. When Mrs. Ramirez, the owner of Wheel Fun, receives a letter threatening to steal the fireworks for the bike race unless she withdraws her sponsorship for the even, she immediately blames Jana, the young owner of the new bike shop.
Without being too specific about the outcome of the story’s mystery, Mrs. Ramirez and Jana’s issues eventually come to a head. Mrs. Ramirez, the established bike store owner, feels as though her business is being threatened by Jana. However, Jana admires the work that Mrs. Ramirez has done, and only wants to contribute to the world of bikes in her own way. Eventually, the pair realizes that their shared passion for bicycles should be a foundation for a friendship, not a bitter rivalry.
This subplot is an important one for readers of all ages, and in comics – where established creators can sometimes feel threatened by new, up and coming creators – it’s an especially valuable lesson.
Pictures that belong on the front page
I don’t need to tell anyone who has seen the art of Brittney Williams before what to expect from the visual aspects of this graphic novel: adorable art (including an irresistible feline), stylish outfits, and plenty of close-ups on the expressive, emotive characters. Plus, this comic includes several “cartoon-style” visual gags that will keep the reader chuckling, from optic antics with a pair of binoculars to some really superb cat reactions.
In addition to the excellent artwork and the impressively balanced story, the brightly colored chapter and table of contents pages make this graphic novel an attractive, polished package. And while I don’t want to mention the twist of Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge here (trust me, you’ll want to read it for yourself), it makes a sequel essentially compulsory. Plus, with the comic being the perfect size to be sold at grocery stores alongside Archie Comics digests, there’s no excuse for this graphic novel not to be at the top of your to-read list.