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Subj: Superman #31 - Lois Lane:Hunting The World's Deadliest....
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 at 06:45:36 pm EDT (Viewed 98 times)
Everybody loves Lois Lane... well, at least, I assume everyone likes Lois Lane. Everyone's opinion belongs to themselves after all, but I would still be completely unhesitant to claim that Lois Lane is a very popular character and without doubt a vital element to the appeal of the Superman books, in particular the Superman who returned to us those two to three years ago. From onetime gadfly and unrequited love interest to willful but supportive wife, here in the modernday Lois Lane is the anchor to the Superman books it is fair to say.
So heading into Superman #31 and an always welcome 'Lois Lane goes solo' story why is it that this issue failed to remotely convince me?
It all starts in an atypical fashion at least, some lone hostage taker who we learn isn't an altogether bad person, just a poor unfortunate man with too much pressure laid onto him and a conscience that won't allow him to let a point of principle go unchallenged, even if this is completely the wrong way to go about taking a moral stand. But with the very first page setting up the situation - of the hostage building surrounded by the authorities
- the sudden explosive entrance on the final panel, and the second page with a full-size and threatening Superman stood revealed in the huge hole he has made to gain entry, the entire rationale of his doing such a thing, and the lack of considerate thought given by Superman here, feels off. Hostage situations such as this are not at all an unusual situation to the Metropolis Marvel. In previous such incidents his preffered actions are to either duly clear the building at super-speed, or approach the offender with an open hand and in full faith. So why arrive at this latest situation by imposing an immediate and terrifying show of force, then offer a conciliatory hand of compassion to a man whom he clearly knows by name feels very much out of character for the compassionate hero that is Superman. For the rest of the scene things progress very much in keeping with his usual behaviour and response to such situations, But this opening niggle is indicative to the flaws and ludicrous lapses in logic that are to come, as Lois Lane sets about hunting down the worlds most secretive and dangerous assassin - Deathstroke.
Writer James Bonny is new to the Superman book, possibly a fill-in, possibly not, so one has to accept that plotting a two part story is going to offer challenges and limitations. But while Keith Champagne proved such a thing is perfectly possible to do well over the previous two issues James Bonny's plotting here only goes to highlight just how capable a writer and plotter Champagne was.
It isn't explained why an experienced and worldly Lois Lane would be willing or able to take junior cameraman Jimmy Olsen with her to the remotest areas of South America to pursue a notorious and extremely dangerous Drugs Lord who has agreed to give her an interview. In an awkwardly structured introductory page the exposition is rather painful as Lois tells (reminds?) Jimmy why they are here driving a jeep through rough remote hillsides to meet with a man who kills people out of business and pleasure while photographing the entire despicable act. Quite why Lois and novice Jimmy are driving into this potentially lethal meeting with no support or route of escape is also left undocumented. So let us leave common sense and logic out of it a moment and marvel at the authorial power of coincidence in James Bonny's story here, as while explaining again(?) why they have come all the way to the back-ends of South America all alone for an interview in the middle of nowhere with a dangerous Drugs cartel godfather what are the odds that the two come across the man and his posse, all massacred and waiting for them. And fancy the man himself, Mr Carlos Gorzman, had his camera with him and kindly got the footage of his own murder for her, by the elusive near mythical assassin Lois recognises as being Deathstroke.
All of that occurs on just one page. It's a lot to put across in such a short space certainly but the problem wasn't in the condensed nature of the exposition and timing, it lies in the lack of anything that is logical or plausible in the pages shown events. The fact that it is this nonsensical journey into almost certain life-threatening terrain and then the convenient footage of the secretive (very) Deathstroke are the further bricks on the road to an equally unlikely climax by issues end. But for now at least the scene does move away and shift to the more assuring locale of the Daily Planet offices, and a returned Lois cheerily informing her editor in chief that her aborted big fish being dead on arrival she now intends to go for an interview with the man who terminated him and his utterly immoral mercenary crew. She intends to "Get inside the mind of a killer... What makes him tick... how he lives with himself." Perry thinks it's "pretty damn dangerous", presumably then allowing his willful star reporter to go off solo, and take his junior 'cub' reporter/cameraman with her, to enter the far flung corners of the Bolivian wilderness to confront an unpredictable blood-soaked druglord and trust in fate is a not so dangerous, or utterly irresponsible, a proposition?
"That's Why I'm going alone." replies Lois to Perry...
Two pages into our look at Lois Lane's latest day at work and the absurdity to it all permeates all two of the pages. What follows is no different, a lunch with husband Clark offers a neat definition of how work can coincide with parenting and family for two determined journalists, and while one can understand the subdued response of Clark when confronted by his wife's need for her own space and urge for achievement he does to his credit take a surreptitious measure to protect his wife here, as we will go on to find out...
How to find a lead, much less contact, a reclusive master mercenary and thoroughly professional mover like Deathstroke would be significantly challenging for even the Batman, what informs Lois' journey to begin in europe is not made clear, but while vague in her methodology James Bonny manages a fine monologue from Lois that does serve to underpin her great experience and confidence in such searching. By visiting the right locales and making mention of her interest in Deathstroke she takes a calculated step that might hopefully yield a result. And so it comes to pass. But when the contact turns out to be slightly outlandish Ceptus we are thrown back into the land of impossible coincidences and an all too improboble face to face meeting with the man himself - Deathstroke. Who just happens to be not only in Lois' search area of Prague of all places, but is around the very corner as she is saved from Ceptus by Superman!
Have I mentioned 'Ludicrous'? None of these events makes up a jot of plausible sense, but then the central conceit that a figure as thoroughly professional, cautious, and secretive by nature as Slade Wilson would choose to confront the famous Lois Lane, and would ever consent to her wishes for an expose and interview that will undoubtedly put him squarely in the global public eye, defies all rationalisation. The idea is a nonsense from the very get-go. But here it is, a one-on-one unfolding in the unlikely fairytale safehouse of the World's most lethal Assassin for hire. It's a ridiculous production from start to finish. So let me stop it here.
The story is, frankly, a very poor effort. But in its favour I must congratulate Tyler Kirkham for his efforts this issue as the visuals are frequently superb in their composition and the use of shading. Last seen in Action Comics #967, and before that an Annual with the New-52 Clark kent being assisted by Batman if I recall, Tyler Kirkham is one of those few artists who's style is seen to visibly evolve. What appears here in Superman this month is a fair distance from what he was doing back in the earliest issues of The New Guardians, and hopefully we will see more use of him on the Superman books as his is a wonderfully full and exciting talent when he does fill in. His work here, in particular panels especially, is often marvellous to look on. But in the meantime... what a shoddy affair this issue is as a story.
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