Superman: Action Comics #999 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Will Conrad, Artist; Ivan Nunes, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Before the big Action Comics #1000 issue next month, Dan Jurgens pulls back from the major storyline that’s been dominating Action Comics for a character-driven done-in-one focusing on the complex relationship between Lois and Sam Lane. It’s impossible to talk about this issue without discussing the weird history of Sam Lane. Originally he was a grumpy, politically incorrect disapproving father-in-law to Clark, but ultimately harmless, and then he gave his life in an event comic to help save the world. When he came back, he was a bigoted mad general who was involved in wiping out what was left of the Kryptonian species. Now…he’s neither of those things, coming off more like Jacob Kane – a prickly, combative military man, but inherently decent. And that makes the long-standing tension between him and Lois have less of an urgent vibe to it. Watching them is more like watching an awkward Thanksgiving reunion than anything.
Far more interesting is the subplot involving Superman and Hank Henshaw, aka the Cyborg Superman, as Superman’s recent experiences with the Phantom Zone have made him hesitant to condemn anyone to it, no matter how evil. His effort to find an alternative that will neutralize Henshaw while also allowing him some level of peace is classic Superman, and provides some of the best moments of the issue. However, the fact that Henshaw’s past pre-Flashpoint crimes are back in continuity asks some more awkward questions regarding Sam’s own history – and make Clark’s attempt to broker peace between his wife and her father a little more awkward, given that in the past that same father was one of Superman’s deadliest nemeses. Jurgens has had the unenviable task of trying to make sense out of a VERY tangled Superman continuity, and usually, it works. This issue, I’m not so sure he was able to stick the landing.
Corrina: You know the big knock against romance novels is that supposedly the man rescues the woman and fixes everything wrong?
That’s a fallacy, as has been shown time and time again.
But Jurgens certainly falls into this trap, having Superman swoop in and save the day between Lois and her father and solve all those problems in a page or two.
Gee, thanks, Superman! To celebrate, I, Lois, am going back to the kitchen to cook something because, clearly, I, Lois Lane, am the type to wear an apron and make dinner for my dad and husband and son, because that’s what, I, Lois Lane, do better than anyone else.
To say I disliked this issue would be an understatement. Jurgens has been the better of the two Superman writers in dealing with Lois but this issue is awful. Not only does the choice to show Lois in an apron boggle me (Why she suddenly becomes so domestic when married confuses me. Some women might do this but we’re talking Lois Lane here.) But the point Lois is making to her father is that she published the story because a secret black ops organization with no accountability was being run by the government. If you’re a fan of a free society, especially if you’re a reporter who values an open government, or you just don’t like a government that isn’t accountable to the very democracy on which it’s founded, you want Lois to publish that story.
Lois is right. Sam Lane is wrong. He’s the one who’s outside the law, while Superman operates within it. And yet Clark basically handwaves that away so Lois and her father can get along. That’s…kinda close to gaslighting Lois’s very real concerns. (Aside: what’s with this whole “fathers of DC heroes running secret scary black ops organizations? Do Sam Lane and Jacob Kane belong to the same club?)
Yes, I know Clark wants everyone to have a happy ending, as shown by his solution for Hank Henshaw, but he should know Lois is right given he’s also a reporter. :sigh:
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.