Hello, fanboys and fangirls, my given name’s Robert, but to all those dozens of loyal Hold 322 listeners I’m better known as Ultimate Bob. As our show’s “staff of writer” it is my obligation to bring to you a weekly blog containing my ideas and opinions concerning comic books and all other things nerdy / geek. This week’s blog will be about the current state of the monthly Superman comic book; in particular, the startling and disappointing new plotline involving Lois Lane revealing Superman’s secret identity to the entire world.
If you listened to our Free Comic Book Day episode of Hold 322 some weeks ago, you might recall JC Carter reviewing a huge stack of free comics. And if so, you might also remember him mentioning the three storylines previewed in DC comics’ Divergence #1. And in doing so, he was no doubt seeking revenge for the episode of Hold 322 many-many months ago when Jeff Bell and I hinted at (over-a-year-old-SPOILER-alert) Gwen Stacy’s death in the feature film Amazing Spider-Man 2, because he let lose revealing that in Batman #40, Bruce Wayne apparently died (to which Jeff replied something like: “Really? I’m obviously behind.”, and I felt the same), so in the Batman story previewed in Divergence #1, James Gordon was now taking over the mantle of Batman. Then JC said, as I best recall, something like: “Apparently, somewhere in the Adventures of Superman, Lois Lane revealed Superman’s secret identity to the world”, and when he said it, he may or may not have given me a sideways look (at least I remember it that way), that made me feel like he was miffed at me for not sharing that issue with him.
I was all confused. I haven’t read the current monthly book entitled “Adventures of Superman” since issue #1 way back in June of 2013, and I thought JC Meant that Lois had revealed it in that book, so I was thinking: a)—I don’t read that book, so how was I supposed to know? And b)—If it happened it that title, it has no relevance to the greater Superman continuity because the stories in “Adventures of Superman” are just random tales outside of continuity. But now I know, after finally picking up my comic book hold the following week and finally reading issues #40 of both the Batman and Superman titles, that I wasn’t fully following what the Radioactive Professor was actually saying. When he said “the adventures of Superman”, he just meant it as adventures-in-general, and if he was in fact miffed I hadn’t shared my knowledge of Lois Lane’s shenanigans, which he likely wasn’t, it was only because he wasn’t aware that I wasn’t aware of them. He may have assumed I had already read Superman #40, which as of Free Comic Book Day, I had not.
Anyhow, if you followed that opening tangent, well done, but now it’s time to delve into the heart of this blog which will concern events in Superman, though first I will quickly state that after having read Batman #40, it is my opinion that Bruce Wayne is not dead. His absence from his book will be temporary and in a few months he’ll return to reclaim the mantle of the Batman. And now for my thoughts on Superman:
In Superman #40 (written and drawn by John Romita Jr.), the Man of Steel enlists his fellow Justice Leaguers to help him study his new Super-explodey powers. If you are unaware of this new power, I’ll tell you what is known about it so far. In recent issues of Superman, (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Romita Jr.) our hero was locked in intense battle with a new super villain named Ulysses when his heat vision suddenly turned into a veritable super nova-like release of energy that laid waste to everything within a mile of where Superman and his new foe were fighting. This Super-explosion blast successfully knocked out the powerful Ulysses, but it left Superman powerless for 24 hours following the moment his new power was used. So, in Superman #40, Clark and his closest super-friends spend most of the issue running tests to determine all they can about Supes’ new ability, which meant Kal El had to go super nova again and again and again until they all felt they had learned enough about it. This repeated use of his new power not only lead to Clark getting drunk (and later hung-over) for the first time in his life, it also clearly took a great toll on Superman’s power reserves, meaning even more than 24 hours after going super nova, our hero is now seemingly incapable of returning to 100 percent—leaving him less than fully invulnerable and unable to fly—just able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, much as he did in the golden age and early on in the New 52 (see Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics, ya know, if you’re bored enough to).
Still, being Superman, he did not allow this to hold him back, so when a trio of goons started causing trouble by shooting up a neighborhood in Metropolis with high-tech blaster guns, he boldly leapt into action to save the day. At the end of the encounter, Superman was victorious but bloodied, and a bystander snapped a photo of him just before he leapt away—a photo that clearly showed a nasty gash on the right side of Superman’s head. The next day, at the Daily Planet, the bystander’s cell phone image of the bloodied Superman are on every TV in the bullpen, and when Clark Kent walks into the office with the right side of his face bandaged, it is easy for keen and astute reporter Lois Lane to take notice and instantly make the obvious connection.
After reading issue #40 of Superman, then I finally read “Exposed”, (by Gene Luen Yang, art by Romita JR.) the Superman story in the Free Comic Day copy of Divergence #1 that Mr. Carter had reviewed on Hold 322 the week before. Sure enough, Lois Lane had not only finally figured out that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same, but she had gone on to let everyone else in the world know the very same thing. With his secret identity not common knowledge, and unable to fly off planet to hide, Clark Kent is forced into living on the lamb, as-it-were, doing what he can to change his appearance and stay incognito, but to little avail, as both fans and enemies alike constantly recognize him as Clark Kent / Superman. The incident shown in the story itself is when some meta-human bad guy recognizes Clark while he’s trying to have lunch with his pal Jimmy Olsen. This particular meta-goon reveals that years ago, before he had his powers, Superman had arrested / humiliated him, and now he was looking for revenge, which he tried to exact by throwing a food truck at our now exposed hero. Superman is able to keep Jimmy and the other bystanders from being injured by the thrown food truck, and easily defeats the vengeful meta-goon after a quick encounter, but the entire incident left him feeling clearly unsettled as he immediately leapt away to the sanctuary of his motel room on the outskirts of town.
Sometime later, Lois Lane shows up at the apparently not-completely-secret motel room, offering money and apologies for all the trouble she’s caused her one-time best friend, but Clark Kent is clearly not in a forgiving mood as he refuses her help and closes the door on her. Was he being too harsh? Should he have forgiven her? I don’t think so, on either account. Lois Lane may have thought she was doing her journalistic duty by revealing Superman’s secret identity to the world, and that may be so, but to my mind, what she did was inexcusable from a purely ethical standpoint. Clark was her friend—her very best friend, all things considered. He was also Superman, the greatest hero on Earth. Lois is not stupid. She must’ve known what would happen if people learned who Superman really was—what it would do to Clark Kent’s life—that it would not only strip him of his privacy and anonymity, thus leaving him unable to live any semblance of a normal life, but it would make it impossible for him to safely be around other people in any public place. His very presence, rather wearing his Super-suit or not, would endanger everyone else around him.
Lois Lane knew what would happen, and still she made the decision to go ahead and do what she did all the same.
“Hey, Bob! Lois Lane is a fictional character! She’s not real, you jerk!” Yes, I know. Lois Lane is no more real than Clark Kent or any other comic book character, but the people who write the comic books they inhabit are real, and I feel it is their responsibility to treat them as realistically as possible. In the past, at least in recent DC continuity, Lois Lane would never have perpetrated such a betrayal against Clark. Her love for him and her respect for his role as Earth’s top hero would’ve prevented her from even considering such a thing. In the post crisis / pre-new 52 universe, Lois was married to Clark, and was fully aware of his dual life as Superman, but she kept his secret; she defended it with all she had, because despite her drive to be the world’s greatest reporter, she also had a strong moral and ethical center that placed doing the right thing above doing the most professionally imperative thing. This is why I’ve always loved the character and been just as much a fan of her as I was of the Man of Steel himself.
Previously in the new 52, even though Lois and Clark were not romantically linked, their friendship still seemed clear to me, and I thought she was still the noble character she had been before. I even thought she had long known Clark’s secret, but was keeping it to herself—not at all wishing to betray her best friend or hinder his ability to live his important dual existence—but clearly, I was wrong. Clearly the new Lois Lane is not the Lois Lane I thought she was. She may have apologized to Clark for what she did to him, but that does nothing to undo the damage already done; unless of course she makes a deal with Mephisto or something—ala Mary Jane just before Brand New Day—which is highly unlikely since Mephisto is a Marvel character. And until DC launches yet another crisis to restart the overall continuity yet again, this is how Superman’s life is going to be. This is going to be the new normal, and as a lifelong fan, I am not looking forward to it at all. Still, I’m willing to give it a fair chance. I’ll just have to read it all and see how I feel about it later.
What say you, fearless comic book / blog reader? Is Lois Lane still the intrepid reporter whom Super-fans have always known and loved, or has DC allowed her to turn to the dark side? Let me know in a comment below.
Well, I think that concludes this week’s blog. Remember to subscribe to this here blog so you can join us for next week’s awesome bloviation from yours truly. Be sure also to listen to each and every episode of Hold 322, available every Tuesday from iTunes, Stitcher and Hold322.com; and if you wanna be just as cool as all the other cool kids are, you can follow me on the Twitter for all my insightful and zany tweets @Robert_A_Easton. Thanks for reading, friends.