Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: Superman: Secret Origin #4 (of 6)

Superman: Secret Origin #4 (of 6)

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Released: January 27, 2010

So, this is a Superman comic, right? Superman is on the cover. The title is Superman: Secret Origin. Open it up to almost any page and you will find Superman or be near a page graced by Superman. This is a Superman comic, and a very good one, too, let's get that out of the way now. After reading it, however, I find myself not wanting to write about Superman, but about the character this comic seems to really be about, the one and only, world-famous intrepid reporter Lois Lane. I want to write about Lois.

I want to write about Lois Lane, specifically, the Lois we find in this issue, written by Mr. Johns and drawn by Mr. Frank and Mr. Sibal. When first we come upon our diligent journo, she is ensconced in cubicle, hunched over keyboard, tapping (no doubt, pounding) out an article, showing only a modicum of tolerance for the horde of colleagues that have descended around her asking ridiculous questions about this flying man that has arrived in Metropolis. Her desk contains the remnants of old take-out lunches, crumpled up papers, and post-it notes scribbled with reminders for her to pick up fish food and call her cousin. She is consumed, passionate, focused on the task at hand, and she suffers fools only as much as she has to, and barely then. She is at work to work. Lois is not one for hanging by the water-cooler discussing last nights episode of 'Idol'. She doesn't care if so-and-so in the mail room is dating what's-her-name in accounting, and she doesn't care if you care. She doesn't care about your social life. She barely has one of her own. This is Lois Lane at work.

The other aspect of this issues' portrayal of Ms. Lane that intrigued was how she was drawn. This is a comic, after all, and half the story, if not a majority of it, is told through the visual cues we are given by the creators. The artist on this book, Gary Frank, possesses a strong grasp of characterization and human anatomy, and he uses these gifts to bring to fruition a complete person on the page. He draws Lois as a beautiful woman, but it is a beauty that is strong, solid, and forceful, not soft or overwhelmingly twee. There is no glow radiating off of his Lois Lane, no artificial sweeteners to gloss over the realness of this woman. She is bold of expression and powerful in her movements. She is stylish in that way that big-city women in professional careers can be stylish, if they don't over-think matters. She is in a simple long-sleeve shift dress, her only accessories a pair of plain stud earrings and a plain brown leather slouch handbag. No jangly bracelets or strings of complicated necklaces to get in the way. No "It" bag with oversized logo adornments or horse-bits or grosgrain trim. This outfit took her all of two minutes to throw on. Her hair? Well, it's there on her head, falling in slightly askew flat ribbons of raven around her face, puddling into odd curls at her shoulders, her ears poking out at the sides, cutting through the black like shark's fins. If she looks in the mirror at all at any point in the day would be surprising, and somewhat disappointing. This Lois Lane is most attractive because her effortless beauty is not born out of genetic luck, but born out of her own intelligence and complete lack of self-consciousness.

Oh, that's right. Superman. Yeah, he's in this issue, too. He flies. He punches. He looks great in blue and red. It's classic Superman and it feels right, especially since this is the only comic bearing his name on the shelves right now that actually features the man himself. Pity that DC doesn't seem to get that this is the kind of Superman comic we really need more of. This is the classic cast of characters, reunited, and it feels so good. The gang's all here; Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent, some guy in a cape with his underwear on the outside of his clothes, and this one woman, this one amazing, stunning, remarkable woman, named Lois Lane. To paraphrase Marlene Dietrich, I'm falling in love again, never wanted to, but I can't help it.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I tried resisting the charms of this comic, but it's pointless. It's pretty wonderful.