Lois Lane #1
“Enemy of the People, Part One”
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover artists: Perkins (regular)/Jenny Frison (variant)
Editor: Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US
Of this week’s new releases, the first I read was The Walking Dead #193, given the buzz about it being the final issue of the series. It impressed, and I figured it would be the best new book I’d read this week. And then I turned my attention to the DC titles in my pile. I was even more impressed with Superman: Up In the Sky #1 and pleased I finally got a chance to read one of the Wal-Mart exclusives that have only been available in the United States up to this point.
And then I read Lois Lane #1.
It’s powerful, resonant and relevant. It’s incredibly grounded in our reality, but at the same time, it’s a delightful fantasy for those with a passion for journalism. It’s one of the better takes on the profession I’ve seen in comics, and the only thing about it that disappointed me was the realization that it’ll only run for 12 issues. Greg Rucka not only delves into the importance of the news media here, but also offers a touching and novel examination of Lois and Clark’s relationship.
Holed up in a Chicago hotel room, Lois Lane is in the zone, digging away at a story that will blow the lid off of the leadership of the country. She’s writing up a storm and righting wrongs. But she emerges from the solitary glow of her laptop screen to re-enter the outside world when she learned a Russian colleague has turned up dead, supposedly the result of suicide. Lois knows better, and she tasks a contact to help her find the evidence she needs to expose this latest assault on the fourth estate.
Mike Perkins was an excellent choice as the artist for this series, as his realistic, slightly darker style is in keeping with the tone of intrigue that’s integral here. And while he conveys that more noir yet grounded atmosphere adeptly, I have to note that his art for this project seems a little different than what we’ve seen from him in the past. Bear in mind, this isn’t a criticism, either of this work or previous endeavors. It’s just… different, a little more textured and stylistic. I was reminded a little at times of the styles of such artists as J.H. (Promethea, Batwoman) Williams III and Tony (Starman, Ex Machina) Harris.
Perkins is aided in his efforts to bring a palpable tension and edge to the story by colorist Paul Mounts, who employs darker and muted tones throughout the book. Conversely, when Clark Kent shows up, the line art and colors get a bit brighter – not garishly so in comparison, but enough to demonstrate the happiness and lightness that he brings to Lois’s life when he’s around.
Speaking of which, I loved the portrayal of Lois and Clark’s marriage. Rucka drives home the notion that these are two radically different people. There’s a purity to Clark, whereas we see that Lois has much more of an edge. She drinks, she smokes (I find it interesting that the writer has brought back this element we typically associate with Margot Kidder’s portrayal of the character from 40 years ago). Lois is willing to bend and even break the rules to achieve her honorable ends, and while she holds some of that back from her husband, she’s still honest with him about who she is and why she needs to keep things from him.
One of the reasons I was so interested and invested in this comic is the fact that I’m a journalist – primarily a courts and crime reporter for a small newspaper. Journalism has been an ever-present element in super-hero comics, especially when it comes to some of the icons of the genre, such as Superman and Spider-Man. I suspect that’s one factor that drew me into the profession, but really, it’s a calling. Mind you, I’ve always had qualms with how journalism has been portrayed in comics over the decades. Comics writers have always played fast and loose with the ethics of journalism (Clark’s reporting of his own exploits as Superman and Peter Parker’s setting up of exclusive photos of his Spidey action are definitely no-nos). Furthermore, Lois’s past scoops almost invariably saw her become part of the story, exchanging fisticuffs with the bad guys in the pages of Superman Family in the 1970s, for example. But that’s not what a journalist does; we observe, as sometimes, we affect outcomes by observing, reporting and speaking truth to power, but not by participating. With this first issue, though, Rucka doesn’t fall into this action-genre traps. It’s a faithful presentation of the power of journalism and its importance, now more than ever.
Mind you, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a realistic portrayal of the profession. This is an idealized vision of it, every journalist’s fantasy. Unlimited time and resources, no oversight – these are pipe dreams for most of us toiling away in a profession that offers diminishing time and fewer resources while imposing increasing editorial and managerial demands. I don’t fault Rucka for this take, though. He’s emphasizing the calling, the mission, above all else, and exploring the possibilities of what can be achieved by journalism unencumbered by such pressures.
This isn’t the first time Lois Lane has headlined a comic series or special, but this may be the first time “Superman” hasn’t appeared in the title along with her name. And it’s about damn time. Lois Lane is almost as iconic a cultural figure as the Man of Steel, and Rucka ensures that this about her above all else, not her secondary role in Superman’s life. Yes, Clark Kent turns up here, but he’s the supporting character. He’s not what drives the story, and neither is the super-hero action that usually accompanies his presence in a story. I hope that holds true for the rest of the series. I hope that Lois isn’t on the trial of the latest scheme hatched by one of her husband’s arch-enemies. This has launched as Lois’ story first and foremost, and I’d hate to see her share the byline later on. 9/10