Earth-Prime #2: Superman and Lois
Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 19, 2022
Cover date: June 2022
Writer: Jai Jamison, Adam Mallinger, and Andrew N. Wong
Penciller: Tom Grummett
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Cover: Kim Jacinto
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Lois and Clark tell Jonathan and Jordan about why they celebrate their wedding anniversary four days after their actual wedding date. The couple tried to celebrate their first anniversary on the actual day but between Lois’ job as a reporter and Clark’s responsibilities as Superman their dinner plans kept getting cancelled. They were finally able to have a romantic dinner together four days later and decided to keep that as the day they celebrate their anniversary.
Story – 5: For several decades there has been this debate about whether or not Superman and Lois should be married. Some were all for it while others felt that, for a variety of reasons, it just didn’t work. What Superman and Lois has proven is that the answer to, “Should Superman and Lois be married?” is, “It depends on who is writing it.” Because the entire premise could fall apart like a house of cards if the person or people writing the characters are not invested in making the relationship work. This story is a good example of that because it’s obvious that Jai, Adam, and Andrew are invested in making Clark and Lois work as a married couple.
I cannot state how much I love the fact that instead of using their respective jobs to drive a wedge between them the writers are choosing to lean into those jobs and what those jobs mean to each person to make the marriage work. Clark has to be Superman. Lois has to chase down the story. They acknowledge this fact and work around it. That isn’t to say that there can’t be friction in the marriage. All marriages, even great ones, have friction, but when it comes to Lois and Superman and their chaotic lives there has to be an understanding that sometimes life will get in the way of certain important events.
So, reading a story where you get to have all of the action of a standard Superman tale and see Lois going all out to get the story and on top of that throw in some amazing Easter eggs and on top of that give them a special way to celebrate their anniversary… I really can’t ask for anything more than that. It’s Superman and Lois as a show in a microcosm.
And the Easter Eggs were epic. From the Fleisher inspired Mechanical Monsters reference to Superman fighting Nuclear Man to the rogues gallery brought together for that one page (Sleez is a deep cut but Loophole and Hi-Tek are the equivalent of going into the musician’s demo reels in terms of how obscure they are as Superman villains) to the mention of Bibbo…it was that nice balance of tipping the cap to various incarnations of Superman while still giving us a great story. With the Easter eggs the story is not made better, but it’s great for the fans that know what they are. Without those references you still have this great story that gets to the heart of what makes Clark and Lois a great couple.
It was just a lot of fun. I’d love to see more of the early days of this version of Superman and Lois.
Art – 5: Tom Grummett and Norm Rapmund make a great team as penciller and inker and they make a great choice for this story as well as the other two. Grummett did a tremendous job with the Superman story from the two Crisis on Infinite Earths 100 Page Giants, so it’s nice to see him continuing to work on this version of Superman. In a way, this is like when Curt Swan drew the comic book that tied into the Superboy syndicated series. A well-regarded Superman artist (and inker) from a previous generation getting the chance to come back and show how great they are with a new story.
The page layouts of this story were a definite highlight. The repeated theme of showing characters in the middle of the page followed by a huge shot of Superman fighting something with the newspaper headlines telling us about what we just saw was great. Grummett and Rapmund also proved that I was right all the times I told people that the Nuclear Man costume from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was a great design and would work in the comics just fine and dandy, dandy and fine.
The art was amazing. I literally have no complaints.
Clark reflects on the ways that Jonathan Kent shaped him to be the man and hero he eventually became.
Story – 5: Superman and Lois, as a show, tended to lean into Martha when it came to showing Clark’s relationship with his parents and I am all for it. For years it was Clark’s relationship with his fathers that tended to get center stage. Only recently has this turned around and seeing more of Martha than Jonathan in the flashbacks on the show felt right to me.
Having written that, I love that the writers got a chance to show what Jonathan meant to this Clark. I was a little shocked that they, to my mind, took such a shot at how Jonathan was portrayed in Man of Steel but it didn’t feel mean spirited or the writers trying to start a flame war with the fans of that movie. It felt like it was there to show how this particular version of Jonathan felt about Clark using his powers.
Not that this will stop the more hardcore of the Synder fans, but then again there is nothing that will stop them from doing what they do.
This was a sweet story. It made me tear up at the end. Well done.
Art – 5: I was impressed by how Grummett and Rapmund shifted gears so flawlessly from the first story to this one. The first had a lot of heart but also a lot of action. This was more of a character study, but it still looked amazing.
Young Kal-El lands on Earth and is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent. They die soon after and Clark is sent to live with an abusive foster family. After he stands up to the father he runs away and eventually finds the crystal that was sent with him in the ship. He discovers his heritage and is encouraged by Jo-El to save humanity from itself. Tal-Rho eventually appears and convinces Kal that the glory of Krypton needs to return.
Story – 5: The “Evil Superman” trope has been hinted at or flat out done several times over the last decade. Between the Injustice franchise (which isn’t an out and out evil take on Superman, but he was definitely not a hero in the first game) and the “Knightmare” reality hinted in Zack Snyder’s various films suggested that showing Superman go bad was a thing that was going to be around for a long time.
And I am done with it. It’s a neat idea but it seems to be such a “go-to” move for people. It’s like the idea of doing a straight ahead Superman story just doesn’t occur to them.
The reason that I never had a problem with the alternate Superman we saw in the first season is that it was always presented as an alternate Superman who was evil and that “our” Superman would never go down that road. It’s not that the Superman of Superman and Lois was perfect. There were many times where he talked about how hard it is to ride the fine line of being as powerful as he is, using those powers to help people, not make those people afraid of him, and not giving in to the desire to use his power to force people to do what’s right.
It’s a tough needle to thread, but the show managed to do it.
One of the thoughts I had about what made the Superman of John Henry’s world go bad was that something had to have happened to the Kents. If you look at the history of Superman, the idea that the Kents were the main driving force to him being the hero he became is relatively recent. During the Silver and Bronze Age it seemed like he was going to be a hero no matter what because that who he was as a person. It was in the Post-Crisis era and the media that followed it where the idea that but for the Kents instilling the values they did into Clark we may not have ended up with a Superman. Or the Superman we got.
So, the idea that the Kents died and then Clark is put into the foster system where things go badly added to the idea that the Jor-El of his world was all, “Man, these humans are so screwed and it’s up to you to make them act right” added to Tal-Rho rocking up after a few years of him acting as humanity’s savior and going, “Look, I have this crazy idea,” equals this version of Superman thinking that Tal’s way is the right one.
And that’s how you get this particular take on an evil Superman.
In the end, the Kents getting taken out of the situation (an idea explored numerous times over the decades with two particularly good versions on the syndicated Superboy series and Clark Luthor on Smallville) is only one part of what made this Kal-El go bad. Jor-El played a part. Not having a family to rely on played a part. Not having a good relationship with humanity played a part. Having Tal-Rho show up and be a bad influence played a part.
Like most things, it’s not just one factor that goes into this sort of thing. It’s a combination of factors, which is more satisfying to me as a reader.
I’m kind of hoping that the last few moments of this story are a hint that things might not be over for this Superman, but that could just be a wistful, fannish desire.
Art – 5: I really can’t add anything else to my thoughts on the art. I liked seeing Grummett and Rapmund’s take on the black costume as well as on Tal-Rho’s outfit. Again, I would not be opposed to seeing more of this art team drawing stories about the world of Superman and Lois.
Cover Art – 4: I don’t think this cover is bad. It’s not. I’m just not a fan of the style. This is totally a “me” thing. It’s a fun design and I love that the artist stuck with Tyler’s five o’clock shadow.
The variant cover is nothing more than the main image from Season 2, so there isn’t much to say about it. It’s fine and I like the graphic design.
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