In Review: Superman #34

Imperius Lex continues with the focus falling on Lois Lane's survival on Apokolips.

The covers: The Regular cover is by Patrick Gleason and Dean White showcasing the new Lois Lane. She’s wearing Apokolips armor, sporting a spear and a blaster. The look on her face is terrific, with her impassively taking in the reader, sure to dismiss him or her. The colors are a tad dark, with the suit’s colors blending in too much with the background. It does give her a completely appropriate harsh tone, but lightening her would have had her stand out more. The Variant cover is by Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey and is the celebration of 800 issues of this series. Given all the renumbering madness of the industry, it’s nice to see that a publisher acknowledges a major moment. A full figure of Superman faces the reader after he’s just flexed to break the Kryptonite chains that bind him. He’s standing on a pile of rocky debris that probably came from the individual that carved out the rocky number eight hundred behind him. Neat. Overall grades: Both A 

The story: On Apokolips, Lois Lane is in big trouble. Hiding behind a rocky outcropping, she spies the Female Furies led by Granny Goodness. When they walk past her she breathes a sigh of relief, because now she can look for son Jonathan and husband Kal-El. That’s when she’s hit from behind. Meanwhile, elsewhere on Apokolips, Luthor is speaking to the denizens who have summoned him to the violent world so that he can lead them once again. He tells the people he had not abandoned them, but “My birth world was in dire straits and need my attention, too.” Pressing a hidden switch on his suit, he asks one member, “Prophet, does the scripture say your god bleeds?” He replies, “No. the Chosen One is impervious.” Luthor takes one of the people’s blades and cuts open his hand to show that he bleeds. The faithful begin to riot, wanting this false god’s head on a spike. That’s when the button that Luthor hit makes a PING and a boom tube opens to reveal Superman. Luthor knells and says, “Behold!…The true god of Apokolips!” This is a great opening to a fun read from Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. After this scene with Superman being sucked into the bald baddie’s scheme, the story focuses on Lois’s attempt to survive as a captor of the Furies. Naturally she gets smacked around considerably, but the threats on Apokolips don’t just come from the humanoids. Something occurs and she’s soon fighting a much bigger threat than the women. What she and these characters do is very natural, though her realization on 15 isn’t one that the Furies make? The greatest fighting female force on Apokolips don’t know to do that? Okay, I’ll let that one go, because the rest of the story is so good, with the human woman’s resolve and focus constant, just as I want her to be. The final two pages move to another member of the family who’s having his own difficulties, and I’m sure this is what he’ll face in two weeks. Lots of action and drama on Apokolips. Overall grade: A

The art: There are three different artists for this issue: Ed Benes, Doug Mahnke, and Jack Herbert. The change in artists is not noticeable until the final two pages. That said, this issue looks good. The art is very detailed, with the settings being as impressive as the characters. The book’s introduction to Lois watching the Furies is neat, with the wide eyed woman looking at the brutes walking through a canyon. If the reader isn’t careful, they’ll miss the person behind Lois that knocks her out. The arrival of Superman through the boom tube is a full-paged splash and it’s epic; this is how a hero makes an entrance! He looks absolutely incredible, he’s angry, his cape is splaying out about him, Luthor kneels before him, and one of the locals looks on in shock. One of the stand-out Furies is Mad Harriet who has a conversation with Lois, but looks as though she’s sizing up her next meal. Lois is wary of her, but not fearful, which is a great touch in the third panel on Page 8. The obstacle that arrives on Page 10 is a full-paged spalsh. It looks good, but soft. This could be due to the coloring, or the colorist having to finish work on the character that the artist didn’t do. It’s a neat character, but has a soft feel. Lois gets her own full-paged splash on 13 and it’s an image that defines she’s no meek human. The two pages that follow are composed of diagonal panels that cross both pages, Making these panels this way gives the action more intensity and allows more characters to be shown in combat; good choice. The slow reveal of Lois in the final panel on 17 is a good tease, leading up to the “new” Lois in the first panel on 18. I want an action figure of this Lois now! She’s awesome. The final two pages have heavier line work than the previous pages, identifying another artist at work. The hero looks fine, but the villain is over shaded. Had the entire book been this way, I probably would have been fine with this work. Overall grade: A- 

The colors: If a story is set on Apokolips, the colors have got to harsh. Dinei Ribeiro does this world proper right out of the gate with the environment in the canyon a harsh orange and yellow. Within Darkseid’s castle, the color scheme is equally orange, but the background has some spectacular explosive flame colors, which this world is known for, even in space. Luthor’s blue, glowing costume sets him instantly apart from those who summoned him, with their garb colored to blend in with the environment. Superman’s entrance is awesome, with an excellently colored sound effect and the boom tube glorious in yellow. Lois stands apart from the group of prisoners and their captors by her light violet top. The individual that attacks the group is a passively colored light green which does dilute its horrific look. When this character is fought the settings and sky look as gorgeous as the characters. The final two pages have the protagonist’s blues being dark. So dark, in fact, that the character blends in too easily with the background. Lighter coloring on this character’s costume would have had him stand out more. Overall grade: A-  

The letters: Rob Leigh is the letterer and is responsible for scene settings narration, dialogue, whispers, sounds, the story’s title and credits, yells, and the tease for next issue. I appreciate seeing narration differentiated from the dialogue, and having Lois’s whispers be in a smaller font is another great difference. The yells are good, with there being different fonts to indicate to the reader how loud each bellow is. The sounds are the stand-out creations from Leigh. With all this action, there have to be a lot of sounds and Leigh makes them terrific. Want to have some fun? Read them aloud. Overall grade: A

The final line: Imperius Lex continues with the focus falling on Lois Lane’s survival on Apokolips. The story is excellent and the visuals good, with Lois getting a cool, new look. This is shaping up to be one of the Man of Steel’s greatest sagas. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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