Structurally, “Superman: Lois and Clark” #2 is a real meat-and-potatoes Superman book. Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks are building this series around all their title characters’ greatest hits: hard-hitting journalism, farmstead family values and catastrophic, intergalactic threats that only Clark can stop. On a macro level, this is all anyone could ask of a Lois and Clark adventure. However, some issues with the execution — characterization, artistic details, dialogue — keep this from being a real hit. Still, “Superman: Lois and Clark” #2 is a strong building block in what could be a killer series.
Above all, what makes this issue work is that Jurgens paces his three plots — Intergang, the Oblivion Stone and Clark’s secret identity — expertly. With all that’s going on, the reader gets a taste of almost every pacing technique out there. We’re thrown right in the middle of the Intergang intrigue; the Oblivion Stone plot is building slowly and mysteriously, and Lois and Clark deal with concealing their identities on a recurring basis. As a result, Jurgens manages to pack in plenty of plot without the issue feeling rushed or crowded. Admittedly, the various plots aren’t related, and so some of the transitions are rather abrupt, but I also admit there isn’t really an easy way to tie them in.
Much as I like the classic elements of the plot, the script is old school in less compelling ways. Jurgens can be rather on-the-nose with some of the dialogue; he even has a villain describe what’s happening in the panel aloud: “Sumthin’ pullin’ me?…It’s a magic tornado! Haaaalp!” In some ways, this old-fashioned exchange works for the series’ decidedly old-fashioned approach to Superman. However, in the case of Lois and Clark’s son, Jon, it took me out of the story. Jon reads a bit too Beaver Cleaver to pass my believability test. With all the wide-eyed questioning, schoolyard fights and “Am I gonna lose video games again?”, he feels like a bundle of small-kid cliches rather than a realized character. I don’t expect groundbreaking characterization for a young child, but he doesn’t feel at all distinct.
Weeks and inker Scott Hana pull off most of the issue admirably, but there are some missteps. The artwork can feel hyper-detailed at times, with eyelashes, teeth and eyebrows looking overemphasized to the point of distorting the characters’ expressions. Colorist Brad Anderson can add to this disorienting aesthetic with too-harsh whites and other neutrals. Overall, there are a few panels in “Lois & Clark” #2 that really gave me pause.
However, the action is always readable, particularly during Lois and Jon’s car crash. Clark’s struggle against an artificial earthquake was a welcome showstopper, and I wish there’d been a few more eye-catching or innovative panels like that one. Hopefully, the artistic team will have some cooler settings to work with in the future, so we can see them let loose.
All told, “Superman: Lois and Clark” #2 is a fine issue that lays some above-average groundwork for the issues to follow. With stronger character work and some stylistic tweaks, it could grow into a great series.