The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a brief exploration of one of the greatest fictional villains of all time, Lex Luthor. There has been an ongoing trend in recent year to develop more complex villains with equally complex motivations. However, there’s still room for the kind of old school, pure evil villain and nobody epitomizes that more than Lex Luthor. Hopefully, this video gives everyone a new appreciation of that. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: Lois Lane
I don’t claim to know more than your typical comic book fan. Hell, I don’t claim to know more than any average person with an internet connection. I just know what I like, what makes me happy, and how I prefer to go about life. Reading new comics on Wednesday mornings is just one of those things I know will make every week feel complete and fulfilled.
It also helps that this is the time of year when many major publishers are gearing up for their big summer events. Around this time last year, evens like “X Of Swords” was just starting and, given the circumstances of last year, it really helped boost my spirits.
This year being less dire, the major summer comic events are back on schedule. Marvel and DC Comics have both teased and hinted at what’s to come over the next couple of months. Marvel has it’s big “Heroes Reborn” event that just started and DC Comics has it’s big Justice League: Last Ride event beginning this week.
Now, some fans see these summer events as gimmicks. In many cases, that’s exactly what they are. They’re the big budget blockbuster movies meant to cause a lot of noise and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re still fun. They’re still enjoyable. Some may see them as a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt in enjoying these events, nor should you.
These are exciting times for the world of comics. As the real world nears the end of the pandemic that upended so many lives last year, now is as good a time as any to dive head-first into big, fun mindless spectacles. If you want, it can start to today. Here’s my pull list and pick to guide you. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
Justice League: Last Ride #1
As a lifelong comic book fan, I like to think I’m easy to shop for on the holidays. Pretty much everyone in my family is aware of just how much I love comics. I also make it a point to send them lists of books I want, where to get them, and which are the least expensive.
They appreciate that a great deal. It also helps that most of the books I ask for are rarely more than twenty bucks. Those on a budget, along with those who are just cheapskates in general, love that my needs are so simple.
It makes the holidays that much more enjoyable. I’m just a simple man with simple tastes. I don’t need big, fancy gifts anymore. I can buy my own game consoles and gadgets. Just get me a stack of comics to read on Wednesday mornings with my coffee and I’m a happy guy.
New Comic Book Day around the holidays only makes me happier. It means I can both enjoy new comics and read them under the light of a Christmas tree. It’s as joyous a feeling as anything that doesn’t involve eggnog, candy canes, and gingerbread cookies. I encourage everyone to enjoy it.
With Christmas less than two weeks away, this is as good a time as any to supplement your comic reading with some festive tidings. To help, here’s my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s another entry into my ongoing series, Jack’s Comic Gems. In it, I highlight some of the brightest gems of the comic book world. This entry is “Superman Unchained,” a rare blockbuster of a comic that had the highest production values, but still delivered. Enjoy!
It’s official. We made it through the summer of 2020. In most years, that’s hardly cause for celebration. In fact, around this time last year, I was lamenting over the end of warm bikini-enabling weather. This year is different because this year just objectively sucks for reasons we’re all painfully aware of.
We all have our own way of getting through awful years like this. For me, a weekly dose of new comics has been critical to keeping my broken sprits relatively intact. It’s not just about escapism and distractions, either. Comics are a good reminder that these ideals we still cherish are relevant, even when a pandemic comes so close to breaking us.
In years past, they’ve provided a sense of comfort and reprieve for when school started up. It was still much harder back then because I didn’t have Comixology or day-and-date digital releases. I like to think if I did have it, I would’ve coped better with my circumstances.
However, I don’t want to focus too much on the past or how awful this year has been. Summer may be over, but with another season behind us, we’re that much closer to leaving this awful year behind us. In the meantime, I want to focus on the present and how new comics make it objectively more awesome.
To that end, here is my pull list and picks of the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
There are some things we just shouldn’t get used to. Things like racism, bigotry, and injustice are definitely at the top of that list. For lifelong comic fans like me, a Wednesday without new comics is right up there as well. Thanks to this goddamn pandemic, that’s what I’ve had to endure alongside those fans.
I remember the days of waiting anxiously for the mail to arrive, hoping that my weekly comics weren’t late, which they usually were. I had to get used to that, to some extent. Then, digital comics like Comixology came along and I never looked back. These past few weeks of having no comics while being stuck at home have been torturous, but I don’t want to get used to it.
Sadly, this week brings us yet another week in which no new comics are being released, aside from a few independent titles and some digital-only books. However, there is some tangible hope in sight. According to Newsarama, the current plan is for comics to resume shipping on May 20th.
Right now, that seems like a lifetime from now. At this point, I’m so stir crazy that my entire concept of time has been hopelessly disoriented. However, one way I’ll know that the world is starting to recover is when I wake up Wednesdays to see new comics in my Comixology account. If May 20th is that day, then that’s a day I intend to celebrate.
In the meantime, I have no pull lists to share. However, I was able to find a nice little gem from the digital only selections from DC Comics. It’s not the same as the regular ongoings that I’ve been following, but it’s better than nothing. At this point, that’s the most anyone can hope for.
My Pick/Gem Of The Week
I have mixed feelings when it comes to digital-only comics. In a perfect world, they would have the same weight as their paperback counterparts. Sadly, we don’t live in that world. Digital comics are still treated as more a novelty than a legitimate medium for expanding the comics world. The impact of a global pandemic may change that and books like “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” will certainly help in that effort.
It doesn’t somehow further the vast, complex tapestry that is the DC’s mainline continuity.
It doesn’t reinvent or redefine an iconic character.
It’s just a solid, well-rounded story about Wonder Woman and Lois Lane. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmoitti keep things simple with this story, but still find a way to give it that dramatic impact that Wonder Woman comics have given us for decades. For Lois Lane fans, it’s a nice bonus in that she gets to shine in a role outside of being Superman’s love interest.
Lois does her part as a brave, intrepid reporter in this story. She willingly gets on a rickety old plane and flies into the Himalaya Mountains in search of some lost mountain climbers. Since she’s Lois Lane, this ends with her confronting an ancient bloodthirsty monster intent on turning humans into kabobs. This is where Wonder Woman plays her role.
There’s plenty of combat and volatility to go around. Daniel Sampere’s art makes it the wondrous spectacle that it deserves to be. Wonder Woman gets to fight a monster. Lois gets to save some intrepid mountain climbers and secure a story that’s sure to strike all the right chords, even in the era of fake news and internet trolls.
It’s as pure a story as anyone could hope for with these two iconic characters. Wonder Woman gets to be a warrior of compassion. Lois Lane gets to be the champion of truth, justice, and the American way, albeit without the cape and red underwear. Even if it isn’t some game-changing story in the larger continuity, “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” is a solid story that’s well worth the price.
Did I also mention that digital comics tend to be substantially cheaper than paperbacks? If not, I probably should. At a time when we’re all stuck home and in need of discount entertainment, this is as good a time as any for digital comics to show their worth. Hopefully, “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” can demonstrate just how valuable they can be.
I love superhero comics. I love romance. Naturally, I love it when they’re combined into a perfect package of super-romantic sentiment. I’ve singled out a few favorites of mine in the past, as well as a few not-so-favorites that act as cautionary tales. Chances are I’ll find plenty more excuses to write about superhero romance in the future.
That said, I’d like to take a step back from the specifics of superhero romance and assess the forest from the trees, so to speak. Instead, I thought I’d highlight something that I’ve been noticing within the pages of some of my favorite comics. It’s not necessarily an egregious flaw, but it is a distressing trend for lovers of romance like myself.
It has to do with how superheroes are portrayed when they’re in romantic relationships. Almost every popular superhero is caught up in a romantic sub-plot. Superman has his ever-iconic love story with Lois Lane. Cyclops and Jean Grey have decades of romance and drama. Spider-Man gets around so much that he has multiple iconic romances.
Not every superhero is defined by their romantic sub-plot, although some are more effected by it than others. It’s hard to tell the story of Sue “Invisible Woman” Richards without involving her husband and children. However, certain characters are held to different standards when it comes to romance.
That’s to be expected, given the diverse circumstances of each hero. Not every hero is going to be affected by their romantic sub-plot in the same way. That effect also changes through different eras. Even the iconic relationship between Superman and Lois Lane has changed a great deal over the years, although not necessarily for the better.
However, this particular era has really twisted the standards for female superheroes in romantic relationships and not in a good way. I won’t go so far as to call it a double standard like the others I’ve cited, but the differences are stark. It goes like this.
A male superhero gets caught up in a romantic sub-plot. The plot progresses, he enters a relationship with his romantic interest, and continues being the same hero he’s always been. The relationship supplements his story.
A female superhero gets caught up in a romantic sub-plot. The plot progresses and she enters a relationship with her romantic interest, but the relationship conflicts with her ability to be a superhero. It gets to a point where the act of her being a hero is detrimental to the relationship. She can have one or the other, but not both.
These scenarios are somewhat generic, but they convey a similar message. Male superheroes can be in romantic relationships without it undermining their heroic persona, but female superheroes can’t have those relationships without it becoming an obstacle.
This strange, unbalanced dynamic played out recently in the pages of “Wonder Woman #754.” I’d even go so far as to argue that Wonder Woman suffers the most from this dynamic, despite being one of the most iconic female superheroes of all time. Given that she’s the ideal that other female superheroes are compared to, I think that’s telling.
The main plot of the issue isn’t important. The side-plot is where this dynamic showed up. There were frequent flashbacks that highlighted Diana’s recent “drama” with her long-time romantic interest, Steve Trevor. I put drama in quotes because it feels less like drama and more like forced excuses.
It’s been an issue for Wonder Woman for decades. Despite being her most iconic love interest, going back to the 1940s, Steve Trevor has never been that official with Diana. Even though they’ve professed their love for one another in many forms and in many timelines, they’re rarely ever shown as being in a functional, mature relationship.
It’s not just with Steve Trevor, either. Even in the classic “Justice League” cartoon in which she was romantically linked to Batman, nothing ever became official. There’s was never a point where Wonder Woman went from being single to being in a real, functioning relationship.
In fact, the only time Wonder Woman was ever in a functional romantic relationship was when she dated Superman during DC’s short-lived New 52 era in the comics. During that time, Wonder Woman and Superman had their own comics and their own stories. Sometimes, those stories became entwined. Sometimes, they didn’t. It never undermined their relationship or vice versa.
I know comic fans have strong opinions about the New 52 as a whole, but I find it telling that this was really the only time Wonder Woman was allowed to be in a relationship while still being Wonder Woman. For her to be someone’s girlfriend and still be the hero she’s always been, her significant other had to be Superman.
Take a moment to think about the scope of that standard. Wonder Woman, the standard-bearer for female superheroes for decades, can be in a functional relationship, but only with someone as capable as Superman. She and Steve Trevor can be in love, but they can’t have a relationship. He’s just an ordinary man. He’d just undermine Wonder Woman’s ability to be the ideal female hero we know and love.
Meanwhile, male heroes like Batman and Spider-Man can become romantically involved with far less capable individuals, many of which don’t have superpowers and can’t fly across the planet to be on time for date night. They’re still allowed to be in those relationships, but Wonder Woman can’t even make the effort with one of her most iconic romances with Steve Trevor.
As a fan of superhero comic, romance, and Wonder Woman, I find this both flawed and frustrating. While the “Wonder Woman” movie did an solid job establishing genuine romance between her and Steve Trevor, they still never got a chance to actually be in a relationship. It’s as though a female hero can’t be in a relationship without losing something. At the same time, a male hero can’t have a complete story without one.
It’s a strange disconnect and I think it’s getting worse. In recent years, superhero comics have made a concerted effort to develop female characters and I applaud that effort. It has led to some major successes. The problem is that, like Wonder Woman, these female characters aren’t really allowed to become anyone’s girlfriend. Being in a relationship is seen as an obstacle to being strong, independent, compelling characters.
Respectfully, I call bullshit.
Being in a relationship isn’t detrimental to any character, male or female, if the relationship is well-written. In addition, female characters don’t have to be completely, 100-percent independent to be great. In fact, making them that emotional single-minded is a good way to make them unlikable and unrelatable because, in the real world, people have relationships. They form bonds, rely on others, and are effected by those close ties.
Now, I don’t deny that writing great female characters is challenging, especially in recent years. It feels like you can’t write female characters without having an agenda anymore, even when it’s not printed on a shirt. Again, I call bullshit. Female characters, like all characters, are deeply affected by the loving bonds they form. They deserve the same development and exploration as their male counterparts.
Why can’t Wonder Woman be in an official relationship with Steve Trevor?
Does being Steve Trevor’s girlfriend make Wonder Woman any less a superhero?
Does any female superhero lose something when they become someone’s girlfriend?
These are relevant questions that are worth asking. If someone as iconic as Wonder Woman can’t be in a relationship with someone without undermining what makes her Wonder Woman, then that’s not a problem with her as a character. That’s a problem with the standards and assumptions we have about superhero romance.
I’m sorry if this rant feels dragged out, but this has been bothering me for a while. I’d be happy to discuss it more. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Anyone who has read superhero comics for a sizable chunk of their lives knows the difference between a gimmick and a genuine plot upheaval. Gimmicks are shallow. They’re sales tactics disguised as shocking twists that promise to change a character, world, or team forever. Most of the time, they get retconned within a few years.
Plot upheavals that are real, genuine, and permanent are rarer, but that’s what makes them more precious. They often become defining moments in their own right for a character or a franchise. For comic fans, they’re like major life-changing events.
In the same way you vividly recall your first kiss or your first car, you remember where you were when Superman married Lois Lane.
You remember where you were when the Joker brutally beat up Jason Todd.
You remember where you were when Barry Allen died during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In that same tradition, you’ll probably remember where you were when you read “Superman #18.” This is a comic that promises to change Superman’s life and his story in major ways. It’s the comic in which he finally reveals his secret identity to the world. It’s not a gimmick this time. This is real and it has an impact that will likely resonate for years to come.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis has built a career on powerful, dramatic moments. He did it for years at Marvel with Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men. Since he began his run on Superman, he’s taken the Man of Steel through his share of upheavals. Superman’s semi-stable family life with his wife and son became a lot less stable, but he still hung onto the same identity that had kept him grounded for decades.
That finally changes in “Superman #18.” It’s not a snap decision, either. This isn’t Tony Stark going off the cuff at the end of “Iron Man.” That’s not how Superman does things. He’s thoughtful, thorough, and very much aware of the implications. He doesn’t agonize or brood over it, as many other heroes are prone to do, especially if they have egos like Tony Stark. He simply tries to determine the right thing to do.
It’s not easy. Before the big reveal, Bendis takes Superman through a round of self-reflection in which he goes over all the reasons why he maintained his secret identity as Clark Kent. Some of those reasons were entirely valid. They weren’t excuses that kept demanding more excuses. They genuinely felt like the right thing at the time.
Superman lived as Clark Kent so he could be human. That has always been important to him, going back to the Golden Age. He’s an alien from another world, trying to live and be part of this new home that he has come to love. Being Clark helped him be human, even though he is objectively not human.
While that might have been important before, a lot has changed for Superman. He no longer has anything to prove. He’s built a life as Clark Kent. He has established himself as Superman, a hero among heroes who sets the highest standards for humans and aliens alike. He couldn’t have done this without maintaining his secret identity. The only question is what more can he do to justify keeping that identity?
The tipping point in “Superman #18” comes when Superman recounts what happens when others in his life have kept secrets. Even if they were kept for good reasons, it never ended with just that secret. One secret demands another. As they compound over time, they become dangerous.
That’s still only part of the issue. Beyond the secrets, having that identity sends a message to the same people he’s trying to protect. It says that he doesn’t trust them to handle him being both Superman and Clark Kent. Maybe that made sense when he was still winning their trust, but it doesn’t make sense anymore. It also helps make the right thing to do very clear.
That effectively ends the debate. Whenever Superman is faced with a decision, his first and only instinct is to do the right thing. That’s exactly what he does in “Superman #18.”
It’s what helps make the big moment in “Superman #18” feel like something other than a gimmick. Bendis makes sure that Superman revealing his identity to the world is the right thing to do. It never comes off as the end of something, either. Whenever Superman’s identity has been revealed in the past, it has always been a complication or a last resort. That’s not how it’s framed here.
“Superman #18” feels like another step in Superman’s journey to be the hero by which all other heroes are measured. He’s lived as a human. He’s become an iconic hero. Those lives no longer need to be separate. In Superman’s eyes, they shouldn’t be. He’s still the same man, whether he’s wearing glasses or his iconic cape.
In principle, it’s a minor distinction. However, at no point in “Superman #18” does it feel trivial. Superman acknowledges that this is going to change things. His life is going to change, both as Superman and as Clark Kent. He knows there will be difficulties, but he’s willing to face them. He’s also willing to trust in the same people he protects to face them with him.
It’s a beautiful, powerful moment made all the more memorable by the art of Ivan Reis. It doesn’t require Superman to save the world, defeat Lex Luthor, or punch a planet into dust. It just requires him to do the right thing. That doesn’t just make him a hero. That’s what makes him Superman.
In the world of comics, alternate universes and various “what if” scenarios tend to be hit or miss. Some stories become more than simple thought experiments that plays with the malleable timelines and multiverses surrounding certain characters. A few even go onto become beloved and acclaimed. Stories like “Superman: Red Son” or “Age of Apocalypse” are shining examples of just how great these stories can be.
However, they’re the exception rather than the norm. Most scenarios that deal in alternate universes and “what if” scenarios tend to be either entirely forgettable or too absurd to take seriously. The stories that do set themselves apart usually succeed because the concept is strong and compelling.
By that standard, “Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Death Of Superman #1” has a lot going for it. The original “Death of Superman” story is one of the most iconic stories in the history of superhero comics. It raised the bar for how dramatic, impactful, and heartfelt a superhero comic can be. It showed just how great these characters can be, even in the face of tragedy.
This comic dares to flip the script. It explores a very different, very bleak scenario that shows how tragedy can bring out the worst in people. It dares to contemplate how even those who once championed the ideals of characters like Superman can become corrupt. That’s exactly what happens to Lois Lane in this story.
The idea, alone, is intriguing. Lois Lane isn’t just Superman’s iconic love interest. She’s someone who actively fights for truth, justice, and the American Way without the aid of other-wordly powers. Whether she’s a reporter or Superman’s lover, she personifies these values in ways that few characters can match. She’s the last person in the DC Universe that you would expect to be corrupted by tragedy.
However, in this world when the events of “Death of Superman” play out, that’s exactly what happens. Moreover, writer Jeff Loveness makes it feel entirely believable. As the story unfolds, we see a version of Lois Lane that isn’t just consumed by grief. She’s hardened by it.
Instead of grieving the loss of her lover and hero, she’s consumed by anger. She sees a world full of heroes that Superman helped inspire. Then, when he needed them most, they failed him. They let him die. On top of that, his death didn’t inspire people to be better. Things just went back to the way they were, minus their greatest hero.
In that context, it’s easy to understand why Lois would get so angry. As a result, when she has a chance to embrace the power of the Eradicator, you almost want to cheer her on. Suddenly, she has a chance to carry on Superman’s legacy. At the same time, it’s easy to see how this kind of power will ultimately corrupt her.
Power corrupting fallible human beings is a fairly common recourse in superhero comics. It’s the basis for some of the most iconic stories of all time. However, the fact that this is Lois Lane becoming corrupt is what really gives this story its impact. It makes “Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Death Of Superman #1” feel like more than just another dystopian timeline.
What Lois is able to do with the power of the Eradicator is extensive, but her grief has her cross lines that Superman never would. Loveness never gives the impression that she crosses these lines because she’s a fallible human. There’s a progression that builds up inside her, driven by sorrow and anger. She never just snaps. It feels like a natural extension of her anguish.
Naturally, it puts her at odds with other heroes and major villains. I won’t spoil how it plays out, but it gets pretty dark. However, it never gets so dark that it seems gratuitous. Loveless still makes an effort to capture the drama and heart that helped make “Death of Superman” such an endearing story. While it’s impossible to match the impact of the original story, this story still strikes the right chords.
There are moments in “Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Death Of Superman #1” that defy the traditional conventions of the DC Universe. It’s appropriately dark. At the same time, though, it never feels like the characters completely deviate from who they are. This darker version of Lois Lane still feels like the Lois Lane we’ve known for over 80 years.
Loveness makes the case that even someone like Lois can walk a darker path in a believable way. The artistic style of Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, and Norm Rapmund give that story an appropriately dark tone. It’s dramatic, but it never feels like it’s just doing things for shock value. Granted, seeing Lois become so corrupt is shocking, but that’s not the only thing driving the story.
While “Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Death Of Superman #1” probably won’t garner the same acclaim as “Superman: Red Son,” it succeeds in ways that so many other “what if” comics fail. It takes an intriguing concept and develops it in a believable way. It doesn’t undermine the characters or the original themes behind them. It simply tells a darker version of a well-known story and tells it very well.
Lois Lane will always be defined by her connection with Superman. In so many stories within so many worlds, that connection is what brings out the best in her. In this one exceptionally dark world, it brings out the worst and that makes Superman’s death even more tragic.