Sunday, 28 March 2010

The World of Metropolis #2

(Apologies for lateness, a busy week at work combined with the refusal of blogger to save my drafts properly have put me back a little. If the synopsis seems a little off, it's because it's my fourth or fifth attempt at getting it written.)

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Writer: John Byrne
Pencils: Win Mortimer
Inks: Dick Giordiano, Sal Trappini
Lettering: Bill Oakley
Coloring: Tom Ziuko
Assistant Editor: Renee Witterstaeter
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: John Byrne
Cover Date: September 1988
Releae Date: 17/05/1988

Lois Lane rushes into a burning building, climbing up to find Wanda. She bursts into an apartment and finds Wanda, a pet dog. She breaks the window and throws the dog out to the waiting firemen, before jumping herself. Superman catches her and uses his heat vision to destroy some falling rubble. Returned safely to the ground, Lois is reuinited with Wanda and her owner, her sister Lucy Lane. That night, Lucy stays with Lois. As they eat pizza and watch old movies, Lois is reminded of how she first went after a job at the Daily Planet...

Instead of babysitting, the 15-year old Lois Lane drags her sister along to the Daily Planet newsroom. She approaches Perry White, reminding him that they have met before, even though Perry does not remember. She attempts to impress Perry, demanding a job as a reporter, and lying about her age. Lucy blows the lie, and Perry ushers the two girls out of his newsroom, telling Lois to come back in ten years. As they leave the building, a rejected Lois overhears two reporters talking about wanting to get dirt on Luthor, and comes up with a plan.

That night, Lois sneaks out of the Lane family home, having conscripted Lucy to help cover for her. Lois makes her way off the army base and onto a bus bound for Metropolis. She emerges in the city in front of the LexCorp building. She uses a nearby statue to climb up to a low-hanging window-cleaning cradle, then uses the cradle to ascend to the penthouse level. The cradle stops a few feet away from the balcony, but one death-defying leap puts Lois on the balcony, hiding behind a plant and planning her next move. However, teh cradle swings from the momentum of the jump, crashing into the building. Lex Luthor and his companions rush onto the balcony to see what has caused the commotion.

Lois rushes in behind them and immediately starts stuffing papers from Lex's desk into her pockets. Unsurprisingly, Lex notices this, and he and his companions give chase. Lois quickly gets lost in the corridors, and finds herself confronted by Lex. Lex is surprised that the intruder is so young, and hands her over to his female security, who strip-search Lois and recover the papers. Lex beats Lois with his cane and evicts her from the building, before settling down to watch the tape of Lois' search. Out on the street, Lois coughs up a piece of paper she had swallowed to prevent it from being discovered. She returns home, and watches old movies with Lucy, eating ice-cream.

Back in the present day, Lois tells Lucy that she gave the stolen paperwork to Perry White. Although it was stolen property and it couldn't be used as the basis for a story, Perry was impressed with her initiative and kept an eye on her. Years later, when Lois started becoming a famous reporter, Lex sent her a copy of the search tape to remind her of where she came from.

This second installment of World of Metropolis stands on its own more than the first. The notion that Lois and Lex have a history that pre-dates Superman's arrival is one that is returned to time and again, even in the current Secret Origin reboot. Although the idea was pushed to the background once the regular titles got going following Man of Steel, a lot is made of the idea that Lex has an obsession with Lois, especially during Man of Steel #4. As her experience of Lex starts here with her being forcibly strip-searched and beaten with a cane, it's not surprising that Lois constantly rebuffs his advances.

If the manic-laughter-Lex of the previous issue felt out of character, then the dominating-paedophile-Lex who retires to watch a tape of the 15-year old girl being forcibly strip-searched is a particularly dark edge to the character that, thankfully, has been left behind. I'm not a fan of this element of the issue or of Lex. It's too blunt and on-the-nose, and for such a serious encounter, it shapes too little of Lois' future life. Her anti-Lex reporting always seemed to come from a place of distrust of the powerful, rather than from a prior abuse.

Random things that I like about the issue include the extended sequence of Lois gaining entry to the LexCorp building, and the fact that Lois' plan is just so bad (run in, grab some stuff, run out, hope that something stolen is worth something to Perry). A real annoyance is the way that the issue wants to have a great anti-Lex payoff, but just comes across as.. well... wrong. Lois seems to find it funny and a bit of a victory that the only way Lex can get her is to watch a video of her 15-year old self being brutally strip-searched... yeah, that works Lois, you got the irony of the situation just right. The closing page just seems to decelerate the issue to the point where it screeches to a complete stop, without providing a sense of closure to Lois' story. It feels like there's a second part out there where an adult Lois wins the day, regaining the moral high ground conceded by her when she broke into LexCorp.

Next on World of Superman: Mr Clark Goes To Metropolis!

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