The DC Universe was dead and buried.
After getting back into comics in the early 2000s, right at the beginning of what I like to call the Geoff Johns/Dan DiDio era, I had been hooked on DC for the better part of the decade. I was regularly reading 5-10 titles a month, and loved the quality of the writing, the art, the gradual build to actually good company-wide events, the stable of talent employed by DC, everything. The 2000s were a decade that saw books churned out by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Kurt Busiek, Gail Simone, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis and many other new talents, as well as old guard like Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Andy Kubert and George Perez. It was a wonderful period of flawless continuity with the DC I had grown up with moving into the new millennia and expanding characters’ stories in new, faithful, exciting ways.
DC had me. I was hooked.
And then came the crash.
In 2011, the well-publicized New 52 was launched in an effort to bring in more casual comic book fans and capitalize on the success of the superhero takeover of Hollywood happening simultaneously. DC’s entire lineup was relaunched with either new creative teams, rebooted continuity or both overnight. The books felt watered down, thin on content with more emphasis on art (perhaps to read more like a movie or TV show, my take, anyway), and started completely, totally from scratch. It had been done in 1986 to phenomenal success, so “Why not try again?” the publishing giant must have thought.
I, and many other fans, understood the logic of it, as Lord knows rebooting happens often enough in the industry. I even gave it a good try, trying out roughly half of the new books when it was all said and done. Sales boomed for the first year or so as I think lots of old time fans were doing the same thing I was. Try as I might though, absolutely nothing grabbed me (other than Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s brilliant run on Batman). By 2012 I had dropped basically all titles on my pull list. The DCU had been warped and was no longer the interesting, fun place it had once been.
Hence my earlier “dead and buried” comment.
The worst offense of it all, however, was how badly my favorite DC character, Superman, had been messed up. Gone was Lois. Gone was his maturity. Gone was his intellect and way of reasoning through problems. Gone were the creative teams I had loved so much. In was a brash, confused, morally awkward Superman with an armored costume, high collar and black ‘S’ on his cape. He was discovering himself and was working through usage of his powers, and didn’t always make the right choices. Grant Morrison even wrote a new “year one” style adventure for him in the rebooted Action Comics where he ran around in a t-shirt and jeans and defeated Mr. Mxyzptlk.
I guess it was an effort to make the character more relatable. I don’t know if it succeeded in doing that for anyone, but it certainly didn’t for me. Too bad, I thought, as I normally love Jim Lee, but it was obvious he shouldn’t be in charge of creating DC superheroes costumes, nor should Bob Harras be in charge of a comics company in our day and age. Even Jim and Scott Snyder’s mega publicized miniseries, “Superman Unchained,” didn’t turn things around. It looked pretty, but it wasn’t Superman. And so it continued for the better part of five years.
Then came Lois and Clark.
Not the TV show, mind you (although I will get to that at a later time), the eight issue miniseries written by Dan Jurgens and drawn, mostly, by Lee Weeks. It was WONDERFUL!!! Apparently, in the aftermath of the horribly bad “Convergence” event of 2015, small pockets of other universes had been revealed by a version of Brainiac, who then had them fight each other. Regardless of the quality of that series as a whole, it did one thing for which I will forever be grateful, or at least allowed Dan Jurgens to do that one thing: one pocket universe included the pre-Flashpoint Superman, MY Superman, alive and well, still married to Lois Lane, now with a son named Jonathan.
The two-issue Superman Convergence spinoff which began all these things was okay, but after the event, the characters and creative team were given one more shot by DC editorial to try this Superman’s story within the context of the New 52 DC Universe. The result was phenomenal. Story, art, and characters were all back where and when they needed to be. They had progressed as characters. They were back to normal. They acted normal! Superman was a mature, adult man again, and an inspiration not only to the entire DCU but now to his own child. He wore a black suit with a silver ‘S’ and absolutely rocked a full beard which was probably awesome, admittedly, because in 2015 I also grew a full beard and had my first son. 🙂
Superman was back… and I was back!
I don’t know how much of my enjoyment was from the story itself being that good, or because I was just starved for real Superman. Either way, I enjoyed the heck out of this book, and I wasn’t the only one. I have no idea what sales were like for these eight issues, but something must have been working because shortly thereafter, the younger, imitation New 52 Superman was killed off and replaced by this Superman, shoehorned into the books for good after DC Rebirth launched in 2016.
Anyone would do well to pick up “Lois and Clark.” The premise of Superman operating clandestinely behind the scenes of this new DC Universe is amazing, in part because it once again reemphasizes the character’s essence, his humility, and his real mission. It’s not about getting the glory, it’s about doing what’s right, regardless of who gets the credit.
Dan Jurgens’ writing continues to amaze me given how well he has adapted to the zeitgeist of the times while simultaneously honoring the character he has been associated with for the better part of three decades. I have always loved Dan as an artist and especially a Superman artist, but I didn’t realize his strengths as a writer until I read his work on other books like Thor and Aquaman. “Lois and Clark” is no exception. His collaborator, Lee Weeks, is an artist who I wasn’t terribly familiar with prior but now I want to see a lot more of. His clean pencils and wonderful facial expressions give a lot of weight to this very character driven story. That said, his action scenes are just fine, too. Most of all, I love seeing character’s stories actually progressing into later events and years of their lives and not just staying status quo (I’m looking at you, Marvel!). Superman’s marriage and son were not a brief, flash in the pan event that was retconned again after the ongoing book restarted. This is even reaffirmed by appropriately putting “Lois” first in the title. It is all here to stay, and we the readers are the better for it.
This book was wonderful, and its existence and subsequent righting of the Superman ship is a big reason that I have started this blog. Superman is alive and well once again thanks to Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Geoff Johns, and whoever else in DC’s front office finally got their head screwed on straight and gave us fans what we really wanted.
If you stay with me, I’ll be writing reviews and my thoughts on new stuff, old stuff, comics, books, TV shows, movies and anything else that has the Big Blue Boy Scout in it.
Keep looking up, up and away. I’ll see you there.
Capeage Meter: 9 out of 10