Lois Lane's nose for trouble seems to be a family trait in "Superman: Lois Lane," which finds her sister Lucy in the middle of a mysterious drug ring with dire consequences. Between writer Marguerite Bennett and a mammoth-sized art team comprised of Emanuela Lupacchino, Meghan Hetrick, Ig Guara, Diogenes Neves, Guillermo Ortego, Hetrick, Ruy Jose and Marc Deering, Lois has finally gotten her first solo story in New 52 continuity and it's well worth the wait. With a story that truly captures the Lois we know and love, "Superman: Lois Lane" provides wonderful insight into the newest incarnation of her character.
In the 75 years that have passed since her inception, Lois -- as a character -- has undergone quite a few changes but cemented herself as a staple of Superman lore nonetheless. Although her role has altered yet again, Bennett strikes a fantastic balance that sprinkles in elements of her personality developed over the years. Bennett works in just the right amount of references -- subtle or otherwise -- from Lois' difficulty with spelling and her military experience to her hard-hitting journalistic instincts. What's more, she grasps the wackiness inherent to older Lois Lane stories; as the book undergoes a tonal shift from chilling kidnapping story to something a bit more absurd, it harkens back to the more ridiculous arcs during the silver and bronze ages, albeit in a much less offensive way. In Bennett, it's great to see a writer who's unafraid to be a little silly in the name of fun. As risky as it may have been to make that move, it more than pays off in the end, culminating in a nice blend of influences both new and old.
With its inclusion of the name "Superman," the title does the book a great disservice, as the Big Blue Boy Scout only makes one brief appearance and gets mentioned by proxy twice. In reality, the crux of the book rests on Lois' bond with her sister; this refreshingly disentangles Lois from the hero, allowing her to stand on her own, just as a solo book should. Lois is fierce, she is smart, she is loyal and -- most importantly -- she always chases a lead, all of which are made abundantly clear through her speech and conversational narration. Additionally, the supporting characters get just enough characterization to engage the reader. Bennett infuses a sense of real tragedy into the death of Lois's mother Elenor by providing a few strong scenes between her and her family, while penning an eclectic and tear-jerking sequence on the topic of loss.
Although the book is extremely strong overall, it does have a few drawbacks. The issue would certainly have had better pacing as a miniseries as opposed to a one-shot. It's a dense read with a lot of information crammed in for the sake of well-rounded characters and a developed plot. Letterer John J. Hill deserves a round of applause for his ability to integrate the sheer amount of text into each panel. A glance over the page can be a little overwhelming at first sight, but Hill manages to lay out the dialogue boxes in a clear, organic way.
For such a huge art team, the issue has a surprisingly cohesive flow. They employ the house style for the bulk of the book, providing a continuity so solid that it's hard to tell where one artist ends and the other begins, at least for the most part. This sense of unity starts to falter towards the end as the work gets sketchier, due to the use of rough, extraneous lines in the inks for a general unfinished look. Some of the figure work is iffy in places; Amanda looks a whole lot like Lois in the kidnapping sequences, which causes some initial confusion, and later on Elenor barely looks ill before she collapses while making dinner. Overall, the artwork is solid, if not exceptional, but the team effort that went into the book is phenomenal for its polished, streamlined look. As far as colors go, Hi-Fi uses purple to great effect, associating it with Lois so strongly that it's difficult to disengage the two by the end of the book. This works to the issue's favor, prompting a visual cue that alerts the reader to Lois's presence no matter where she is in the timeline or the story. From her clothing to her thought boxes, this use of purple is innovative but subtle, used to great thematic effect throughout.
"Superman: Lois Lane" is for everyone: old fans, new fans and even readers who are out of touch with current DC continuity. Bennett presents a well-rounded, thoughtfully developed Lois Lane that falls neatly into her longstanding tradition; where the art has its hiccups, it gives the book an admirable flow that rarely takes the reader out of the story.