Up, Up, And Away: Phil Jimenez’s ‘Superwoman’ #1 Shocks Fans With Controversial Ending
When DC Comics announced its slate of DC Rebirth titles, Superwoman was one of the books that really stood out as coming from left-field. For a time, we weren't sure who Superwoman would be, and when it was confirmed to be Lois Lane donning the costume, there were still more questions surrounding how she got her powers, and even which incarnation of Lois Lane it would be. (There have been two versions in the DC Universe since the reality-mashing events of Convergence.)
This week finally saw the release of Superwoman #1 by Phil Jimenez, Matt Santorelli and Jeromy Cox, which firmly establishes the new status quo for Lois Lane and Superwoman, while raising a lot more questions about the future of the comic and its lead than anyone was expecting. This article contains spoilers for the ending of Superwoman #1.
The comic does a great job of establishing its status quo and Lois' new abilities in and around a classic Superman-style action story. As Lois was present during the death of New 52 Superman as he fought his doppelganger, she absorbed his abilities in the fallout. One of the book's few big surprises is that Lois Lane isn't the only Superwoman as Lana Lang also gained powers in the event, turning her into Electric Red Superwoman!
We're big fans of the Electric Blue era of Superman here at ComicsAlliance, so this was especially exciting to see.
Lois and Lana's relationship and budding partnership forms the core of the book, which makes the ending hit harder than possibly anyone was expecting as Lois Lane is killed in battle, leaving Lana the sole Superwoman.
There's been a lot of talk about whether this was a good ending or not, and it is certainly shocking. Speaking personally, I loved it, and thought it hearkened back to Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley's Thunderbolts #1 which also pulled the rug out form under the readers. That comic was presented as a new team of heroes for a new age, replacing the fallen Avengers who had died battling Onslaught. However, the last page revealed them to be the Masters of Evil in disguise, flipping the entire premise of the book on its ear.
Genuine shock moments are rare these days in comics as publishers like to spill their guts to mainstream media outlets, so letting something be genuinely surprising is --- well --- a genuine surprise in itself. Readers went in expecting a comic about Lois Lane, and got a comic about Lana Lang, and while Lois fans are understandably upset, it's a risky move of a sort that we don't see much anymore.
However, it is a fairly ignominious death for the New 52 incarnation of Lois Lane, who never quite got her due. She was saddled with an insipid love interest at the beginning of the new continuity who never appeared again, and was later responsible for broadcasting Superman's secret identity to the entire world.
It's also hard not to think that she was killed off partly to resolve the "problem" of having two Lois Lanes at the same time. I've written before about how the Superman of the last five years was a lot better than people give him credit for, but Lois never got the chance to be a partner and an equal to him before both were shuffled off the stage to allow the incarnations from the pre-New 52 continuity to take over.
It's also concerning that the comic establishes a theme of female friendship and then dashes that premise against the rocks by the last page. There's an audience that's eager for more comics about women's relationships, and those readers could be alienated by the issue's ending and may not return.
That said, I still admire the audacity of killing a main character in the first issue of their solo series, and as poorly-handled as Lois Lane was in The New 52, Lana Lang benefited greatly from the revamp. The potential for Jimenez's Superwoman is boundless, and I'm along for the ride --- but a lot of people may be turned off by the bait and switch.