Book Review - Superman: Action Comics, Volume 2: Welcome to the Planet

Superman: Action Comics, Volume 2: Welcome to the PlanetSuperman: Action Comics, Volume 2: Welcome to the Planet by Dan Jurgens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am always stunned when I get comic books by the Big 2 off Netgalley; now I'm beginning to think this is not a compliment but an insult.

I don't know where to start with this volume. I'm not an avid follower of comics, and timelines, storylines and general chronology escapes me. Despite this being the second part to Superman: Action Comics, Volume 1: Path of Doom, I still haven't understood the central premise of Superman leaving Earth with his family to set up shop on a parallel Earth. I know I'm missing something, but none of the stories excite me enough to bother digging around for more.

This particular volume must have seemed like a good idea to the writers and editors - it is essentially 100-odd pages of world-building. But even then it lacks the ability to stretch its imagination to include said world. We discover precious little about New Earth (I'm going to call it that) and instead must follow the daily goings-on at the Kent household. Parallel to this, is New Earth's Clark Kent's investigation of what killed their Superman, which has something to do with Lex Luthor, the new Superman. Yes, it is all exactly as confusing as that.

As the story meanders along, we are thrust into some family 'drama'. Lois wants her life back - she's had to give it up all these years to stay home and take of the Kent scion, but now she's found a way to do what she loves best - be a reporter at the Daily Planet on New Earth. We harp on about this difficult decision for several pages, because, even in the 21st Century, the writers of Superman comics cannot envision a scenario where Superman and Lois Lane split family duties, giving up neither of their lives in the bargain, but compromising gratefully for each other. I think there are more working class families in real life splitting domestic duties better than the greatest superhero in comic book history. Excuse me while I break something.

I feel the writers were hoping to capture the guilt of a working mother, but the dialogue came across as simpering and pedantic; encapsulating none of the true feelings many women have spoken about (the writers could have done a simple google search), instead writing the entire episode from a patriarchal viewpoint.

Given this is DC, the comic is primarily white - I don't mean the art, I mean the people. There is no diversity in ethnicity, race, sexuality, ability or body type; and next to no women of note barring Lois. It's an eye-sore. It gets so bad, there's a page of panels featuring a crowd of only white, mostly male figures. I... don't get it.

One positive is the book's art. While it isn't imaginative or creative, it is vivid and vibrant; an absolute pleasure to look at.

We now move onto some spoilers:

This volume introduces us to Superwoman, who informs Lois and Superman that Lois Lane of New Earth is dead; killed in front of her. Lois has conveniently kept a recording ready for Lois (try and keep up) asking her to continue in her stead at the Daily Planet. If we did a survey of actual people, I would like to see just how many receive videos from the recently deceased. It must be a popular method, because in 2017 itself I have come across three different media in which videos from the dead have helped the living move on (TV's Sherlock, The Summer of Impossible Things and now this one). Creepily Lois takes on the task of stepping into Lois' shoes and taking over her job.

BTW, New Earth's Lois was a Superwoman - one of two, as it were, till she died from her newfound powers. Convenient.

None of the mysteries are wrapped up in this volume, and that frustrated me no end. New Earth's Clark's investigation goes nowhere, Lois' death is not solved, Lex' underhandedness is not discovered. For that, we must get another comic book. Rolls eyes.

End of spoilers.

The volume doesn't bother to answer any of the questions it poses, neither does it move the story along in any form. One wonders why Superman even came here, because it is evident he did no research or reconnaissance before planting himself here. His life is so bizarre that he can't even meet his son's friend for fear of being recognised. Where is this story going, and what is the point of this mirror planet - the writers are stringing us along hoping we'll keep buying their comics to find out. But I don't care. These characters, this writing, the story isn't gripping enough to bother about.

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