Does DC Comics’ Lois Lane #12 end this stellar series with a fizzle or a bang? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Writer Greg Rucka, artist Mike Perkins, colorist Andy Troy and letter Simon Bowland put forth an issue that feels as “split” as Renee and Elicia. Despite moments of pure, unadulterated beauty, the script feels torn between what it’s trying to do. Is it trying to tell us that love makes the world go round? It does so brilliantly with small moments shared by many of the characters. Or is it trying to tell us the Multiverse is on fire? Because I’m a little less convinced of that.
Rucka’s writing in this chapter seems to get slightly off course. The plot’s connection to the multiverse is something we are told is of utmost importance, yet those moments feel out of step. Rucka manages to ground these high minded ideas in the characters of Renee and Elicia. They represent the concepts he puts forward of personas splitting, and they represent it with a brilliant flair. Yet Lois and Sister Clarice’s final moments leave you scratching your head. Their mission together, though it has supposedly been just beneath the surface all along, feels like it comes out of nowhere. It seems Rucka bit off more than he could chew when he introduced the Multiverse in the final three issues, making this ending a little half-baked.
In the end, the multiversal aspect of the series only serves to distract from the intimate story Rucka is telling. An intimate story that still shines in these pages. With Lois and Clark reuniting, Alejandra coming back to her family, even Elicia and Renee going on a joyride, it’s impossible to read these pages without a smile. Though Rucka’s writing stumbles, it’s only for a moment. Rucka takes his eye of the prize for a second, forgetting briefly that these characters are good as they are. There’s no need for a multiverse to back them.
Perhaps one of the reasons the multiverse feels out of step here, is because of the beautiful job Perkins does. His artwork is just so present. It feels real. It’s tangible. So intangible, high-minded ideas like a multiversal meltdown feel a little too out there. It’s strange to see a series concerned with the big picture, when it’s so familiar with the crease of a forehead or the shape of an eyebrow.
In the last two issues of Lois Lane, Perkins makes the intangible Multiverse real with his gorgeous spreads. Despite their sheer power at making your jaw drop, it’s nice they aren’t in these pages. We come back to the things that matter in this final chapter. We see the smirks and winks that make Renee and Elicia work. The grins from ear to ear on Alejandra’s children make your heart warm. And Lois Lane’s easygoing smile in the face of a world on fire is the face of what makes her and this series so incredible.
Troy finishes his sonata of colors in this issue. The palette warms up considerably, compared to the last couple issues. We get a sense of safety, a sense that the danger has passed, in the first few pages. But what’s so interesting, as has been all along, is Troy’s use of the color purple. Throughout this series this is a color Troy keeps coming back to. From Lois Lane herself, constantly garbed in purple and always a source of mystery, to his coloring of magic and the “other.”
We see Troy continue to do that. Lois is in her purple top, Midnight uses purple magic to find a cellphone. Midnight gets on a call with Renee who is surrounded by a purple background. Troy’s use of the color hasn’t changed, but the characters’ reaction to it has. Lois, Renee and Midnight take it all in stride. The unknown has become the known, they are no longer afraid of what they don’t know. And so, with a simple recurrence of one color, Troy gives us a barometer of every character in this series. It’s amazing to see it all come full circle.
Bowland’s rhythm and timing allow the smallest moments in this issue to speak volumes. Bowland sparsely letters much of the first part of the issue. In the place of dialogue, we instead get sound effects and action. But when we cut to the Daily Planet newsroom, this all changes. Word balloons overlap one another, as everyone in the everyday chaos of the bullpen is trying to be heard. Of course much of the dialogue goes over our heads. Snippets of stories we have no context for. But Bowland focuses us in on one set of word balloons, a thought train we follow panel to panel, by placing it in the middle of each panel. It’s just someone looking for their mechanical pencil, asking people if they’ve seen it.
Brilliantly, when Lois enters the bull pen for the first time in ages, all the dialogue disappears, except for a word balloon in small lettering of someone saying “… I gotta call you back…” Once Lois enters Perry’s office, it’s business as usual. And hilariously, Bowland shows us this by placing “Look can I just borrow a pen, then?” as the last thing we see on the page. It connects us to the wonderful mundanity of life, even on the heels of seemingly important moments.
There is so much to say about this issue and about this series from DC Comics. With the direction it was heading, this issue could have been such a letdown. But it wasn’t. It was a beautiful story about our connectedness, and our need to depend on one another. The introduction of the multiverse to this series retrospectively feels like Godzilla barging in on two people making love. It’s out of place and so much bigger and less intimate than the story being told. But this creative team didn’t allow it to steal enough focus to ruin anything.
So while there’s the briefest of moments where one reads this and says “huh?” we come back to an image of Clark and Lois holding hands. The creative team doesn’t allow the series to get derailed. We just hit a tiny speed bump. This is a gorgeous series, one of the best DC Comics has produced in the past ten years. And It’s certainly left us wanting more Lois Lane. LOIS LANE #12 is out from DC Comics July 7th!