Superman wakes up in Lois Lane's apartment to find he's been asleep for more than a day. He's more concerned about being seen naked by Lois, Jimmy and Condesa than the fact he's being blackmailed by the latter's supposedly former boss, computer criminal Hordr. Obviously, Lois' place is hardly shielded against a crook with all kinds of internetty tricks, and soon a cute-yet-sinister microbot that had been hiding in Jimmy Olsen's gut brings a message from Hordr. The deal is, report to the villain or they'll tell the world Superman is Clark Kent, putting his friends at risk of death by supervillain. Superman does as asked, hoping this will give Lois time to find something they can use against Hordr.
When the bad guy persuades Superman to use his new solar flare power, releasing his reserves into android energy collectors, Lois feels her hand is forced - with no other solution obvious, she take away Hordr's leverage by giving up Clark's identity herself. Superman is furious.
Boy, Superman as written by Gene Luen Yang is dumb as a brick. He's already played along with Hordr's plan once, a couple of issues ago, and that led to all kinds of trouble. Now, with breathing space of an hour, he can think of no better plan than to give the crook what they want. OK, sneaky IT stuff isn't his area of expertise, but he's best pals with master planner Batman, and their fellow Justice Leaguer Cyborg could certainly play Hordr at their own game. Yes, this is Superman's comic, and resolutions should come from him, but that's obviously not going to happen by now, and the League is visually referenced as the ID reveal goes viral, so it's not as if the comic is pretending the other heroes are unavailable.
So, Lois tells the world and immediately Superman feels able to fight back against the energy absorbing creatures, crushing them. Hordr gets away, but Superman is now free to find and bring them (I'm avoiding personal pronouns as the male-shaped villain is almost certainly the slimy Condesa) to justice. Superman is hugely angry at Lois, but what else could she do? It may not have been the best solution, but it's not like he had anything - having already lost a portion of power to an absorber-bot last month, he was voluntarily giving up what he had left. I think his brain was sucked out along with his Kryptonian spark.
The absorbers, incidentally, are called Quarmers. A weird name, seemingly out of nowhere ... unless you've read the Seventies Kryptonite Nevermore storyline, in which a portion of Superman's powers are stolen by a spooky Sand Superman linked to the dimension of Quarm.
Do I get a point for suggesting this nod in last month's review?
Callbacks such as this and Superman #43's inclusion of boeuf bourgignon - Clark's favourite meal in the Seventies - and a reference to the cover of Action Comics #484 show Yang is either an old-time fan, or a bit of a Super-scholar.
Plus, he gets that Lois is incredibly bright and brave ... so why he makes Superman so stupid, I don't know. Yes, Clark being almost completely reactive serves the story, but why not change the story? He's bringing his troubles on himself by dancing to Hordr's tune, by not consulting the JLA, by keeping proven traitor Condesa around. Speaking of whom, is this not the tackiest thing in a Superman comic since Sleeze picked up a movie camera?
It may be big, but it's not clever. As for Superman looking under his sheets to see if he's wearing underpants, he can't feel whether or not he's naked? This isn't modern, cutting edge comics, it's pure schoolboy tackiness.
A better piece of the storyline has Lois motivated to reveal all - no sniggering at the back - because seeing Superman tied to a chair by Hordr, in agony, reminds her of his torture at the hands of her military fanatic father shortly after his debut. She really can't stand seeing him suffer.
And this scene truly captures Lois - she knows Superman is being an idiot, too. What's more, she gets the best line in the issue.
The aforementioned General Lane shows up as a voice threatening Superman towards the end. The military-against-Superman bit was tired about two months into the New 52 revamp, but here it is yet again.
So, you're an artist and told to show Superman's secret identity being exposed to the entire world. You'd draw something big, something memorable, something iconic...
... you'd draw this? Talk about a dull page. The rest of the visuals from penciller John Romita Jr are pretty good, by his wobbly standards, with some nice facial expressions. Odd panels look rushed - there's a very weird Wonder Woman, for example - but the overall storytelling is good. I like the titchy toilet robot an awful lot.
Klaus Janson is back to ink some of the book, with Scott Hanna jumping in to maintain the scratchy style. Romita, Janson and colourist Dean White produce one of the catchier covers of the repetitive images we've had on the Superman books this month.
Oh dear, I've really gone into the area of 'faint praise' but I'm not damning this book. I've read enough issues by Yang and Romita now to have a good idea of what to expect in terms of approach and execution. That doesn't stop me being disappointed that this comic isn't smarter, or slicker, but no one forces me to buy it - I'm a lifelong Superman fan and interested to see what's happening in his world.
And this issue did finally show the reveal that's been teased for months; I like that Lois hits Send on the secret for a decent reason - Superman isn't helping himself, so she's trying to help him. She's motivated by practicality, and the memory of seeing him suffer; whether we're talking romantic, or close friendship, it's all about love. Yang writes a great Lois. I only wish he'd give us the Superman we know - smart, sensitive and worthy of respect.