Superman #32 review

Lois Lane’s recent interview with international hitman Deathstroke the Terminator looks set to be an award winner, having made headlines and pleased hard-nosed hack Perry White. 

Sadly, whatever understanding there was between reporter and assassin has faded as this issue begins, with Lois firmly in his crosshairs. Cue her very own guardian angel. 

Something similar happened in the first part of Breaking Point, convincing Slade Wilson that Superman loves Lois Lane Kent. As the story continues it becomes evident that he really isn’t interested in murdering Lois so much as raising in Superman the desire to kill. 

Writer James Bonny impresses here as he switches narrators, from Lois to Superman to Deathstroke... then provides a reveal in the final pages. It’s a clever one, in that it makes sense for the current take on the character; I hate it, though, because it continues the darkening of a classic DC character. Purportedly one of the good guys, this person should not be directly endangering regular folk like Lois, and indirectly responsible for the potential deaths of hundreds more by hiring a man who sets a massive fire at an industrial plant to smoke Superman out.  

And Lois goes beyond her reckless Silver Age self in putting others in danger, insisting on going to the office when a master killer is apparently out to get her. Yes, Deathstroke is the ‘honourable’ assassin, the bleeding heart who doesn’t like others to get hurt in his crossfire, but collateral damage is always possible. 

As for Deathstroke, he fails to put two and two together and work out that if Superman loves Mrs Clark Kent, they’re likely the same man (I’m pretty sure the surprise character is well aware of the fact). While I’m no fan of the villain, Deathstroke is smarter than that. 

Superman’s abilities are downplayed in order to make it seem Slade - an enhanced human, but way below Superman’s level of power and experience - is a credible threat to Lois’s life. 

Artist Tyler Kirkham and colourist Arif Priato work hard to sell the danger, capturing the plucky tension of Lois, growing anger of Superman and no-nonsense attitude of Deathstroke. Their Metropolis is an interesting urban environment and when an explosion hits there’s a real sense of danger.

Dave Sharpe letters, and all looks good... someone, though, did a poor patch over his work. 

I wonder what the original words were, I can’t see room for anything controversial.  

Kirkham and Prianto produce a decent main cover, Jonboy Meyers an attractive alternative, but for the zillionth time this decade we get burning red eyes as a shorthand for ‘Superman is most annoyed’. That’s not how his heat vision works, it’s a power he controls like any other, it isn’t linked to emotion. 

The smart narration and visual storytelling throughout helps make up for my negative criticisms... I’d still recommend this two-parter as a fill-in worth reading for fans of Lois. 

Superman #32 review, James Bonny, Tyler Kirkham, Arif Prianto, Dave Sharpe, Jonboy Meyers, DC Rebirth


  1. I'm a big fan of that character who shows up at the end... but like you, I prefer her more heroic than how she's usually been shown these days. Pragmatic and risk-taking, for good reasons. This seemed dodgy.

    I'm not sure that's a sloppy letting fix that you point out, though -- could it be those words are bolded for emphasis? Comics used to do that all the time.

    This was a decent diversion -- better than a museum tour! -- but I'm happy we're getting the main team back next issue.

    1. I’m sticking with ‘patch’ - compare it to examples of holding up in, say, the park sequence higher up.

      And yes, I’m looking forward to the regular team’s return, too.

  2. Besides the unfortunate downplay of Superman for such a lesser guy as Deathstroke (which is depressing as it can get), I just hated Lois' role in this.

    Mind you, I don't expect her to fight back Deathstroke physically, but like the headline announced ("inside an assassin's mind"), Lois could at least try to play Slade's cat and rat game and truly get to know his habits, like his relationship with his kids and his visits to brothels (I mean, silly as it sounds, it'd be at least more fun if Slade found Lois waiting for him in the room instead of the underage girls he likes to meet). And for much less, Lois brought the Hellbat's glove with her in this very own title.

    In short, I'd like an issue where it didn't feel like Deathstroke is the only person who gets to be the smart one rather than one where Lois goes to work like she doesn't have a target on her head just because she has her own knight in shining armor in Superman.

    1. Those are some excellent points. Deadpool is a smart guy, but Lois is smart, too, and she didn't do anything but play into his hands -- even though she *knew* he was planning on using her as a pawn.

    2. Thanks for the comment, CH, I’m with Rob, bravo! I want to read your version of this story, full of black humour and the agency Lois showed in 1938.

  3. I enjoyed the twist and (unsurprising in hindsight) guest appearance but yeah, this story could've gone somewhere and didn't. Deathstroke's last brush with Clark in his own series was more convincing since a) he lost, naturally b) Clark didn't know about the whole gravity sheath business then and it only worked for one cheap shot c) not only did he have the moral highground over Slade the whole time he was also sharp enough to figure out he was being played by the government to bring in Deathstroke AND the battleship he was on (long story) and improvised a solution that left none of the people trying to manipulate him happy.

    Much as it's nice to pit Clark against someone super smart so we can see his brains as well as his brawn, that's not what this story is. Lex or Grodd or Hector Hammond Slade ain't. Poor showing for Lois too as C.H points out.

    1. You can’t beat seeing Superman lose his noggin. Anj reviewed a vintage example of that with his look at the debut of Bloodsport yesterday at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary.

  4. You don't see room for anything controversial because you are a Brit. Here in America, the word "A" can, and probably does, offend someone. It's crazy the lengths to which many editors have to go to try and not offend anyone.


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