Lex Luthor has been teleported against his will to Apokolips, where followers of the missing Darkseid believe he’s the dark lord’s successor. Lex’s robots on Earth have enacted a protocol that sends Superman after him along with, inadvertently, wife Lois and son Jon. Unfortunately, they’ve been split up by the Mother Box technology, scattered across the planet.
While Lex wants power and respect on Earth, he isn’t comfortable being forced into the role of ruler of an alien world. Knowing Darkseid’s zealots believe he’s the subject of a prophecy, he uses their words against them.
Well, you know who’s going to be pulled into the Apokoliptian power play.
As for Lois, she’s popped up alongside Granny Goodness’s female furies, where her well-honed survival instincts are needed.
As for Jon, he’s forced to reconsider his status as a dog lover.
I wasn’t looking forward to this issue hugely, not being a massive fan of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters, but it’s really rather good. Writers Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason keep the storyline barrelling forward with exciting incidents and engaging character moments, while Ed Benes, Doug Mahnke and Jack Herbert all produce terrific superhero art. Their styles aren’t so dissimilar as to be jarring, and it helps that they’re inking themselves, while the colours of Dinei Ribeiro aid the visual continuity.
Together, the creators provide some lovely moments, from Lex’s smart manipulation of Ardora and her gang, to Jon’s showing he has the fighting spirit befitting a Superboy.
The most impressive player this issue, though, is Lois. Finding herself among a band of alien amazons, she bides her time, watching and waiting. When circumstances no longer allow her to stay in the shadows, she shows that you don’t need to be raised in the fire pits of Apokolips to have the guts to be a Female Fury.
The one character who isn’t brilliantly served this issue is Superman himself, which is a bit odd in what the variant cover tells us is his 800th issue - the regular cover gives us a solo Lois image. I suppose the creative team weren’t aware there’d be a totting up of previous Superman series, otherwise they’d surely have given our hero a good showing.
Nevertheless, this is a cracking issue, with highlights including Lex positioning himself as John the Baptist, pushing Superman - or as Lex refers to him, ‘The Superman’ - into the role of Apokoliptian messiah. Then there’s the return of a character who’s not been seen since the Seventies.
I bet someone recognises the woman in the headdress without me giving it away...
There are three great splash pages among the 20pp story, my favourite being Lois and Mad Harriet vs a scary creature known as a Dredge Worm. Talk about team-ups you never knew you wanted!
The aforementioned Tony Daniel cover, coloured by Tomeu Morey, is a beaut, with the simple trade dress letting the image and logo pop. The crinkly cape is a bit of a headscratcher, still, mustn’t be picky. Patrick Gleason’s cover, coloured by Dean White, is a fine portrait of Lois in Female Fury mode, her prim cardigan peeking out from her armour.
So, not much Superman but loads of promising plot, awesome action and captivating characterisation. As 800th issues go, Superman #34 is a winner.
Superman #34 review, Peter J Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Tomeu Morey, Tony S Daniel, Dean White, Ed Benes, Jack Herbert, Doug Mahnke, Dinei Ribeiro, Superman #800