The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 45: As a follow-up to our last entry, today’s pages are from Adventures of Superman #525 is penciled by Stuart Immonen, inked by Jose Marzan Jr, lettered by Albert DeGuzman, and colored by Glenn Whitmore, published by DC Comics with a July 1995 cover date.
In recent issues of the Superman titles, we were introduced to Clark Kent’s old high school rival Kenny Braverman, who had gained superpowers and joined a covert government agency… you know, like pretty much everyone else in comic books eventually does. Braverman, who adopted the identity Conduit, learned that Clark was Superman and attempted to murder all of Clark’s friends and family. In a final battle with Superman, the hate-filled Conduit’s powers consumed his body, killing him.
In this issue, Clark is reunited with Lois Lane, who he believed had been killed by Conduit. Clark explains to Lois that he is seriously considering giving up his Clark Kent identity to be Superman full-time, to prevent anyone else from being in danger due to their association with him.
Lois tells Clark she wants to go get a cup of coffee in the nearby town, but with one proviso: Clark needs to do it as Superman. Changing into the Man of Steel, he goes to a nearby diner to order a cup of coffee, only to discover that everyone is ill-at-ease. Some people are expecting a super-villain to attack any minute; others simply don’t know how to act around him.
Meeting up with Superman outside of town, Lois explains to him:
“You NEED a secret identity. It’s what protects you from people… and it’s what connects you to people. Under that costume you’re Clark Kent — you’ll always be Clark Kent. You can’t live without him… and neither can I!”
I feel that the post-Crisis continuity improved Lois Lane’s character a great deal. As I explained before, I was never overly fond of the pre-Crisis Lois. I couldn’t understand why Clark / Superman wanted to be with her. Even the efforts to make her less of a caricature in the 1970s were hampered by the need to maintain the Lois Lane-Superman-Clark Kent love triangle. I think a clean break was needed for Lois, and Crisis provided John Byrne with that opportunity.
Of course, having subsequently read some of the original Siegel & Shuster stories, I now realize that Byrne was actually returning Lois to her original conception, back to the intelligent, assertive, tough-as-nails investigative reporter of the early Golden Age, and away from the catty, scheming version that had existed since the 1950s.
Byrne’s work with Lois and Clark definitely set the stage for Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, Dan Jurgens, and others to write the characters in an interesting, adult relationship, and for Lois to finally learn that Clark was Superman.
In this issue, Karl Kesel does really good work with the couple. The artwork by Stuart Immonen & Jose Marzan Jr expertly tells the story. And, wow, that coloring by Glenn Whitmore on page 19, with the sun setting in a dusky star-filled sky, is beautiful.
I know there are fans that are older than me who grew up on the Silver Age or Bronze Age comic books and did not like the changes made to these characters. I can understand that. I can only say that I read these stories when I was a teenager. So for me, this will always be MY version of Lois and Clark.