Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art and Cover by: Steve Epting
Colors by: Brad Anderson
Letters by: Josh Reed
Variant Cover by: Patrick Gleason
Last issue, we saw Clark confront Red Cloud (who is secretly Daily Planet reporter Robinson Goode) after saving Deputy Fire Chief Melody Moore. Later, Goode and Leone, a Metropolis crime boss, discuss the best way to take out Superman.
This issue picks up from Jimmy Olsen’s perspective. He and his girlfriend (since I guess he has one now) Ella ride through Metropolis on a motorcycle and end up at some kind of snake cult convention. The cultists identify themselves as Kobra. The attendees including Ella all start chanting, “Faith to Kali Yuga!” Jimmy understandably freaks out and starts taking pictures, which Ella is not okay with. She orders her fellow cult members to grab him, but Jimmy is already well on his way out of the building. He runs outside, only for the building to explode in a flash of blue light.
On the next page, Jimmy wakes up on Perry White’s couch. Perry is upset because Jimmy hasn’t brought him anything newsworthy, and demands he get out of his office. I’m not a fan of Bendis’s Perry—he sounds very much like J. Jonah Jameson, which isn’t surprising given Bendis’s history. The two characters are different, despite having similar roles in their respective mythologies, and I don’t believe that he has quite captured his voice.
Jimmy returns to his desk and tries to explain what happened at the Kobra cult to Clark, but Clark is distracted by Robinson Goode. I’ve mentioned before that I think he definitely knows something is up with Robinson—perhaps he doesn’t know for sure that she is really The Red Cloud, but he must be suspicious.
Meanwhile, Lois is meeting her father, General Sam Lane, at the Exelon Observatory. Bendis’s Sam is quite true to form—the distant military man who distrusts all things alien but deeply cares for his two daughters. Lois explains that she asked to meet him somewhere remote because she feared being overheard. My thought after reading this a second time was that she didn’t want Clark to overhear them, which again disappointed me. Their arbitrary separation is frustrating, as is the idea that Lois doesn’t trust her husband to not eavesdrop on conversations with her father.
Sam immediately inquires about Jon’s well-being, which was another sign that he does care about Lois despite their differences. Lois evades the question for obvious reasons, but reflects on her strained relationship with Sam and how she isn’t happy with it and doesn’t want the same thing to happen to her and Jon. The comment about everyone saying she and her father are the same person threw me for a loop because literally no one has said that, but I actually found this to be an interesting conversation because the conflict between Lois and her father—whom she loves but who also formed an organization hellbent on destroying Superman—is fascinating.
And the rest of the conversation would have been just as good if it weren’t for the very likely fact that Lois did not run this by Clark. She explains to her father that everyone lies to him, including her, and that she’s been lying to him for years. She tells him that she is in love with Superman, who is the father of his grandson, who is off galivanting across the galaxy with Jor-El. She deliberately says that she married Clark but is in love with Superman, which I surmise is her trying not to compromise Clark’s secret identity but still being somewhat honest with her father. Either way I thought this was a terrible idea for numerous reasons, chief of which being that we never got to see Lois and Clark have a conversation about how or when or if she should tell Sam. And given Sam Lane’s history with Project 7734, and even beforehand, Lois had every justification not to tell her father the truth about her relationship with Clark or their son. Even as recently as last year he was raving about Superman being a threat to national security, and it didn’t make any sense for her to decide out of the blue to let him in on a secret that he very well might not keep.
Superman is flying around Atlanta amid the cheers of his many admirers. He hears someone scream for his help and catches her in the nick of time. Lo and behold, it’s Amanda Waller. He flies to confront her attacker, only to find a blue explosion tearing apart a building, similar to what Jimmy saw earlier. After rescuing its tenants, Clark calls out for Amanda, who is nowhere to be found.
This issue was more enjoyable than the last because Lois actually played a key role in the story, but it was frustrating that Bendis still seems to be using the narrative to direct the characters instead of the characters to direct the narrative. Lois Lane would never sell out her husband and son. Now, maybe they did have a discussion offscreen and we just haven’t seen it yet, but the absence of Lois and Clark coming to any consensus together on what to tell people, including Sam Lane, about Jon’s absence weakens the story Bendis has chosen to tell. Their relationship is the backbone of the mythos, and for any story to be effectively told, we as readers need to see that partnership in action instead of her being out of the story for half the run. In any case, I don’t think that the revelation bodes well for the Lane-Kent family, as perhaps foreshadowed by the title “The Most Dangerous Secret in the Universe”. If Bendis has indeed set Lois up as the ‘fall guy’ for Clark being put in danger, then I think it’s incredibly unfortunate that Lois’s character has been maligned for the sake of suspense. In a time where journalism as a profession is under threat, a far more compelling story would be Lois standing up to her father by giving Superman and other aliens the fair coverage they deserve, and shedding a light on how they have bettered the planet, and not destroyed it like Sam Lane thinks. Instead, we have yet to see her do any reporting at all.