Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over – and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy.
You can read a prequel short story here.
Finally, Lois Lane gets to be the hero of her own story – and it makes for a very fun read.
But first, let’s take the long view – because as a character, Lois Lane has suffered a lot of punishment over the years. Historically speaking, she’s pretty much a classic case of a female character being utterly squashed and betrayed by the shifting tide of social mores – because back in the very beginning, when Superman first appeared on the scene (in the late 30’s/early 40’s), Lois Lane was sure as hell no damsel in distress. In fact Lois 1.0 was a tough as nails journalist, inspired in part by Nellie Bly – a lady who could go toe-to-toe with Superman, without ever needing to be saved (which suddenly makes it easy to understand why Superman would fall in love with her, doesn’t it?) From the very beginning, Lois was a firecracker, just like many of the women of her era – as they had to be, to fill the void left by all the young men going off to fight World War II. But if you’re wondering what happened to that Lois, what turned that crack reporter into a fainting puddle of uselessness in constant need of rescue – well, the answer to that is, the 50’s and 60’s happened. Because the era that collectively told the ladies to shut up and get back to the kitchen (seeing as the menfolk were back from war and wanted their place atop the social pecking order back) certainly didn’t spare the fictional ladies of comics in the least – and so Lois, like many a feisty femme, found herself in a Suzie Homemaker chokehold. Simply put, she was MADE to conform to the socially acceptable gender roles of the time, character integrity be damned – so enter helpless love interest Lois Lane, stage right. And that version of Lois ruled for a long, long time – even as her outfits became skimpier and skimpier – but there’s a simple truth in the world of comics, and that is: the original version never completely goes away. Because comics readers are very, very used to seeing a boatload of iterations of their favorite characters, at any given time – so even while wussy Lois ruled the day, firecracker Lois was never entirely gone, her spark was never truly snuffed out. And so, while Lois has suffered many indignities over the decades, there is still a core to the character, an intrinsic quality that makes her recognizable AS Lois Lane – and that, to me, can best be summed up by one word: spunk.
Hence we arrive at 2015, when Gwenda Bond (an admitted fangirl of the Margot Kidder Lois Lane) suddenly found herself let loose in the DC world of Metropolis, with free rein to play – and what does she give us? A modern, even slightly futuristic, story of teenage reporter Lois Lane – who sure as hell is no damsel in distress. Because that IS Lois Lane, after all – and Lois, may I say, it is lovely to see you again.
And so our story begins with Lois on her first day at a new high school (a familiar occurrence for an Army brat), just hoping she can keep her head down and blend in, for once – only she trips smack into the middle of a case of cyber-bullying before the day is out. And being Lois, of course she can’t let it go – and as Lois’ investigation very quickly lands her in hot water, she still just can’t back down, because she doesn’t have it in her. And I really loved that about this story – not only because it was lovely to see Lois brimming with moxy, but also because this story really wonderfully explores the flip side to Lois’ exceptionalism, showing us that it’s not an easy thing for a teenage girl to always stand out, to never fit in. In fact there’s a price to pay, for Lois, both in terms of social standing and her family life (and I particularly loved her uneasy relationship with her father), just for her to be who she is, and do what she feels is right – and that I absolutely loved. Truly, this is Lois’ story, and it makes this book personal and engaging in a really wonderful way.
As for the mystery, while it wasn’t all that particularly memorable, it did move along at a good clip, and had fun sci fi flourishes to boot – which also make complete sense, given this is a world where a teen boy alien can fly and shoot lasers from his eyes. And while I was never bored, I would classify this as a breezy, entertaining read more than a crack mystery – though I do love how this story showcases Lois’ smarts while keeping her believably teen, and while she’s always willing to risk herself, she’s also realistic enough to know when she needs to call for backup. And okay, I’ll admit I was a little dubious about the inclusion of “SmallvilleGuy” at the start (it felt a bit like a forced cameo, to be honest), but it did turn out to be pretty cute by the end, and I completely buy it as an early seed planted for their future romance.
And so, Lois Lane finally gets to have her own story – a story where she takes risks, makes mistakes, and at the end of the day, gets her byline – and it was just a lot of fun to read. So here’s hoping for many more Lois Lane adventures yet to come.
Byrt Grade: A-
As Levar Burton likes to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…
Lois’ online pal goes by the name “SmallvilleGuy,” and few readers will not put the pieces together quickly regarding his true identity. Bond plays with their knowledge though, effectively turning this eye-roll–worthy quirk into a knowing smile, similar to the one Supes gives to viewers at the end of many a comic book and film. This lighthearted and playful tone permeates the novel, making for a nifty investigative mystery akin to Veronica Mars or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Readers are in for a treat.
Lois Lane: Fallout is everything a contemporary superhero adaptation novel should be: funny, smart, and with just the right balance of action and suspense. Its got just enough references to the world of Superman to hook in anyone who picked it up for that reason, but the story belongs entirely to Lois, shows her adventures as a journalist and her growth as a young woman finding a place to belong.