Best Shots Reviews: POWER MAN & IRON FIST #3, SUPERMAN: LOIS & CLARK #7

DC Comics April 2016 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Power Man and Iron Fist #3
Written by David Walker
Art by Sanford Greene and Lee Loughridge
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Luke Cage and Danny Rand continue their search for Jennie and the Supersoul Stone in Power Man and Iron Fist #3. David Walker and Sanford Greene ensure readers that their search is an entertaining one, as they visit several allies, all while Tombstone’s henchmen follow on their heels. The book is not without its flaws however, as one character remains underdeveloped.

The highlight of the book remains the friendship between Luke and Danny. David Walker’s voices for the duo are phenomenal. Some Iron Fist fans may feel that Walker’s take on Rand is a bit regressive; his carefree attitude and humor returning after becoming a more serious character in recent years. But Walker’s humor with Danny is carefully placed, suggesting a man that is lost and perhaps forcing a reunion with Luke for a sense of normality. Luke, on the other hand, is fighting an internal battle, as he struggles to balance his own desires to be a family man and father along with his sense of duty as a superhero.

Walker also develops the villains well, as Black Mariah tries to control the possessed Jennie’s extreme methods. There’s genuine care as Mariah advises, “Control the rage, Boo-boo. Don’t let it control you.” Mariah may be a criminal, but she isn’t a monster. This sense of humanity extends to Tombstone and his goons. The two henchmen tasked with returning the Supersoul Stone are a lot of fun, as Walker maximizes their self-preservation instincts to humorous effect.

It is unfortunate, however, that Jessica Jones remains on the sidelines. Walker has positioned her as a voice of reason in Luke’s life, a foil to Danny’s risky behavior, but despite the humor involved, she never quite escapes the “nagging wife” stereotype. For such a powerful and newly prominent character thanks to her Netflix series, it remains a disappointment that she doesn’t have more to do here.

Sanford Greene’s exaggerated style works beautifully in the story, maximizing the both the humor and the action with wildly kinetic movements. Perhaps the greatest strength of Greene’s artwork is his characters. Greene captures a wild array of body types, from Cage’s hyper-muscular frame, to Black Mariah’s plump body, to Danny’s slender mold. Each of these characters has their own unique silhouette which adds a dash of realism to the stylized book.

Lee Loughridge’s colors are as equally balanced and rich as Greene’s linework. The subtle purples that swell and grow throughout the issue add an element of surrealism, while the ambers of daylight convey the sense of sunset in the city. Smaller details, such as the gold of Luke Cage’s shirt, help the characters pop from the background while also helping to inform readers of the relationship between characters (the aforementioned shirt is one that Jessica picks out for Luke).

One of the highlights to the issue is a scene where Luke and Danny visit Doctor Strange. The sequence is one of the more humorous bits of the issue, as Strange dismisses the power of the Supersoul Stone altogether. Greene’s artwork captures the arrogance of the Sorcerer Supreme as he nonchalantly explains the realities of his magical knowledge to the heroes. The extended cameo serves the issue in that it shows Luke and Danny using their network of heroes to address the situation at hand, while also highlighting that this problem is going to need to be solved on their own.

Power Man and Iron Fist #3 continues the excellence that David Walker, Sanford Greene, and Lee Loughridge have shown in the first two installments of the series. The main strength of the book is its ability to keep up the juggling act between the heroes and villains, the action and humor. If they can add Jessica Jones to the mix, the series will truly be superb.

DC Comics April 2016 solicitations
DC Comics April 2016 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics

Superman: Lois and Clark #7
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Lee Weeks, Stephen Segovia, Scott Hanna, Art Thibert, Jay Leisten and Jeromy Cox
Lettering by A Larger World Studios
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

While the "Final Days of Superman" is said to form a big part of the forthcoming DC Rebirth event, Dan Jurgens’ otherwise discreet Superman: Lois and Clark is quietly achieving great strides in restoring one of the publisher’s most beloved characters to some kind of canonicity. The Convergence story of a post-Crisis Lois and Clark finally getting a semblance of the happy ending they deserved gave Jurgens an intriguing notion to play with, and in this issue much of the promise of that series finally pays off.

For fans of a certain era of comic books, particularly those of us reading regularly during the death and rebirth of Superman saga, there is a sense of the familiar about seeing the black costume with the chromed S-logo on the chest. That costume first made its appearance, complete with the very 1990s mullet, during the 1993 "Return of Superman" saga, and you can almost hear Jurgens’ own words from 23 years ago echoing in this issue: “Don’t let the costume fool you. I’m Superman - and I’m back.” For this is what this issue represents in many ways: a return to a Superman that had been forgotten and reinvented in the "New 52," one that symbolized the bright light of the DCU for that particularly tumultuous decade.

Despite the massive events and conspiracies swirling around them, Jurgens still makes the core of this issue about family. The “coming out” of Superman is aligned with the realization that little Jon does indeed have his own powers, a fact established in last month’s cliffhanger, but that leads to the heart of the issue and a tender conversation between Lois, Clark and Jon. Any visions of this being a shadow of the inferences in the film Superman Returns are overshadowed by the emotional truth of these scenes. Indeed, if anything those conspiracies and new threats - particularly the arrival of Hyathis “half a world away” - only serve to muddy the purity of the core story at times, setting up something else as we finally receive closure on this chapter in the life of the “Whites.”

Lee Weeks, helped out in this issue by Stephen Segovia on pencils, continues to fill the pages with iconic imagery, and impressive feat when none of the characters are in their classic costumes. As Lois’ “little Superboy” reaches out through the flames, a fiery splash page signals a change for their small universe. This issue also shows Clark cutting loose on a misguided villain, with a two-page spread that uses only six well-placed panels to show the strength of this alternative icon. Yet as with the main narrative, the real strength of the art lays in the subtly of the character expressions during the family’s heart-to-heart, often shrouding faces half in shadow to give it a sense of foreboding.

What this issue proves, and hopefully the Rebirth event will be aware of, is that the strength of the DC Universe is in its history. This isn’t to say that Jurgens and the art team are simply retreading familiar ground, but rather using it as a foundation to tell new stories within a different universe. The reopening of the Multiverse doesn’t close off the comic book world to new readers, but rather gives writers new opportunities to dust off the cobwebs and see if there is anything new that can be done with characters that are eight decades old. Superman: Lois and Clark is a prime example of this type of storytelling.

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