Grim_Noir Checks The FALLOUT From A New Lois Lane

Lois Lane Fallout cover

Title: Lois Lane: FALLOUT

Writer: Gwenda Bond

Jacket and book design: Bob Lentz

Published by Capstone/Switch Press

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

Lois Lane may be the most malleable character in all of superhero lore and that is a good thing. So many heroes are trapped in the gilded cage of their iconic nature. (Just look what happens every time DC even tries to change Batman’s costume, for Pete’s sake.) Lois posseses the ability to morph seamlessly into a modern, driven woman for any age. This enables her to be a relatable role-model to girls of every age. And, now, happily, author Gwenda Bond has been tapped to nursemaid Ms. Lane into her latest iteration: Young Lois as a high school investigative reporter.

Now, I can feel a great disturbance in the interwebz, as if a million voices suddenly cried out at once, “Smallville!” To which I have to say: No, no, this is closer to dropping Veronica Mars into Degrassi High.

The novel opens with sixteen-year-old army brat Lois Lane arriving for her first day of school at East Metropolis High. Lois tells her story in the first person, as if confiding to a friend. Immediately, her complete inability to tolerate any injustice is engaged when she stumbles across the Principal telling another student, Anavi, that she might need a psychiatric evaluation because she is reporting a gang is bullying her, both on the high school campus and online. But Lois doesn’t think Anavi is paranoid, especially after her own personal run-in with Anavi’s tormentors, The Warheads.

Along the way, some guy named Perry White offers Lois a job with the online student site for The Daily Planet. Together with her fellow Daily Scoop staffers, the over-privileged James, hacker Devin, and musician-turned-fashionista Maddy, Lois begins to investigate the connections between East Metropolois High School, a think-tank named Advanced Research Laboratories, and a videogame called Worlds War Three.


“…The answer came as a sensation–like the push of an invisible hand slamming into my mind, hard enough that my head went back as I jerked to my feet. My chair scraped the floor behind me, and Maddy’s hand catching it was all that kept it from hitting the floor… Then they were getting up, one by one, and leaving the cafeteria… I steadied myself with a hand on the table. ‘Finally,’ I said, ‘we’re getting somewhere…’ ”

from “Lois Lane: FALLOUT” by Gwenda Bond

While this origin tale doesn’t exact jibe with our heroine’s current backstory in the comics, Bond does imbue her Lois with enough cultural touchstones to make her recognizable: She has the Margot Kidder portrayal’s trouble with spelling, and Terri Hatcher’s “Don’t-tell-me-where-I-can’t-go” attitude, and even refers to Clark Kent as “Smallville,” just like Dana Delany did in the animated series. (Although, in this version, Clark chose the name as his online handle and Lois has no idea who he is “IRL.”)

The novel does have a few minor problems, however. Most of them are “meta” quibbles. Naming the first book in the series after another famous videogame series that has nothing to do with the plot IS a misstep. As is naming a major plot point “the Hydra project,” when one of the esteemed competition’s big baddies is… well, you know.

Pacing is also a problem. Ms. Bond spends 95% of the book in world-building and character development. Most of the actual action occurs in the first 20 pages and the last 20 pages. Plus, the action resolves so quickly that we really don’t see a lot of denouement beyond Lois and her crew filing their story.

That isn’t to say this is a bad story, things move along breezily enough and Lois is always a hero that readers can cheer on. It simply wears its Young Adult roots on it’s sleeve. It is not a Nobel prize-winner in Literature, nor does it have to be. It is, however, exactly what it needs to be: A good start to a new franchise.

Gwenda Bond Fallout

 

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* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Good Reads or Facebook to end his self-delusions. He would also like anyone who reads this far to know that Switch Press is giving away two free downloads of Lois Lane short stories by Gwenda Bond. (He’s sneaky that way.)

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