Move over, Superman! Lois Lane is taking over this comic. Lois had planned on interviewing a South American drug lord, but Deathstroke killed the guy before she could speak to him. She decides to try and interview the Terminator himself, which proves easier said than done. Now Lois is trying to get Deathstroke on the record while her husband hovers nearby keeping a close eye on her.
Superman has been rather inconsistent in recent months. It has had highs and lows in terms of story, with some getting to the core of the character and others feeling like filler issues. Superman #31 is more of the latter. It starts off interesting enough with Superman talking down a crazed scientist ready to blow up his lab. Writer James Bonny spends some time explaining the situation and what exactly the scientist was working on, only to never bring it up again. I do hope this comes back later in the arc because otherwise pages were wasted on some very odd specifics.
After this rescue, the focus shifts entirely to star reporter, Lois Lane. This is classic Lois. She’s strong and independent, and no one is going to tell her what to do, not even Superman. When the Man of Steel swoops in to save her from some thugs, she yells at him. How is she supposed to track down Deathstroke if he’s flying in to save the day every time she gets in trouble. I mean, this is his wife and the mother of his child, but it’s cool. Go get stabbed in a dark alley just so long as you get that headline.
This whole angle gets rather dry very quickly as it’s a lot of exposition to sift through. Everyone has a backstory they have to tell about who they are, what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. This includes Lois, Deathstroke, and the thugs after Deathstroke. It gets pretty text heavy. Granted, a portion of this is dedicated to pieces of Lois’ story, but that’s only one segment. I’d be curious to see how that could have worked as a narration for a larger piece of the issue.
One standout in Superman #31 is Tyler Kirkham’s artwork. It is well-detailed with some very fine lines. His Superman is strong and capable, however his Deathstroke is what steals the show. This is a lean killing machine made of muscle, grit, and determination. His first appearance in the issue is intimidating and a little scary and all he’s doing is standing there.
When Deathstroke starts telling his story, the images of his past are spread through the page like memories cycling through his mind. The framing is great, working to draw the reader through the each blood-soaked event. Colorist Arif Prianto gives this sequence a faded look, like peering at an old photograph.
What made Superman my favorite title in DC Rebirth was the family aspect of the story. Clark, Lois, and Jon working together as a team made the book more enjoyable. Even when they were apart, they were together in spirit and always on each other’s minds. This issue displays almost none of those qualities. Deathstroke is more of a focus than the title character.