As expected, Clark Kent makes an appearance in Gwenda Bond’s perky new Lois Lane novel (he’s called SmallvilleGuy throughout the book). But instead of dominating the story like he normally does, he’s simply cast as a supporting character. In other words, the author has turned Superman into Lois Lane’s sidekick. And we have no problem with that.
Frankly, there’s no one else in Superman’s orbit that can dim his star power. Not Jimmy Olson, not Perry White, not Kara Zor-El. Even Wonder Woman and her pals in the Justice League don’t have enough vinegar and bleach to tarnish the Man of Steel. Generally, when Superman gets involved, everyone else takes a backseat. Except Lois Lane, of course. She always rides shotgun.
In Lois Lane: Fallout, Lois and her family have just moved to the big city. During her first day at Metropolis High School (Go Generals!) she catches the eye of newspaperman, Perry White. He immediately asks her to join the staff of the Daily Planet’s teen edition, the Daily Scoop. “I hired her because I could see right away that she has the instinct,” he says. “The killer instinct.”
And so the template for Lois Lane, newshawk, is established. “I instantly liked the idea of being a reporter,” she says. “Able to ask all the questions I wanted, without anyone scolding me or scribbling in my file. The ability to look into things that were wrong and tell lots of people about them.” Being a reporter was Lois’s chance to find her place in the multiverse.
The problem, however, was that bad luck followed Lois wherever she went. There was always some sort of “fallout” involved. But maybe this time things would be different? Her dad hoped so. “Having a job with a newspaper might keep you out of trouble,” he tells her. Yeah, right.
Immediately, Lois and the Daily Scoop staff (Maddy, James, and Devin) start investigating a group of gaming bullies infamously known as the Warheads. Online they dominated everyone in a popular MMGS called Worlds War Three. And now their bad manners were spilling into the classroom.
Naturally there’s mystery and subterfuge to uncover. As it turns out, Worlds War Three was a game that insidiously changed the player’s neural pathways. “It’s like I’m a computer and they’re writing a piece of code that makes me perform however they want,” says one unlucky classmate. “It’s psychological coercion. They’re stealing my soul.”
That’s something Lois can’t abide. “I want to break the link and set everyone free,” she tells Clark via email one night. Nobody has the right to conscript a group of teenage gamers into a “research project” and then play around with their brains. It’s not right. One way or another, Lois wanted to stop the madness. If she failed, there was a chance she’d become a “brainless hive mind zombie hooked up to some kind of devil robotron in the basement of a secret lab.” That’s a pretty big “fallout” if you ask us.
With a little help from Clark Kent, her pals at the Daily Scoop, and a fire-breathing dragon, Lois eventually kicks the Warheads to the curb. Overall it’s a fine debut for our teenage cub reporter. And if sequels are in the works, we’ll eagerly read them all. Still, we were slightly disappointed with the novel’s ultimate resolution. We were certain that Lois would deploy the delinquents of Unicorn University (her sister’s favorite MMGS) to smash the bullies in Worlds War Three. But what can you do? No one, not even Superman, tells Lois Lane what to do.
[Lois Lane: Fallout / By Gwenda Bond / First Printing: May 2015 / ISBN: 9781630790059]