Ever since I reviewed the young adult novels for She-Hulk and Rogue, I’ve been wondering what other female characters would get the YA novel spotlight. Now it’s DC’s turn, tackling non-superhero Lois Lane, long before there was a Superman. Lois Lane: Fallout comes from Gwenda Bond, who also wrote Girl on a Wire, The Woken Gods, and Blackwood.
Something’s that’s great about comic book characters is how they can be updated every few years to fit in to modern day life. In the ’40s, Lois Lane was a snappy reporter who stood her own in the man’s world. In the ’90s, pant suits. In this book, we see a teenage Lois Lane of the near future, complete with access to super futuristic gaming technology. She tackles the very topical problem of bullying, but there’s more at play than schoolyard taunts.
Lois has moved to a new city, Metropolis, with the simple goals of staying out of trouble and gaining a few friends. Lois’s antagonists in the story are the Warheads, a group of students who bully others in real life and in the virtual game Worlds War Three. They target specific students, and it soon becomes clear to Lois that their bullying is more than verbal. There’s more at stake here.
Lois decides to solve the bullying and the school’s inability to deal with it by writing an in depth article for her new part-time job at the Daily Planet. The topic of bullying has been in the news frequently in recent years. Lois gives the reader a hero to root for, someone who faces the problem not with superstrength and heat vision, but by using her budding investigative reporter instincts to tackle the bullies and the administration that are hurting her classmates.
Author Gwenda Bond did an excellent job portraying a teenager who will one day be the tough as nails reporter. We also see hints of her budding relationship with Clark, although he only chats under the screenname SmallvilleGuy and is hesitant to share more personal information with her. We feel Lois’s yearning to learn more about her internet friend, and wonder ourselves when she might meet him in real life. Will it be during their teenage years, or will they stick to most of Superman canon and have them meet in the offices of The Daily Planet?
The characters easily stand out from each other, from Lois’s overbearing General dad to her sweet little sister who plays Unicorn Universe and made her avatar a renegade in retaliation to the lame game. There’s also Lois’ cohorts at her newspaper gig: Maddy the artsy music lover, Devin the nerd with mad skills, and the initially frustrating rich James who turns out to have a lot more character development when we find out why he’s working at the paper.
All the characters have their own secrets, fears, and desires, and that makes them so much better to explore than your average cardboard cutouts that often get stuck in YA. I read a lot of YA, so I’ve seen the trend.
The writing style made this an easy read. Easy to blast through chapters, wondering what was next and when Lois might have another chat with SmallvilleGuy. For most purposes, Lois Lane: Fallout is the average young adult novel dealing with school woes and parental problems, with a few sci-fi twists and a problem that starts out mundane and ends up having more far-reaching consequences. But it’s an engaging story that should catch the interest of readers hesitant to pick up a comic book. It would also lead to some interesting Lois adventures in the future, if Bond decides to take on this character again. Which she should.