All Star Superman #3, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.
Did anyone else find it strange that a comic built around the premise that Lois Lane gains super powers for a day--a premise that received an issue-long build-up in the previous installment--doesn't show Lois using those super powers to do anything? She flies around in a couple of panels, but otherwise the powers serve no purpose except to enable her to survive the kind of hijinks Superman gets drawn into on a daily basis--and even there, she still ends up in her venerable role of Lois Lane, Girl Hostage. All the rescuing and problem-solving is reserved for Superman, while Lois remains a slightly more durable object of his affections.
It's his book, of course, and we did just get an issue-long spotlight on Lois, but there's something odd about Morrison's failure to exploit his own premise. Part of the problem may be that there's just no room, what with all the contests and challenges he puts Superman through. This is Morrison's update of one of those loopy Silver Age issues where Lois makes out with Batman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow in order to drive Superman mad with jealousy, though in this case his competition is a pair of time-traveling heroes of legend. There's a great panel where Lois admits she's stringing these two scoundrels along for some birthday fun, and a little payback on the Man of Steel, but it's her only glimmer of agency--otherwise she's waiting patiently, if not comatosely, for Superman to put things right.
The issue feels like a missed opportunity, especially since it turns on the question of what Superman sees in Lois. Morrison answers that quite cleverly through the Ultrasphinx's riddle, but Lois herself doesn't do much to show why she's the unstoppable force to which Superman must surrender. By casting her in her traditional Silver Age role of passive victim and love interest, Morrison misses a great chance to show what Lois could do when she's finally Superman's equal. And more to the point, maybe today's comics, even the all-ages ones, especially the all-ages ones, have better things to do than replicate the psychosexual mores of stories written in the 1950s for 8-year-olds.
That aside, this comic has everything a Superman fan could want: subterranean invaders, super-rescues, a grim omen of Superman's impending death and a quick foreshadowing of his Twelve Super-Challenges (including Solaris!), a romantic rooftop moment (again harkening back to the Superman movie--Morrison wisely raids it for its human relationships and not its sterile Kryptonian production design), and typically gorgeous Frank Quitely art. The big splash page with Superman and Lois's lunar clinch is perfect--not only for Lois's little kick and the spray of moondust but for the Earth that floats above them, unlined and luminous like something out of a NASA mural or a Chesley Bonestell painting. The Morrison and Quitely Superman inhabits a world more utopian than our own (all due to his presence, no doubt), and Quitely's evocation of this utopian vision of space is both apt and striking.
The issue also features a cameo by the Daily Planet supporting cast, including the magnificent Steve Lombard (who must be read as if voiced by Patrick Warburton)--I love the little touch that it's his Luxus Samaritan getting trashed in the opening splash. Lombard is basically a human analogue of Samson and Atlas, a big jock who's vying for attention he will never get from Lois Lane, and his brief appearance reminds me of another puzzling absence from the last couple of issues of All Star Superman: Clark Kent. I can understand the plot reasons why we haven't seen Clark in the last two issues--perhaps Superman feels he no longer has the time to walk among we mortals--but half of the character's appeal is that the world's greatest man resides within its most average joe. Hopefully future issues will restore that half of the equation, along with a less passive Lois. The sci-fi trappings are fun, but it's the human element that makes these stories special.
And if we don't see at least one instance of ultranerd Clark Kent covertly using his super powers to turn a prank back on his jock tormentor, I'll be sorely disappointed. What else is Steve Lombard for?