This article was originally posted on Examiner.com.
Gwenda Bond's new YA novel Lois Lane: Fallout is an incredibly innovative look into the heroine from Metropolis, and I was fortunate to get an exclusive and very insightful interview with Ms. Bond who was in the Javits Center for theBook Expo America 2015 in New York City for a book signing.
A review of the Lois Lane: Fallout story can be summed up in one word: intriguing! But elaborating more on that point, the young Lois Lane, who has moved around the world with her father's military headquarters is an enlightening look into the character's backstory - that fans have yearned for over 80 years - and adds a realistic contemporary, twist on the atypical Superman trope that is very refreshing.
The writing here is top-notch, the characters are well fleshed out and very human (Ms. Bond has a great way of reinventing the characters and has no stereotypical views for Lois and her cohorts).
From Perry White's kind encouragement and his knock-off suit to a certain overtly honest online friend that Lois knows only as Smallville Guy, the relationships are paramount to the book.
The story itself is an exciting look into a young detective turned junior reporter who is defiant and fighting for those in need out of instinct. The personality of Lois is vivid and engaging, as is evident in the relationships she has with those that make fun at her expense - namely Clark Kent - or those that see her as an immediate threat to their heinous mind controlling abilities through a virtual reality video game holo-set, like the student pack of dangerous bullies dubbed the Warheads.
For those who need a female superhero, look no further than young Ms. Lane, who has no super powers but is a great addition to the superhero genre all the same!
Gwenda Bond was very forthcoming about her writing and the creation process for her newest work. The Lois Lane: Fallout novel has a distinct opening that immediately pulls the reader in, and I asked Ms. Bond about this.
RJH: The importance of impactful first lines cannot be understated, can you speak to your first line: ‘“Remember the plan,” I muttered,”’ from Lois Lane: Fallout?
GB: There were several first lines along the way—beginnings are always the hardest part for me—but eventually my editor and I arrived at this one. For me, the important thing about this line and the ones right afterward are that they establish that Lois wants something as she’s entering this new situation. And the “muttered” tells us that this is the Lois we know and love who can sometimes be a little cranky and has trouble following the plan. That she says it aloud to herself also underscores her loneliness when the story starts. She wants to make a life in Metropolis and connect with people.
RJH: As a followup: your words invoke a strong sense of intrigue and intellectual traits of the character who is shaped as one who thinks for herself, what is your process for writing line one of a piece? Does it come naturally to you?
GW: Ha! No, beginnings are always the hardest. That said, Lois’s voice came to me relatively easily—compared to some of my other characters—and so it was more about trying to stay true to that throughout the whole book.
RJH: Were you familiar with Superman comics before you began to write Lois Lane Fallout? How about Lois Lane’s DC Comics solo series?
GW: I’m a long time comics reader, and that includes dipping in and out of various Superman stories over the years. I fell in love with the character of Lois Lane as a kid watching Margot Kidder in the role, and always kept one eye on her progress. Superman’s Girlfriend is a comic I’m more familiar with now than I was before; I read some issues as part of my research when I started this project.
RJH: What inspired you to come up with such an innovative premise of a young Lane landing in Metropolis in the modern day, while simultaneously filling in backstory of Lane’s past that fans have been craving for over 80 years?
GW: I was approached with the general concept of doing a Lois Lane young adult novel, where she’d be working as a reporter. When I was thinking about how that would look, it seemed such a natural fit to me to show her moving to Metropolis and working for a publication connected to the Daily Planet—just as when we get the origin story for heroes, we usually see the moment they become heroes early on, it felt right to do that here. And just as with heroes in general, the qualities that make Lois one are intrinsic to her personality and reporting is the perfect calling to go along with them. I definitely felt a great sense of responsibility to her fans who have been waiting for a showcase like this to give them a book about this character that would feel like a gift, like what they’d been waiting for.
RJH: Do you feel Lois Lane is an important female character in the superhero genre that plays a vital role in balancing what was in the past a male-skewed arena?
GW: I am encouraged that we’re seeing such a movement toward more of this now, and it seems fitting to me that Lois Lane would be a part of that. She’s been there since the beginning, Action Comics #1, and has tended to be ahead of her time. The thing that sets Lois apart in many ways is that she’s excellent at her job and her heroism is the completely unsuperpowered, achievable-for-anyone variety. So I definitely think that fills an important place, a model of heroism that girls, boys, all of us, can all aspire to.
RJH: Gaming is a crux of your plot, as Lane finds a young lady despairing as a high school gang of gamers seem to be using a new virtual reality-based holo-set game to force her to do things she does not want to do, do you feel gaming has a negative effect on young people in society? Or do you feel gaming is just another medium for the age-old act of bullying?
GW: Bullying is obviously very much still with us, and the online world and video gaming are just a newer venue for it. I don’t feel any medium is inherently negative. And there will be people who use anything in less than positive ways. I stink at gaming, but I find it an exciting field to watch—I read several essays about storytelling possibilities and the new frontiers of gaming when I was designing the game in the book (which also has the pleasant side effect of allowing me to have two characters separated in geography in the same “place” together). Certainly, we all know that parts of the gaming world can be unwelcoming to women and girls. I actually wanted to set that aside since the world of Fallout is our world but not quite, so in my game, "Worlds War Three," the gender dynamic is somewhat irrelevant to the bullying. She’s being targeted because she’s so smart and such a good player, and we see both girls and boys playing, just as we do now.
RJH: Can you describe the importance of the “suits” description in chapter one when Lois first meets Perry White and the school principal? You establish an early relationship between Lois and Perry, who seems to be a good man wearing an faux expensive suit, and Lois and the principal who is not very kind and is wearing a very expensive suit; this makes for great character foils and for an interesting twist, a reversing, of the fake part being tied to a good man and the real prop being tied to a character devoid of sympathy.
GW: These are great questions! I believe that much of the hardest work in writing is done by the subconscious. Part of the fun and difficulty of writing is that you don’t always know why you’re doing something a certain way, and often it’s those details that your subconscious fills in that are the most telling. I think that’s the case here. Lois instinctively sizes up people when she meets them (for better or worse!). Perry is an up and coming young editor, so he’s on a budget but he’s dressing for the job he has as best he can afford it. He’s checking off a box on something the outside world expects but he doesn’t put too much more meaning on it than that. Principal Butler, by contrast, desperately wants to be more important than he feels he is, even while he’s neglecting the job he has. Going back to the authority figure thing—here’s a guy putting on airs, and Lois isn’t buying it whatsoever, pricey suit or no pricey suit.
RJH: At one point, you introduce comedy as Lane’s online pen pal, Clark Kent, gets criticized for writing a paper on Macbeth where he criticizes its lack of good characters, even saying, “witches” are the most sympathetic characters in the play, and Lois teases him for it, as they go back and forth. How does this comedic relationship echo the future Clark Lois relationship to be in their adult future? Do you question Clark’s teacher’s subjective critique of the work? Does the look at Shakespeare reveal your own opinion of the play, or is it just a thought of how young readers in the modern age, like Lois and Clark, might relate to the work?
GW: I polled twitter about which Shakespeare play people tend to read at this age—since that’s still a prevalent assignment—and Macbeth was an answer that came up frequently. I wanted this exchange to show Lois and Clark talking about their days, and reacting to the play in ways we’d believe those characters would. Of course, Clark is frustrated by all the scheming people and dithering about standing up to corrupt leaders in the play; their motivations are so foreign to his nature. So his paper reflects that. The teacher’s probably right about him letting his own taste influence his paperwriting.
I cannot understate the truly great find that Lois Lane: Fallout is - a 5 out of 5 star work for sure - and fans everywhere should be delighted to revel in Lois Lane outside of a comic book in this young adult book series. Gwenda Bond is currently penning Lois Lane: Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction and is busy signing myriad copies of Fallout on her book tour.
Zach Snyder did two things that have long been impossible: with Man of Steel Superman transcended the far-fetched, simple minded, bright red and yellow cheesiness that were the previous poor attempts to bring the Kal El of the beloved books to the silver screen and TV; and he made the guy’s existence on earth plausible.
The acting, writing, effects, costumes, designs, and music were all top-notch.
It is not an exaggeration to compare Christopher Nolan’s Batman series with this fresh new Superman flick. Batman Begins was not perfect (though it came really close) and is a classic film, and on the Metropolis side of the world, Man of Steel proves likewise.
As great as the comic book rendition of Tim Burton’s Batman is, and I think it will always be one of the single best live-action depictions of the caped crusader, no one can deny the much more complex and realistic world that Nolan delivered to us in terms of a trilogy thrill ride that could happen.
Similarly, Man of Steel reaches out to a Krypton where politics have blinded a people from seeing their own impending extinction, and Russell Crowe is a phenomenal Jor El that steels the show from the start.
And Zach Snyder has delivered an all-star cast – Henry Cavill is perfect and Amy Adams is a Lois Lane that is not an obnoxious reporter (like most since the original black and white TV show), but more of a strong, smart woman next-door figure.
Everyone working on this was at the top of their game, and Snyder wonderfully revamped a destitute D.C. Comics movie franchise in the 75th anniversary of Action Comics Number One blowing the world’s minds.
Hitting home are this movie’s real world themes, gritty fighting in an all-out brawl-for-survival style, and interesting character depth.
Without invoking spoiler alerts, General Zod is very conflicted and has contrived warped views, actions, and brain patterns based on society’s actions (watch this to learn the true horror within).
Lois Lane might seem pretty straight forward, but her character undergoes a series of changes that leads her to decide upon whether to follow her normal system of beliefs or abandon them.
And our good friend Superman loses the Jesus-like pretty boy goody-two-shoes that does no wrong – as nearly all prior depictions cast him in live-action pieces – and he messes up, he gets dirty, and he becomes a more haunted being – is he human? – than has ever been gotten across on screen.
The decades of great comic book storylines have tackled some of the most controversial, real world, and ordinary human traits where extraordinary things and people emerge day to day. We can look back to the comic books breaking of racial boundaries, vying for peace in Vietnam, and pushing for the US intervention in WWII long before the mainstream media sympathized with those marching down south, those burning draft cards, and anyone that felt the US should end its official neutrality during WWII.
I have always been dumbfounded when the directors of many comic book movies dumb down the messages, lines, and conflicted characters to make them a virtual televised parody of the actual heroes that we’ve fallen in love with in the books. Superman is now real!
Man of Steel is the Superman film that fans have dreamed of seeing. The dark, gritty settings, the creepily alien suits and the insect-like ships all blend wonderfully to take the viewer to Metropolis, Kansas, Krypton, and beyond. I only wonder how Lex Luthor will feel about all this.
Impulsive Review Grade: A+
by R.J. Huneke
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