Book Review: Lois Lane Double Down by Gwenda Bond

Very rarely do I read a book, put it down and think to myself, “Wow. I’m really satisfied.” but Bond’s Double Down did that for me.

Part of the satisfaction that I felt was that this was a portrait of one of the Superman mythos’ finest characters that was done justice. Clark (or should I say, SmallvilleGuy?) is just a supporting character in Lois’ enthralling life, both the one who worries about her without cease but also her biggest fan. A lot of the characteristics that we’ve come to understand as a part of Lane’s psychology are explained, such as her militaristic dedication to her stories and her seemingly friendless life. We get a few beautiful looks into the Lane family, including a girls’ night in with her mother and Lucy as well as a sisterly heart to heart. It includes plenty of Easter eggs for the comic-obsessed reader, while being self-contained enough of a story that anyone could pick up Double Down and find the ride enjoyable. And, as someone who collected Nancy Drew books growing up, the feel of Double Down is very much a mix of the Drew sleuthing and the modernity of the new Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr Batgirl.

When I pick up a Bond Lane novel, I know she’s going to be giving me a version of Lois that I know and love the best. Lois is fearless, snarky, sarcastic, a rule-breaker-in-the-name-of-justice, loyal and compassionate (but only when no one is looking.) The seemingly individualistic junior reporter simply is not capable of writing the fluff pieces that Perry wants her to submit at the beginning of the novel. Lois is a warrior with her pen, and will accept nothing less than a challenge she deems worth conquering.

I’ve always wondered why Lois has never had a ton of friends. She seems like a people person, but even in the best renditions of her character (I consider Smallville’s version the best), the only friend she has is Jimmy Olsen, and that’s questionable at best. Outside of her work relationship with Perry and Jimmy, and her relationship with Superman, Lois has very few other relationships. The rapport between her and her father, General Lane, is tense at best; her sister, depending on the depiction, is never a stable presence; and again, even in Smallville, the best friend she has is her cousin, Chloe, a relationship which nose dives as soon as it’s clear she and Clark are on the verge of becoming an item.The easiest explanation is that she’s a secondary character– why should you develop friendships for a secondary character? But in Double Down, we can chalk it up to her military brat upbringing. She was never in one place long enough to make a friend, not to mention, General Lane raised his daughters to be “independent and self-sufficient,” read: able to do anything without a friend. But the level of dedication she puts into her budding relationships with Maddy and James matches the level of compassion she shows towards Clark. For an independent, go-getter, what’s great about this Lois is that she’s still trying to be the best friend she can be. She and Clark both truly care about people, it simply manifests in different ways for the both of them.

Then, of course, the infamous Lane family dynamic. For once, with Ella in the picture, the family is quite nuclear from the outside. As the measure of equilibrium in the family, it’s clear that Ella is the one that helps balance out the General’s need to run the family like his troops. Lois is equal parts connected to both her mom and dad, but the similarities between Lois and the General are blatant in the scenes when the two of them are face to face. The stability with which Bond sets up the Lane family has me wondering if Ella Lane will be dying early, and when during the series this might take place. All other similarities to Lois aside, watching how young Lois would handle her mom in the hospital would be refreshing for me, someone who has spent the better part of her life in hospitals with various family members as long as I can remember.

Finally, Bond, give yourself a cookie for the absolutely precious relationship between Lois and Clark. Setting it up as a virtual relationship allows for the distance necessary for Lois to create an identity all her own in Metropolis. It becomes clearer with Double Down, and to a degree, Fallout, that Lois has a reputation before Clark even arrives in Metropolis. We all know it; it’s basically Superman mythos information; but once Clark Kent walks through the door and makes it apparent that Lois is the woman for him, everyone seems to forget about the career woman Lois was before. Giving her an entire novel series establishing her career before Clark really does wonders for her character development, in my personal opinion. But what Bond does so well is builds on the image of young Clark/Clark-in-love-with-Lois that I already had. To be the single most indestructible and invincible man on the planet, Clark is absolutely blown away by the hurricane that is Lois Lane. He treats her with reverence and awe, confusion but admiration, and half the time, you can almost see him thinking, “Wow. Lois. So cool. Very smart. Wow. Wow.” A portrait that’s only intensified by the way Clark treats her in Double Down. My favorite line falls on the last page of the novel, when he tells her, “‘You know the mural?…That’s how I see you. A hero. I want to be the kind of guy you deserve.'” (Bond, p. 382) Um, Clark, your “Ambition to be Mr. Lois Lane” t-shirt is showing.

They are each other’s favorite superhero.

There is nothing more precious than that, if you ask me.

I love that Bond is giving Lois Lane, the natural wanderer in pursuit of the story, a chance to put down roots. She’s situating Lois in her own story, instead of Clark’s, so well, but in a way that makes her even more mythic, even more heroic, and I cannot wait to see what Lois will get herself into next.

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