Consider for a moment, if you will, one of DC Comics' most iconic characters without superpowers, Lois Lane, as a child long before she met Clark Kent or was an ace reporter for Metropolis' Daily Planet. Instead of chasing a story, imagine young Lois chasing social media fame and the best summer ever with her best friend—learning important lessons about what friendship and being a journalist really mean along the way. That's the premise of Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge, a new DC Comics graphic novel written by Grace Ellis with art by Brittney Williams. This ambitious volume offers one of the most enjoyable takes on Lois fans will ever find in a delightfully fresh reimagining of a character who has already inspired readers for decades.
Like most of the books on DC's original graphic novels for young readers line, Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge isn't set in the publisher's core continuity. This is a story set outside of the constraints of canon, giving Ellis and Williams a lot of freedom to focus on Lois without the character being overshadowed by Superman while still peppering in enough references to let readers know heroes are still very much a part of her world. The story follows 13-year-old Lois bursting into the first day of summer vacation in Liberty View with an epic plan for the best summer ever: Lois hopes to achieve viral social media fame by making a #friendshipchallenge video with her best friend Kristen using their town's neighborhood barbecue and bike race as the perfect backdrop for her carefully curated and planned fame. Unfortunately, Kristen isn't quite as enthusiastic about the challenge and when the fireworks for the annual event go missing, Lois finds herself doubling down not only in her pursuit of fame but in solving the mystery—her friendship with Kristen is inevitably tested in the process.
Right out of the gate, the story has everything readers could desire. There's Lois' enthusiasm as well as Kristen's reluctance, a mysterious new kid, and, of course, the real mystery of the missing fireworks. It's a surprisingly complex series of story threads for a graphic novel aimed at young readers, but Ellis does a brilliant job of weaving them together and creating an experience that feels natural and identifiable. Readers will be hard-pressed to not see themselves in one or more of Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge's characters. Even though the story very much focuses on Lois, each of the book's primary characters are given consideration and weight as well, rounding out a fully realized tale and overall delightful read.
Williams' fantastic art brings this accessible mystery to life. Williams' style is fun, fresh, and youthful, a perfect fit for the story. More than that, however, Williams does an amazing job of conveying through expression the nuance embedded in Ellis' script. The frustration and even sadness on Kristen's face juxtaposed with Lois' determined (and at times immature) exuberance is absolute comics perfection. Williams also gives quite the expressions and inner life to Lois' cat—a delightful and hilarious character all her own.
Ultimately, Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge may be geared for younger readers, but it transcends recommended ages, offering readers of all stripes a beautifully drawn and written story that is timely, fresh, and incredibly enjoyable. It's an imaginative comic that gets to the heart of who Lois Lane is, breathing new life into a beloved character and reminding readers what is really important about friendship at any age.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Published by DC Comics
On August 11, 20200comments
Written by Grace Ellis
Art by Brittney Williams