In Superman #43, a character acts out of horror.  In Superman #43, a character acts out of love.  In Superman #43, someone saves their dearest friend.  In Superman #43, someone betrays their closest colleague.  Is it surprising that all of this is the same action, or that all of this is the instant when Lois Lane reveals Clark Kent’s identity to the world?

The issue picks up where the last left off, with Superman and friends having escaped the clutches of the information-manipulating HORDR Corporation.  As Clark recovers from his ordeal at HORDR Headquarters, author Gene Luen Yang segues into unexpected thematic territory, an examination of guilt and its effects on the guilty.  The first vehicle he chooses for this is Jimmy Olsen. HORDR, you will recall, and more specifically HORDR_ROOT, the mysterious cultish head of the organization, knows the secret of Clark’s identity.  Jimmy, who Clark had confided in sometime before, fears that he is to blame for this, that somehow a careless remark or action has betrayed his friend.  He is so horrified at the thought that he in fact becomes physically ill, a graphic illustration of Jimmy’s moral worth.

Lois, meanwhile, is tormented by thoughts of her own, specifically images of the time Superman was captured by her father, General Sam Lane, and tortured by being subjected to an electric chair.  It turns out this is one of the images HORDR had in its storage banks, and the raw encounter with Clark’s suffering has shaken Lois badly.

The vulnerability created by that guilt,  if only guilt by association, comes into play when HORDR_ROOT contacts Clark, demanding a meeting or Clark’s identity will be revealed using data from the corporation’s secret data vaults.  Lois insists on accompanying Clark, sneaking into the facility in his wake.  She watches in horror as HORDR blackmails Clark with the effect his identity being revealed would have on his loved ones, including her.  Clark allows himself to be strapped into a chair and proceeds to demonstrate his solar flare ability so that HORDR’s energy-absorbing constructs, the quarmers, can bleed the power.

As Lois watches, images of Clark being tortured by her father combine with the sight of him submitting to brutalization for her sake, and she is compelled to act.  Lifting her phone, with a few strokes she dumps the data concerning Clark’s identity into the public domain.  Thus she defeats HORDR_ROOT in the classic way one defeats blackmailers, and shouts to Clark what she has done and that he can free himself.  As they escape from HORDR Headquarters, the knowledge ripples around the world.

Grade

B+

Conclusion

Gene Luen Yang has given a satisfactory explanation of Lois' action in a way that not only anwers questions, but even shifts sympathy solidly toward her. If he can continue this twist with a worthy and believable follow-up, then the core of the TRUTH storyline, once looking weak, will prove solid if somewhat poorly paced. Although that by itself will not assure the success of this major initiative, it will satisfy an absolutely necessary condition for such a triumph.