Image: DC Comics; cover by Ryan Sook

Superman is one of DC Comics’ strongest titles, and it’s had an especially impressive couple months as it balances major continuity juggling with the smaller, family-focused moments that have made the series so compelling. The “Superman Reborn” event merged the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois Lane with their New 52 counterparts, and while that storyline was full of alternate reality superhero nonsense, it still had heart because it was centered on the relationship between the young Jonathan Kent and his parents. The current Superman arc, “Black Dawn,” brings two superhero families together as Batman and Robin head to the Kent farm, where they quickly discover that there’s something very strange happening in Hamilton county.

The single-issue horror story in Superman #18 (featuring haunting artwork by Sebastian Fiumara and Dave Stewart) set up the group’s current predicament, and writers Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi have effectively jumped between genres to make the narrative more expansive and surprising. While Superman, Superboy, and Robin are on the hunt for a missing Batman, Lois Lane lets her investigative reporter side take over so she can find answers herself in this week’s Superman #22. This exclusive preview has Lois beginning her search, and it’s an atmospheric excerpt that emphasizes the darkness that this family can’t seem to escape.

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Lois scrolling through images on her phone is a clever, concise way of recapping last issue’s events, and once she gets out of the house, the mood becomes increasingly unsettling. Penciler Doug Mahnke, inker Jaime Mendoza, and colorist Wil Quintana return to the series for this issue, and they deliver visuals that are more solemn than expected, turning down the superhero bombast to reflect Lois’ more grounded perspective. There are still dramatic moments, like Lois finding the oak tree that went up in flames last issue, but in general, this is a quieter preview. Contrast is very valuable in superhero narratives, and this creative team understands that taking the time to establish different tones enriches the story and makes for a more satisfying reading experience.

Image: DC Comics; cover by Ryan Sook
Image: DC Comics; variant by Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez

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Image: DC Comics
Image: DC Comics
Image: DC Comics

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Image: DC Comics
Image: DC Comics