Superman: Lost #3. “The Tide”, continues to explore the more astrophysics approach to Clark’s powers traversing space. Having spent seven months alone with nothing but a handheld computer for company, Superman begins to doubt his actions and motivations for leaving the planet he dubbed Kansas.
The standard cover by Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Elmer Santos is a quick snapshot of where Clark ends up for most of this issue. Taking advantage of the science fiction Odyssey theme, Superman encounters lifeforms very different to what we’d expect. The artwork here is very compelling and suggests Clark has found himself in a difficult situation.
The variant by Lee Weeks and Elizabeth Breitweiser plays upon the title’s theme of being lost to oneself. Channeling a Norman Rockwell style, a disheveled Clark looks at a clutter of newspapers with a disappointing look about him. One of the themes touched on by this tale is the effects Post-Traumatic Stress can have on anyone. This cover captures how uncomfortable Clark is returning to his usual job.
Tony Harris’s variant is a colorful cover debut of the other lifeforms Superman encounters this issue. Appearing more determined than lost, Clark finds himself surrounded by space dolphins. The playful dolphins invoke a joyous feel to this rather heartbreaking tale of Superman, reminding us hope is what he’s all about.
Interior art by Carlo Pagulayan, with inks by Jason Paz and colors by Jeremy Cox, bring the celestial color scape of space to paper. The color work has obviously been inspired by deep space photography while the planetary environments feel more earth-like. Keeping the strange yet familiar motif to the alien races Superman encounters continues to ground the series in a classical sci-fi genre.
Co-written by Christopher Priest and Carlo Pagulayan and lettered by Willie Schubert, Superman: Lost #3 also continues to give special thanks to Dave Van Domelen Ph.D. This special credit more than suggests Priest framing Superman’s powers around real world physics and the unfathomable emptiness of space. We catch up to Clark about seven months later from the previous issue. Even though he’s traveled billions of kilometers in that time, he’s still thousands of light years away from Earth.
Things start to turn around for him when he stumbles across space dolphins that allow him to piggyback on their subspace wake. He soon realizes they sought him out to help some of their young that have been caught in an energy distortion net around a planet. Finding a need to help, Clark visits the planet below to find a fascinating alien species that have telepathic capabilities. Clark quickly realizes the perspective this species has with the dolphins and is able to negotiate a solution for both lifeforms. In true Odyssey fashion, tragedy strikes as the dolphins accidentally take Superman’s survival gear with them as they depart, leaving Clark alone once again.
Superman: Lost #3 gives us a unique look at Superman, his powers, and his mental state from being alone for so long. We’re still being treated to super heroics, strange fantastical locales, and relevant themes of planetary stewardship, but in a mash up of the superhero and science fiction genres. Mix in awareness of the emotional and mental stress this ordeal would cause and this book really stands out from any other Superman stories currently being told.