In many cultures three is a magic number but in my experience, however, the number three can be a bit of a curse for book and movie sequels. The first iteration of a story is good, maybe even groundbreaking, and sets expectations that the sequel needs to meet. Sequels tend to be either bigger and better or disappointing, but the third part of a series? The third usually overdoes it and falls flat on its face. If it’s really bad, it’s also the death knell for a series.
It was with a bit of trepidation that I began to read Triple Threat: Lois Lane, Gwenda Bond’s newest installment in the YA series about Superman’s non-powered better half. If Fallout was Bond off to a good start and Double Down was her getting her wind, Triple Threat feels more like a stumble than a roadblock. Triple Threat might not be my favorite out of Bond’s Lois Lane books so far—Double Down currently holds that place in my heart—it’s hardly a reason to drop the series.
After making a fresh start as a teen journalist in Fallout and becoming a bigger part of the Metropolis community in Double Down, Lois spends Triple Threat trying to figure out what kind of daughter, sister, friend, and journalist she wants to be. Weird science and crazy hijinks aside, Lois is, after all, a normal girl and it’s easy to relate to that type of struggle. We may not all have Superman for a boyfriend (Clois fans rejoice), but who hasn’t felt unsure and insecure on a first date or worried about being a better best friend? I myself haven’t been a teen for a couple years now, but I could still sympathize with Lois trying to maintain a good relationship with her father while still sticking to her values (life spoiler: that doesn’t stop in your teens).
For all of her normality, it’s Lois’ bravery and passion—whether confronting her peers or superpowered foes—that makes Lois a hero and an icon. After all, it may be easy being brave with super powers, but it’s far harder to do so when you’re only human. This is the essential part of what makes Lois who she is and Bond does a great job at capturing that.
Not that the book isn’t without its flaws – the social justice theme of teen runaways who are manipulated and taken advantage of by richer, more powerful adults, for instance, is never fully explored. Lois feels badly about their situation and she’s stated as feeling so in a way that seems a bit forced. Unfortunately it’s also difficult to feel as concerned as a reader—like Lois does—when we remain on the outskirts of the the issue.
The reader may, through Lois, observe one runaway’s sadness when her new superpowered strength means that she can’t paint anymore or when the parents of one of the other kids hangs up on Lois when she calls them, but both the plot and the first person point of view means that neither Lois nor the reader can truly get close to the runaways. It’s a shame that they’re not fleshed out more, especially since Fallout was all about Lois making friends and connecting with her peers while Double Down emphasized sisterly relationships between Lois’ friend Maddy and her twin sister Melody, and between Lois and her own sister Lucy.
It’s also disappointing that most of the characters of color in the series either remain firmly in the supporting cast category or get little page time. It’s almost as if once they’ve played larger roles in the preceding books they’re now shunted to the side: Devin, the only character of color within Lois’ inner circle, looks like he may just get replaced as resident techie; Dante, who helps Lois and her friends navigate the seedier parts of Metropolis in Double Down, has been demoted to Maddy’s love-interests; Anavi Singh, a classmate that Lois focuses on helping in Fallout, only gets a brief cameo at the beginning of Triple Threat. As with the runaway teens, each of these characters have potential that’s never fully realized. It remains to be seen if either of these issues will continue in subsequent books, but I couldn’t help but think that Lois is a bit further ahead of her author in figuring out how to navigate Metropolis and deal with its inhabitants.
Despite Triple Threat‘s issues, Lois’ idealism and passions—the most essential and defining aspects of her personality and the series—still ring true to the comic book incarnations of the character. Readers will want to read the preceding books since, official book blurb aside, two parts of the “Triple Threat” Lois faces refers to adult enemies she’s faced in the preceding books. However, you hardly need to be an expert in the Superman mythos (though if you are, you’ll appreciate the many references Bond sprinkles throughout the book).
All in all, Triple Threat is an exciting, entertaining read that captures the essence of Lois Lane and will no doubt earn many fans.