When DC wanted to decide whether readers would support an ongoing Lois Lane comic, they turned to writer Marguerite Bennett to test the waters.
Superman: Lois Lane, a one-shot being released in February, will approach the character as more than "just" the wife of Superman. Told in a style that Bennett describes as "sci-fi noir," the comic's success level will decide whether DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio can fulfill the tease he gave at New York Comic Con in October.
“[Superman and Wonder Woman's relationship is] not at the expense of Lois Lane,” DiDio told the New York audience during a panel celebrating Superman's 75th anniversary. “We love Lois. It’s her 75th Anniversary, too. We have big plans for Lois Lane in 2014, and who knows, her name can look just as good on the title of a comic as Superman’s, can’t it?”
Lois Lane might be single and young now, thanks to the New 52 reboot of the DC Universe. But the character has been around since 1938. Over the years since her debut, she's evolved into one of the best known female characters in comics — and in dozens of other media adaptations.
The character has starred in her own comic before (most notably in a run that lasted 137 issues from 1958 to 1974), but giving her a solo comic these days might be problematic since she's not the girlfriend of Superman. In fact, she's dating someone else, and Superman's in a relationship with Wonder Woman.
But Bennett is out to prove that Lois Lane isn't a great character just because she's on Superman's arm. As she put it, "This story is hers. She is no one’s supporting cast member." And while there are explosions in the comic, Bennett will be concentrating on Lois' life as well.
Bennett's effort to demonstrate that Lois Lane is worthy of her own comic is just the latest in a string of one-issue stories from the writer. After cutting her teeth as Scott Snyder's co-writer on July's Batman Annual #2, she accepted DC's challenge to revamp Lobo for his Villains Month issue.. She also wrote a flashback issue featuring Barbara Gordon in Batgirl #25, a Zero Year tie-in released earlier this month.
In January, readers will get to see a one-issue story she's writing for Talon after the departure of the series' regular writer, James Tynion IV. Then in February comes two one-shots from Bennett: Superman: Lois Lane and Batman: Joker's Daughter.
In the second part of our interview with Bennett (see our first installment here), we talk to her about the opportunity to write Lois Lane — and possibly inspire a 2014 ongoing series for the character.
Newsarama: Marguerite, with Superman: Lois Lane, you're taking on somebody that has a really unique position in the DCU, as long-time love interest of its most iconic ‚ and arguably the most powerful, superhero in the DCU. How would you describe the character?
Marguerite Bennett: This is the queen without a crown, the first lady of the DCU. Her resolve is legendary, but that same resolve has its consequence. Even in her youth, Lois was called upon to be the example, the good soldier, the mother to her younger sister, the lieutenant to her father. Her complexity is phenomenal, but it has a price as much as a reward.
Nrama: It sounds like you're a fan. What did you think when you were offered the chance to spend some time with Lois?
Bennett: Well, I wasn’t prepared to tell Lois that I had to babysit that night. I think my editor managed to say “We’d like to have Lois Lane—” before I said “Yes yes yes yes oui ja sí yes please and thank you.” How could one reject Lois Lane?
This is the woman who has stood toe-to-toe with gods and watched them blink first. This is the human heart of an increasingly superhuman world, its center of conviction, compassion, and resolve.
What can I say? Lois looked my way and I blinked first (and blushed, too).
Nrama: We've read a lot about her in the various Superman comics since the New 52 first launched. What makes this issue different?
Bennett: This story is hers. She is no one’s supporting cast member, and her very foundations are rising up against her. I have read and loved reading Lois, from Lois the girlfriend to Lois the war reporter, but for this moment in time, I felt she deserved a story about her family, her friendships, her relationships, her mess, her struggle, her climb. (Things explode, too, but the story is a poignant one.)
Nrama: I know it's only one issue, but can you give us a sense of what type of story it is?
Bennett: Sci-fi noir.
Aren’t you glad that was such a short answer?
Nrama: Not really! But I can totally see Lois in a "noir" story, particularly since she's a reporter. What other characters might we see in the Lois Lane issue? Anyone familiar?
Bennett: For familiar characters, you’ll find Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent, Lucy and Sam Lane, and Lois’s mother, as well, in addition to several original characters (one for whom I have high hopes).
Nrama: Does either Joker's Daughter or Lois Lane tie into anything else that's going on in the DCU? Or are they leading into something in an ongoing series?
Bennett: They are standalone books, to the extent of my knowledge. With Lois, however, if there is fan enthusiasm for the concept, and if the sales turnout is strong, Dan DiDio has told fans that a Lois series would be there for them. It’s entirely within the hands of the readers, though. For my part, I hope they love her as much as I do, because I would be overjoyed for fans to see what she can do.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what else you've got coming up, either at DC or elsewhere?
Bennett: I don’t think I’m allowed to tease much more about what’s cooking at DC, but if you like horror, I’m part of a collection of short, full-color comics in In the Dark: A Horror Anthology, which will be out from IDW next April. The collection was put together by Rachel Deering and features Scott Snyder, Tom Taylor, James Tynion IV, Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore, Tim Seeley, Steve Niles, Duane Swierczynski, Sean E. Williams — a lot of terrific folk matched with terrific artists. Many of y’all reading this now were good enough to help us get the funding to publish, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my awful little heart.
Beyond that, I’m in development with a few other companies for a few different projects, but I’ll just cross my fingers and abstain from jinxing those, for the present. I can’t wait to tell y’all what’s coming.