Inside Dark LOIS' Mind for TALES OF THE DARK MULTIVERSE: DEATH OF SUPERMAN

Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Death of Superman (2019) #1
Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)
Credit: Lee Weeks/Brad Anderson (DC)

Continuing a trend started by the success of the Batman Who Laughs, DC’s latest Dark Multiverse character is a twisted version of Lois Lane from Tales From The Dark Multiverse: The Death of Superman #1 by DC newcomer Jeff Loveness and artist Brad Walker, which came out October 30.

After the death of Clark Kent - as  depicted during the 1992-93 “Death of Superman” crossover - this Dark Multiverse version of Lois was so filled with grief and anger that she ends up in what writer Loveness calls “a very dark place.” Eventually, she acquires the power of the Eradicator, wearing a costume which features the bleeding “S” symbol now synonymous with the legendary “Death of Superman” story.

Although DC’s Tales from the Dark Multiverse one-shots tell complete stories, Dark Nights: Metal writer (and Dark Multiverse creator) Scott Snyder promises they will provide “pieces” for his sequel to Dark Nights: Metal — and the 2020 “crisis” that already got a mention in the Tales event.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

The permanence of characters like Eradicator Lois Lane will be decided by fans, according to Snyder. As these Dark Multiverse issues revisit beloved past stories like the “Death of Superman” and “The Judas Contract,” their popularity will determine whether the characters they introduce “bubble up” into the main DC Multiverse the way Snyder’s Batman Who Laughs did.

The issues are also offering a chance to play in the DCU to writers like Loveness, who’s known best for his TV writing (like Jimmy Kimmel Live and Rick and Morty), but also created the horror comic Strange Skies over East Berlin

Newsarama talked to Loveness and Walker to find out more about how the idea for Eradicator Lois Lane wasn’t the direction DC originally wanted, and how Walker’s stint on jury duty impacted the book’s creation.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

Newsarama: Jeff and Brad, it was interesting to see how turning the spotlight on Lois during the events of “Death of Superman” really turned the iconic story in a different direction. What do you think was the turning point that made things go differently in this timeline for Lois?

Jeff Loveness: For me, it was first about really digging into the loss of hope. We talk about “hope” a lot with Superman, but if that hope gets brutally beaten to death in front of you, and then Lex Luthor gets to speak at his funeral, and then the world goes completely back to normal a few weeks later… it would be enough to break the spirit of anyone.

We find Lois in a very dark place and stay with her. I really wanted her emotional journey to be the heart of this story. We’ve seen a million stories where Lois dies and Superman falls into agony, but not all too many about Superman dying and Lois falling into that same agony and despair. That fascinated me. Lois Lane is the most idealistic character in the Superman mythos. Now what would happen if she had a chance to gain powers from the Eradicator and finally have a chance to carry on Clark’s fight… but finish it in a way he never could.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

Perhaps he was too kind. Perhaps he had too much faith in us. But he’s dead now. And Lex Luthor doesn’t get to live in a world where Clark Kent is dead.

Nrama: Brad, was this new take on the “Death of Superman” what drew you into the project - revisiting a character you’d drawn so many times before, but in this era and with this alternate outcome involving Lois’ grief?

Brad Walker: Yeah, our editor was really excited when he came to me with this, and I think all the Tales of the Multiverse stuff was a real passion project for him, and he specifically loved my version of Superman. Even though Superman was only in the first couple pages and in the last couple, he just sold it to me.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

He had approved Jeff’s pitch over some others that he had asked for specifically. Jeff came to him with this different take, which was not what they had talked about - about Lois becoming the Eradicator in her grief. And it just sold him on its strength of being a much more different take than Superman turning bad, or Doomsday having the power of Superman, or other things that we had seen before.

Loveness: They originally wanted a dark “War of the Supermen” kind of take - maybe with Clark never coming back or the Eradicator winning or any variation on an alternate ending.

I was going down that road for a while, but then the image of Lois Lane holding the bloody red cape of Superman came to me, and I knew I had my hook.

I then realized that Lois Lane is the visual icon for this story. She was the one who named Superman, who branded what he could be, who believed in him, who loved him. She was a cold, surgical reporter who finally met someone who cared as much as she did. And he died in front of her. Once I grasped that broken side of Lois, I knew I had a fun Elseworlds type tragedy in this.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

Nrama: Is it safe to assume you were both fans of the “Death of Superman” before this?

Loveness: Absolutely. I was only 3 or so when the initial story came out, but the legacy of it has always loomed over me. The weight and majesty of the story is so heavy. I love superhero epics, and "Death of Superman" was always the gold standard of that. My dad actually bought the Death of Superman issue but kept it in the garage and never let me read it because it was “Too valuable.”

So, I guess I had to go ahead and write my own.

Walker: That was when I started buying Superman, was right at the beginning of the “Death of Superman” storyline. So for me, it was like a passion project of tapping into my childhood comic book fan in a huge way, drawing all that stuff from that era. It was so much fun to do.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

Nrama: Yeah, you guys got to revisit several of the concepts, although the spotlight

Loveness: There’s a lot of great 90’s action, but I also hope the readers enjoy the debate raging within Lois. Is superhero morality too outdated? Are they simply protecting the status quo, and leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves? Is stopping bank-robbers enough? What about the systemic problems plaguing us? How far are we willing to go to make a new world? These are perennial questions in superhero comics, but it was fun to examine it with a sharper blade. Lois is a great character for doing that.

Walker: Those first couple pages really start directly from Superman #75, and you see the characters from that time period, but we wanted to spin it in another direction.

I wanted to really make it feel like these are the issues that really could have come after issue #75. I didn’t want to ape ‘90s drawing techniques specifically, but I wanted everything to feel authentic to the type of storytelling at the time and certainly the era, drawing ‘90s period-specific characters.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

I peppered in lots of background characters that are in the original storyline. Some of it might be a little obscure because we didn’t cross reference at all by the time we got to colors, but Lois and Ma Kent and everybody who shows up is wearing something that seems like it was about where they were from the original issues.

Even though different things are happening, I wanted to keep the timeline there intact. So I kind of nerded out in my reference and labored over making sure that it felt authentic to the original storyline that’s really pretty precious to me.

Nrama: You also designed the new version of Lois as this new, kind of dark, female version of Eradicator. Any insight into how she looks?

Walker: When I started drawing the issue, I just began with the first few pages. I was on jury duty!

I was on a grand jury for a month in the summer, so it slowed my drawing down a lot. So I was just working on the framing sequence with the Tempus Fuginaut character. But I was thinking about Lois and what she would look like.

It dawned on me to use the bleeding “S” as the symbol.

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

I wanted her to look like the Eradicator, obviously, because she gets the Eradicator’s powers. And Jeff had specifically asked for her to wear the original torn cape that she takes from Superman’s body.

And when it occurred to me to use the bleeding “S,” I was like … ah, that’s such a low-hanging fruit idea. It’s such a powerful visual iconography from outside the story - from when we were all so into it because it was on that poly-bag of every issue. But it was never a thing that happened, to my knowledge, in story anywhere. And it just seemed to not only tie her so specifically to this storyline that we’re spinning her out of, but also, it says so much about what she goes through - and her motivation in the story is all rooted in Superman’s death. And it’s such a visual representation of that.
So it seemed so perfect.

And then before I could even sketch it, because I was in jury duty, I guess our editor had the exact same idea and pitched it to Lee Weeks, who did the cover, so I can’t even really take credit for it, because we all had the same idea and did it simultaneously.

But I feel like I was really happy with the design, in terms of approaching these characters from the Dark Multiverse as if these are things that we’re throwing out there to use going forward. I feel like the design is simple and says so much about the character - it sets her apart from any number of other female characters who have gotten Superman’s powers and it tells the viewer at a glance so much about her.

So I feel like, hopefully, it’s a design that can exist going forward and it unique enough to do that.

Nrama: Jeff, what do you think of the idea overall, of there being a Dark Multiverse where these alternate timelines can exist?

Credit: Brad Walker/Andrew Hennessy/Norm Rapmund/John Kalisz (DC)

Loveness: That’s one of my favorite things about DC. The full spectrum of character interpretations and multiverses. Having an entire multiverse of dark tragedies is so compelling. I love Eradicator Lois. I hope she pops up again. I think she’d be a compelling villain. Not many bad guys get to call out Superman’s morality. I think she’d be a pretty effective Magneto in that way.

Nrama: What’s it been like working with Brad Walker? What has he brought to the book?

Loveness: Brad is a true artist. He had so much thrown at him with this story, and he absolutely delivered. I don’t know how he did it. He brought so much stylization and action and emotion to this thing. He made this a true DC tragedy. I’d love to work with him again.'

Nrama: And Brad, how was it working with Jeff?

Walker: It was amazing! He’s a great guy. We met for the first time in [Comic-Con International: San Diego] as I was working on it. He’s hugely knowledgeable and passionate about Superman. I don’t know that I’m even that knowledgeable - I’m not old enough, probably, to be that knowledgeable, if I started reading Superman comics in ’92. But I feel a real connection to the character, and he’s probably in my top three favorite characters.

So every time I get to draw Superman, it’s a real treat. And to work with Jeff, who I know has the same passion about him, I feel like there was a real chemistry there - and he gave me a lot of room to craft big visuals and make what could be a real downer of a story also really epic and action-packed and bombastic.

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