Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Superman: The Death of Superman #1
Within the twisted web of the Dark Multiverse, Superman dies once more. This time instead of coming back as expected, his powers transfer to an unlikely source: Lois Lane. She soon embarks on a journey to do what Superman was unwilling to do: cleanse the world of all evil, at any cost.
Despite having an appreciation for the great job Snyder, Higgins, et. al., did on the “Knightfall” variation of Tales of the Dark Multiverse, my hopes for Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Superman: The Death of Superman #1 were somewhat slim. While the original story is famous – and infamous, I have a hard time relating to the overarching story arc as much more than a hugely successful marketing ploy. While I expected a modern dark telling of it to peak my interest more, particularly upon seeing the cover art with a dark incarnation of Lois Lane, I feared a certain lack of nuance to the storytelling.
I was incorrect, of course, as I often am on these matters, and this is a case where I am extremely happy to be wrong.
The story begins roughly where we expect it: Doomsday lands the final blow on Superman just as Superman finally defeats the monstrous being. Lois, frantic and heartbroken begins her internal monologue, full of grief and denial and anger at a world that allowed Superman to sacrifice himself.
It is at this point I brace myself for…something. Over the years, Lois Lane has undergone multiple mischaracterizations and outright character assassinations, all to fit the new angle of whichever author is telling the story.
Whatever I’m bracing myself for, however, doesn’t arrive. Loveness masterfully handles Lois’ anger as an extension of her unbearable grief at her life without Clark. Her anger, her frustration, and her denial all seem reasonable in the face of losing someone she loves so dearly. That Loveness spends so much time focusing on Lois’ journey of grief before her descent into darkness speaks volumes to his skill as a storyteller. There is an intense understanding of pain here.
There’s also an intense understanding of how to craft empathy and relatability as a character begins her spiral into darkness. As Lois comes into possession of Clark’s powers, she begins her mission to create a world that Superman would be proud to see.
At first, she succeeds. She saves people. She captures evil. Her descent into darkness is taken in slow yet perfectly logical steps. There were times in the story that I found myself rooting for this new, super-powered Lois. As she made her first morally questionable, but somewhat justifiable, decisions I couldn’t help but think of a familiar slogan about Marvel’s Magneto, altered for this particular issue.
“Lois Lane did nothing wrong.”
Until, that is, she did.
I think that’s the reason I’ve always taken Superman for granted. HIs moral goodness shines only so brightly in a world where so much darkness is allowed to exist. This issue puts into stark representation the possibilities and logical conclusions of a world where all immorality is slowly eliminated. We discover that what makes Clark the morally just moshiach figure that he is isn’t that he allows evil to flourish; it is that Clark sees the evil humans do and still decides that we are all worthy of saving. As an extension, it is our own inability to grant ourselves and each other this forgiveness that makes us human. It’s not character assassination to say Lois would slip into darkness, but a reflection of the possibilities inherent to the human condition.
For all of this philosophy to be dragged from the pages of a single issue speaks highly of my opinions of Loveness’ writing. Even the nostalgic quality of the art by Walker, Hennessy, Rapmund, and Kalisz lends itself to the strength of the narrative; while powerful, it never overwhelms or takes away from the story itself. This is a story that will stick in my memories for years to come.
Tales From The Dark Multiverse: The Death of Superman #1 (Loveness, Walker, Hennessy, Rapmund, Kalisz, Cowles) is a masterfully told tale of grief and human nature. Surely a stand-out issue of an overall enjoyable event.
Tales From The Dark Multiverse: The Death of Superman #1: I Shall Fear No Evil
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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