Superman has died, sacrificing himself to put an end to Doomsday’s path of destruction. As the world mourns the death of its greatest protector, feelings of rage and grief consume Lois Lane. Overwhelmed by a dark desire to exact vengeance on those who allowed Superman to die, the intrepid reporter finds herself in the depths of the Fortress of Solitude without the power to act. However, a chance encounter with the Eradicator could provide Lois with the strength to end Superman’s battle once and for all.
“You loved us so much. And we never even tried to be better.”
Evoking fond memories of Marvel’s “What If” stories with a hint of The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: The Death of Superman #1 is a great examination of Superman’s legacy as well how anger can pervert our best intentions. As with most “What If” stories, your enjoyment will depend on your feelings of the original tale as well as what new insights this alternate path might provide. Although I cannot say that this issue breaks new ground regarding themes, Jeff Loveness does a great job of grounding the story in human emotion.
At some point in our lives, we have all read or watched a story exploring whether our heroes should kill. One of the most controversial elements of Man of Steel was the infamous neck-snap heard ‘round-the-world. As a result, a few of the narrative beats feel all too familiar. After obtaining all of Superman’s abilities, Lois’ reaction to the Man of Steel’s restraint echoes many who argue that traditional methods don’t work. However, I do think what makes the response so interesting is that it is coming from Lois, the one person in this world who should understand Superman more than anyone else.
In fact, Lois’ inability to cope with this tragedy healthily may seem out of character for an individual who fundamentally understands that Superman’s greatest power is his ability to instill hope. I think it is important to note that with many “What If” stories, the fundamental change is the result of a different choice made by the character. I do not doubt that Lois was experiencing a lot of these emotions in the aftermath of the original event. I think this especially true regarding her feeling that humanity did not deserve him. Seeing the world move on as if he never existed would have only compounded those feelings. However, Lois’ choice here, as opposed to the original Death of Superman, is to allow these negative feelings to consume her.
Loveness’ use of these emotions within the story only helps to lend credence to how Lois might respond upon gaining all of Superman’s abilities. She would want to honor her significant other by making the world into a place that deserved him. And what better way than putting an end to the battle against evil? However, these negative emotions poison her actions as she realizes that to exact vengeance and end the conflict, she will have to kill every supervillain. Tempus Fuginaut summarizes it best, “Lois Lane believed in truth. But her truth became fueled by vengeance. And vengeance knows no truth.”
One of the things that I liked most about the issue was how DC’s very own Watcher, Tempus Fuginaut, serves almost as the Rod Sterling for the book. In addition to providing narration, he also bookends the issue with a moral for the audience. Whether this was intentional or not, I found this to be a nice touch.
“I’ll do it, Clark. I’ll make a better world. One that deserved you.”
Other than my initial statement that this issue retreads familiar themes, one of my only complaints is the speed of the final act. Given that Loveness must cover an incredible amount of ground in very few pages, this is entirely understandable. It is jarring how quickly the story moves through Reign of the Supermen to provide us with a final reveal that punctuates the moral to this story.
Brad Walker’s artwork does an excellent job of evoking the original Death of Superman. In fact, the art is so well done that I was compelled to go back and read the original story just so that I could more accurately compare the artwork. Additionally, the entire art team does an excellent job of conveying the carnage that follows Lois in her path for vengeance. I won’t spoil much here, but my jaw dropped when I saw how she dealt with Lex Luthor.
Ultimately, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: The Death of Superman #1 is a great examination of Superman’s legacy as well how anger can pervert our best intentions. The issue does suffer from retreading familiar themes. However, Loveness manages to ground the story in human emotion. Brad Walker’s artwork helps to sell the tale by evoking the original story.
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