Here's something a little different in the New 52. We may be used to the ongoing series and occasional mini-series but now we have some one-shots to look forward to. We're talking 48-page one-shots. Marguerite Bennett has written Batman, Lobo and Batgirl so far and soon we'll get to see her take on two more DC characters - Lois Lane and Joker's Daughter. One is a long existing icon and the other is a new character we're just getting to know.
DC has given us the exclusive first look at the solicits for these issues and the opportunity to ask Marguerite what we can expect.
SUPERMAN: LOIS LANE #1
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by Emanuela Lupacchino
Cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
One-shot • On sale FEBRUARY 26 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Lois Lane is known for chasing down stories — but what happens when the story is her family? As her father gains more power in the government, Lois’s sister Lucy has become involved with a deadly drug scene! Meanwhile, Lois thought she was rid of the influence of Brainiac, but now she finds that the the computer tyrant of Colu is calling out to her again!
BATMAN: JOKER’S DAUGHTER #1
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by MEGHAN HETRICK
Cover by GEORGES JEANTY
One-shot • On sale FEBRUARY 5 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Who is The Joker’s Daughter? What horrors lurk in the mind of this deranged lunatic, and why is there more to her than meets the eye? More than just a crazy person who stumbled upon The Joker’s face, more than just a woman with a mission, The Joker’s Daughter sees herself as a woman on the path of greed, dominance and lordship over the Gotham Underground. This special issue tells a sordid tale in the life of one of DC’s most popular new villains!
COMIC VINE: Congrats on these two one-shots. Lois and Joker’s Daughter are two completely different characters. How will you approach each one?
MARGUERITE BENNETT: Thank you so kindly! It’s a (terrifying) honor to write them, and it’s a complete pleasure to do an interview for y’all—Jen [MissJ] Aprahamian speaks very highly of you, particularly (though you and I may wind up in a blood feud, who knows).
The night of Halloween, actually, I took a call from my editor, Rickey Purdin (professional sweetheart), who informed me of the change in Lois Lane’s release date, which now all but coincided with the release of Joker’s Daughter. I was giddy to hear it, because it means you’ll get to see Lois all the sooner than I’d first hoped. I was bouncing around in enthusiasm, and almost faceplanted right then and there, because I may have neglected to mention that I was currently dressed head to toe in a giant Thor costume (complete with helmet, hammer, and totally rad cape) and on my way to my friend’s costume party. My approach is this: if you must receive news about writing Lois Lane, I recommend you do it dressed as Thor. (Trust me.)
That said, Lois Lane and Joker’s Daughter managed to live largely in harmony in my imagination. Lois’s tale is an adventure story—a sci-fi noir, if you will. Lois Lane is the first lady (queen? khaleesi?) of DC Comics, and I was in fits to offer up a story worthy of her. There’s an elegance to the structure and a poignance to the plot that I hope won’t strike a nerve so much as twist it, and leave our readers avid for more.
Joker’s Daughter, however, is cruel, crazy horror—a spiraling descent in the footsteps of her one true father, drenched with the poison of her own toxic psyche.
Both stories, however, are deeply rooted in family—in the tenderness, bitterness, rage, love, and grief that family brings. I cannot, in good conscience, find much to unite a character as eminent as Lois or as degraded as Joker’s Daughter, beyond that queens have families, and monsters do, too.
CV: Not only is Lois Lane such an iconic character, your story will be drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino. Did you know who the artist would be before starting the script?
MB: I’m afraid I was ignorant of who I’d be working with when I first began, but I’ve been so delighted to learn I’m working with her! (And if you haven’t seen Kenneth Rocafort’s cover for the issue, it’s just beautiful.)
As I worked, I was very aware of the chord I wished to strike in Lois’s story and world. Superman evokes a clean, bright, idealized world—perhaps an imperiled world, but one of neat, fresh color and swift, clear lines. These are elements not only in the composition of the page, but elements in the battles Superman faces—conflicts of worlds as well as conflicts of morality, between forgiveness and malice, acceptance and prejudice, right and wrong.
For Lois, I had envisioned not the clean, bright, idealized superhero art of Superman, but a deep, rich, and somewhat darker human world and underworld. Not the grit and grime of Gotham, naturally, but a place of depth, texture, emotion, and consequence—a place where things must be seen with their scars, and not from high above. I think the wonderful news of having Emanuela onboard will allow us to explore the raw half of the Superman universe—the tension and fragility of a lone human woman in a world of impossible, superhuman heroism and villainy. I can’t wait to see what she’ll bring.
CV: What is your favorite thing about Lois?
MB: Oh, Lord, just one? May I say her general magnificence? May I say her audacity in the face of danger? May I say her willpower, when all the world is going to hell? May I say that she is neither a believer nor a cynic, but one who will face the world on the principle of truth and truth alone?
I love the conviction in Lois, how the same woman can maintain such calm and resolve and yet be so invested in the world and all its struggles. She cares so completely as to plunge into the fray, a war journalist or investigative reporter, because she knows that the truth must be brought to light, no matter how ugly, no matter how terrible. Yet she doesn’t permit the darkness, corruption, or trauma of the world she has seen to sully her. It can try and try and try again to dig its hooks into her, but she is fiercer and filled with more conviction than any human or superhuman foe can break. Within her discipline and self-reliance is, I believe, an inherent compassion—an understanding of our suffering, and a trust that the truth will better us—a trust that we will better ourselves.
CV: With so much still fuzzy in the New 52, how are you approaching fleshing out Lois' backstory and relationship with her father and sister?
MB: I absolutely want to uncoil these roots for Lois, show the deep and vibrant relationships she maintains beyond Superman. I want her friends and her family. The story I hope to tell is one prominently about two women and their relationship—the love, bitterness, loyalty, ambition, and regret that comes from living in two worlds. I mayn’t say such else right now, but I really and truly hope you’ll enjoy her story.
CV: Will Superman play any part in the story or will you get to focus just on Lois?
MB: Superman is an aspect of Lois’s story, but in the New 52, so much of what Lois is capable of can be seen in who she is beyond Superman. Not without, which I think implies a noticeable absence, a fault, a lack—but beyond him, head high, hair streaming, heroic in her own right, braving a superhuman world on beautifully human terms.
CV: Joker's Daughter is a new character. Is it easier or harder to write someone with less history?
MB: It’s a bit of a double-edged razor, really. Characters with storied histories are rich with details that can be exploded and explored in scripts and new adventures, but there’s ever the terror of screwing up. In comics, there’s a deadly tendency for characters to become icons, and icons by their definition are fated to remain static, for better or worse. There’s a whole world of responsibility when daring to approach an icon that means so much and so many different things to such wildly disparate groups of people, but to flinch away from such a thing brings only stagnation. In the same way that I don’t want the perception of Lois Lane to be simply “Superman’s girlfriend,” I don’t want previous perceptions of Joker’s Daughter to prohibit a new reader from experiencing her on new terms.
There is certainly more freedom in new characters, and responsibility of a different kind. Readers will come without particular expectations, but there is also no vestigial love, as there is for a character readers already know. You become responsible for engaging not just the reader to the page, but the character to the universe. It’s rather more pressure than your standard debutante ball.
CV: The solicit mentions she's more than "just a crazy person who stumbled upon the Joker's face." How would you briefly describe her?
MB: I would say that Joker’s Daughter is…fragile. She’s a survivor, and the knowledge that she can survive through cruelty and through desperation frightens her. It means that the trials of the world that might kill another person (but allow that person a good, clean death) will not offer the same to her. She’ll endure, and become the more corrupt for enduring. She’s a broken creature, and broken things have horribly sharp edges.
CV: Joker’s face was pretty gross before. After falling into the water and floating for who knows how long, how nasty is it now?
MB: It’s quite foul. Admittedly, it’s been through so many chemical contaminations over the years that one could make an argument that it is barely flesh at all. I tend to think of the Joker’s face more as a Petri dish than anything else—a colony of toxicity, flesh, spores, and evil that has reached enough equilibrium to maintain the illusion of a face. All that foulness squirming around in the Joker’s soul, made manifest in that leering, grinning mask.
CV: Let's say someone was on the fence with Joker's Daughter as a character. Besides the fact that you're writing this one-shot, why should readers take a chance and check out her story?
MB: Between the two of us, now, I would like you to consider why, after all he has done and all he has burned and all he has made suffer, you still glance up with that sudden flicker of pleasure when you hear that the Joker will be returning to Gotham. Why, when you see his face, twisted and obscene, on the cover of a book, you still reach for it.
Five years ago now, I was twenty years old and enduring a blistering summer in my sophomore year at college. I was miserable, and working for twelve hours a day at backbreaking labor in 106° Virginia heat in the middle of July. We were on the cusp of the recession and I was bitterly grateful just to have a job. I hadn’t read comics in ages and hadn’t written in months, between the need to save money and the need to devote every waking hour to that dehumanizing work.
And then, that mid-July, this creature rode out of my childhood nightmares and adolescent pages and burned that whole world down.
The Dark Knight was released. And I was given to remember why I had once been so moved by this universe. In the cool dark of the theatre, I could forget the ache of the day and the scorn of the patrons and the joke that passed for minimum wage, and lose myself in the story of the god of death who went to war against the god of justice. I hadn’t written in months, but I wrote after that night. The god of death was gleeful and running at my heels, and it wasn’t Batman who brought me back to the thing that I loved, who gave my awful, tired days meaning—it was the Joker.
So when I think of that girl, holding that face in her hands for the first time—her broken nails, the chipping glitter polish, the sick weight in her throat—I remember that summer, and how when I felt lost and miserable and without meaning, it was the Joker that rescued me, not Batman.
The face came to her, not Batman. The face came to her, not Harley, not some rogue, not some hero, not some villain. The face is the Joker’s weapon, but also his crown. She was broken and ugly and alone—and it came to her.
If you’ve ever felt that throatful of disgust with your lot in life, I would say,
Try on the mask.
CV: Not that we'd see it, but how would an encounter between Lois and Joker's Daughter go?
MB: Hmm! I believe Lois would see Joker’s Daughter as a symptom of what the Joker has done to Gotham—a victim of his sickness spreading and poisoning the next generation of those born there. Lois would in no way excuse the vile actions JD undertakes, but I feel she would understand their origin and that, had this girl been born in another city, another time, her fragility would not have been so readily exploited by the wretchedness that the Joker leaves in the streets of Gotham.
But Lois would not be afraid of JD. There is respect for the Joker, though not in the socially constructed sense—but a respect for how dangerous he is, a recognition, maybe, of his evil (and a deep-rooted contempt for it, as well; I feel Lois would think the natural world is brutal enough without malice to endure). I don’t believe anything near that respect would be offered to JD, however—I feel Lois would be inclined to view JD as a rabid dog, a sick animal that could’ve been loved and loving had it not been bitten, not been abused—but a savage dog is a savage dog, and savage dogs are not spared for their crimes, no matter the calls for compassion (and no matter how many times those Sarah McLachlan commercials empty my bank account).
Joker’s Daughter, to counter, would be inclined to view Lois as a foul tabloid reporter, an invasive species in her natural habitat of madness and decay. JD’s view of Lois would be equally corrupt—she sees her professing beliefs in truth and human decency, but would likely sneer that Lois’s kind are only interested in the gore and ugliness of the world—“if it bleeds, it leads”—and if it’s the lead Lois wants, she’ll give her fame, she’ll give her gore, she’ll give her smoke choking her lungs, because it’s horror the people want, horror and cruelty and murder and rot that sell and compel them and their attention—their reverence. Beauty is a thing to be criticized and shamed at the merest deviation, but rank ugliness is freedom, and I think JD would try to offer this to Lois like revelation.
Thank y’all so much for having me.
It’s been a pleasure chatting with y’all about these two lovely ladies.
And all that being said, and in thanks for your patience (for I know I’m terribly wordy and melodramatic), let me leave you with this one piece of advice:
If you see Swamp Thing, say Swamp Thing.
Keep an eye out for more from Marguerite Bennett and follow her on Twitter at @EvilMarguerite just because she's so dang cool.