Lazarus Planet: Omega writer Mark Waid on the event's surprise star and if Batman is really dead

art from Lazarus Planet: Omega
art from Lazarus Planet: Omega (Image credit: DC)

Lazarus Planet is in full swing at DC. The event, which sees a mystical storm shake the rules of the DCU, is chronicled in several of the publisher's January offerings. However, there are already glimmers of sun at the edge of the rainclouds, as the culmination of the storyline is set to hit comic shelves February 21.

Lazarus Planet Omega is written by Mark Waid, drawn by Riccardo Federici and Mike Perkins, colored by Brad Anderson, and lettered by Steve Wands. The issue is a direct follow-up to Lazarus Planet Alpha, which left new villain King Fire Bull facing off against Damian Wayne, the heroes of the DCU dispersed, and Bruce Wayne possessed by the wicked Devil Nezha.

a page from Lazarus Planet: Omega (Image credit: DC)

Newsarama recently sat down with writer and Lazarus Planet orchestrator Mark Waid, who spoke to us about a surprise star of the story and how the event will affect a certain father/son vigilante duo moving forward. 

Read on to hear what he had to say and take a look at a few pages from the special. 

Grant DeArmitt for Newsarama: Mark, were you involved at all in the other Lazarus Planet books? This event had a lot of tie-ins.

Mark Waid: Yes, but only as a backstop. I gave the writers as liberal a set of guidelines as I could possibly give them. I read things on the back end just to make sure that things meshed with other things, or that characters weren't suddenly in someplace they shouldn't be. Other than that, these writers and artists had their own rules.

Nrama: Gotcha. Last we spoke about Lazarus Planet, we touched on magic, its rules and costs. Bouncing off that, what is the cost of magic for villains like King Fire Bull and the Devil Nezha?

a page from Lazarus Planet: Omega (Image credit: DC)

Waid: It takes different forms. I mean, it's not one size fits all, and it's more reflective of what their original goals and methods were. But in the case of the Devil Nezha, the price he will end up paying… well, what to say without giving anything away? It will be a bad price, how about that? I can't give anything away.

Nrama: I completely understand. On the same subject, can you talk about working with Monkey Prince writer/creator Gene Yang to create these villains? 

Waid: Sure. The Devil Nezha was pre-Gene, if you will, before I realized what he was doing with Monkey Prince. But that said, his knowledge of the actual Nezha mythology was invaluable as I went forward and built things. He gave me weapons, gave me ideas, gave me background. We spent many hours on the phone. He would send me books. He was more than generous with his time, and it worked out really well.

Nrama: It feels like a new wing of mythology in DC comic books.

Waid: Yeah, and I give all credit to Gene for that. I mean, the beauty of what we built up here is that, you know, Monkey Prince so informs everything about Lazarus Planet, even though that was not the original remit for the series, that it just makes the whole story feel bigger.

a page from Lazarus Planet: Omega (Image credit: DC)

Nrama: Well, speaking of collaborations, let's talk about working with Riccardo Federici for both Lazarus Planet Alpha and Omega. What makes Riccardo right for this story?

Waid: There's a moodiness to [Riccardo's art]. There is a darkness to it. The style that he uses is it just lends itself to fantasy and magic really well. I'm not asking him to draw skyscrapers, I'm letting him lean into what he does best. I'm really pleased. I've never worked with anybody with that style of art before. I was a little nervous going in that we wouldn't mesh, but I think we meshed really well.

Nrama: If you were to work with Riccardo again on a project, what would you like it to be?

Waid: Oh, gosh. He'd be my first pick if anybody ever asked me to do an Aquaman story.

Nrama: Cool. Hopping into the issue, can you talk to me about writing Black Alice? Her character takes the spotlight in Omega in a really cool way. 

Waid: I believe that character came from Gail Simone's brain. Originally in my script, she was too much of a plot device. She was just a way to move magic around. But when I realized that Lazarus Planet had her in it without making her a real person, that was something I needed to address and address with vigor. Stories are about people. Stories are not about things. I wanted the story to be about someone, and it's about Black Alice as much as anybody.

Nrama: Really quickly before we move on: As a writer, how can you tell when a character is a plot device and not, like you said, a real person?

Waid: Everybody in a story wants something. Everybody in a scene wants something. Even if you've got a scene set in the hospital and there's a day nurse in the background, they want something. They want to be home before six to have dinner, whatever they want. 

So if you have characters in your story and you don't know what they want, and they don't have any agency of their own, then that's how you know they're a plot device and not a real character.

Nrama: Understood. Switching back to Black Alice, there's a great moment between her and Monkey Prince at the end of Lazarus Planet Alpha that comes to fruition in Omega. What do those two characters have in common, besides thinking Damian is a jerk?

Waid: [laughs] That's the biggest one. I don't know if they have much in common. It's really just a matter of two soldiers being thrown into a foxhole.

two pages from Lazarus Planet: Omega (Image credit: DC)

Nrama: Okay. Also, at the end of Lazarus Planet Alpha, we see Batman possessed by the Devil Nezha. Is that possession similar to how he possessed Damien? Meaning there's still part of Bruce in there, but a warped and manipulated version?

Waid: No, this is just straight-up possession. This is just Nezha not having enough juice in the tank anymore to command superheroes like puppets. This is his last gasp. It means inhabiting Batman fully and wholly. If there's anything of Bruce left in there, it's microscopic.

Nrama: How will that change Batman and Robin's dynamic moving into Batman Vs. Robin #5, which is a direct follow-up to Lazarus Planet Omega? 

Waid: Well, now [Batman] is dead. He's dead. The spirit of magic in him is the only thing that is keeping him ambulatory. Once you take that out of him, he will die. There's no other way around it. That's the dilemma that Damian has to face in the final issue of Batman Vs. Robin.

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Grant DeArmitt
Freelance writer

Grant DeArmitt is a NYC-based writer and editor who regularly contributes bylines to Newsarama. Grant is a horror aficionado, writing about the genre for Nightmare on Film Street, and has written features, reviews, and interviews for the likes of PanelxPanel and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Grant says he probably isn't a werewolf… but you can never be too careful.