With less than a month until the eagerly anticipated Arrowverse television crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" kicks off, The CW has released the first set of official stills, providing fans with a look at Brandon Routh's Kingdom Come Superman both as the Last Son of Krypton and Clark Kent, the unassuming editor-in-chief of The Daily Planet. As Clark stands in the halls of the iconic newspaper publisher, a prominent headline and image from a previously published story is framed behind him, announcing a terrorist gas attack on the building, resulting in numerous fatalities.
The image is taken straight from the pages of 2009's Justice Society of America Kingdom Come: Superman Special #1, written and illustrated by Alex Ross. The one-shot expanded on one of the most tragic moments from Kingdom Come that helped fuel the Man of Steel's self-imposed exile: A deadly attack on The Daily Planet by the Joker using his lethal toxic gas to kill the majority of the staff before brutally killing Lois Lane himself, setting up the general public to embrace more extremist superheroes like Magog.
Years before the events of Ross and Mark Waid's universally acclaimed Elseworlds story, an older Clown Prince of Crime killed the majority of the newspaper's staff in seconds, while Lois used a gas mask she kept at her desk just in case to survive the initial attack. Attempting to fend off the Joker with a fire extinguisher, the villain savagely beat the intrepid reporter to death with a paperweight before her husband could arrive in time to stop him. It is one of the darker moments in the entire story, clearly haunting the superhero for the remainder of his life.
It is unclear how much of the comic book story informs Routh's incarnation of the alternate Superman in the coming Crisis but is the most direct nod to the tale outside of the story's iconic iteration of the Superman costume. The Man of Tomorrow in the comic book miniseries had completely left Metropolis in disgust and grief for what had become of the world while the Arrowverse version clearly remains an active member of society, at least in his civilian life, having taken the lead position at the venerable news company due to his lifelong commitment to investigative journalism and years of service. Oh, and the evident deaths of all his co-workers at the hands of a homicidal clown.
It is similarly unclear if viewers will get a glimpse of the Kingdom Come Lois Lane, perhaps through a photo or other memento kept by Clark. Whether that Lois would be the Arrowverse's Bitsie Tulloch, Smallville's Erica Durance or Kate Bosworth from Superman Returns -- which starred Routh as the eponymous superhero in 2006 -- would play double duty as this world's Lois. In the event that it is Bosworth, it would certainly put Superman Returns in a considerably darker light.
Having said all this, judging by the smile on Editor-in-Chief Clark Kent, things aren't all bad for the newsman. And the sudden appearance of the Arrowverse heroes to recruit him to save the entire DCTV Multiverse may be just the kick in the pants the superhero needs to reclaim the mantle of Superman and save the day one last time.
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" begins Sunday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Supergirl, then continues in Batwoman on Monday, Dec. p at 8 p.m. ET/PT and in The Flash on Tuesday, Dec, 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. After the winter hiatus, the crossover will conclude on Tuesday, Jan. 14 in Arrow at 8 p.m. ET/PT and in DC's Legends of Tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET/PT.