Superman Comic Books
Superman: Special Reports
Lois Lane - Part 3 (of 3)Author: Sean Hogan (email@example.com)
Last updated: November 19, 2001
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
With the writers apparently searching for something to bring as much attention and controversy as the death and return storyline, someone apparently got the idea for a trial separation between Lois and Clark. In my opinion, "The Engagement Is Off" storyline is the only one which has not been true to Lois' character. Over the course of several months, the writers show a growing rift between the couple, culminating in Action Comics #720 where, for never clearly explained reasons, Lois ends her relationship with Clark
If there is one trait of Lois' established since the re-boot in 1986, it's that she doesn't give up. While her motivation for the breakup is never very clear, certainly the hints of jealousy, insecurity, and the inability to accept Clark's duties as Superman, are not characteristic of Lois.
My suggestion is for readers to completely ignore the breakup (except for the fun Mxyzptlk had trying to reunite the two in the much recommended two parter from Action Comics #721 and Superman: The Man of Steel #56).
Repeat after me: "With Hypertime, anything is possible." ;-)
At least things were quickly set to right with the wedding, although once again the tail wagged the dog as the comic writers scrambled to reconcile the couple to coordinate with the wedding scheduled to take place on television in Lois & Clark (although the comics clearly outshone the television show which offered a frog-eating-clone-Lois to delay the wedding; what were those writers on?). Dan Jurgens does a reasonably good job giving the separation a 180 degree turnaround (considering what he had to work with and where he needed to go) in Superman #118. At issue's end, Lois announces, "It's time to return to Metropolis. I have a wedding to attend!"
With This Ring
Aside from the expected romance, Superman: The Wedding Album has a great deal of fun in it with an appropriate focus on Lois and lots of humour. The issue starts with Lois overcoming a smuggler on an airplane who is trying to force her to marry him. Lois overpowers the three kidnappers then threatens the pilot: "... I have a gun, a knife, and champagne ... and I know how to use all three!"
The real fun though is with the bridal shower and the selection of the wedding dress as we see Lois and her mother spar. Lois' dad also butts heads with her and with Clark, but at the last moment arrives at the church for the wedding.
The Honeymoon arc that followed didn't live up to the standards of The Wedding Album. In an overblown plot, Lois has to rescue her husband from a desperately inept gang of terrorists. Despite the exaggeration, even this theme of "Commando Lois" has it's roots in earlier stories and is consistent with the 15 year old who risked life and limb to sneak into Luthor's complex just to get a job at the Daily Planet.
An earlier example of a "Commando Lois" personality is the 1990 Roger Stern story, "Survival", from Action Comics #655. Dressed in camouflage, Lois follows army munitions thieves, even jumping atop their moving van and clinging to the roof until reaching their hideout.
Captured, Lois fakes an injury to overcome a soldier and escape with his rifle -- only to be caught again when she decides to try and capture the rebel leader. Although Superman comes to her rescue, it's Lois who disarms and captures the leader and holds the bad guys at gunpoint until the army arrives. When Perry is ordered by the Army to classify part of Lois' story, she has no fear of confronting Perry over the censorship. The issue ends on a softer note as Clark picks up Lois for breakfast and receives a kiss on the cheek from Lois as thanks.
In this story, Lois is commando, reporter, girlfriend -- and in character.
Following the wedding and honeymoon, life continues along with the usual troubles (including dealing with her husband's transformations into the electric versions, Supermans Red & Blue and later into a full time Superman and then global emperor in the 24/7 and King of the World arcs). The writers continue the trend begun following the engagement, solidifying Lois and Clark into a team and a partnership - mutually supportive and complementary to each other.
The next big change for Lois is a professional, not personal, one as Lex Luthor buys and scraps the Daily Planet in the special, Superman: Save The Planet. Luthor fires Clark and most of Lois' co-workers, but keeps her on with his new media enterprise, LexCom. While potentially interesting, the stories once again fall victim to the massive story arc and the stalled subplots.
Then, in 1999, there is a massive change of the teams writing and drawing the Superman titles, led by writer Jeph Loeb, hot off of the successful miniseries, Superman: For All Seasons . Loeb and the new team quickly return the cast to their roots starting in Superman #151, with Luthor selling the Daily Planet back and everyone returning to work. Loeb also incorporates elements of the television show, Superman: The Animated Series with the first official continuity use of Lois' nickname for Clark - 'Smallville' (which he also used in Superman: For All Seasons). He also makes heavy use of the "beef bourguignon" code (starting with Superman #153)
Loeb also sets up a dilemma for Lois as revealed on the last page of that issue, where he reminds Lois that the condition for returning the paper was her agreement to kill one story at his request. Luthor has found Lois' price at last as she reluctantly affirms the deal to compromise her beloved journalistic principles: "Now... I'll be the one who has a terrible, awful, secret... forever."
While the writers appear intent on maintaining the Lois/Clark partnership, they aren't beyond playing with it. In Superman #157, we learn that the growing estrangement between the two was misleading as Lois had been replaced by the Parasite. The writers also flirt with jealousy, both by having the public suspect a "Mrs. Superman" and by playing up Superman's relationship to Wonder Woman (including the strange Action Comics #761 where the two spend a thousand years in Valhalla - conveniently returning to present day at the end of the story).
Lois maintains her devotion to her husband as well as her independence - notably including her recruitment of Batman to recover the kryptonite ring from Luthor when Superman refuses to engage in some breaking and entering to do so (Superman #168 and Detective Comics #756 - a great, fun story)
Lois can't escape other family ties, as her father is recruited into President Luthor's cabinet (Action Comics #774) and later dies defending the White House from Imperiex during the "Our World's At War" arc (Action Comics #781). Sam Lane (among many others) is laid to rest in World's Finest: Our Worlds At War #1.
Due to the feisty character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and the well rounded character re-introduced by John Byrne, Lois Lane remains a compelling, fascinating and integral part of the Superman legend.
Despite the tendency of later stories to forego character development in favour of action, Lois really hasn't changed a great deal since the Man Of Steel miniseries. The main development has been the slow growth from hating Clark Kent, to becoming romantically involved with him, and finally to becoming his partner and wife.
Along the way, Lois has become a fully developed character with many characteristics to her personality - a vast improvement over earlier eras - and has truly come into her own as a partner with her husband and as a person in her own right.