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  1. #1
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    Default Did DC deal Lois Lane a lousy hand?

    I'm not talking about the Supes/WW-ship (which I hate with the passion a Boston Sox Fan holds for the Yankees). Nor am I talking about the recent events. I'm talking about the roots that shaped Lane in the popular culture.

    At her worst, Lois Lane:
    - Is too $#%(ing dense to figure out who Superman is, in spite of spending generations staring both him and Kent in the face.
    - Is a conniving shrew, constantly out to expose Superman's identity to prove her own cleverness.
    - Is a hopelessly pinning broad, constantly out to entrap Superman into romance.
    - Is a Mean Girl that never grew out of it, based on the way that she treats Clark Kent.

    Now, I don't claim that's all there is to her, nor does it completely encompass all the ways that writers have characterized her over the decades. I do wonder, however, if it could have been different.

    I once heard that writers in the early 1940s wanted Superman to reveal his identity to Lois, to basically change their relationship to something more like that shared by The Flash and his girlfriend, Joan Williams, and they were told no. Had that happened, would a lot of the negative stuff that came to be associated with Lois also have happened? In saying no to making Lois Superman's confidant, did DC deal the character a lousy hand?

  2. #2
    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    No idea. What is often forgotten, about that 40's unpublished story you mentionned, is that Lois discovering Clark's secret ID didn't lead to the end of Lois being "mean" to Clark (at least in this particular story, who knows where it might have went had it been chosen).
    Ho sure, at first, she's all ecstatic about it. But at the end of the story, she basically tells him "you know, I've been thinking about this whole "secret identity" thing, and I just realized that you've been playing me for a fool for quite some time now. So, your secret is safe with him, but that aside, f.ck off" (which makes you wonder how much of a confident they wanted her to be).
    That sudden turn of event always striked me as weird because it felt to me as if Siegel and Shuster realized mid story that Lois discovering Clark's secret meant that this weird game they had going on was basically over, and they tried to correct course as best they could.
    Now, what effect it would have had in the long run....who the hell knows.
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    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    Did DC deal Lois Lane a lousy hand?
    From where I sit, it seems like the New 52/DCYou has basically dealt the entire Super-line a f#@%in' $#!^^y hand.

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    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Sit closer.

    As to the question, apparently not considering how popular she became despite some of her less than exquisite character traits. You have to remember comics were a lot more lighthearted and purposely campy back then. What would be read today as completely inappropriate in the more serious context of today's stories was good for a laugh then, i.e the entrapment storylines and her treating Clark Kent like dirt.
    Last edited by Sacred Knight; 08-06-2015 at 01:19 PM.
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  5. #5
    Astonishing Member misslane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    At her worst, Lois Lane:
    - Is too $#%(ing dense to figure out who Superman is, in spite of spending generations staring both him and Kent in the face.
    - Is a conniving shrew, constantly out to expose Superman's identity to prove her own cleverness.
    I'll probably come back to discuss the rest of your post later, but these two particular points are pretty contradictory. Lois can't be both constantly trying to prove, for example, that Clark Kent is Superman while at the same time being the same person who is too dense to see past the glasses.

    I don't think DC has failed Lois Lane so much as Lois Lane has been failed by an audience that has difficulty understanding her. Your criticisms, for example, are almost entirely limited to how Lois Lane was characterized in the Silver Age. If we were to judge Superman by those standards, he would be known as a Super-dick.
    Last edited by misslane; 08-06-2015 at 01:39 PM.

  6. #6
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    Given what has happen so far and how it started within the new 52, I would say DC is starting to fail Lois a bit by not having her be a major influence in Superman/Clark's life outside friendship and possible romantic interest.

    It's almost like Marvel's SPider-man post OMD and we all knew how that turned out.

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    - Is too $#%(ing dense to figure out who Superman is, in spite of spending generations staring both him and Kent in the face.
    This would be true for everyone else in the comic book world of Superman. It's unfair to hold it against Lois alone.

    - Is a conniving shrew, constantly out to expose Superman's identity to prove her own cleverness.
    But that's entertainment. And I'm not sure the war of the sexes in entertainment has changed that much. Making Lois less than perfect does not necessarily undermine her as a character. Being sly, cunnng and arrogant has served many fictional characters qute well.

    - Is a hopelessly pinning broad, constantly out to entrap Superman into romance.
    Not hopeless since in some possible outcomes Lois is shown to in fact marry Superman one day. Not pining all the time, since many stories had her going with other suitors. And not constantly trying to entrap Superman, as Lois had a lot of adventures where this was far from her mind. But romance is very popular--DC's romance line used to be very profitable--and the romance of Superman and Lois Lane has a lot of appeal for the general public.

    - Is a Mean Girl that never grew out of it, based on the way that she treats Clark Kent.
    Many of the characters in comics are remarkably stunted in their emotional growth. I would even say that in modern super-hero comics, everyone acts like an adolescent. It's not fair to hold against Lois a trait that is common in so many other characters. And it's not really that accurate as Lois was often shown to be kind and thoughtful and her relationship with Clark was often very respectful.

    I don't think SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE would have been the popular comic book that it was in its day, if the writers had taken a different route. They were giving people what they wanted. Nor do I think that this hurt the character. As times changed, Lois changed. She became much more feminist in the '70s.

    For that matter, I think Lois was quite popular in the post-Byrne period. Hey there was a TV show where she was a title character. And she's been a popular personality in other shows.

    It only seems in the last fifteen years that the comic book writers have turned against Lois. Mind you, even if she was written as a villain that wouldn't kill her popularity. DC's villains tend to be more popular than their heroes these days. The real problem is when Lois falls further into the background and no longer gains the kind of attention she used to enjoy. Being ignored is the worst fate for a comic book character--even more fatal than death.
    verbum sapiente satis est

  8. #8
    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    - Is too $#%(ing dense to figure out who Superman is, in spite of spending generations staring both him and Kent in the face.
    This would be true for everyone else in the comic book world of Superman. It's unfair to hold it against Lois alone.
    True enough, but I think there's a couple of reasons why people tend to use that argument against Lois more than against other people:
    1) She's the character who usually has the most in-depth interactions with both his personas, meaning that she should be in the perfect place to t figure it out. I mean, during Post Crisis-if my memories are correct- she was engaged with him when he told her, and even then, she couldn't see past the glasses.
    2)Since she's a Pullitzer Price Winning reporter, she's usually treated as someone who's very smart, which makes her inability to figure out what is usually considered by people to be a fairly silly disguise stand out. As a character in general, she's supposed to be taken seriously, unlike Jimmy for instance, who's often written as an inept comic relief.
    3) She's also quite simply the most famous member of his supporting cast, so when people think of people not seeing past the glasses, they think of Lois first.
    Hold those chains, Clark Kent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auguste Dupin View Post
    True enough, but I think there's a couple of reasons why people tend to use that argument against Lois more than against other people:
    1) She's the character who usually has the most in-depth interactions with both his personas, meaning that she should be in the perfect place to t figure it out. I mean, during Post Crisis-if my memories are correct- she was engaged with him when he told her, and even then, she couldn't see past the glasses.
    2)Since she's a Pullitzer Price Winning reporter, she's usually treated as someone who's very smart, which makes her inability to figure out what is usually considered by people to be a fairly silly disguise stand out. As a character in general, she's supposed to be taken seriously, unlike Jimmy for instance, who's often written as an inept comic relief.
    3) She's also quite simply the most famous member of his supporting cast, so when people think of people not seeing past the glasses, they think of Lois first.
    seems very convenient that people forget luthor, that si suppossed to be a genius

  10. #10
    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tayswift View Post
    seems very convenient that people forget luthor, that si suppossed to be a genius
    True, but he doesn't always interract with both sides, and when does, it's not always in a very substantial manner.
    That, and it's less "funny" with the archnemesis than with the love interest.
    Hold those chains, Clark Kent
    Bear the weight on your shoulders
    Stand firm. Take the pain.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auguste Dupin View Post
    True enough, but I think there's a couple of reasons why people tend to use that argument against Lois more than against other people:
    1) She's the character who usually has the most in-depth interactions with both his personas, meaning that she should be in the perfect place to t figure it out. I mean, during Post Crisis-if my memories are correct- she was engaged with him when he told her, and even then, she couldn't see past the glasses.
    2)Since she's a Pullitzer Price Winning reporter, she's usually treated as someone who's very smart, which makes her inability to figure out what is usually considered by people to be a fairly silly disguise stand out. As a character in general, she's supposed to be taken seriously, unlike Jimmy for instance, who's often written as an inept comic relief.
    3) She's also quite simply the most famous member of his supporting cast, so when people think of people not seeing past the glasses, they think of Lois first.
    But it was a relatively small period of time between the Byrne reboot and when Clark revealed his true identity to Lois. So in the post-Crisis era, I'm not convinced this would have ever been such an irritant to comic book fandom. We're talking almost thirty years. For most of that time, Lois has known or strongly suspected Superman and Clark Kent were one and the same.

    In the early days of Superman even up to the '60s, Superman was calling her Miss Lane. There was a cold formality to their relationship. I grant that this was never consistent. Sometimes Superman would be taking her off to an exotic jungle to romance her. And then in the next story it was like he barely knew her. Very early in my reading, I decided that every Superman story existed in its own bubble of reality and you couldn't expect anything in one story to have an influence on the next story.

    The secret identity is such a big topic in itself. It's come up many times on this board. My opinion is that it was always a mistake to admit that into the reality of the character. No one ever should have looked at Superman and seen that he looks like Clark Kent. They used this as a springboard for many plots--so I can't fault them for that. But once this becomes a reality in Superman's world then all of the questions follow from that.

    My stance is that Superman is like Odysseus and the newly risen Jesus who are not recognized by their closest friends when they first return to them. And in fact this was a whole theme in Greek drama. In most of the plays, there's a recognition scene where a brother, sister or friend suddenly has their eyes opened to the truth and recognize that Iphigenia, Orestes or whoever is in fact that and not this stranger that they thought they were.

    That something so deep exists in the Superman story is a profoundly good thing. And you just have to go with it. But when the stories keep screwing around with this idea, then it weakens the fabric of the illusion.

    But I also think fandom is fickle when it moans about this. On the one hand, Lois is a terrible person because she suspects that Superman is Clark and tries to prove it. On the other hand, Lois is a stupid person because she doesn't know Superman is Clark. Really, fandom just has it in for Lois and will use any faulty logic to say something bad about her.

    For most of the classic period where Lois may have had reason to believe Clark is Superman, the Weisinger machinery applied. She suspected it almost every month in one story and often tried to prove her case and Superman always came up with a scheme to prove that he and Clark were two different people. There were robots, exact doubles, allies--a whole long list of ways that Superman showed Lois time and again that she was wrong. Why would she or anyone try to prove this, when Superman had proven that he wasn't Clark Kent on countless occasions?

    And this is in a world where eveyone else seems to have an exact double. Lois Lane had at least one doppelganger. So the fact that Clark and Superman may look the same, somewhat, would not be remarkable to anyone in that world where doubles are common.

    As well, Curt Swan and other artists were quite good at making Clark and Superman look alike yet different. It's one of the joys of Superman. Likewise on radio and the screen, certain actors have been very good at creating that distinction just through their voice and body language.

    It's like the joke about the eggs. My wife thinks she's a chicken, but we don't want to cure her because we need the eggs. We get a lot out of the Superman myth--so we don't want to apply too much logic or we'll spoil the whole thing.
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  12. #12
    Astonishing Member misslane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    I'm not talking about the Supes/WW-ship (which I hate with the passion a Boston Sox Fan holds for the Yankees). Nor am I talking about the recent events. I'm talking about the roots that shaped Lane in the popular culture.
    The roots that shaped Lois Lane's reputation in popular culture have nothing to do with DC but with the culture itself. DC has been writing, producing, and promoting a Lois Lane that defies most of the stereotypes listed below for over 30 years now. She defied those stereotypes at the beginning of existence, too. For whatever reason, our culture cannot seem to let go of an idea of Lois Lane that only existed at little over 15 years of her over 75 year existence. DC has done plenty to defy the Silver Age template for Lois, including modern interpretations like Adams's Lois Lane in Man of Steel. These recent events have not affected Lois Lane's roots not because DC has failed but because the culture itself is behind or unwilling to adapt.

    - Is too $#%(ing dense to figure out who Superman is, in spite of spending generations staring both him and Kent in the face.
    But this is actually a rare exception rather than the rule. Indeed, the only version of Lois Lane who never put two and two together without being told was Post-Crisis comics Lois Lane. Every other incarnation either figured it out for herself but was unable to prove her suspicions because Superman used all of his resources to block her attempts or figured it out for herself but was able to prove it.

    - Is a conniving shrew, constantly out to expose Superman's identity to prove her own cleverness.
    Like I said before, this attribute paired with the first are mostly contradictory. Lois can't be too stupid to figure it out at the same time she has figured it out and is trying to prove it. Also, to be clear, Lois was not trying to prove she was clever. She was trying to prevent Superman the SuperDick from perpetuating his gaslighting games. She's either damned if she does or damned if she doesn't in this situation, isn't she? If she doesn't try to figure out the truth, then she's too dense. If she does try to figure out the truth, then she's a conniving shrew. Lois is not the problem. It's hypocritical readers who are the problem.

    - Is a hopelessly pinning broad, constantly out to entrap Superman into romance.
    Women in the 50s and 60s were expected to be wives and mothers.



    Romance and marriage were the ultimate means of advancement for women in the Silver Age because those were the paths to success society allowed them. DC Comics conformed to the trend, of course, particularly at the height of the Comics Code Authority era. For modern society to continue to trap Lois Lane in this box speaks to the lack of progress in society. Comics, animation, film, television, and young adult literature have all long since abandoned Lois Lane's Silver Age character tropes. If culture refuses to move on in light of these changes, then it's the fault of the culture rather DC Comics or the character herself. We are the problem; she is not.

    - Is a Mean Girl that never grew out of it, based on the way that she treats Clark Kent.
    Do you see the way Clark Kent treats her? She knows he's Superman but he lies to her, tricks her, and uses his disguise to scoop her despite the fact that, as a woman, she has two work at least twice as hard to get half as successful as he will as a man. Lois treats Clark Kent poorly because he's unreliable, deceitful, and a coward.

    Now, I don't claim that's all there is to her, nor does it completely encompass all the ways that writers have characterized her over the decades. I do wonder, however, if it could have been different.
    It could have been different if DC Comics had the fortitude in the 50s and 60s to actually write Lois Lane the way they would have written any of their male characters. Something more like a child-friendly version of Peggy Olson of Mad Men. That being said, however, I have to somewhat disagree with your assertion that DC has dealt Lois a lousy hand; therefore, we must wonder what could have been different. The truth is, despite her current marginalization in the New 52 comics, Lois remains remarkably popular. She has had a significant role in two feature films, two network television shows, an animated show, several animated DVDs, and even has her own successful Young Adult novel series. Lois Lane has even trended in the USA.



    I once heard that writers in the early 1940s wanted Superman to reveal his identity to Lois, to basically change their relationship to something more like that shared by The Flash and his girlfriend, Joan Williams, and they were told no. Had that happened, would a lot of the negative stuff that came to be associated with Lois also have happened? In saying no to making Lois Superman's confidant, did DC deal the character a lousy hand?
    I doubt it things would have changed if that story had been allowed to play out. Continuity and change weren't very popular in comics at the time. Lois may have had a short window of time to make a more positive impression, but it's not a change that I believe would have stuck around for very long. I think it's best to think of the iconic Silver Age characterization of Lois Lane as in the same vein as I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, and Bewitched. Each show follows the episodic formula of the wacky woman (often a subversively feminist woman, too) frustrating her more straitlaced hubby or beau. These stories and their challenging women are meant to embraced with a fun and forgiving spirit. It's a shame that Silver Age Lois has been more a weight around the character's neck than it was at the time those stories were written. It's not DC's fault, but our fault as a society for not letting it go even when we have decades of new stories and new ideas to latch onto.

  13. #13
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    - Is a conniving shrew, constantly out to expose Superman's identity to prove her own cleverness.
    But that's entertainment. And I'm not sure the war of the sexes in entertainment has changed that much. Making Lois less than perfect does not necessarily undermine her as a character. Being sly, cunnng and arrogant has served many fictional characters qute well.
    she was trying to proof it so she could date/marry superman/clark

    Quote Originally Posted by misslane View Post


    It could have been different if DC Comics had the fortitude in the 50s and 60s to actually write Lois Lane the way they would have written any of their male characters. Something more like a child-friendly version of Peggy Olson of Mad Men. That being said, however, I have to somewhat disagree with your assertion that DC has dealt Lois a lousy hand; therefore, we must wonder what could have been different. The truth is, despite her current marginalization in the New 52 comics, Lois remains remarkably popular. She has had a significant role in two feature films, two network television shows, an animated show, several animated DVDs, and even has her own successful Young Adult novel series. Lois Lane has even trended in the USA.


    I was thinking more like Peggy Carter, without the part of Carter being a spy/soldier.
    Last edited by Tayswift; 08-06-2015 at 05:06 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    - Is a hopelessly pinning broad, constantly out to entrap Superman into romance.
    Not hopeless since in some possible outcomes Lois is shown to in fact marry Superman one day. Not pining all the time, since many stories had her going with other suitors. And not constantly trying to entrap Superman, as Lois had a lot of adventures where this was far from her mind. But romance is very popular--DC's romance line used to be very profitable--and the romance of Superman and Lois Lane has a lot of appeal for the general public.
    .
    There are ways to make Lois seemed flawed without making her annoying to read/watch. The problem is many writers emphasize the shrewish aspect of her personality while downplaying or flat out ignoring her more likable traits. There is a reason the Silver Age versions of these characters (with all their trappings of messed up gender and racial politics) are at best liked ironically.

    Also, those versions where Clark eventually marries Lois? She's NOT a totally hateful person.

    Basing her entire motivation for exposing Superman around entrapping him in a marriage is so backwards and offensive it's not even funny. Sure such plots probably are still used in fiction today, but that doesn't mean they're considered good.

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    Astonishing Member misslane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Basing her entire motivation for exposing Superman around entrapping him in a marriage is so backwards and offensive it's not even funny. Sure such plots probably are still used in fiction today, but that doesn't mean they're considered good.
    Those story lines were offensive, but I think we may disagree on who they offend: they offend Lois Lane herself. They are offensive to Lois Lane because it's offensive for writers to write a female character like Lois as obsessed with marriage because that was the prevailing cultural attitude towards adult women. Adult women were to be wives and mothers; any time as a career woman would only be used as a stepping stone to matrimony. It's offensive to Lois Lane because she didn't ask to be written by sexist men existing in a sexist culture who could find no other use for her except applying her natural aptitude for investigation toward the only goal considered worthwhile for women of her time. What is truly offensive is the fact that Lois Lane is the one who continues to shoulder the blame and the shame rather than the men and the culture that wrote her.

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