Comics / DC Comics History

DC Comics History: Lois Lane (1955 - 1959: Dawn of the Silver Age)


By Deejay Dayton
Mar 2, 2017 - 21:44

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Jimmy Olsen had his own book, so why not Lois Lane?  After all, she had her own series in Superman back in the 1940s. But the revival of her solo series was wildly different, as the names of the strips reveal. In the 1940s, the strip was called ‘Lois Lane, Girl Reporter.” The series that launched during the period 1955 – 1959: Dawn of the Silver Age, was called “Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane.” Showcase devotes two issues to "Superman's Girlfriend," beginning with number 9 before launching her into her own book.  Even though the 1940s series was played for comedy, it addressed the sexism and difficulties she faced being taken seriously as a reporter. Her new series was still comedic, it was all about Lois Lane’s romantic quest to marry Superman.

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Jerry Coleman and Al Plastino open Showcase 9 with a re-write of a tale from Superman's own book a few years earlier, which serves as the introduction of the adult Lana Lang, and makes her a part of Superman's world, and a rival for Lois. Lana Lang has come to Metropolis to look for work in television, and though Lois does help her land an audition, the two women are instantly competitive, each certain that they are the one Superman really loves.  Both try to prove this, by interrupting a scheduled event between Superman and the other woman.  In both cases, Superman is courteous and aids them, but also refuses to neglect the other one. 

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Lana gets her job, and when Lois realizes she will be staying in Metropolis, the two woman decide to suss out Superman's preference once and for all. So they both set up situations where they appear to be in deadly danger.  Superman figures out what they are doing, and makes it impossible for them to determine which one he really saved.  One might dislike Lois and Lana for their childish behaviour, but really, Superman is no better, toying with and leading both on.

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The second story, by Otto Binder, Ruben Moreira and Plastino, is very much like what one would expect to find in the pages of Superman.  After Lois pisses off Superman yet again with her snooping, she decides to change her ways and not only refuse to spy on his secret identity, but actively works to conceal it. This is bad news for Superman, who has been counting on Lois' behaviour.  He had created a phony secret identity, and wanted Lois to expose it to decoy some criminals.  It's pure sitcom, but it works.

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The last story in the issue, the cover story, is by Binder and Plastino.  Lois gets knocked out, and while she sleeps, she dreams of being married to Superman.  The doctor warns that hero that if her dream is too desirable, she will never wake up. So Superman keeps whispering suggestions into her ear, prompting the dream into bad situations.  The way she would feel neglected by him rushing off to help people, or the difficulties in raising a super-baby. 

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But Lois always feels that being married to Superman is worth it.  It's only when he pays on her jealousy, having him get a kiss from a beautiful woman he has saved, that she wakes from her dream.

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Lois Lane gets her second tryout in Showcase 10.  The opening story of the issue is of a type that would become a mainstay in her own book, a tale in which Lois tries to trick Superman into marrying her. In this case, prompted by her friend Millie, Lois enlists the aid of a young actor to pretend that they have run off and gotten married, in hopes that Superman will realize what he lost.  When she tells him she is not really married, her hope is that he will propose. It's not a very good plan, and it doesn't work.  Superman believes it, and is crushed but supportive. 

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When he winds up saving the life of the actor, the guy repents of his part and tells Superman the truth.  Then the two guys pretend to fight over Lois, just so that Superman can get some revenge on her for hurting him.  These two are so fucked up.

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In the second story Lois Lane gets blinded by a nuclear accident.  But a small one.  She is told her vision will decrease and after three days she will be blind for good. Superman takes Lois around the world, and even into space, to show her all he can before those days are up.  This part of the story is actually very moving, very well written.

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Then it descends into the normal twisted games.  Superman winds up having to change into Clark right in front of Lois, just at the moment her blindness completely disappears, for no clear reason at all.  Lois continues to pretend to be blind, to get confirmation that she really saw Clark change to Superman.  He figures out her game, and tricks her into thinking it was an optical illusion while her sight recovered.

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In the final story in the issue an archaeologist sends Lois a mysterious box that he has found.  That's just weird to begin with, but ok.  She finds some gloves, glasses, and a cape inside, and when she dons them, discovers that they give her super-powers. Superman reads the inscription, and discovers that this box of weapons was sent to Earth by Jor-El in order to help Superman.  How is not exactly clear. 

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Lois starts using the super-stuff to fight crime and deal with emergencies, but Superman worries that she will hurt herself.  Keeping silent about their origin, Supermaan tricks Lois into using them to move a big kryptonite asteroid, which strips them of their power.  Jerk.

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In 1958 Lois Lane moves from Showcase into her own book with Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 1. There are three stories in this debut issue, all with art by Kurt Schaffenberger.  In the first story, in order to land an interview with a foreign diplomat, Lois disguises herself as an actress. 

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Superman sees through her disguise, and then starts playing his own game, pretending, as Clark, to have fallen so in love with her that when she rejects him he tries to kill himself.  Superman gets Jimmy Olsen involved, having him impersonate the duplicate, just to make the situation even more absurd.  As with many of the tales, Superman's "lesson" for Lois is far more extreme than anything she had done.

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The second one sees Lois decide to win Superman over with her cooking.  She doesn't simply want to prepare a meal for him.  Instead, she takes over a restaurant. Perry White backs this up, assigning her to write a human interest story about running a diner, but that is just background.  It's all about Lois cooking super special meals for Superman, which he never winds up getting to eat, having to rush off to stop crime.

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The cover story closes out the issue, and is the best of the three tales.  Lois does stories on a museum of magic, and a scientist working on a youth serum, and then finds herself turning into an ugly old lady every night. Lois comes to believe that she turns into a witch each night, and discovers that she has magical abilities, can fly and hex things. In fact, Superman is providing all the magic "powers." 

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Lois inhaled the gasses from a serum that made her old each night.  The scientist feared knowing what was going on would shock Lois too much, so he enlisted Superman's aid in making her think she had become a witch.  Because that wouldn't be shocking at all.  Right.

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Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 13 introduces Sam and Ella Lane, Lois' parents.  We learn that Lois is from the town of Pittsdale, and has been invited back home for the 100th anniversary of the town's newspaper. Lois cannot get a flight, not even with Lucy trying to use her influence.  Superman agrees to fly Lois out to Pittsdale, and is then invited by Sam and Ella to stick around for a while.  Sam tries to talk to Superman about marrying Lois, and this conversation gets overheard and misconstrued by a nosy neighbour, who starts spreading the rumour that the pair are in town to wed. Remarkably, both Superman and Lois act really mature and responsible about the situation, neither trying to use it to their advantage.  Superman does not want to humiliate Lois or her family by backing out, while Lois does not want to trap Superman into marriage, for once.

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They decide to play along, all the way up to the ceremony.  Lucy Lane helps save the day, co-ordinating a fly by to take place and drown out the wedding vows.  Superman then explains he has to get going, and flies off with Lois, leaving everyone confused, but no one embarrassed. Sam and Ella Lane will make occasional appearances throughout the rest of this title. Lucy had already been introduced, in the pages of Jimmy Olsen. I will be talking about her first appearance in this book a little later on.

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Lana Lang had already been introduced as an adult in Lois Lane's Showcase run, but she becomes a supporting cast member in this book with issue 7. Lana has clearly hit some really hard times. 

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When last we saw her she had just been hired by a tv station, but in this story she is living in rags as a homeless woman.  Lois Lane takes her in, and they bond over romantic stories about Superboy/man. Lana shows Lois a ring Superboy gave her, and shortly afterwards Superman makes a ring for Lois.  Then things take a darker turn, as Lana begins to sabotage Lois' relationship with Superman, and make the moves on him herself.  And Superman seems to be responding! Lana keeps upping the stakes until Lois finally explodes, and throws the ring at Superman.  And that had been the whole plan. 

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Superman learned that the metals in the ring were deadly, and needed to get Lois to remove it.  All quite absurd and over the top, but it sets the pattern for the "friendly" rivalry that Lois and Lana would have, as well as Superman's cowardly way of never revealing which of the two he prefers.

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Lois makes plans to gain super-strength so that Superman will not have to fear for her safety, but it all goes wrong in the cover story from Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 12. Lana Lang now has her own apartment, but is forced to move in with Lois again when it is being painted. 

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Lana steals the strength formula and bathes in it, stealing the powers Lois planned to have herself. This is yet another example of the kind of story where the women have no interest in doing anything other than landing Superman.  Lana is more concerned about the state of her clothing than in using her powers to help people.

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Lois convinces Lana to do a tour to show off her strength and impress Superman.  Lana agrees, not realizing how her body would bulk up from the use of the super strength.  Once again, Superman operates at the end of the story to turn Lana back to normal, although she loses her powers as a result.

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Lois Lane gains super powers in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 8, becoming a blonde Superwoman. It's Superman himself who is responsible for giving her her powers, as a present.  They are only temporary, and don't even wind up lasting as long as Superman expects them to. Sadly, the story does not veer into seeing Lois saving the day as Superwoman.  Instead, it becomes a reversal of the usual story pattern, with Clark trying to prove that Lois is really Superwoman.  She has tried to keep her identity a secret, thus the blonde wig. 

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And Clark isn't really playing fair, as he knows full well that she has powers.  Lois has to use her ingenuity to keep proving Clark wrong.  When the powers wear off, Clark takes things even further, insisting that she never was Superwoman.  He's a real jerk.

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Superman brings Lois Lane to the Fortress of Solitude for the first time in issue 14, where she intends to spend three days, proving to Superman that she could fit in perfectly in his "home." Of course, it pretty much turns into non stop chaos for Lois.  She does get to see the statues of Jor-El and Lara, as well as the Lois Lane room, which she plans to refurbish.  But it's the Interplanetary Zoo that is the source of most of the drama for the issue.

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Between escaping alien creatures and illusion casting gems, all Lois does is prove to herself that the Fortress is not a place she could actually survive in for long.

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Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 8 introduces the Ugly Superman. He is a wrestler who wears the Superman outfit.  Lois does a story on him, and responds to his interest out of kindness.  But then he believes that she is in love with him, and the story spins off from there. The Ugly Superman beats up Clark Kent to prove himself to Lois, so Superman decides to take him down, humiliating him first, and then beating him up. 

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This does work, as he feels to ashamed to go after Lois anymore. The story ends with the man getting plastic surgery to become the Gorgeous Superman.  But clearly he didn't wait for it to heal, as he is back as the Ugly Superman a couple of years down the road in the pages of Jimmy Olsen.

Lois Lane would get a handful of guest stars during this period, both heroes from other DC books, and actual human stars.

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Robin is the very first guest star, appearing in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 6. Lois Lane makes up lies in order to sneak aboard an experimental rocket ship, and Superman decides to teach her a lesson.  He recruits Perry White and Jimmy Olsen into his scheme, and tries to get Batman as well, but the hero is out of town, so Robin steps in.  They all work to convince Lois that she went into space and was in orbit for years as time passed around her.  So basically, pulling a reverse Rip Van Winkle. Lois figures out what is going on, and turns the tables on Superman.  Although we do not find out how this came about until the conclusion, Lois blackmails Robin after taking an impression of his fingerprints, and forces him to pretend to be Superman, Jr, and starting up a romance with Lois.

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Aquaman gets a guest appearance in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 12. Lois is doing some underwater photography for a story when the wreck of a ship falls on her.  Aquaman is nearby, and rushes her off to a doctor.  The guy has only one way to save her, and that is to turn her into a mermaid.  The guy appears to be a human, but his vast knowledge of Atlantean physiology, which he displays as he transforms Lois makes me think Aquaman just took Lois to Atlantis. She discovers that she is no longer able to exist above water for more than an hour, and tries to hide this from Superman for a while. 

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Aquaman is keen to start a romance with her (this is long before Mera showed up), and Lois reluctantly does so.  But when Aquaman gets injured, and Superman comes to his rescue, he sees Lois as a mermaid.  Superman rushes her off, and then goes and gets a medical degree so that he can operate on her and restore her legs and breathing ability.

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Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 14 gives a supporting role to Supergirl.  At this point, Linda Lee was still Superman's secret weapon, living in Midvale orphanage, with her adventures being recounted in Action Comics. Supergirl watches Lois and Superman from afar, and decides that she will help Lois land her cousin.  She flies around, altering billboards and such, to make Clark Kent think that he is seeing Lois everywhere, hoping this will prompt him to believe he is madly in love with her. When this fails to elicit a proposal, Supergirl tries to make Superman jealous, by making it look like Batman has fallen in love with Lois. 

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It's Supergirl who sends the Batwoman outfit.  This also gives her away, as Superman notes that the real Batwoman costume does not have a bat symbol on the cape, like the one Supergirl sent to Lois.  So then Supergirl tries some hypnosis, to make Superman propose.  Superman turns the tables on this, proposing to every woman he sees, so that even when he does propose to Lois, she doesn't take it seriously. This is not the only time Supergirl will try to play matchmaker for her cousin.

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Two real people appear as guest stars in two different tales in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 9. The first of the two stories sees everyone turn on Lois Lane after she publishes an article revealing that Clark Kent is Superman. Perry White is furious with her for bypassing him, but Lois has no idea how the story made it into the print basket.  She had written it, but months earlier, and discarded it.  But now she has angry Perry and Jimmy to deal with, as well as Clark, who admitted to being Superman. You just know there has to be a big twist to all of this, and there is. 

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It was all part of a set up to get Lois to the live taping of This is Your Life, with Ralph Edwards.  Lucy Lane, Lois' younger sister, had just been introduced in the pages of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, and makes her first appearance in this book in this tale.  Lucy will become a regular supporting character in the series.

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The second story gives Pat Boone a much larger role in the tale than Edwards was given in his. The Daily Planet is putting together a variety show, and Pat Boone has volunteered to be a part of it.  Clark is told to write a song about Superman for Pat Boone to sing, along with Lois, whose voice has impressed him. But then Superman suddenly realizes the song must never be heard, and spends the rest of the tale doing things to mess up the recordings. 

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It's all very goofy, but the logic is even worse.  Without realizing it, Clark had spelled his name in the initial letters of the lines of the song.  He was sure that people would interpret this to mean he was Superman, although the far more likely assumption would be that he did it because he was the songwriter.

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Some Lois Lane stories are fun, some are awful.  Some go so far over the top that they all but defy criticism.  The second story in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 13 is one of those. Lois adopts a disguise in order to get pictures of some Hollywood stars who got secretly married, but winds up recruited by a gang who want her to impersonate Lois Lane.  So Lois then has to shed her disguise and pretend to learn how to be herself.

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There is one excellent moment in the story, in which Lois insists that she does not act like a crazy jealous person when it comes to Superman, and then gets lambasted for not acting like the real Lois.  Lois goes along with everything the gang wants, and they are impressed when she succeeds at luring Superman.  Far too late does the gang find out that the were working with their target all along.

Lois Lane continues in the next period, 1960 – 1964: the Silver Age.

Lois Lane: Showcase 9 – 10 (July/Aug – Sept/Oct 57)

Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 1 – 14 (March/April 1958 – Jan 60)

Next up – Superboy!


Last Updated: May 15, 2017 - 12:13

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