The Lois Lane, Girl Reporter series, which ran in the interior pages of Superman in the Late Golden Age, was intended to be along the lines of the Adventures of Alfred series. Light and humourous tales. But the sexism prevalent in this strip gives it a much heavier character, at least to a modern reader. In story after story, all the male staff at the Daily Planet, including both Clark Kent and Perry White, openly dismiss Lois because of her gender, and refuse to take her seriously.
Rather than a funny series, Lois Lane, Girl Reporter reads like a strip about a woman who faces unceasing discrimination, but never lets it get to her, and consistently proves herself to the men around her, even if they never acknowledge it.
In Superman 30, Clark Kent goads Lois about needing Superman’s help to break her stories. It backfires on him rapidly, as Lois walks into a trap laid by a group of swindlers, refusing to let Clark come along to protect her.
It’s more luck than strategy that allows Lois to survive being driven off a bridge. But she keeps her cool, and takes the credit for helping the police crack the case.
Perry White opens the story in Superman 31 by mocking her about needing Superman to get her stories. When she responds negatively, Perry apologizes, and admits that he considers her one of the best reporters he has ever worked with. He then sends her out to cover a movie star’s publicity tour. Apparently only his best reporters get such easy stories.
When thieves burst in during the interview, Lois believes it is a publicity gimmick, and grabs the gun from the startled hood. It takes her a while to be convinced that she is actually in danger, but once they shoot at her, she gets the picture.
As seems almost mandatory in Lois’ solo tales, she falls from a great height and survives. Perhaps surviving falls is critical for a reporter. She also starts a landslide that buries the thieves, and although this was accidental, she claims the credit for their capture. Or deaths.
Lois Lane’s story in Superman 32 sees her once again chided for her reliance on Superman by Perry White, despite his comments in the previous issue. Perry sends Lois on assignment to the zoo, where she promptly spots some pickpockets. But the story descends rapidly into farce, with monkeys and seals running wild. Still, at least she doesn’t fall from a great height.
Lois Lane gets her best adventure so far in Superman 33. The police and some male reporters pass off a phone call from a woman, calling about a stolen piggy bank, to Lois. The men all think this is just some hysterical woman, but when Lois listens to her story, she discovers that a diamond necklace was in the bank.
She gets evidence as to who the thief was, tracks him down, and then entraps him, enticing him into helping her with a gem theft. At the climax, she even takes down the gang herself, throwing suits of armor at them.
This Lois don’t need no Superman to get a story.
In Superman 34 Lois Lane goes to pick up a deposition, only to be tricked into framing Perry White for murder. The moment Lois figures out what is going on, she springs into action. Don’t mess with Lois!
She grabs a mop and spreads water all over the floor, which takes down most of the other bad guys. She whacks a few more with the mop, before pulling a candy gun on them, and bringing them in.
Her story in Superman 35 begins as Clark mansplains to Lois that women rely too much on luck and intuition for their stories to be as good as men at being reporters. Lois does not break her hand punching Clark in the face. Instead, she decides to prove him wrong. And then, through luck and intuition, stumbles into a crime nest and triumphs over them, getting a front page story out if it. And though one does laugh at Lois along the way, she does succeed at her goal, unwilling to let anything get in her way.
Lois Lane notices tree branches spelling out the word help in a number of ads that have run in the Planet, in Superman 37. She points this out to both Clark and Perry White, but neither think anything of it.
Pursuing the lead on her own, she finds the artist being held captive, and being forced to make plates for counterfeit money. Lois grabs a blowtorch, and has no hesitation using it against the kidnappers. Of course, she winds up with yet another front page scoop.
The sexism just never ends in the Lois Lane series. In Superman 40 Perry White sends Steve Bard out to investigate some silk thefts, while Lois is sent to cover a kite meet.
Lois spots a kite made of silk, and, questioning the boy, gets on the trail of the hidden bolts. She even uses the silk to take down the thieves.
Lois Lane’s series comes to an end in Superman 42. She is walking with her rival reporter, Steve Bard, and they see an odd confrontation in front of a house with a moving van. Steve has no interest, but Lois does.
Lois uncovers a furniture theft ring, follows the thieves to a bowling alley, lacquered the balls so the get their fingers stuck, and then throws pins at the rest.
She gets a front page story, but Steve still disses her.
Lois Lane’s series ends as a result of a page reduction. Steve Bard is part of the inspiration for the 70s character Steve Lombard, and makes an actual return in a Mrs. and Mrs. Superman story in Superman Family in the 80s.
Lois will begin taking leading roles in some Superman stories, sort of continuing her own series, until it eventually spun out into her own book in the late 50s. But really, this is the more impressive series. Her own book would make her a love-crazed manipulator, more than a reporter fighting against the sexism of the times.