While it’s true that Lois Lane fronted a popular and well-selling book during the period 1964 – 1967: the New Look, it would be a mistake to think that Lois was in the forefront of any feminist movement of the era. These stories were played for laughs and romance, frequently with Lois as the butt of the joke. Still, during these years Lois got to try out the Insect Queen identity, battled Mr Mxyzptlk, the Superman Revenge Squad, and even briefly became Catwoman! Lois even had to deal with her own James Bond-style villain group with an acronymic name, SKUL.
There were three “Untold Stories” during this era, which filled in elements of Lois Lane’s past. Issue 55 detailed Lois’ days attending Raleigh College. The tale consists of Lois talking about her achievements in the days before she met Superman, while Superman reveals that he was really behind every situation. In this case, he relates the truth of the events to Jimmy. So, as before, this leaves Lois as a pure dupe of Superman, and not able to do anything notable on her own. There is very little pleasure to be taken in finding out that the things she is most proud of were not the result of her actions at all. But at least we learn where she went to school.
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 53 delves into the past to reveal how Lois Lane first became enamoured of Superman. The story is set just as Clark Kent begins working at the Daily Planet. Lois is already a staff member, and joins in with Perry White in pulling hazing pranks on Clark. There is some friendship there right off the bat, but Lois has no regard for Superman at all, and considers him a show off. Perry assigns Lois a story that requires her to go to a remote island, and despite her protests, Superman flies her there. When they arrive, a tremor opens up the ground and reveals a red kryptonite meteor. This steals Superman's powers, but also endows him with telepathy, so he can read Lois' mind. Learning of her low opinion of him, Superman does all he can to win her over, while fighting off weird plant and animals, and making her a shelter. Lois becomes so impressed with Superman's consideration and perseverance that she begins to fall for him. Just as she kisses him, he feels his powers return, and his telepathy fade. What's kind of disturbing, or sad, about this story is that Superman tries so hard to win her over, and yet once he has, spends the rest of his career avoiding consummating their relationship.
The Untold Tale in Lois Lane 56 is meant to represent the first time Lois and Lana became rivals for Superman. After Lois and Lana have their first spat over Superman, Lois overhears a conversation he has with another hero, Ideal Man. Lois edits the tape and plays it for Lana, to make her think that Superman and Ideal Man will be permanently trading worlds. Lois and Lana cut cards for Ideal Man, although as seen on the cover, Lois arranges to lose. She then goes out of her way to make herself seem unappealing to Ideal Man, intending him to get Lana out of her hair. But the whole plan backfires badly. Ideal Man was really Superman all along, teaching both woman a lesson.
Lois becomes the editor of the Daily Planet in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 54. While conceptually it is great to see Lois taking the reins of the Planet, in actuality this story is incredibly sexist and condescending. Lois only even become editor because it is "Ladies' Day" in Metropolis, when women get to step in to their bosses' jobs. Lois gives most of the staff humiliating and insulting jobs, and assigns Clark to stories that potentially will prove he is Superman. To get around this, Clark borrows a super serum that Superman had given Jimmy Olsen, and uses it to explain why he suddenly has super powers. So Lois' tenure in office basically consists of her being a bitch, and getting duped. Clark even winds up saving her life, but she pushes that story to the back pages of the newspaper.
Lana Lang has gained the alien ring and identity of Insect Queen in the pages of Superboy during this era, and Lois took a turn as Bug Belle in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 69. Lana is once again staying with Lois while her apartment gets redone. It seems like Lana gets her apartment redone an awful lot, but this story also makes it clear why. Lana forgets to do things like turn off taps, and she winds up flooding Lois' apartment. Lois moves in with Lana while her place is getting redone, and immediately starts digging through Lana's things. She finds Lana's Insect Queen ring and puts it on, going off to help fight a fire. At least there was a somewhat legitimate reason for Lois to use it. As Superman is out of town for a while, Lois decides to keep up this Bug Belle identity, and patrol Metropolis as a hero. She also writes about this in the Daily Planet, and is so open with it all that a reader comes by, pretends to have made an appointment with Lana, and steals the ring, which was exactly where Lois described it in her article. The woman becomes a variety of Kryptonian insects, trying to kill Superman. Lois gets the ring back, and then she and Lana toss it back and forth, changing into various insects as they defeat the woman together. Lana is remarkably understanding about Lois taking her ring in the first place. Maybe she is just glad she got to be Insect Queen in this book.
Many tales displayed Lois falling for someone other than Superman. And Lois was cheating all over the place in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 59. Lois heads back in time to Krypton before it blew up, bringing a device that will prevent the destruction from taking place. This means that Superman will never come to be. When Lois discovers that her time machine is broken, she decides to just stay on Krypton and steal Jor-El away from Lara. The story becomes very much like a Lois/Lana battle, except for the Kryptonian location. Things take a turn for the worse when Lois realizes the city the neutralizing tower was built in was Kandor, which gets stolen by Brainiac. Lois frantically tries to repair her time machine before Krypton blows up. She succeeds, but as she leaves gets struck by the beam from Jor-El's Phantom Zone projector. So she winds up back in the present, but in the Phantom Zone, until Superman can release her. And she never tells him she tried to bang his father.
But then, she also chases after Batman, Superman's best friend, in this issue as well. Batman is filling in for Superman, and Lois spies him changing from Superman into Bruce Wayne. So she sets her sights on the Gotham millionaire. There is a real charm to this tale, as Lois imagines ways that Batman is concealing using his Superman powers, which of course he is not. Because he isn't Superman. When Superman figures out why Lois has started chasing Bruce, he and Batman concoct a plan. Bruce Wayne proposes to Lois, and she accepts. When Superman shows up at the ceremony, she realizes he cannot be Bruce Wayne, and calls off the wedding. Bruce has a great explanation for why he dressed as Superman, and had a Batman costume, and Lois is left feeling like an idiot.
But Lois only gained one recurring romantic partner during this period, who made his debut in issue 54. A scientist develops a beam that allows him to peer into another dimension. He shows the machine off to Lois, but a creature from that realm uses the beam to come to Earth. The creature falls in love with Lois, and though his actions are destructive, he is merely trying to woo her. He only really becomes dangerous when Superman shows up, and they battle for her love. In the end, Lois has to trick the creature into returning to his world. Lois asks to be able to view the realm again, and sees the creature pining for her, and is clearly moved by this. Lois comes off much better in this story than in 90% of the ones in her book.
The other dimensional monster returns in Lois Lane 57. Lois is still thinking about the poor creature, and drags Jimmy Olsen along as she goes to use the ray machine to take another look at him. Lois enters the creature's realm, and when Jimmy tries to grab her back, he winds up there as well. Although Lois feels badly for the creature, she really didn't want to marry him, but now finds herself pretty much trapped into that situation. There is a female monster who likes the monster, so Lois coaxes Jimmy into playing up to the female, to make the male jealous. This doesn't work at all, and Jimmy finds himself engaged to marry the female monster. Lois only solves the problem when she figures out that the monster is allergic to her make-up. By wearing lots of it she makes the monster sick, and they have to break up. The monster then consoles himself with the female, who never really wanted Jimmy in the first place.
Supergirl made a number of brief guest shots in Lois Lane’s strip, but her best appearance during this period was in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 61. The story begins like many, with a crazy experiment going wrong, and Lois getting transformed. She and the scientist becoming glowing reptile people, although their intelligence gets massively increased. Isolated from the world because of their radioactivity, the two seem to fall in love. But then we get the big twist. Reptile Lois is not real Lois, who is being held captive. Lois manages to escape, and contacts her sister Lucy for help. She disguises herself as reptile Lois, and hunts down the impostor, replacing her. The story keeps on twisting. We, and Lois, assume that the reptile people are the villains in the story, but they wind up getting kidnapped by tiny aliens. The aliens are the actual villains, and the reptile people turn out to be the heroes. The reptile people are really Superman and Supergirl. They captured Lois to keep her out of the way, rather than just asking for her help, because that's the way things were done in comics in the 1960s. What makes this story work, for me, was the cutaway with the revelation that the reptile Lois was not the real Lois. An effective and genuinely surprising twist.
Three members of the Legion of Super-Heroes come to the present to join Lois Lane's fan club in issue 50. Apparently not just anyone can join her fan club, and the three women, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet and Triplicate Girl, all adopt new identities to go through the process of proving themselves worthy of becoming members. The story is basically a reversal of the story in which Superboy joins the Legion, with him having to prove himself, and then being rejected. Each of the women wind up using their powers to aid Lois, but subtly to maintain their secrets. Lois does wind up figuring out who the Legionnaires are, but since there is no record of her being aware of the Legion, the women wipe her memories of everything they have done. This means Lois has no recollection of anything they did to join her fan club, so they get rejected. I feel bad for poor Lois. Superboy, Supergirl, Krypto, Streaky, Comet, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang and even Pete Ross get to join the Legion in some capacity, but not Lois Lane.
So far as villains go, some Superman standbys made appearances in this book, and Lois even went up against an acronymic organization of her own, SKUL, in a multi-part story. Most noteable was the return of Catwoman, not seen in almost twenty years, in a two part Lois Lane story.
Lois and Lana, the two eternal rivals, work together when another woman catches Superman's interest, in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 52, which sees an alien woman, Illena, come to Earth. Superman starts taking her around and showing her the sights, and both Lois and Lana notice how attentive he becomes to her. Feeling threatened, they begin to spy on Illena, and discover that she is an agent of the Superman Revenge Squad, making their first appearance in this book. Illena has a Medusa skull cap that she has been using to turn people into stone. It seems like she is doing so to catch evil doers, but the women find out that she is attacking innocents as well. Illena plans to use the cap on Superman, and tries to use it on Lois, but she has already stolen it, and turns Illena to stone as well. Superman is nice enough to turn her, and her victims, back to being human before sending Illena off to space prison.
Both Superman and Lois have to deal with a super-powered would-be hero in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 74. The guy, who wants to be called Hero, comes to Earth in a spaceship with a reverse cushioning device, and wears a costume which resembles that of the Flash, but with the colours reversed. Hero brings Lois along as he heads out to save a ship, but despite professing a romantic interest in her, drags her by the hair, and tosses her into the ocean. The various super deeds that Hero performs all match the speed tactics of the Flash. Figured it out? I didn't, to be honest. I thought it was the Flash, but under some alien spell. In fact, Hero is a Bizarro, but imperfectly imperfected. He looks and sounds normal, so was exiled to Earth. But by the end of the story his transformation into Bizarroness is complete, and he no longer finds Lois attractive, so he willingly goes home.
Mr. Mxyzptlk popped up a couple of times. In Lois Lane 61 the imp has created Superman money, forcing Superman to perform acts to redeem the currency. Mxyzptlk gives Lois a bill good for a marriage. To her credit, Lois spends far more of the story trying to trick the imp into saying his name backwards than into getting Superman to marry her. Superman works with Lana to defeat the imp, having Lana show up at the wedding with a bill that will make Superman get a divorce. Reading it, Mxyzptlk says his own name backwards.
In issue 73 a woman approaches Lois and claims to be her fairy godmother. Lois is sceptical, but the woman pulls out her magic wand and tries to create a perfect date for her with Superman. Superman thinks Lois is actively behind this, and blames her, so she gets all upset with the fairy godmother. When the woman keeps using her magic on Superman, against Lois' wishes, she tries to use the wand against the godmother while she is sleeping, only to discover it has no effect. This clues Lois in that the woman herself must be magical, since the wand isn't. Lois makes the extremely good guess that this is really Miss Gzptlsnz, the girlfriend of Mr. Mxyzptlk, last seen a few months earlier in Jimmy Olsen. Lois tricks the woman into saying her name backwards, and she really doesn't seem too upset to going back to her own dimension. We see her trying to cuddle up to Mxyzptlk as the story ends. This is, incidentally, the final appearance of Miss Gzptlsnz.
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 70 features Batman and Robin, as well as the Penguin, but the big news is Catwoman's return in the issue. Catwoman had not been seen in a DC comic since 1954, 17 years earlier. If it hadn't been for the tv series reviving the character, she might not have come back at all! Lois suspects that the Metropolis bird sanctuary will be the next target of the Penguin, who escaped from jail after being put there only a week or so earlier, in the pages of Brave and the Bold. Lois goes to the sanctuary, but instead of the Penguin she runs into Catwoman. Catwoman captures Lois and hypnotizes her, getting her to dress up and act like Catwoman. Lois, as Catwoman, tries to kill the Penguin at a parade. First Lady Lady Bird Johnson is in the parade, as well as her daughter Linda.
It's never quite clear why Catwoman hates the Penguin so much. It's not like the two of them ever shared a story before. Clark allows himself to be captured, hoping to break the spell on Lois. Lois sicks a bunch of big cats on Clark, and they rip open his clothes, revealing that he is Superman. But the story almost immediately lets us know that Lois will not remember this once she regains her proper mind. Catwoman tricks Superman, making him think that she is Lois, which allows her to get close enough to use Circe's wand on the hero, and turn him into a cat. Lois gets free of the trap Catwoman left her in. Her mind now restored, she tracks Catwoman, and finds Superman as a cat.
The story concludes in issue 71. The Penguin is not involved in this part of the story at all, and even Batman and Robin are done with quickly, locating Catwoman as she and Lois fight, and taking down their old foe. Lois goes to visit Catwoman in prison, hoping to convince her to change Superman back into a human. Catwoman reveals that, even if she wanted to do so, she has no idea how to change Superman back. Lois tries to keep Superman's transformation a secret, but eventually Super-Cat is spotted in action. President Lyndon Johnson has a cameo in this one, which makes sense, as his wife and daughter appeared in the first part of the story. In the end it's Lana Lang, and her archaeologist father, who wind up saving the day. Lana receives a magic cats paw from her father, good for one wish. Lana debates using it to gain powers, but decides to turn Superman back into a human. Superman rewards Lana with a kiss, while Lois fumes. As for Catwoman, she returns later in the year to face Batman in his own book.
Politics takes centre stage in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 62. The story avoids naming any political parties, but deals with a senatorial race. Superman enters the race, to Lois' shock. He had always remained separate from politics. And as he begins to campaign, Lois gets upset at how much Superman starts acting like any other politician. Lois disguises herself as a bag lady to try to get pictures of Superman cuddling up to young women and ignoring old ones. Kind of like Trump, I guess. But this backfires when Superman pays a lot of attention to the bag lady. Then Mr. Myxzptlk shows up. He goads Lois into running for senator against Superman, and become her campaign manager. Jimmy Olsen figures out that Mxyzptlk is involved after Lois shows a film about Superman's exploits, which could not possibly have actually been shot with a camera. Only the imp's magic could have created it. The story has a few twists as it reaches the ending.
It turns out that Superman knew all along Mxyzptlk was on Earth, and decided to run for senator knowing (somehow) that this would prompt the imp to become Lois' campaign manager. Why Superman wanted this to happen is far from clear. But there is little time to think about it as Perry White winds up winning the election, completely out of the blue. The final couple of panels introduce Van Benson, who will be taking over as the editor of the Daily Planet while Perry is serving in Washington, and who pops up in the other Superman books in these months as well.
The story continues in Lois Lane 63. Alarmingly, one of the first thing Benson does now that he is editor is ask Lois to go out to dinner with him, and then takes her to what appears to be the Playboy Club. Sexual harassment much? I guess not in 1966. Anyway, Lois is not bothered by any of that, but is upset when she finds that a message is being passed to Van Benson through a pair of glasses. Lois heads back to investigate, and winds up taking out the female whip performer from the club, and taking her place for the secret meeting of S.K.U.L. This group goes the full James Bond villain route, with disguises and secret meeting places. They get together to throw fake kryptonite at a fake Superman, and then have a draw to determine which member of the team will get the mission to kill Superman. Lois, or rather the woman Lois is impersonating, is the one to get drawn. Lois tells Lana Lang about all this, and wants to put a banner in the newspaper to warn Superman. But then Van Benson shows up, dressed as Superman. He tells Lois and Lana that he is with the FBI, working to bring down S.K.U.L., and enlists Lois and Lana in his mission.
Even though Van Benson, revealed as an FBI agent, says he needs the help of Lois and Lana on the case, he really only seems to need Lois, in issue 64. Van Besnon has infiltrated S.K.U.L., and arranges to expose Lois, but explain that she is really an agent with altered features, part of the plan to kill Superman. We also learn that S.K.U.L. stands for the Superman Killers Underground League. Shame they couldn't think of one more L word. The story gets a little too complicated for its own good. Superman winds up impersonating Benson, which causes confusion for Lois, who thinks Benson betrayed them. The whip woman turns out to be the secret leader of S.K.U.L., and Lois gets to be the one to take her down. Perry returns from his amazingly brief stint as senator, and Van Benson leaves the Daily Planet.
Two of the Imaginary Stories that appeared in Lois Lane’s book during these years are worthy of note.
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 51 sees Superman marry each of the three women he cares for, in succession. The tale begins not unlike other Imaginary Stories, with Superman and Lois Lane deciding to get married. Lucy now prepares to marry Jimmy, but Lana Lang is left alone. Superman gives Lois powers to protect herself, but she decides to make the most of it, and goes into action as Super-Lois. But then Lois discovers that the powers are actually killing her. She writes about this in her diary, and tries to destroy it, but one of the animals from the Interplanetary Zoo steals the book. Superman is disconsolate at her death, and retreats from the world. Luthor reforms, and begins spending a lot of time with Lana Lang. Believing that Superman will never get over Lois, Lana agrees to marry Luthor. Superman learns of this and swoops in at the last minute to propose to her. Luthor gets ditched, and Superman marries Lana. Lana spends their entire time together worrying that Superman really loves Lois. They also have to deal with Luthor's attempts to kill them.
Lana winds up sacrificing her life to save Superman after seeing what she thinks is a memorial to Lois, which is actually just presents Superman was making for Van-Zee and Sylvia. Then it's Lori Lemaris' turn. Ronal, her husband, winds up dying, and the two finally wind up getting back together. Superman is worried about misfortune striking again, but they check with a computer, and it forecasts happiness. They marry, and then Lori gets killed by Phantom Zone villains Jax-Ur and Professor Vakox, who had used their mental powers to alter the computer's results. It's tragedy times three. The only thing I really dislike about this story is the very conclusion. Superman finds a formula that could have saved one of his wives, but which one would he have chosen? Well, gee, I guess whichever wife he had been married to at the time he had discovered it.
Issue 64 launches a two part Imaginary Story that has Lex Luthor operating as a Robin Hood thief, Lexo. He leads a criminal gang, but secretly donates what they steal to charity. Superman is his heroic nemesis, but Lois Lane is far more on Lexo's side than on Superman's. When not living his criminal life, Luthor is a prominent pianist, whose candelabra and gold glittery jacket pretty much define him, for the era, as being Liberace. Luthor meets Lois, and is impressed by her articles defending Lexo. Later, meeting her as Lexo, the same clipping falls from his pocket, and she realizes Lex is Lexo. But while Luthor gets exposed to a personality altering idol, and winds up feeling like he must become good, Lois is excited by the dark side, and wants him to give up the Robin Hood part and just become a crime lord. Lois and Luthor marry, and she adopts the criminal identity of Lola.
In Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane 65 Lex has a desire to reform, but Lois has been hit by a ray that turned her evil, and drives Lex to further crimes. She does have some good ideas, like having a bunch of Superman impostors with fake kryptonite lie around moaning so that when they use the real stuff on the real guy no one notices or pays attention. There is a sad shadow of the Superman/Lois romance. Superman still longs for her, and is miserable that she married Lex, but Lois is completely devoted to her husband. In fact, she is back to her old insane jealousy, but now about Lex instead of Superman, thinking that Lana and Lex are in love, until she has Lex prove his devotion. Superman has no idea Lois is Lola until close to the end, when he stops her from putting a Lexo mask on the Statue of Liberty. Lois begs for one week before she turns herself in, and Superman agrees. But Lois just uses that week to get ready to take Superman out of the picture. The pair get Superman to bring a xylophone type instrument from Kandor, and Lex composes a piece of music that, when played on the instrument, will paralyze Superman. He and Lois do this, but then both wind up having extreme breakdowns from guilt. Lex has the music played backwards, which releases Superman from the spell. Lois turns herself in, but refuses to divulge Lexo's identity. Luthor breaks into prison to free Lois, but gets killed in the process. This one is a real downer, as even after Luthor's death Lois remains devoted to him, and not interested in Superman at all.
Lois Lane continues in the next period, 1967 – 1969: It’s a Happening!
Lois Lane: Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 49 – 75 (May 1964 - July 1967)
Next up – Superboy!