Everyone recognizes that name. She is not just a geek icon, she is a cultural icon. You go up to any random person on the street and they recognize her name. Everyone knows she is the plucky reporter that is also Superman’s love interest. Everyone knows that she and Clark Kent belong together.
Yes in the early days of comics she was often there so that Superman had someone to rescue, but as the medium evolved so did she. In modern lore she is a strong independent woman who is able to meet Clark as an equal and partner. She is also strong enough to give him support when the going got tough, and act as his anchor to humanity.
Well at least she was. All of the above was true until last year when DC Comics relaunched their universe with the New 52.
Now Lois Lane is barely in the books anymore, and her relationship with Clark is not a partnership of any kind. In fact she is not even a reporter anymore, she has been bumped up to a TV Producer at a news network. And her journalistic ethics, which have always been a core of the character, have been eroded.
As for the romantic front, early issues in the reboot showed that Clark had feelings for her, but that not only did she not return those feelings, she was not aware of them. Also she has a boyfriend. He has only appeared in about five panels but he exists.
As one of the most recognizable characters in comics, and the most recognizable character in the Superman franchise outside of Clark himself it seems odd that she has not appeared on a single comic book cover since the relaunch.
So what is going on? Why is one of the core characters of one of the world’s most famous franchises being pushed aside and minimalized?
A lot of speculation about that has been going on, but the consensus comes down to this; DC wants to push Superman and Wonder Woman as a couple.
I know I went over this back in August when I was going over the news of the Superman/Wonder Woman pairing and how it felt forced. What I have learned since is that this was apparently part of the plan from early on and to help facilitate this, the feeling was that Lois needed to be diminished so that she would not appear to be in the way of this relationship.
DC also seems to be getting desperate in their attempts to promote the Superman/ Wonder Woman coupling. In the last few weeks it has been the focus of many polls and features on the DC comics’ blog and Facebook page. It is beginning to have the feel of “You will like this if we have to ram it down your throat.”
This part is just speculation. It is hard to say how long the Superman/Wonder woman relationship was being planned. It still feels like an executive mandate, and in the last few months DC has been known to change plans suddenly requiring rushed updates of issues.
But the diminishing of Lois does appear to be a thing either way.
But how sure are we of this. DC has said nothing explicit on any of this. This is where a bit of good old fashion fanboy detective work comes in.
First we have to look at the comments from the creative staff. The ones that I think back up the point the hardest to this are comments that have been made by Superman group editor Matt Idelson.
Back at San Diego Comic Con in 2011, when the relaunch details were being announced, Idelson referred to Lois as Superman’s “trophy wife” when explaining that the marriage between that two was no longer part of continuity.
Last August he made an even more definite statement on his opinion of Clark and Lois as a couple.
“Clark and Lois are not inevitable, and in fact it isn’t going to happen, at least while I’m on watch duty!”
He later had to walk those comments back; I’m sure due to fan backlash.
“Clark most definitely has feelings for Lois, but he not only sees her as unattainable but also unavailable. I’d much rather see the readers pining for them to couple up, with growing intensity, until we have no choice but make that magic moment happen. And in truth, I engaged in some ill-advised hyperbole there when I said they wouldn’t get together on my watch. I miss them as a couple, I really do, but I also know that good drama comes from complicating the path that leads to the happily forever after ending. My hope is that ultimately, we’ll all look back twenty years from now and see that without Lois in his life, that human representation is something he had to grow towards, and that the absence of Lois in his romantic life held him back.”
Idelson while the highest ranking member of the creative staff to comment, was hardly the only one.
Artist Rags Morales stated that Superman sucked since he got married and he considered it jumping the shark. He also said that Lois worked better as a Damsel in Distress and a pain in the ass.
Publisher Jim Lee had compared the phasing out of Lois as no different than changing the size of Superman’s cape.
Writer Andy Diggle has stated on twitter that he feels Wonder Woman and Superman make a better couple than Lois and Clark.
Also if you look at any promotional material and you will not find any mention of Lois.
And just for comparison let’s take a quick look at another long time supporting character, Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy is still fairly active in the books; in fact right now he and Clark are roommates. I won’t go into details why, but it does allow for some fun keeping the identity secret scenes. So Jimmy is in the books about as much as he used to be.
So it seems clear that reducing her role was always the plan. They couldn’t just make her go away like Wally West or Stephanie Brown, so they did the next best thing and made her a side character.
This brings up an interesting issue for next year. The new Superman movie Man of Steel is coming out. Lois Lane will be featured in it, played by Amy Adams. I assume she will be in her traditional role in this movie. For a company so interested in synergy between its divisions I am curious how Warner Bros will address this and in turn how the comics will deal with it.
In the meantime as a fan I am not pleased with these developments. Lois was a great character because she could be strong and brave in a superhero world even though she did not have superpowers. I feel her downsizing is taking away another role model character and not helping in the perceived boys club mentality of the industry overall. As a fan I want to do what I can to let DC know we do not want to lose her or see her as just a shadow of her former self.
So here is what I purpose. I would like to see a hashtag start making the rounds on twitter and tumblr; #savelois. If it can start trending maybe it will get enough attention that DC will know she has fans that are not happy with her current treatment.
So let’s see what we can do.
I commented to my brother while we were watching the Man of Steel trailer yesterday that I thought Amy Adams was a poor choice and I would have liked to have seen Morena Baccarin in the role.
That said, I have to agree with all points made above. And I may add that this could be the toughest retcon to ever attempt to pull off. Especially by not roadblocking the plot points of Man of Steel. Movies get far more cultural coverage than the books. They are hanging themselves with their own kryptonite ropes.
It's really disappointing what they're doing to Lois Lane. DC has been doing some really nasty things and are alienating their female fans, the last straw was firing Gail Simone via email.