Lois Lane: Where Do I Start?

Have you ever read a book or seen a movie where your favorite character isn’t the main character? They stand out to you for their skills and their personality, but are forced to play second fiddle to someone else? That’s the case with DC’s Lois Lane, intrepid reporter. Created back in 1938  by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel and debuting at the same time as Superman, Lane’s overall role has as been romantic interest for the Man of Steel (and his civilian identity of Clark Kent), as well as a workplace colleague at The Daily Planet. While Clark has soaked up the popularity in his role as Superman, Lois has been shown to be as much a force for good in her work as an honest-to-god reporter.

Lois Lane is arguably comics’ most popular girlfriend, but the character as demonstrated by various creators is far more than that. Although she’s adopted superhero guises in the past, she’s saved the world — and the people living in it — just by being a plain clothes journalist. In this week’s Where Do I Start? we pull back the curtain (or cape, as it were), and look into The Daily Planet, and superhero comics, finest example of a reporter.

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane Archives Vol. 1: This 10-issue collection is the easiest and the only Lois Lane collection out there, and although its stories are a little long in the tooth they show Lane matching wits with Superman as well as people getting in the way of telling a story. This book collects the first eight issues of her mid-century series Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane as well as two Lane-centric Showcase issues from roughly the same era that led up to that series. From a tale about Lois attempting to become a housewife for Superman to a charming piece about overcoming a temporary loss of her sight, this collection is a nice period piece look at this plucky female.

Adventures of Superman #627-632: This story by Rucka along with artists Matthew Clark, Renato Guedes and Paul Pelletier shows a surprisingly realistic take on being a world-class reporter in a world like the DCU. For Lois, she’s sent overseas to a fictional analogue of Iraq as an embedded reporter with a group of soldiers known as the Death Knights. It’s real nice war story, even without the Superman story that shares these pages.

Superman: Man of Steel: The New 52 isn’t the first time DC has revamped its universe; back in the early 80s, DC tapped the then-hot young talent John Byrne to write and draw a new rendition of Superman and his cast of characters. In the six issue series Man of Steel, Byrne deftly re-imagined it all without losing a bit of the specialness that made them so popular in the first place — Lois Lane included. She really dominates the second issue of this series, and has great stand-up moments throughout.

Wonder Woman #170: Although this has been collected once before, I recommend avoiding that and just doing finding this great one-off issue by writer/artist Phil Jimenez and co-writer Joe Kelly. Jimenez created one of the greatest runs on Wonder Woman in modern history, and this one-off shows the warrior princess in a new light as Lois Lane comes in to write a magazine-style feature article on her for The Daily Planet. The story of this is the interaction between DC’s two top females, and even though the spotlight is more on Diana than on Lois, Lois doesn’t play second fiddle to anyone — super or wonder.

All-Star Superman: This series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely can easily be called one of the best Superman stories in the past twenty years, and Lois Lane gets a piece of that throughout but especially in issues two and three. Morrison really shows how the Clark/Lois relationship works in reality, and gives Lois her moment to shine as she gets some of Superman’s powers for a day.

Superman: Lois Lane #1: I try not to do more than five recommendations, but I couldn’t end without mention this forgotten but excellent one-shot from 1998. Writer Barbara Kesel and artist Amanda Conner take over the Superman title for one issue as part of a DC mini-event called “Girl Frenzy!,” and its probably a story that would have more resonance today than when it was published. In it, Lois goes north to investigate a story of some of children gone missing in Canada.

Comments

  1. wangman31888 wangman31888 says:

    Two things:
    This is really scraping the bottom of the barrel
    Adam Hughes totally used Friends-era Courtney Cox to draw that cover

  2. “Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane Archives Vol. 1: This 10-issue collection is the easiest and the only Lois Lane collection out there”

    The superman family Showcase Volumes Vol 1-3 have early jimmy olsen & Lois Lane issues collected

  3. MisterShaw MisterShaw says:

    Can you really say she’s the best reporter if she missed the huge story right under her nose for 60 years?

    • Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

      Actually, she’s deduced Superman’s identity in several different storylines. Did you miss those comics, Jonathan?

    • MisterShaw MisterShaw says:

      Apparently.

    • Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

      The ones that come to mind easiest 1991′s ACTION COMICS #662 by John Byrne and ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #2, but she also found out multiple times in the 60s series SUPERMAN’s GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE. Looking into one of those might clear up your misconceptions.

    • MisterShaw MisterShaw says:

      All-Star Superman doesn’t count, and I assumed she knew once they were romantically involved (I thought it was a bit later than ’91, but still).

    • Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

      Why wouldn’t ALL-STAR SUPERMAN count? It may not be in the mainstream continuity, but New 52 excised many things from mainstream continuity as well, making most any reference to pre-2011 DC history as potentially out of continuity.

  4. Mart Mart says:

    Nice piece Chris. Did you ever read the Lois Lane ‘micro-series’, When it Rains, God is Crying? Published just post-Crisis, but set pre-Crisis, it’s a Lou Grant-style take on Lois’s life by Mindy Newell and Gray Morrow. Wonderful stuff (poor Lana!).

    • Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

      Mart: Yes, I did. I wanted to like that series so much, especially for Gray Morrow’s art, but it missed my cut-off. It’d be in my top 10.