Tuesday Showdown: Ben Urich vs. Lois Lane

Ben Urich vs. Lois Lane

Ben Urich reached into his shirt pocket and unearthed the raggedy stub of cigarette he'd started the night before. He fumbled it before reaching his lips, then attempted to catch it Bruce-Lee-style as it fell. Caught a whole lot of nothing. He bent to retrieve the stub from the top of his shoe just in time for a Nikon bag to boot him in the temple as some punk from the Chronicle tried to squeeze his way to the front. Ben wondered if there was time to hit the coffee cart on the corner before the press conference started. He wondered if the cart would even have enough of the stuff to salvage the day. There never really was. 

Fucking Metropolis. 

"Ben," came a voice, and he instinctively frowned. "The kids let you out of the bullpen."

"Too early for them."

Ben knew more about the Planet's Lois Lane than he cared to know about anybody, but somehow that still wasn't enough to form a solid opinion of her character. Of her clockwork. He'd read the clippings she probably had framed in her office, but not much else. People said things. The old boys and young Turks all liked to armchair about her cape chasing. Would she have made a name of herself if Big Blue hadn't swooped into Metropolis? All those exclusives. Conflict of interest. Urich made some nickels of his own on the metahuman beat even if he never smooched any, so he kept quiet in such discussions. All he knew was that Lois Lane never flinched, and that he'd print her any day of the week. Still, after all the shared train rides and kevlar field trips, he didn't really know Lois Lane beyond what was reported on the covers of the checkout aisle rags. And that unnerved him more than he felt it ought to. Not even the Chinese could build a wall like that. 

"The interns read Front Line when they should be fact checking," said Lois, pulling that little pen from the spiral of her notebook. She'd never used a recorder in all the time he knew her. She smiled. "I keep waiting for Jimmy to come in and tell me he's running off to New York to photograph the Hulk for you guys."

"Olsen's good," said Urich.

"The best," said Lois, jabbing his shoulder. 

"Parker's not so bad." Urich nearly smiled.

Lois nodded. "If I were running a little underground college paper with all fisheye lens stuff–"

"Easy now. Where's your boy?"

"Clark's in Smallville this weekend. Mom's buying a new truck and he wants to make sure she gets the tow package. Or something. I'm heading out this afternoon."

"Good. But I meant–"

"I know what you meant." She'd slipped out of her heels and was up on tip-toes trying to get a better look at the podium. "That's a new LexCorp logo, I think." She wasn't looking at him, but she hadn't disengaged either.

"Walking across America?"

"I turned off my Blackberry for a long weekend once. Started seeing people's faces again. It was nice. It was good."

"From Krypton to Kerouac."

Luthor had appeared on stage, talking to a pair of suits. Urich couldn't see Steve Jobs anywhere. Marty from graphics would be heartbroken.

"A lot of people were surprised when you ended up with Clark."

"Because of the gerund thing?"

"Lois."

"A lot of people were surprised when you left the Bugle. Not surprised. That's not the word. But you know people didn't get it."

"I wanted to tell the truth. I wanted to run scumbags like Norman Osborn to the ground."

And as he said it, a flash of the man's vortex hair appeared behind the curtain. Luthor and Osborn. Thick as thieves.

"I like telling the truth too," said Lois. "And that's not what you're doing right now. And I don't know why."

Urich didn't say anything. He'd been trolling and they both knew it.

"What do you really want to ask me, Ben?"

Ben suddenly felt as if his tattered old Jansport was ready to wrestle him to the concrete. He was conscious of just how empty his stomach really was. He'd been snotty to Wilson Fisk. He'd had to replace an old trench coat after a night in a sewer with the Lizard. He'd had deadlines and no sources. But Ben Urich had rarely been so afraid. 

"I want to ask you if it wasn't so hard to choose between Clark and Superman," asked Urich as the cameras began to click. He looked at her then, and his fear seemed to transfer to her. His glasses slid ever so slightly down the bridge of his nose. "I wonder if it wasn't so hard at all."

He clicked his pen.

Ben Urich vs. Lois Lane

Who wins?

Show your work!

Comments

  1. We do. Pure and simple. 🙂 This was the best one of these you’ve done yet. As badass as Ben is though, I’m gonna have to give it to the woman who not only gets regularly (far more so than Ben) threatened by Supervillians but also managed to win the heart of the Last Son of Krypton. God I loved writing that last sentence. So nice and geeky.

  2. Ahahahaha, I’ve used Alana de le Garza as Kate Spencer (Manhunter), it was hard to see Lois in that pic. But hey, she’s free now Law and Order is over, I say YES.

     And this is a great read. LOIS LANE wins all! 

  3. Did Paul just fancast Ben Urich and Lois Lane?

  4. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Absolutely. 

  5. Urich figured out Matt Murdock was Daredevil. Lois never figured out that Clark Kent was just Superman with glasses.

    Advantage: Urich.

  6. Wonderful piece, really great – you captured the voices of Lois and Ben when they’re really well written.

    But who’s the best? My heart says Lois, but my mind says Ben. Maybe. On the one hand, I disagree with the old idea that Superman made Lois’s rep with stories he gifted her; we’ve seen plenty of times that she was going places, and can get plenty of scoops without him. She has talent, determination and guts.

    As does Ben, who risks his life despite not having a superheroic backstop.

    I love them both, can we call this one a draw? Like Ben, I’m trawling for answers.

    In the land of ‘over my head’ – what ‘gerund thing’? I see no ‘ing’ except the one in ‘thing’. 

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    In my imagined continuity, I see Lois offering Clark unsolicited notes on his work. "Pithy. Assertive. But let’s see if you can squeeze in even MORE gerunds in the next draft, Mr. Kent…"

  8. Ahhh, ta. He lets that woman get away with far too much, she ain’t that much better!

  9. Lois Lane is a great character, and she’s pretty active. As a good journalist has to be. 

  10. Like, in a street-fight? Lois, without a shadow of a doubt.

    As for reporter skillz…to my knowledge Lois won the Pulitzer while Urich hasn’t, which could sway some people to her side. But Urich is really doing an underground kind of paper, whereas Lois is tied to a corporation (no matter how on the up and up WE is), so that gives him some indie cred. 

    So yeah, it’s a tie for me. GREAT writing on those two, by the way. You really got both down pat, I think.  

  11. I gotta go with Urich.

  12. If Urich can take a sai in the back (#179?), I’m sure he’ll do just fine against Lois. In fact, Lois would be put off by having to deal with all the cigarette stench from Ben’s clothing.

  13. I’d have to go with Lois on this.  Honestly, I’m completely biased even if I do like Ben, Lois is pretty much one of my favourite characters.

  14. Wow.. Love the blending of the two universes together. Jimmy Olsen getting Peter’s job at Frontline? Certainly a possibility now!

    They could totally go toe to toe and document events to a stalemate.  

    Anthony Edwards as Ben Ulrich, interesting. Speaking of Dr. Mark Greene why aren’t there any superheroes based out of Chicago? 

  15. I can imagine JMS will tackle this very topic in his last issue of his Superman run. Superman hears this exchange from a hospice in Nebraska, wearing a smiley face tee-shirt over his superheroing costume, with facial growth that’d put Billy Gibbons to shame; Luthor unveils the LexPhone4 (with Kryptonite battery and – hey kids – it finally runs Os-Flash); Lois takes a swing at Urich; Superman swoops down and scoops up his wife; he chastises her for running her mouth; she chastises him for always chastising her; she gets dropped somewhere over Ohio; and Urich steals Olsen away for Frontline.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’ll never be allowed to write Superman.

  16. Lord, I’m slow, never even recognised Anthony Edwards (ta, bluedream). I know Ben looked younger in the movies (stupid hat) but I like him as a bedraggled baby boomer.

  17. I love these, Paul. This one’s the best yet though. I actually didn’t want it to end.

    Oh, and I vote Ulrich for the same reasons marcusbrute gave.

  18. That was amazing, Paul. If you printed a collection of these I would buy them.

  19. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Thanks! I wouldn’t be looking forward to the angry calls from Marvel and DC though, that’s for sure!

    (Working on other original fiction though)

  20. Lois Lane always wins.  Lois Lane is the reporter equivalent of Batman.

    Great job with both of ’em though.   

  21. 1- I would very much like to live in Paul’s imagined continuity. 

    2- Lois. Always Lois.  

  22. I got to go with Lois on this one. She is smart and resourceful and has Superman as backup, not that she would need it to best Urich. I’d love to see a Perry White vs. J Jonah Jameson.

  23. I tend to think of these in movie terms, and Joe Pantoliano takes it over Kate Bosworth or Margot Kidder any day.

    And anyway, if we’re talking about who is the better journalist, Urich is clearly the winner. After all that his job and his principles have put him through, he still refuses to give up. He was the only non-powered character to publicly decry Osborn’s reign, and that takes cajones.

  24. Lois Lane has Batman’s number. Just saying.