Good Comics at the Comic Shop November 27 — Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years

Today, there are a number of great releases scheduled to appear at your local comic shop. Well, actually, since it’s a holiday week, there are only two, but they’re very good.

Pick of my week is Yotsuba&! Book 12 (Yen Press, $12), and I’ve already said why in the link. In short, it’s a glorious, Zen-like capture of the wonder of childhood, teaching us to appreciate the joy of the moment.

I enjoyed reading Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years (DC Comics, $39.99). Lois has always been one of my favorite characters in superhero books, because I appreciated her determination and fearlessness in fighting for justice in her own way, as an investigative reporter. She’s had some bad periods over the years — particularly the era when her stories, in her own series, were all about humiliating her as she tried to catch Superman for a husband — but she’s also broken some boundaries, when she was shown to be a worthy partner for the world’s most super man.

This volume (unlike its companion, which sounded dire) does a good job briefly showing all the various sides of Lois. There are

  • a few little-known “Girl Reporter” stories from the 1940s, where in spite of guys trying to get the little lady out of the way, she winds up catching crooks
  • some cheesy 1950s “oh, if Superman would only marry me” tales
  • the infamous “I Am Curious (Black)!”, where Lois gives herself dark skin for a day to learn what it’s like to experience racism
  • the modern Lois, revamped as part of the Man of Steel relaunch in 1986
  • Lois and Clark as engaged couple in 2001
  • a section on imaginary tales, including two issues of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman in which Lois becomes Superwoman

My favorite discovery was a short tale by Kathryn Immonen and Tonci Zonjic from 2010, in which Superman has to take care of Lois when she’s sick, and he does a really bad job of it. It’s not often you see a superhero so bored and discouraged that he pushes a piano out the window just to give himself something to do at which he can succeed. It’s the dialogue between the two that’s most outstanding, though, and overall, it’s a great read. It’s a shame that, with the New 52 revamp, we’ve lost that strong, loving couple.

That likely explains why, with the exception of the story I mentioned and the Morrison story, all the content of this book is 10 years old or more. I miss Lois. I hope, when the trend wheel turns again, we get her back in glorious fashion. Overall, this is a nice little time capsule at a reasonable price for an almost-400-page hardcover, and I’m glad DC put it out.


10 Responses to “Good Comics at the Comic Shop November 27 — Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years”

  1. Bytowner Says:

    Agreed re: losing the marriage being…ill-advised at best. That Immonen/Zonjic story was one of dozens showing how the marriage was a strength of the series.

  2. Johanna Says:

    It’s a shame that everyone making higher-up decisions for superheroes these days seems to have gotten it into their heads that serious relationships are bad. I miss seeing heroes that seemed like adults, not overgrown teens, angsty over their abilities. Maybe that’s a reflection of our current culture.

  3. Bytowner Says:

    Or a reflection of people aching for an earlier time in our culture, and sadly not the best elements of that time.

  4. Jim Perreault Says:

    Are their any tales concerning “Mr and Mrs Superman”? Most of those are parallel world gimmicks, but it would have been nice if their marriage was shown.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Yes, the Earth-2 wedding issue from Action Comics is included, a favorite of mine.

  6. Michael Says:

    ” particularly the era when her stories, in her own series, were all about humiliating her as she tried to catch Superman for a husband”

    So you think the silver age writers were purposely trying to humiliate Lois Lane rather than simply being stories that were a reflection of the times?

  7. Johanna Says:

    I think there’s an odd undercurrent of “she needs to be taught a lesson”, whether it’s making her look like an idiot or actually spanking her (a popular request in the letter columns, I’m told). It’s not helped from basically removing the idea of her chasing a story from the comics and making her sole motivation getting Superman to marry her.

  8. Jim Perreault Says:

    But isn’t that exactly what the cold war America zeitgeist was? A strong emphasis on the domestic role of the woman, and not in the workforce?

    Here is a quote from the museum exhibit “When Barbie Dated G.I. Joe” that discusses this:

    While psychologists, social critics, and popular literature encouraged fathers to be involved in family life, women spent the most time as full-time parents. This was as it should be, according to cold war ideology: female domesticity was a bulwark against communism.18 Cold war polemics characterized communism as a cancer that transcended politics and also attacked the social fabric of a nation. As witnessed in the Soviet Union, communism drove women out of the home and put them to work, forcing children into state-run daycare centers. To American values, this constituted an assault on the social unit basic to democratic society — the family. In response, postwar American society reasserted the importance of the “traditional” family structure with a male wage-earner and a female housewife and mother. This logic placed the domestic woman at the centre of American values and viewed her domesticity as a weapon against any subversive communist influences.

    (which can be found at http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/MCR/article/view/17705/22251 )

  9. Johanna Says:

    Yes, and the stories played into that with the ridiculously strong emphasis on Lois wanting to marry Superman. But the ways they went about reinforcing that message were contrary to the goal, because tried to get married resulted in Lois looking like an idiot. So one counter-reading of the stories might be that trying to be domestic would end up badly.

    Or, as I said, the writers just didn’t like Lois very much. :)

  10. Michael Says:

    I think your attributing nuance and subtleties to the writers and stories that, no disrespect intended, borders on conspiracy theory territory.

    Take the television entertainment of the time and you’ll see much the same thing. I Love Lucy is a good example. I get a kick out of Lucy but she’s often made to look the fool for not knowing her place as a housewife. Was Lucy, who oversaw the writing on many episodes, trying to make a fool of Lucy? No. That was the mindset of the time. Given the dip in the male population as a result of WW2, it was often an accurate mindset. Movies, soap operas, comedies, the examples are endless. So to ascribe some weird “motive” to the writers of Lois seems to be a position that ignores literally everything in media of the day.

    Does that make it ok? Of course not. Were the writers of Lois Lane rubbing their hands together with evil smirks chomping at the bit to specifically make Lois look bad? I highly doubt it. Especially given that the writers were just too busy with deadlines to give those stories any more thought than what popped into their post war mentality brains.

    The fact is, there is a school of thought among the more zealous Lois fans that her creators meant for her to be something that she originally wasn’t. She was simply a torchy blane composite who was often not even in a lot of those early Golden Age issues of Action and Superman during the Seigel and Shuster days. She wasn’t the “anchor to humanity” that she became decades later. Much of that was put out there as a result of the 78 film. Lots of those S&S interviews done at the time of the 78 film release directly contradicted interviews done in the 30s and 40s about the creation of the characters and the importance of Lois to Superman.

    But then I don’t really subscribe to the current tumblr school of thought and conspiracy theories that claims DC hates Stephanie Brown, Oracle, Wonder Woman or Lois. It’s just a company that is marketing comics to boys, just like they’ve been doing for decades.

    In my opinion.

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