By Danielle Prostrollo
With the success of the recent Wonder Woman film, I found myself drawn to the ‘other’ famous first lady of comic books – Lois Lane. Tim Hanley, comic book historian, has published a couple of great books on both Wonder Woman and Lois Lane, so I picked up Investigating Lois Lane in the Memorial Library. The book is such a great history of Lane as a character, a cultural icon, and measure of societal opinion that I’ve added a few brief bits that I found interesting both from the book and a bit of extra digging that the book inspired.
Lane has had an interesting history that volleys between plot device to a reasonably fleshed out character (at least, reasonably fleshed out for her time). Her complicated history includes the accomplishment of having her own comic book, Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane and a qualifier on that accomplishment, that her greatest ambition was not a front page scoop, but to marry Superman.
As a character, she often took unnecessary risks or acted without thinking. After rifling through a box of space artefacts she was told not to touch, she developed Kryptonite vision which, of course, caused Superman a great deal of pain and he angrily called her a “little idiot” and told her to get lost. What we later find out is, she didn’t actually have Kryptonite vision and Superman faked his injury in order to teach her a lesson.
DC eventually recruited their first female editor, Dorothy Woolfolk, to take over the ‘lady’ titles (Wonder Woman and Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane). She gave Lane a brief time placed squarely in the first-wave feminist movement: Lane broke up with Superman to concentrate on reporting stories she was passionate about. This didn’t last long, after only a hand full of issues Woolfolk was taken off the title and Superman’s Girl Friend was rolled into another.
In the radio universe, Lane had several iterations. In my opinion, Joan Alexander was the most fascinating. She was the 3rd woman to voice Lois. But when she was fired, she showed up to the auditions for her replacement in a wig, won the role back, and continued to voice Lois for several more seasons.
Alexander’s Lane had a tenacious go-get ‘em nature and often went ahead to catch a scoop despite the dangers of the job, which hinted at the independence of Lane and forward-thinking view of a woman’s role for the time. But so often the scenario ended up with Lois trapped and in peril, waiting for Superman to come and save her from an untimely demise.
Some other interesting links relating to Lois Lane and women in comics: