Monday, October 09, 2006

What Else You Need to Know About Lois Lane

Lois Lane doesn't take shit from nobody.

Ragnell has a post about power fantasies for women, specifically inspired by a scene where a guy's a jerk to Witchblade in her civilian persona, and instead of slugging the guy, she demures while her male companion does the hitting for her. Ragnell felt the scene was terribly unsatisfying, and was angered by the implication that it was inappropriate for a woman to lash out in violence, but okay for her man to protect her, even if she didn't need it.

To see if I agreed with her, I tried to imagine a gender reversed scenario, where the male hero demures from defending himself so his female companion slugs the guy for him. And then I realized I didn't have to imagine it, that story already exists...

... in Action Comics #1.

That's right, Lois Lane does not hesitate to smack a guy who needs hittin'. It's not always the smartest move (i.e. her opponent in this case is a gangster who tracks her down and kidnaps her, prompting the most iconic image in superhero comics), but foresight has never really been Lois's strong suit. She's more of a "leap off the building, trust someone will catch me" type. For a character whose motivation and personality has shifted a lot over her nearly 70 year existence, hard-driving ball buster has been pretty consistent.

Even at her weakest, the "If I prove Clark Kent is Superman, he'll have to marry me" Silver Age crazy period, Lois doesn't let a simple thing like constantly and publicly being proved wrong deter her from her strongly held conviction that Superman and Clark Kent are in fact the same person.

(Especially because she's, y'know, absolutely right, and if Superman didn't have a large supply of Superman robots and time travel technology, she'd have proved it years ago. I'm guessing there's an Elseworlds or Astro City type story yet to be written where Lois is the only intelligent person on Earth who can see though Clark's flimsy disguise, and is desperate to prove it to the rest of the world, but Clark, through a series of increasingly improbable feats, keeps everyone else fooled in a sadistic campaign to gaslight Lois.)

Anyway, my POINT is that Lois always acts out, never compromises, NEVER demures. Boundaries are for other people. In fact, one could say, Lois always acts the way Clark only acts when he's in costume. That is, LOIS is the hero Clark wants to be.

And that's pretty damn cool.

(Hey When Fangirls Attack! and Meanwhile! Thanks for the link!)


Anonymous said...

Somehow I don't see Busiek returning to the well of the "female reporter exposes colleague as superhero" story, as he's already covered it in "Shining Armor," the Atomicus story collected in Astro City: Local Heroes. But it is a fun idea for a story, and I always enjoy the use of "gaslight" as a verb.

P.S. Love the blog. Keep it up!

Will Staples said...

The closest I could find to such a gaslight plot is this parody by the ever-lovin' Gail Simone.

Steven said...

Tom: I was thinking of that exact story when I wrote this, but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I meant more of an Astro City type story, with a Superman and Lois analogue, like Squadron Supreme or Supreme.

filby: or, um, exactly like that (nice ending, too!). Only add a scene where she painfully explains to Jimmy, step by step, that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same, only to have Jimmy dismiss her as a silly girl, and another scene where Perry fires her because her paranoid delusions are interfering with her work.