Monday, August 15, 2011

Blogathon 07: Who is Superman? Part Five

[Continuing my look at different interpretations of Superman over the past decade...]

I've never entirely understood the role of Lois Lane. Why her? For the ease of stories, she fills a specific role, because it's simpler to have Superman/Clark fixate on one person. Spider-Man has largely operated the same way, shifting from Gwen Stacey to Mary Jane Watson with a few minor possibilities in there. Superman has Lana Lang and Wonder Woman (along with some others) to fill those minor roles. But, ignoring the practicalities of one love interest, what is it about Lois specifically?

The idea that she's a human that's reached the potential Superman is an example of seems right somehow. She's not perfect and can be a little rude; still, there's a sense that she's rounded enough in all areas that she stands as the pinnacle of human achievement. Okay, that doesn't sound right. She hasn't reached the apex of human potential. She's not a mirror of Superman. So, what is she?

In All-Star Superman, she's the woman he loves. No explanation is needed. I can appreciate and understand that. Ask me why I love my girlfriend and I'll give you some basic reasons, some descriptions of her personality and behaviour, and none of it will cover it. Why does Superman/Clark love Lois? Because he does. It's that simple. At least in the mythic sense. In myths, no explanations are needed. Things simply are.

The role of Lois in Superman's world is something that Steven T. Seagle doesn't address in It's a Bird.... He explores different elements of Superman and what they mean, like the costume, like power, like justice... but not love or Lois. It's an odd omission when you think about it. But, it does implicitly argue for her expendability. Is Lois as essential as I made her out to be? She doesn't factor into Seagle's extensive exploration of the character. Hell, the past two years or so of Superman comics have had the two characters separated. First, Superman was on New Krypton and, then, he took his walk across America. In the upcoming relaunch, Lois is dating someone else and they were never married. She's still a love interest, an object of desire, but not much else. Is that all she is, even when she's been a central character? Does she even exist on her own or a way that isn't there to reflect Superman?

In The Death of Superman, he presence makes Superman's sacrifice that much more. She is something he sacrifices himself for, representing the whole of humanity. In Joe Casey's final year on Adventures of Superman, their marriage is something he struggles with a little. In one issue, the two celebrate Valentine's Day by finally coming together and staying in bed (no sex shown, just sleep). The run ends with an issue that's purposefully vague about their future. In many ways, Casey seems to be arguining for the disolution of their marriage, that Superman needs to be alone and un attached, while also presenting the argument that, like every married couple, the two simply have some problems. Either way, the relationship is not a completely solid one, not one that's unbreakable.

The marriage of Lois and Clark has been a problem to solve since it happened. Superman is often written into stories that demand a freedom that doesn't work entirely with a wife. How would she react to her husband disappearing off planet for a week? How does one live with that uncertainty? In contrast to the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane, the marriage of Lois and Clark seems to trap Superman, grounding him further than most would want him. They prefer a Superman that soars above such trivial things, rebuffing Lois at every turn, and allowing Clark to pine over her.

I'm not entirely sure what Lois's place is in Superman's life.

In 30 minutes, I'll discuss how much can you change Superman.

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