Friday, 21 October 2011

Goodbye, Hello: Part 3

Welcome back to the list of things I will and won’t miss about Superman in the New 52. After last week’s looks at two sides of Superman’s family, this week, I’ll be focusing on the most important personal relationship Superman has – his marriage with Lois.

The Third Thing I’m Going To Miss About Superman In The New 52:

The Marriage

If I had to name the one thing above all others that defined the post-Crisis Superman, I think I would end up choosing the relationship and marriage of Lois and Clark. I don’t have a lot of time for the pre-Crisis relationship between the two, with constant deceit on Superman’s part to protect his identity, and Lois’s repeated attempts to uncover Superman’s secret. I do like how this was played with in the aftermath of the Crisis, with soap-opera love triangles involving Cat Grant and Jose Delgado, as both Lois and Clark were written as proper characters, rather than ciphers jumping through the hoops of the highly-formatted Silver Age issues. But it was the two getting together that really gave an emotional grounding to the series.
And it wasn’t just the fact that they got together that made it. Clark made only the tiniest effort to continue living a double-life once the two got engaged, culminating in his coming out of the closet to Lois at the end of Superman #50. I feel that this is one of the most important moments in this period of comics. By sharing his secret with Lois, Clark allowed their relationship to move to a level barely seen before in any version of Superman. Finally, he had someone to come home to, someone to unwind with, someone who could help him bear the burden of being Superman.

The Death of Superman would not have been as strong a story if the reader hadn’t had the emotional hook of feeling Lois’s pain and isolation after watching her fiancé die, but being unable to share that with anyone. The shooting of Lois in Greg Rucka’s Adventures run would similarly have had less impact if we hadn’t have had such a strong emotional tie to her relationship with Clark. And we wouldn’t have had one of my personal favourite Superman/Lois moments in comics, when Superman finds Lois in the Phantom Zone towards the end of For Tomorrow and they reunite. (Yes, I’m a sap. I dislike a lot of that story, but I love that moment.)

It’s painful to see Lois and Clark not together in the New 52. Frankly, seeing her new boyfriend in the doorway at the end of Superman #1 was as much of a kick to the gut for me as it was for Clark. The last 20 years of reading Lois and Clark as a couple have convinced me, more than anything else, that the two of them are destined to be together. I don’t want them married again within the year, but I’d like to think that the long-term Superman masterplan  has the two of them moving closer together again.

The Third Thing I’m Not Going To Miss About Superman In The New 52

Joe Quesada’s feelings towards the marriage of Mary-Jane and Peter Parker are a mere passing whim when compared to the vendetta shown by the past decade’s worth of creative teams towards the marriage of Lois and Clark. In no particular order, we’ve had:
  • ·         The Parasite impersonate Lois to poison Superman and drive her and Clark apart
  • ·         Lois fail to deal with the death of her father in Our Worlds At War, heading off around the world and blaming Superman for not saving him
  • ·         Chuck Austen
  • ·         Well, OK, Chuck Austen writing Lana as a marriage-wrecking bitch, destroying her own marriage to Pete Ross and coming on to Clark in his parents house whilst Lois recovers from a gunshot wound
  • ·         Major creative teams (Azzarello/Lee, Johns/Frank, JMS/Whoever) avoiding the issue entirely by underwriting Lois/finding reasons to not include her in the story that they want to tell
  • ·         Superman leave Earth to spend a year on New Krypton with little-to-no reflection on how this will affect his marriage

For over ten years, the marriage of Lois and Clark weathered blow after editorially-sanctioned blow, yet somehow weathered the storm. And now it’s gone, and whilst it will be missed, it can only be hoped that if and when a relationship between these two is returned to the books, it will be allowed to grow and strengthen rather than suffer repeated attempts to undermine and dissolve it.


I’m Steve, and I’m a Lois and Clark shipper.

Next on World of Superman: This weekend (ish) sees us hit up another issue of Superman, featuring the much-heralded Superman/Mummy confrontation. And join me midweek-ish for a look at number 4 on both lists.


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