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Clark Bait: The 15 Worst Things To Ever Happen To Lois Lane

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Clark Bait: The 15 Worst Things To Ever Happen To Lois Lane

For almost as long as there has been Superman, there has been Lois Lane. The Daily Planet‘s — and perhaps the world’s — greatest reporter has been a key part of the Superman mythos from the get-go, making her first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938. As a colleague, best friend, girlfriend, wife and mother, Lois Lane has been one of the few constants in Superman’s ever-evolving life and legend over his 75 year (and counting) history, and has played an irreplaceable role in shaping his character as a man and strengthening his convictions as a hero. It’s hard to imagine Clark Kent without Lois Lane. But, that’s not to say that Lois doesn’t have her independence.

Though she spent decades being literally defined as just Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane and underestimated by just about all of her male co-workers, she never lost the tenacious spirit of the intrepid female reporters of the ’30s and ’40s who inspired her creation. Unfortunately, Lois hasn’t always been treated with the respect that one of the genre’s strongest female characters deserves. Even the best incarnations of her character, on page and on screen, have had their problems — and we’re not talking about her struggle with basic spelling and uncanny knack for getting into hairy situations. Lois Lane is at her very best when she’s allowed to be fierce, independent, fully-rounded and actively propelling her own stories. Oh, and alive. More on that point later.

15. SHE IS BACK TO BEING A DAMSEL IN THE DCEU

Amy Adams Lois Lane

DCEU Lois Lane — we need to talk. It’s not that you’re the worst (we’ll get into that one later) but you’re a long way from being the best, either. Things got off to a good start: casting an actress as accomplished as Amy Adams was a good move. Lois was also fairly active in Man of Steel, though, echoing the film’s tone and color palette, she was drained of the fiery boldness we’re used to.

But, in Batman v Superman, Lois started to act more like the damsel in distress archetype that decades worth of stories have worked to dismantle. In Justice League, she’s little more than a grieving stress ball wheeled out to pacify Superman’s post-death hissy fit. “They made her what used to be the girlfriend,” Margot Kidder laments. “Which […] ended in the ’60s with women’s rights.” Even Adams herself has admitted she wishes Lois were more “active.”

14. SHE IS HORRIBLY BODY-SHAMED BY SUPERMAN

Lois Lane fat

Look, the Silver Age was weird. That’s fine. But, this has to be one of the most ill-advised storylines of entire era. It only took until #5 for Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane to ramp up both the weirdness and sexism with “Lois Lane as ‘The Fattest Girl in Metropolis!'” in which Lois gains a few pounds thanks to a size-altering device. “If Superman ever saw me now, I’d die!”

Little did she know Supes was in on this “accident” the whole time. Cue banners promoting the story as a “TON of laughs” and images of Superman audibly struggling to carry a chunky Lois… despite his super strength..? So, he’s just being plain mean, right? And after he’s partly responsible for her forcible weight gain? Honestly, the only redeeming part of this story is that the villain is named “Swags Swanson.”

13. SUPERMAN ALLOWS PARASITE TO FEAST ON HER BRAIN

Superman Annual 2

Superman did a lot of questionable things in the Golden, Silver and even Bronze Ages that he’d rather you forgot about. Particularly if you work in any branch of law enforcement. But, even today, remnants of his questionable behaviour from bygone eras still surface sometimes. Having moral gray areas is fine for the purposes of making a character more believable but this instance seems quite clear cut.

In Superman Annual #2, Superman is put into a tricky situation when Lois uncovers his secret identity. This quandary means that when his old enemy Parasite gets a hold of her for some good, old fashioned brain sucking, Supes decides that risking her life to allow Parasite to remove these memories is totally not a selfish and reckless thing to do. Luckily, the gamble pays off.

12. HER SEX APPEAL IS SHAMELESSLY MILKED BY SMALLVILLE

Lois Lane Smallville

Many great actresses have stepped into Lois Lane’s shoes over the years but Smallville‘s Erica Durance remains one of the very best. Though the series had its rocky moments, her pitch-perfect balance of tenacity and vulnerability never wavered. Obviously, Lois Lane has always been presented as a conventionally attractive woman and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is wrong, however, was the show’s heavy sexploitation of the character.

Over 10 seasons, Lois Lane donned a “variety” of disguises including: sexy French maid, sexy pole dancer, sexy showgirl, sexy Playboy bunny, sexy superheroine, sexy dominatrix, sexy cage fighter… you get the picture. Maybe if we’d have gotten a Season 11 on TV we might have seen Clark doing some Magic Mike-themed investigative journalism to even the score. The closest Smallville got to this was putting Oliver Queen in drag, which was played off for laughs.

11. SHE IS TURNED INTO A BABY, BOTTLE-FED BY SUPERMAN

Lois Lane baby

In between saving the world and jailing Lex Luthor, one of Superman’s favorite past times used to be putting Lois Lane in her place. For some reason, though Lois was allowed to have her very own series, she couldn’t ever be seen as Superman’s equal in any way. This meant we ended up with baffling plotlines like “The Cry-Baby of Metropolis” in Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #10 from 1959.

After fretting over showing signs of aging, Lois tries out an experimental de-aging machine on herself. Of course, the effects are too extreme and she reverts back to infancy, and then is nearly adopted by Superman and his new squeeze, Lana Lang. Then it turns out that Supes knew the baby was Lois the whole time and — to teach her a lesson about being too impulsive — bottle-feeds her the antidote.

10. HER MEMORIES ARE KISSED AWAY BY SUPERMAN

Superman II kiss

The Richard Donner Superman movies were full of the highest ups and the lowest downs. On the one hand, amazing (for the time) special effects and brilliant casting. On the other hand, Superman IV. The sequel to the hugely successful first Superman movie in 1980 had a lot to live up to, and for the most part, it did — despite a difficult production. The film also did a lot to mess up Clark and Lois’ relationship.

Early on in the movie, Lois’ suspicions about Clark’s double life are confirmed and he lets her in on all of his Kryptonian secrets. By the film’s end, though, Lois admits she’s struggling to cope under burden of it all. She asks Clark to tell her that he loves her. Instead, he plants a kiss on her that erases her memories, which is well-intentioned but essentially just a non-consensual lobotomy.

9. SHE IS KEPT UNDER HOUSE ARREST BY A FASCIST SUPERMAN

Superman Justice Lord

The Justice League cartoon series’ were among the finest adaptations of any superhero property ever made. For long-time fans, one of the most satisfying things about them was that they didn’t start from scratch; rather, they transported the characters and worlds from the pre-existing Batman and Superman shows, including Lois Lane from the latter.

In “A Better World,” the death of the Flash twists the League into the tyrannical “Justice Lords,” and Lois essentially becomes a prisoner in her own home. Whether this is for protective or controlling purposes by Superman is unclear. Though it’s a terrible thing for an adventurous person like her, it sure is a lot more of a creative punishment than just killing her (as is more often problematically the case.)

8. SHE IS FORCED TO BE CINDERELLA

Lois Lane Cinderella

As well as his past crusade to humiliate and psychologically torment Lois at every possible moment (how very dare she try and have it all!) Superman also really enjoyed the fact that someone as passionate about seeking the truth as Lois could never figure out his secret identity. In 1964’s Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #48, Supes turns this riddle into a game — sending Lois back to three eras with three chances to crack it.

In each setting, she poses as three different female historical figures: Helen of Troy, Florence Nightingale and… Cinderella? Historical? Okay. Judging by the cover, you can’t help but get the feeling Supes just has a fetish for watching headstrong women being demeaned. What’s worse is that Lois ultimately loses the game, making the miserable experience pointless.

7. SHE BECOMES A DEMON AND NEARLY MARRIES SATAN

Lois Bride of the Devil

For once, this one can’t be blamed on the Man of Steel. Amazingly, this wasn’t Lois’ only dealing with demonic forces either. In Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #41 in 1963, Superman — after overhearing Lois attempting to sell her soul to the Devil to marry the Kryptonian — decides to impersonate Satan to (guess what?) teach her a lesson. Skip ahead to 1970’s #103 and Lois goes back for more demon lovin’.

This time, she allows herself to be given horns and hooves to match her satanic groom. Don’t worry though, he’s not really the Prince of Darkness — just an alien pretending to be him. Surprisingly, after Lois remembers that Superman exists, the alien just lets her jilt him. Given how much Superman mistreated her during this period, maybe she’d have been better off as “The Devil’s Bride.”

6. FORCED TO MARRY AN ALIEN POLYGAMIST AS SUPERMAN LAUGHS

Lois Lane Titanman

During the history of Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane, Lois was nearly getting married — whether she wanted to or not — every other week. Lois is one hell of a catch but there must have been a whole slew of other eligible bachelorettes in the universe that alien warlords could pester instead. Issue #79 from 1967 really pushed this theme to its absurd limits, though.

In “The Bride of Titanman!” Lois becomes the unwilling 8th conquest of the titular masked alien. Lois being Lois, her biggest problem with this is that she should be number one, not sloppy eighths. Titanman hypnotizes her into docility but she still manages to implore Superman to rescue her at the altar. Unfortunately, as the top image shows, he’s still deep into his carefree douchebag days.

5. SUPERMAN NEARLY SNEEZES HER TO DEATH

Smallville Fever Lois Lane

…Or rather, the result of Superman’s sneeze nearly does. Because she’s been around for so long and killing off superhero WAGs is one of the most popular and sexist inciting incidents in the writers’ playbook of cliches, Lois has died many, many deaths. Some of them have been horrific but some… some are just really embarrassing. In Season Six’s “Fever” of Smallville, Clark falls ill for the first time.

Obviously, because of his super breath, something as common as having the sniffles becomes a potentially life-threatening problem for those around him. Cue the comedy moment where he sneezes off the barn doors, nearly slicing a jogging Lois in two when they land miles away from the farm. Clearly she wasn’t in real danger as this was just a gag but can you imagine if that had been the end of Lois Lane?

4. SHE IS TURNED INTO A SNOWWOMAN AND ALMOST MELTS TO DEATH

Lois Lane Snow woman

It turns out there is a more embarrassing way to die than being torn in half by a sneeze-propelled barn door. In 1971’s #107 of Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane, our intrepid reporter gets whiff of an experimental procedure being conducted at Raleigh College by a professor trying to enable humans to breathe under water. Lois heads over to snap up her front page story.

Things go awry when a dastardly colleague of the professor gives her a full blast of the machine’s power, turning her into snow. He then dumps her outside to melt to death, rather than using his science know-how to deduce that a hairdryer would probably do the job a lot faster. Then again, villains never like to rush these things, do they?

3. SUPES TELLS HER SHE MURDERED A DOG, STRANGLES HER WITH OCTOPUS

Lois Lane #30

Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #30 from 1962 has to be most traumatizing in the whole history of the series for its titular heroine. Nearly every story in this bumper issue of horror puts Lois through a fresh kind of emotional and/or physical hell. And guess who’s behind it all?! The very same guy who believes in “truth, justice and American way.” In one story, Lois is upset to discover that Superman has a secret mermaid family.

In another, he’s back to his old lesson-teaching tricks. This time, to punish Lois for being too foolhardy, he deceives her into thinking she poisoned a dog. Luckily for a distraught Lois, the dog is actually Krypto, so no animals were harmed in the making of the prank. Oh, and just to make the moral really stick, he and Aquaman then set a giant octopus on the “reckless little fool.”

2. HER PORTRAYAL IN SUPERMAN RETURNS

superman returns lois lane

While Man of Steel divides fans down the middle, most are united in their dislike of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. While not without some merit, the film certainly fudged up its version of Lois Lane. Played by Kate Bosworth — who tries to make the most of what her weak story throws at her — Lois sadly comes off as little more than sour and lackluster rather than the irrepressible newshound we know and love.

Despite doing some snooping around Lex Luthor’s yacht, her character’s journey revolves entirely around a forced love triangle, i.e. around the men of the story. Even her Pulitzer prize, the pinnacle of her career, was won on the back of a bitter hit piece about her ex. Superman Returns just proves that a good Superman story needs a good Lois Lane.

1. SUPERMAN MURDERS LOIS AND THEIR UNBORN CHILD

In 1999, comics writer Gail Simone started the “Women In Refrigerators” blog to point out the disproportionate number of murdered/maimed female comic characters. The trope name was inspired by a Green Lantern story in which Kyle Rayner discovers his dead girlfriend stuffed inside his fridge. “Fridging” finally gave name to the harmful way violence against women has long been used as a plot device to motivate male heroes in stories.

Lois Lane has been fridged too many times to count and one of the worst examples is surprisingly recent. In #3 of the comic prequel series to Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superman’s iron-fisted rule of Earth is revealed to be predicated on him beating a pregnant Lois to death after Joker doses him into believing her to be Doomsday. Her death is horribly brutal, as is the disposability that DC treats one of its best female characters with.

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