Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Investigating Lois Lane gets the real scoop on an unsung heroine

With DC Comics revving up their engines for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie later this month,  part of that super spotlight these days is due to fall upon a new book that highlights one of the most important characters in that fictional universe, a lady of great might and no, it's not Wonder Woman this time.

Following up his excellent take on the Amazonian Princess in Wonder Woman Unbound, blogger and author Tim Hanley gives us the literary results of his research into the main woman in Superman's life.

 Investigating Lois Lane has a rather telling subtitle,The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter, that gives you a heads-up regarding the ups and downs of this leading lady's life and times. Lois has been a major player in the Superman universe since the beginning and yet, she's more than just the token girlfriend.

Hanley starts with the origins of the character as conceived by Joe Siegel and Jerry Shuster, with both men having romantic involvements with the woman who modeled for the first sketches of Lois Lane(she wound up marrying Siegal).

Lois' tough talking reporter persona was inspired by many of the silver screen figures of the day, such as Bette Davis in  Front Page Woman. The true muse for Lois,however, was Torchy Blane, played by Gloria Russell in a series of movies that always had this eager for the scoop dame looking to join in any crime story that came her way:

While Lois was usually depicted as a smart and savvy woman who often competed with Clark Kent to get the big story, many times over during the various runs of the Superman titles, her intelligence was knocked down several pegs.

The worst of these attempts to dumb her down came during the Silver Age of comics, where numerous story lines had Superman tricking Lois into thinking she was a threat to him and others due to her curious nature. Quite often, his "lessons" were exercises in cruelty that even had some of the fans urging for more harsher punishments!

Fortunately, the early TV adaptations didn't go this route, although the Adventures of Superman show did like to turn Lois around in another direction whenever she came too close to discovering the link between Clark Kent and Superman:

Hanley also chronicles the cinematic versions of Lois that have appeared over the years,along with her live action and animated television depictions as well. I do agree with him that so far, the most lively big screen take on Lois belongs to Margot Kidder, particularly in the first two Superman movies during the late seventies and early eighties.

While Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns and Amy Adams in Man of Steel(and the upcoming  Dawn of Justice movie) did well enough, their performances are lackluster when compared to the vibrant energy and quirky vibe that Kidder gave to the character:

I've been reading this book all weekend and am in the midst of the chapter that focuses on Lucy Lane, Lois' younger sister who pops up every now and then in the Superman universe.

While Lucy does serve a general purpose as a concern for her big sister(not to mention a love interest for Jimmy Olson), she also enjoys the freedom of tapping into the youth culture of the moment,such as the riot grrl movement in the 1990s. Since Lucy is now a supporting player on the  prime time series Supergirl, getting a deeper look into her past history is a nifty bonus:

 As with his prior book about Wonder Woman, Hanley tells the evolving story of Lois Lane in a knowledgeable as well as engaging manner. His research and thoughtful presentation make the pages fly faster than a speeding bullet at times.

 From her start as a "sob sister" in the 1930s to today's more independent journalist who can rescue herself from the clutches of super villains when need be, the  journey of Lois Lane throughout pop culture is just as iconic and inspirational as the Man of Steel at her side.

I intend to finish this delightful book very soon and urge others to pick it up at once. The adventures of Lois Lane make for quite a thought provoking read and it's no wonder that this character has resonated so much with women of all ages from one generation to the next and beyond:

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