Original/Pre-Crisis + The Legacy of Superwoman
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Some text from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #100 (Apr. 1970)
NAME + ALIASES:
Lois Lane, alias Superwoman, Super-Lois, Elastic Lass, Bug Belle
Gen. Sam Lane (father), unnamed mother, Lucy Lane (sister), unnamed cousin, Susie (niece)
Action Comics #1 (June 1938)
As Superwoman, in a dream: Action Comics #60 (May 1943)
As non-powered Superwoman: Superman #45 (Mar./Apr. 1947)
As super-powered Superwoman: Action Comics #156 (May 1951)
As Super-Lois: Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane 5 (Nov. 1960)
This profile concerns the pre-Crisis history of Lois Lane and details about Lois's adventures as "Superwoman" or "Super-Lois," of which there were quite a few. These stories range from imaginary to bona fide, and she wore a variety of different costumes. Many times, these super-adventures were shared with her friend and rival, Lana Lang.
There were other Silver Age characters called "Superwoman." Read more about them in "The Super-Women of the Silver Age."
Lois Lane is nearly as famous as her love interest, Superman. Today in the comics (and on television), the characters are married, but this status quo only came about in 1996's Superman: The Wedding Album. But for 60 years before that, Lois agonized over her unrequited obsession with the Man of Steel. She routinely showed disdain for the mild mannered Clark Kent, while fawning over Superman. The most common reason for their platonic relationship was: if they married, Superman's enemies would surely come for her.
Lois Lane has always been a popular character, the archetypal fearless reporter. Superman #28 (May/June 1944) was the first comic book to feature Lois in a story of her own. The feature, “Lois Lane, Girl Reporter,” ran through Superman #42 (Sept./Oct. 1946).
Showcase #9 (July/Aug. 1957) was first all-Lois issue of any magazine; it was a tryout for the solo Lois Lane title. According to an article in Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #100 (Apr. 1970), “The sales were great!” So Lois was awarded her own title, Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, which ran from 1958–1974. After that, her feature moved into Superman Family, which ran for 59 more issues (1974–1982).
Lois Lane grew up in the "small Midwestern town" of Pittsdale, the elder daughter of Sam and Ella Lane. Baby Kal-El (the future Superman) unknowingly saved Lois’ life for the first time when a toy of his (which was in one of his father’s experimental rockets) went from the planet Krypton to Earth and frightened a deadly snake which was about to strike at Lois. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #26) Note: The Lane parents first appeared in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #13 (Nov. 1959).
Lois was a straight-A student who won Girl Scout honors and captured the titles “Miss Ideal Girl” and “Queen of Perfection” in local contests. (#71)
Even though she was not from Smallville, Lois met Clark Kent when they were still teenagers. She and Clark were both winners of a Daily Planet contest that honored the best school newspaper reporters. As a prize, they worked as cub reporters at the Planet for one week. Clark thought Lois was pretty; she thought he was "unexciting," and questioned him about Superboy instead. The editor then was a man named Morton. (Adventure Comics #128)
Lois first met Superboy one summer when she went to Camp Hiawatha, near Smallville. She chose the camp because it was close to Superboy, and she was not disappointed. Her roommate there was Lana Lang and neither girl was able to earn his affections. (Clark also attended the camp but did not see Lois while being his civilian self.) (Adventure Comics #261) Note: Lana first appeared in Superboy v.1 #10 (Oct. 1950).
Lois honed her journalistic prowess while she attended Raleigh College, where Pete Ross, Superboy’s best friend, also studied. One day, Clark visited Pete there and stood in for him during a fencing match — against Lois! (Lois Lane #55)
When she finally applied for a job at the Daily Planet, editor Perry White challenged her to bring him three scoops within three days. She succeeded, but it was partly due to some unwitting, behind-the-scenes help of Superman. (#17) She was already working at the paper when Clark Kent was hired, and the very first Superman story was published. (Action Comics #1) Note: The newspaper was originally called the Daily Star. This became one of the distinctions between the Earth-One and Earth-Two Superman continuities.
The first time Lois suspected that Clark Kent might actually be Superman was when Clark produced a flimsy excuse to explain how he had scooped her on a story. Her suspicion only grew after that. (Superman v.1 #17)
Lois met Lana Lang again as an adult, and they became both professional and romantic rivals. (Superman #68) At some point, Lana had briefly witnessed the future in an experimental time-viewer. She saw Superman kissing Lois Lane, which inspired Lana to try to change destiny and prevent their coupling. (Superboy #90)
Lana became a fixture regular in Lois’ life after Lois helped Lana recover from hard times. Lana later became a TV announcer, then a top news reporter for station WMET-TV. (Lois Lane #7)
Lois' extended family were also a part of the picture. Her blond-haired sister, Lucy Lane, became an airline stewardess, but learned she had promised her mother not to marry before Lois did. This condition has been lifted since, and Jimmy and Lucy have been might close to wedded bliss on at least two occasions. (Jimmy Olsen #36)apr 59
And Lois’ niece in Susie had a remarkable way of bending the truth out of shape and coming up with the wildest stories. What’s more, she actually got Superman to make some of these fibs come true. However since Lois has no brothers, and her one sister is unmarried it’s obvious Susie can’t be her niec. Actually, Susie’s mother is Lois’ first cousin. (Action #68) jan 44
Lois herself later attempted to alter destiny when she used a time machine invented by Professor Potter to go back to Smallville and prevent Lana from falling for Superboy. But when Lana played a sleeping beauty in a Christmas pageant, Superboy kissed her and sparked her crush on him. (Lois Lane #50)Note: The Professor was a frequent friend of Jimmy Olsen's who first appeared in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #22 (Aug. 1957).
That same issue introduced another character Lena Thorul, the beautiful blonde who doesn’t know she’s the sister of Superman’s arch enemy, Lex Luthor. Luthor has often gone to great lengths to conceal from Lena the truth about her brother. She believes he was killed in an accident when she was just a tot, and doesn’t know her parents changed their name fromLuhtor after their son turned criminal. Lois is one of the few persons in on the secret. Lena later became a friend of Supergirl, married and had a son.
The Original Superwoman — Lois Lane
Lois Lane depicted in the form of "Superwoman" no fewer than six times between 1943 and 1961. The first of these occurrences dates all the way back to 1943 (but that was only a dream). The second time, Superman led her to believe she had super-powers. Four times she acquired true (albeit temporary) powers. In each instance, her costume was different from the previous.
Trial Run: Only in Dreams
- Action Comics #60 (May 1943)
- By Jerry Siegel and George Roussos
While Clark Kent and Lois Lane were walking down the street, they argued again about her love for Superman — and not Clark. He lamented, “I’ve no more chance of being like Superman than you have of being a Superwoman!”
She proceeded to step into oncoming traffic and was struck by a truck.
While she lay unconscious in the hospital, Lois dreamt that she was near to death. To save her, Superman offered a transfusion of his blood that granted her super-powers!
In her fantasy, she could do no wrong, mopping up criminals and solving problems great and small. But when she was captured by the evil Dr. Skowl, Superman came to her rescue. She siezed the opportunity to ask him to marry her!
Just then, she awoke from her dream; Clark was there with flowers.
A Superwoman in Costume Only
- Superman #45 (Mar./Apr. 1947)
- By Alvin Schwartz, John Sikela and George Roussos
At the Daily Star, Lois Lane suggested that she and Clark Kent cover Hocus and Pocus, stage magicians who were reputed to have created unbelievable feats. (In reality, it had been Superman who used his powers to create the illusion of magic tricks. [Action Comics #83, 88, 97])
When they met, the performers exclaimed, “Abracadabra!” and commanded Clark to become Superman; he played along because he needed to save Lois, who’d fallen off the building!
To Lois, this was proof of their powers and she demanded they do the same for her. So that she wouldn't think Clark actually was Superman, he was forced to make it look like the magic had transformed Lois as well. He used his super-speed to invisibly to make her think she had super-strength and invulnerability, and could fly.
Emboldened, she called herself Superwoman and stepped out in a variation of Superman’s costume: blue tights, red skirt and a red hair ribbon. But when Lois discovered that her powers made her undesirable to potential suitors, she commanded Hocus and Pocus to “reverse” their magicks.
Third Time's the Charm
- Action Comics #156 (May 1951)
- By Al Schwartz and Al Plastino
While she was on the hunt for a story, Lois Lane overheard some crooks talking about Lex Luthor. He had built a machine in his laboratory that could give someone the powers of Superman.
Superman was away on a mission, so Lois sneaked into Luthor's workshop. She switching on his device and was bombarded with electrical energies! Lois beat a hasty retreat and discovered that the machine had produced more than a lightshow — indeed, she possessed super-strength, and could fly!
Lois worried about Luthor's plans for this technology, so she returned to destroy it. She overheard Luthor, who angrily revealed that the machine was powered by something called Vivanium. It would take him time to replenish it.
Lois called herself "Superwoman" (alternately called a “girl of steel”), disguised herself with a blond wig, and wore a Superman costume with a blue skirt and white gloves. Perry White wondered, “Maybe she’s from Krypton, too, Superman. Why — she might even be a relative!” Superman returned and saw that Superwoman didn’t know her own strength. She proved more of burden to him, and quickly saw through her disguise. He scolded her that a lack of control was worse than having no power at all.
Meanwhile Luthor had figured out what happened and devised a trap for her. He tricked her into assembling a new machine just before her Vivanium powers wore off. Superman destroyed it anyway.
Building a Superwoman Robot
- Superman #71 (July/Aug. 1951)
- By Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino
All over Metropolis, young ladies marvelled at the Man of Steel — and bachelors were fed up with the competition. Superman heard the men's complaints and tried to help.
But when he performed a public display of feats to highlight the accomplishment of everyday men, it backfired; the women fawned even more about his selflessness! He was universally desirable to them.
Superman arrived upon an effective solution: he turned the tables by building a lifelike Superwoman robot. With her auburn hair, red skirt, great beauty, intelligence and fortitude, girlfriends everywhere were made jealous. They all found a newfound appreciation for their beaus, all but one. Lois Lane's admiration for Superman was undeterred (… poor Clark).
The Pandora's Box from Krypton
- Showcase #10 (Sept./Oct. 1957)
- By Otto Binder, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye
Archaeologist Professsor Jones discovered a box from Krypton near Smallville. He sent it to Lois, asking her to open it only the presence of Supeman. Her curiosity got the better of her, and she opened it to find a cape, gloves and goggles. When Lois put them on, she gained super-powers.
When Superman finally caught up to her, he recognized the box Jor-El's (his father). It had been sent in a second rocket to Earth, and lay undiscovered for years. For Lois' safety, Superman disabled the powers of these artifacts by exposing her to Kryptonite.
Real Super-Powers, Round Two
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #8 (Apr. 1959)
- By Alvin Schwartz and Kurt Schaffenberger
For some reason, Superman decided to play a game with Lois by giving her special birthday present. He asked her to meet him and to wear a costume that resembled his own. Lois discovered that he had prepared a machine that would transfer his super-powers to her!
You see, he was going to be away on a long mission and needed someone familiar with his methods to take over. Using “modulated radio frequency waves,” he successfully strengthened her and her costume (which had a blue skirt, blue boots and red gloves). She popped on a blond wing and leapt into action at the first opportunity.
Lois found herself fending off suspicions by Clark Kent that she was Superwoman ... the tables had turned. He tested her wits with a series of situational challenges and she deftly explained away her secret identity.
Eventually she found herself in an impossible situation and was forced to reveal that she was Superwoman. Naturally, the effect wore off at that moment, so she couldn't produce "evidence" of her super-powers. When it was over, Clark continued the joke with Perry, neither of them believing her claims to have actually been a Superwoman.
Super-Lois and Super-Lana Lang
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #17 (May 1960)
- By Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Stan Kaye
When Superman defeated Brainiac, the villainous android hatched one last plot against his rival. Brainiac was untouchable, far away in space, but told Superman via projection that he would mentally compel Lois Lane and Lana Lang to their deaths. But if Superman interefered, Brainiac would destroy the Earth! Superman needed to agree that he would be off-planet at the time.
The Man of Steel got creative in order to save his beloved friends, inviting both women to receive a blood transfusion from him — to give them super powers an idea explored earlier, in dreams).
Lana was first; after her treatment she donned a yellow-and-lilac colored costume and took to the skies as “Super-Lana.” She and Super-Lois (in green-and-yellow) worked together to mitigate catastrophes. Then as Brainiac had promised, they were compelled to enter an abandoned building, which he destroyed.
Superman’s gift had saved their lives, and their super-powers faded soon thereafter. The were happy to save their uniforms as momentos of their adventure.
By the time of this adventure, Supergirl had been introduced, which is probably the reason that neither Lana nor Lois sported a costume that resembled Superman’s.
Lana Lang reappeared in the costume from this story in Action Comics #583 (1986, the last Superman story before his continuity was rebooted by Crisis on Infinite Earths).
Lana had her own, equally colorful history of super-powered adventures that dated back to her days in Smallville. In New 52 continuity (2016), she and Lois shared the mantle of Superwoman after the death of Superman.
Lois, Lana and the Magic Lake
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #21 (Nov. 1960)
- By Kurt Schaffenberger
Superman's favorite women were again sporting their new costumes only a few months later.
Lois and Lana decided to make a leisurely stop at the “Cavern of 1,000 Lakes,” where according to legend, lay a magic lake that imbued one with super-powers. Later at work, they dashed off to cover a story — and did so at super-speed! They had bathed in the magic lake.
Both excitedly informed Superman that he could now marry them, worry-free, because they could not be harmed by his enemies. They arranged a contest to determine the better wife. Superman wondered whether it wasn’t time to make up his mind…
Their pageantry included heroism, cooking and beauty, but as always, their powers wore off. Superman had made up his mind: the winner had the initials “L.L.”
The Reversed Super-Powers!
- Action Comics #274 (March 1961)
- By Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger
Lois Lane's final outing as Superwoman was part of a plot of one of Superman's robot doubles. When Superman was away on a mission, Superman Robot Z took his place and arranged an experiment that was designed to test Lois' intentions toward his master.
"Superman" reported to Lois that he might have discovered a cure for his Kryptonite weaknesses, and he wanted her to cover the story. Inside his Arctic Fortress of Solitude, they both donned helmets and focused "their mind-power" toward a successful result.
The robot used the situation to trigger an explosion; he bestowed Lois with super-powers and feigned that he had lost his own. This was the test: could Lois love a powerless Superman?
He exclaimed, “I am free, at last, to marry you!” and Lois was at once elated and hesitatant. This was not the future she had imagined.
The next morning, Lois dusted off her green-and-yellow Superwoman costume and set out to do good deeds. She imagined married life with the tables turned. Now, her enemies would be the danger to him.
When the real Superman returned, Superman Robot Z explained his scheme and judged, “Lois Lane is unworthy of you, Master! When she possessed super-powers and believed you did not, this woman refused to marry you!” Superman told her to forget it ever happened — which renewed her feelings for him.
The New Super-Lois
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #85, 87 (Aug., Oct. 1968)
- By Leo Dorfman, Irv Novick and Mike Esposito
Our hero finally gave up and walked out on Superman. She left Metropolis, went by Lois Lorne, cut her hair and took to wearing mini-skirts. She took a job as a nurse. (Lois Lane #80) But when a weird accident temporarily gave her telepathic powers, she read Superman’s mind and found out he really loved her! (#81)
In a two-part tale, Lois and three other accomplished women were invited to visit Kandor. A shady scientist named Cor-Lar administered a potion to Lois that gave her super-powers. This time, Super-Lois became dependent on the drug and needed multiple doses to stave off maddening ringing in her head.
She retained her powers even when she returned to Metropolis and saved Superman from a giant Kryptonite meteor created by Dr. Ulrich. In thanks, he proposed to her. (Lois Lane #85)
But Cor-Lar blackmailed Lois into retrieving the Stantor, a Kryptonian bird from the planet Dormir. Cor-Lar fooled Lois into believing that the bird's crystalline feathers made it so that she would die if she left Kandor. Cor-Lar had planned all along to take her place outisde the bottle city; she left Kandor and participated in Superman's missions while Lois remained stranded in Kandor. There Lois unearthed a mineral (from Jor-El's artifacts) called Kandorite. This element permanently removed a Kandorian's potential for powers under a yellow sun. When Lois realized that there was nothing keeping her in Kandor, she escaped and used the Kandorite on Cor-Lar. (#87)
- Lois met Aquaman, who courted her when she was temporarily turned into a mermaid. The transformation was done to save Lois’ life after her legs were crushed in an accident. It took super-surgery by Superman to get her back to the life on land. He did this by absorbing all the knowledge in a huge medical library in a few minutes, so he could pass a test and be awarded an M.D. degree. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #12, Oct. 1959)
- Lois borrowed the serum that turned Jimmy Olsen into Elastic Lad, and performed the "Ten Feats of Elastic Lass." One of these was at Midvale Orphanage, where one of the orphans she met was Linda Danvers: Supergirl. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #23, Feb. 1961)
- On the planet Zermb, Lois and Lana were merged temporarily into one person by a magical jewel. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #41, May 1963)
- [Lois gains underwater powers after drinking a dose of the experimental Hydronaut Serum A] Lois Lane takes an experimental formula for breathing underwater. Later she finds the formula is bad and forces her to be dunked in some kind of fluid every hour or she will die. the Amazing Hydro-Girl] Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #60 (Oct. 1965)
- In addition to her appearances as "Superwoman," Lois also appeared as Bug-Belle, when she borrowed Lana Lang's Insect Queen Bio-Ring, and transformed herself into a half-insect (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #69, Oct. 1966)
- Van-Zee, a Superman lookalike from the bottled city of Kandork met, courted and wed Sylvia DeWitt, who was Lois’ double. Then he gave Sylvia a serum which gave her super-powers under a yellow sun. But Van-Zee and Sylvia how live in Kandor under an artificial red sun, where neither they nor their children have any super-powers. (#15) Note: This was the first book-length story in the Lois Lane title.
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #19 (August 1960) introduced a new innovation to the Superman line with the publication of firs Imaginary Story “Mr. and Mrs. Clark (Superman) Kent.” In this and subsequent stories, we have shown the happiness and heartache that might come to Lois and Superman, if they marry. (Some summaries courtesy of the Grand Comics Database)
- Lois falls off a ledge while trying to get a scoop as a reporter. She is knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital by Superman, where Lois dreams she and Clark gain super-powers and become Power-Girl and Power-Man. Clark still possesses a timid personality and is inferior to the leadership of Lois/Power-Girl. Superman #125 (Nov. 1958)
- Lois Lane goes to Krypton as a child and becomes Supermaid. superheroine of the planet Krypton Superman #159 (Feb. 1963)
- Lois Lane uses a super-computer to view what life would have been like if she was from Krypton instead of Clark. There she was Krypton Girl. Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #47 (Feb. 1964)
- She marries Superman and he invents a super-serum for her. She wears a purple-and-green costume. That same serum eventually poisons her to death. Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #51 (Aug. 1964)
- When Lois is blinded trying to save Superman from a deadly ray, Superman marries her in sympathy. They have a daughter, Lisa Kent aka Superlass. Years later, Superman is killed by an atomic Kryptonite bomb. Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #91 (April 1969)
Lois’ work as a volunteer nurse was first revealed in #43 has had full nurse’s training and is qualified to work as a registered nurse — which she hactually has done at times.
Our gal ran for the Senate (#62) and her opponent was Superman, while her campaign manager was the 5th-dimensional imp, Mr. Mxyzptlk. In the end, both candidates were disiqualified because of legal technicalities. The governor then appointed Perry White as interim Senator until a special election could be called. For a while, the planet had a new editor, Van Benson, who was secretly an FBI operative on a case in metropolis. Later, Perry returned to the Planet — and lost the special Senate election.
When writer Grant Morrison reinvented the Crime Syndicate in JLA: Earth 2 (2000), his version of the evil Superwoman was Lois Lane in that reality. (The alter ego of the original, Earth-Three Superwoman was never revealed.) Morrison's model for the evil Earth-3 Superwoman was used in her New 52 and Rebirth incarnations as well.
Other versions of Lois Lane have been super-powered. In JLA: Earth 2 (2000; post-Crisis continuity), the Lois Lane was the name of the evil Superwoman from another universe, an Amazon and member of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika. In the New 52 multiverse, the Lois Lane of Earth-2 became the Red Tornado (Earth 2 #17, Jan. 2014). Back on Earth-0, Lois and Lana acquired super-powers at the same time and shared the title of "Superwoman." (Superwoman #1, Oct. 2016).
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, 137 issues (1958–1974)
- Superman Family, 59 issues (1974–1982)
- Lois Lane v.1, 2-issue limited series (1986)
- Superman: Lois Lane v.1, one-shot (1998)
- Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance, 3-issue limited series (2011)
- Superman: Lois Lane v.2, one-shot (2014)
- Lois Lane v.2, 12-issue limited series (2019)