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 and Ella Lane (parents), 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 newspaper 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 out of costume.) (Adventure Comics #261) Note: Lana first appeared in Superboy vol. 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 vol. 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 later attempted to alter destiny prevent Lana from falling for Superboy. She used a time machine invented by Professor Potter to go back to Smallville, 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).
Lois' extended family were also a part of the picture. Her niece in Susie (the daughter of Lois’ first cousin) had a remarkable way of bending the truth out of shape and coming up with wild stories. Susie manipulated Superman into making her lies come true. (Action Comics #68)
Her blond-haired sister, Lucy Lane had originally promised their mother she would not marry before Lois did. She became became an airline stewardess — and Jimmy Olsen's girlfriend — and the couple came close to wedded bliss several times. (Jimmy Olsen #36)
Lois was one of the few people who knew that Lena Thorul was the sister of Superman’s arch enemy, Lex Luthor. Her parents changed their name from when she was young. Lena later became a friend of Supergirl, married and had a son. (Lois Lane #23)
The Original Superwoman — Lois Lane
Lois Lane was depicted as "Superwoman" many times. 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. But there were a handful of times when she acquired true (albeit temporary) super-powers. Usually, her costume was changed from the previous adventure.
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 interfered, 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 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.
- 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 returned to the sea after drinking the experimental Hydronaut serum that allowed her to breath underwater. ""The Amazing Hydro-Girl" soon discovered that she had problems breathing out of the water and Superman had to find an antidote. (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 (Aug. 1960) introduced a new storytelling device to the Superman line. It was the first so-called "Imaginary Story," "Mr. and Mrs. Clark (Superman) Kent." In this and subsequent stories, readers were shown the happiness and heartache that could come to Lois and Superman, if they married. (Some summaries courtesy of the Grand Comics Database):
- Lois falls off a ledge while trying to get a scoop, is knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital by Superman, where she dreams she and Clark gain super-powers and become Power-Girl and Power-Man. Clark remains timid 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 a.k.a. Superlass. Years later, Superman is killed by an atomic Kryptonite bomb. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #91, Apr. 1969)
Independence: The New Lois
Lois was fully training and qualified to work as a registered nurse work. She sometimes volunteered in this capacity. (Lois Lane #43)
When she finally gave up on pursuing Superman and walked out on him, she left Metropolis and took a job as a nurse. She also adopted the alias "Lois Lorne," cut her hair and took to wearing mini-skirts. (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)
And Lois once ran for Senate — her opponent was Superman and 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 after losing the special Senate election. (#62)
In 1983, Marv Wolfman took over writing Action Comics and an "exciting new era" was begun. Wolfman turned the status quo upside down for Superman and his supporting cast.
For a time, Lana Lang had ceased to compete for Superman's affections, when she left Earth to marry the alien super-hero Vartox. (Superman #373–375) When that relationship ended, Lana returned to Galaxy Communications and became a TV reporter for WGBS—a co-anchor with Clark Kent. (DC Comics Presents #50)
Shortly after that, Lois found her backbone at last. She'd had an epiphany; she could no longer waste her life pining for him. She asked Perry for a reassignment and left for the Middle East. (Action Comics #542)
In her absence, things began to stir between Lana Lang and Clark Kent. Lana had also turned a corner and was seeing Clark in a new light; she fell in love with him. (#543) Clark and Lana's relationship became the status quo, but he did not share his secret identity with her. Their relationship lasted up until the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985).
The continuity of the Silver Age/Earth-One/pre-Crisis era of Superman came to an end with a two-part Imaginary Story called “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” The tale was set in the future (1997), after Superman had disappeared and was believed dead. Actually, he adopted a new identity as "Jordan" and he and Lois had a son named Jonathan. (Superman #423, Action Comics #583)
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).
As Superwoman, Lois Lane oftern demonstrated the core powers of Superman: super-strength, speed, flight and vision powers.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- Adventure Comics #128, 261 ,384 , 385
- All-New Collectors' Edition #C-56, C-58
- Brave and the Bold #175
- Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, 7, 9, 11, 12
- DC Comics Presents #3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 20, 22–25, 27, 31, 32, 41, 43, 50, 52, 53, 69, 71, 86, 93, Annual #1, 2, 4
- Justice League of America #7, 99, 118, 144, 194, 240
- Phantom Zone #1, 3
- Showcase #9, 10, 100
- Superboy vol. 1 #1, 63, 90
- Wonder Woman vol. 1 #224, 292
- Action Comics #1–582 (1938–1986)
- Superman vol. 1, #1–422 (1939–1986)
- World's Finest Comics #71–314 (1954–1985)
- Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1–160 (1954–1973)
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, 137 issues (1958–1974)
- Superman Family, 59 issues (1974–1982)
- The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, 12 issues (1982–1983)
- Lois Lane vol. 1, 2-issue limited series (1986)
- Superman: Lois Lane vol. 1, one-shot (1998)
- Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance, 3-issue limited series (2011)
- Superman: Lois Lane vol. 2, one-shot (2014)
- Lois Lane vol. 2, 12-issue limited series (2019)