Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marriage: Lois & Clark

This week I'm a groomsman in the wedding of my wingman, CobraMisfit. Tuxedo fittings, rehearsal dinner with Seal Team Awesome (the groomsmen), and secret "don't-tell-the-groom" arrangements; the works. Heck, I may even have to practice the Electric Slide.

This has me in a matrimonial frame of mind and moves me to comment on the subject of marriage...

in the DCU.

Most people have been focused on the de-marriage-ification of Lois & Clark. My general impression is that no one is too broken up about it.

People were UPSET when Peter and MJ's marriage was retconned away. But that marriage had years of build up and actually changed the nature of the character's lives... a lot. Peter went from being a whiny nebbish with a puerile sense of humor to a whiny nebbish with a puerile sense of humor and a hot red-headed supermodel/actress wife.

Neither of those can be said of Lois & Clark's marriage. Now, the Lois and
Superman relationship was a long-running one. But Lois & Clark pretty much stopped relating to each other as potential romantic partners after the Golden Age ended. During the Silver and Bronze Ages, she was firmly fixated on Superman himself: deducing his secret identity, tricking him into marrying her, feeding photos of him to her ostrich. That sort of thing.

But Clark was a mere supporting character in the "Lois vs. Superman" battle. He was only relevant due to the occasional possibility that he might be Superman's secret identity.

This could have changed in the Happening 1970s, when Lois Lane kind of got fed up with mooning over Superman and decided to move on with her life. Copying Julie Jively's wardrobe'll do that to you. Certainly changed
MY life.

Anyway, that would have been the perfect time for Lois to abandon her sexist ways, and start dating Clark... precisely
because he wasn't a macho he-man.
What a marvelous feminist statement that would have been! I don't think that ever happened (I'm sure someone will correct me if it did), but even if it did, it didn't last long enough to get picked up on the social radar.

As every knows, when Lois & Clark wound up getting married in the Iron Age, it was a slapdash affair, rushed to synergize with the
Lois & Clark television show wedding.

It could have--should have-- been the triumphant culmination of a half-century long battle of the sexes, a love-conquers-all story of epic proportions.

In fact, it was horrible anti-climactic. I remember when someone first told me Lois and Clark were getting married. I said,
"Married?! I didn't even know they were DATING!"

And it was true. Despite having had over fifty years to prepare for it, the Lois and Clark marriage seemed nonsensical and baseless. We had almost no idea what Lois saw in Clark, what made her give up on Superman, how their dating relationship began, or how it blossomed into an engagement. Heck, it seemed for all the world like a shotgun wedding of the worst type: one where other media were holding the gun to the comic book's head.

Although tortuously unfolded, Lois & Clark's relationship on television was well developed and its culmination in a wedding seem natural. In contrast, Lois & Clark's relationship in the comics was not a
shown series of events, but a told one (and told sketchily and in retrospect, too). It was hard to believe that Lois & Clark actually belonged together (quite an accomplishment for comic book's most venerable couple), and when Clark failed to reveal to Lois the fact that he was an alien from another planet until after they were married... well, let's just say that seldom has Superman seemed like a bigger d***.

DC hasn't gotten a lot of traction out Lois & Clark being married. Neither one seems to have changed or grown because of it. Heck, their lives, other than their moving in together, don't seemed to have changed at all. In fact, the only interesting plotline I can remember where their being husband and wife really mattered was...
the arrival of Krypto. Lois's inability and unwillingness to handle living with a superdog was an amusing throwback to the old "imaginary stories" where she would struggle to deal with having semi-super offspring (those stories made you realize just how cool the Kents actually were, I might add).

So, what do we lose by losing the Lois/Clark marriage? Not a lot that I can see. In fact, we gain much, specifically
the humanization of Superman. Married Superman with a hot spunky wife? Just another example of Superman's super-ability to "have it all". Bachelor Superman with a Fortress of Solitude? That's a Superman who's humanized by the very fact that his superior, alien nature sets him apart from everyone else.

Next time: Barry Allen, single man. Oh, this'll be good...