Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cue the Patsy Cline ...

... as in "Cra-zy, I'm crazy for fee-lin' so lone-lyyy...."

No, it's not just me, although it's hard being in Lexington while the Best Wife Ever is in Virginia. I've been rereading the Steven T. Seagle/Scott McDaniel Superman issues in preparation for a potential Great Curve story, and at the risk of SPOILING any of you, it ends with a potential future where Supes fails to save Lois Lane.

While this future is scary enough on its own terms, it got me thinking -- has it just been a recent innovation that the loss of Lois would send Supes over the edge? She was gone at the beginning of the current "For Tomorrow" arc; and her death caused Superman to exile himself (or worse) in the alt-future backstories of both Kingdom Come and JLA's "Rock of Ages." Conversely, restoring the Superman/Lois relationship was critical to the endings of both DC One Million and the "Superman Rex" arc from a few years ago. I'm sure I'm missing other examples (that 1991 Annual where a dead Lois leads to Supes leaving Earth and hooking up with Maxima, for example).

Here's what I want to know: did we see these kinds of stories before Clark and Lois got engaged? I'm thinking that the pre-Crisis Superman wasn't as emotionally attached to Lois as the current one is. Has Lois replaced Clark as Superman's main connection to humanity?

Discuss, if you will.


bottleHeD said...

That's quite an interesting observation. Ofcourse, since i've only read Rock Of Ages from the titles mentioned, i can't really speculate on how effectively Lois has, or not, replaced Clark as Superman's tether to his humanity.

iamza said...

In the first Superman movie (1979?), Lois's death in the earthquake drives Superman to turn back time, just so he can save her. One could argue Superman went a little crazy when he learned of her death, and was willing to try anything to get her back.

Of course, in the movie-verse, bumbling Clark Kent is purely a disguise for Superman. Still, I think that it is Lois who brings a touch of humanity to the (movie) Superman, in that her death makes him act in a purely selfish, and utterly human, fashion.

Jeff R. said...

I think that "Superman loses lois" steps into the 'standard element for future histories' when they finally had the two get married. Before that (I.E. during the entire silver age) the standard development of their relationship that only could be explored in these alternate futures was their marriage. (In the Superman 2020 stories, for example, the original model marries Lois and lives happily domestically after, forced into retirement not by her death but by an artificial age-ray.)

Tom Bondurant said...

Iamza, I had forgotten about the first Reeve movie -- thanks! Of course, in Superman II, Clark and Lois getting together causes Clark to give up his powers, so I guess it goes both ways.

Jeff, I think you're right. In the Silver Age, the big alt-future event would have been a wedding. Now that we've seen them together, breaking them up is the most viable alternative.

To me it points up how Supes' perspective has changed from the Earth-1 days. Then, the Kents were dead and he couldn't confide in Lois. He had more of a Kryptonian support group. Thus, his strongest tie to Earth was Clark Kent.

Now, it's reversed -- he has a big Earthbound support group (including Lois, Lana, and the Kents) and hardly any Kryptonians around. He doesn't need Clark as much because of this. Still, nobody suggests that he'll go insane if he can't save the Kents.

iamza said...

Okay, I know Superman doesn't go insane exactly, but think of Alan Davis's The Nail and its sequel. In the first book, Superman/Kal loses his parents, and in the second, he retreats from the world by remaining constantly on duty. While he's working, Kal is isolated from his feelings of loss, and from humanity in general. And, IIRC, Kal is none too happy when the rest of the JLA gang up and force him to take a break. Possibly a case where losing his parents did result in Superman losing a bit of his humanity?

Tom Bondurant said...

I thought about The Nail too, but as you say it has more to do with the Kents' being gone than it does Lois. The Kents got killed in Kingdom Come and the Seagle storyline as well, but there Lois' death was a more determinative factor.

Part of me thinks there's some kind of Superman-as-eternal-virgin motif at play here. As long as Supes never attaches himself to Lois (i.e., 99% of the Golden and Silver Ages) he doesn't have to worry about sex screwing up his priorities and making him crazy. However, when the '90s come along and he hooks up with Lois, it opens Pandora's box. Finally he has the woman he's always wanted, and can get used to being loved on a regular basis, which I suppose on a primal level means he's also getting used to having regular sex. This implies he's "matured" somehow past a point of "innocence," but given his long period of celibacy it seems also to imply he can't handle the loss of love/sex. Such a theory might also indicate (as does the end of Superman II that Superman can belong either to the world at large or to Lois Lane, but not effectively to both.

I'm not sure I'm smart enough to articulate this any further. However, the presence of sex and/or romantic love would distinguish his feelings for Lois from his feelings towards the Kents.

Really shouldn't post this far after midnight....