In a universe full of superheroes, Lois Lane has fought for truth and justice for over 75 years on page and screen without a cape or tights
The popularity of geek culture has created an expansive market for pop culture microhistories, we’ve seen books about Dungeons and Dragons, the Spiderman Musical, a history of Nickolodeon and heaps more. Now it’s Lois Lane.
Tim Hanely is a definite must-read for anyone who likes comics, especially women, as he has both a passion and a feel for the relevant social issues that revolve around the popular heroes and heroines of graphic-novels and how they relate to gender norms and societal issues of a given time. He describes the rising sexualisation of women in comics in the 2000s.
Female superheroes had always worn smaller outfits than their male counterparts, but at the start of this century, artists emphasised women’s bodies even more. Waists became tiny, breasts became globes, and outfits were drawn as if they were painted on. Over time, this objectified approach to female superheroes became the norm, then spread to all female characters. “Sexy” became the default setting for the entire gender.
Throughout the 1990s, Lois had hardly been a fashion plate. She wore big jackets and sweaters at the Daily Planet and baggy T-shirts at home. Lois was drawn like a normal woman, and comfort and functionality were her only concerns. Then in the 2000s, she started to wear skintight belly shirts and pants so low that her thong underwear was visible.
“Lois stopped waiting around for Superman in her pajamas, instead donning skimpy negligees”.
Lois Lane starts out as a kind of film noir, brassy, good-but-not-too-good-for-you-type dame who is basically flattened against the glass ceiling. She was good for a girl, but not so good that there’s ever any doubt who the “real” hero is. That’s how I remember her.
Lois Lane is an odd character, and I enjoyed seeing how that character developed across time in various media.