That’s because there are few couples as iconic in popular culture. Since the character of Superman first saw print in 1938, he’s been linked with girl reporter Lois Lane. They’re right up there with Tarzan and Jane, or Popeye and Olive Oyl. Unlike Tarzan and Jane, or Popeye and Olive, though, the romance between the Man of Steel and the “plucky newshen” was pretty one-sided. From what we saw back in the Silver Age, the hearts and flowers in their relationship mostly came from Lois.
Though Superman made the occasional romantic gesture, his general attitude toward Lois was nicely typified by this exchange between him, as Clark Kent, and her, from the “Wedding of Superman” episode of television’s Adventures of Superman:
Lois: Clark, do you know this is springtime? Does spring mean anything to you?
Clark: Well . . . baseball.
Lois (exasperated): I thought so! (More hopefully) Do you think spring means anything to Superman?
Clark: I doubt if Superman has any time for baseball right now.
The fact of it, though, meant Lois spent quite a few nights crying herself to sleep over Superman’s unwillingness to return her ardour.
Now, it’s difficult for me to find a lot of sympathy for Lois. The way she most commonly expressed her love for Superman was to spend every waking moment trying to ferret out his most closely guarded secret---the secret of his civilian identity, a secret that, if revealed, would dramatically upend the Man of Steel’s life.
And a secret which, regardless of her intent, Lois had manifestly shown she was unable to keep.
Nor was secret-identity snooping the only purpose behind Lois’ underhanded scheming. If she couldn’t get Superman to the altar by heart, then by hook was just fine with her.
Nevertheless, there were those who felt that the nosey newshen was the perfect match for Superman, even if he didn’t realise it himself. Particularly, three super-cupids who took it upon themselves to give the Man of Steel a shove into holy matrimony with Lois.
“Lois Lane’s Secret Romance”, Lois Lane # 14 (January, 1960)
While covering the Miss Metropolis pageant, Lois is stung by the attention Superman pays to the contestants, while barely tossing a “Hello, Miss Lane,” her way. So, she goes home and has a good cry over it.
Her jag is observed by Linda Lee, secretly Supergirl, with her super-senses. She is posing as an Earth youngster at Midvale Orphanage until she completes her cousin Superman’s training to become a super-heroine. And while super she may be, emotionally, Linda is like every other early teen-age girl. She relates Lois’ longing to her own. Linda’s role as Superman’s secret emergency weapon requires her to remain unadopted; yet, she desires the love and affection of foster-parents.
Suddenly, the light bulb illuminates in her noggin! If her cousin Superman married Lois Lane, then they could adopt her.
There’s no real rationale for that. It’s typical adolescent wish-fulfillment, like “I’ll move to California and get discovered and become a famous actress”, or “I was adopted and my real parents are millionaires and someday they’re going to show up and take me back.” You know, the kind of teen-age leaps of fantasy to which even a fifteen-year-old Supergirl isn’t immune.
However, when you’re a Supergirl, you believe even more strongly that you can make it happen, which is just what Linda sets out to do. Changing to her super-self, the Girl of Steel embarks on her mission to get new parents by having Superman and Lois marry.
As you might expect, her stratagems are straight out of Girls’ Love Stories, such as the idea she gets when she spies her cousin, back in his guise of Clark Kent, driving down a rural highway for an out-of-town assignment for The Daily Planet.
At super-speed, Supergirl paints Lois’ portrait on each billboard Kent passes. (Evidently, Midvale Orphanage has a top-notch art course.). Her scheme is to make Clark believe that he’s preöccupied with Lois because he’s in love with her. And, by golly, that’s just what Clark figures. (That Barbara Miles knows everything!) As Superman, he telephones Lois and arranges a date. They’ll borrow Perry White’s luxury schooner for a moonlight dinner at sea.
At the appointed hour, Superman arrives, and Lois is dressed to take his breath away. While the couple exchange pleasantries, Supergirl slips into the galley and rescues Lois’ failing dinner, whipping it into something that Escoffier would envy. (Looks like the orphans’ home has one heck of a home-ec class, too.)
The resourceful Girl of Steel also causes the schooner’s power to fail, requiring Superman and Lois to dine by romantic candlelight.
Soft lights, the whiff of French perfume, and a good mid-rare steak do their work. Superman’s small talk starts to get intimate---when suddenly he whisks off to handle an emergency he’s just spotted with his telescopic vision.
When the Man of Steel returns, he finds Lois in a snit over the mood being spoilt by his abrupt departure. There they were, having a wonderful, romantic dinner, but then he had to go and ruin it all by rushing off to save someone’s life.
Trying to thaw out the situation, Superman invites Lois out on deck to look at the full moon. In the night sky overhead, Supergirl attempts to bring the couple a little closer by using her super-breath to nudge Lois into Superman’s shoulder. But still inexperienced at using her super-powers, the Girl of Steel blows too hard and, instead, “nudges” her hoped-for foster-mother over the side!
Superman fishes Lois out of the drink, and now it’s his turn to have second thoughts about the evening. “Your accident made me realize that if I married you,” he tells her, “I’d spend the rest of my life rescuing you from one peril after another!”
The next day, Superman shows up at Lois’ apartment to apologise again for leaving in the middle of their date to do his job. During the Metropolis Marvel’s visit, the doorbell rings and a delivery boy hands Lois a dozen roses---sent by the Batman!
While Lois swoons, Superman examines the note on the card---“Superman has neglected you for years, Lois. Have I a chance? Love, Batman”. It’s in his bat-buddy’s handwriting, alright. And when Lois insists that it’s not one of her sneaky tricks, the Man of Steel’s super-senses determine that she isn’t lying.
And that’s because she isn’t. The flowers are part of Supergirl’s Plan “B”: to make Superman jealous. The capper was forging the Batman’s handwriting to write the sentiment on the card.
Minutes later, Lois receives another delivery “from” the Caped Crusader: a Batwoman costume. Lois models the costume, hoping to turn Superman’s eyes green with jealousy. But, instead, Our Hero gallantly declares that he won’t stand in the way of his best pal.
“I was going to propose,” he confides, “but all I can say now is . . . good-bye.”
Then he flies off, leaving Lois, and an eavesdropping Supergirl, miserable.
But the Girl of Steel’s bag of matrimonial tricks is not yet empty. In the wee hours, at Clark Kent’s apartment, while he slumbers, Supergirl uses her super-hypnotism to compel her cousin to propose when he awakens in the morning.
However, once again she’s careless in her use of a super-power. At daybreak, Superman proposes alright--- to every female he encounters! Supergirl realises that she failed to specify “propose to Lois” in her post-hypnotic command.
Well, you know something like that is going to make the news, so when Superman finally gets to Lois’ apartment and pops the question, she won’t be made a fool. She angrily tosses him out on his ear.
Witnessing yet another ploy backfire, Supergirl gives up and returns to her Linda Lee identity. A little later, Clark Kent visits her at the orphanage. When they can talk privately, Clark divulges that she tipped her matchmaking hand when she sent the Batwoman costume to Lois. He could tell it wasn’t genuine because Batwoman doesn’t wear a bat-insignia on her cloak.
That alerted Superman’s suspicions. When he examined the card, his microscopic vision detected Supergirl’s fingerprints on it. The Man of Steel decided to teach her a lesson by pretending to be asleep during her attempt to super-hypnotise him, then going on that proposing binge. He covered up his bizarre actions by palming it off as a publicity stunt for charity, promoting the movie King Solomon’s 1,000 Wives.
Caught red-handed, Linda swears to never interfere with her cousin’s lovelife, again. However, as Super-fans would find out two years later, she had her fingers crossed when she promised that.
Perhaps being a female herself, Supergirl overlooked what a high-maintenance gal Lois Lane is. To get put out over Superman leaving their date to save a man’s life pushes the bar, even for Lois. She displayed no compassion or respect for the Man of Steel or his tremendous burden of duty.
Her nature hasn’t improved by the next time someone tries to play Cupid on her behalf.
“The Mermaid from Atlantis”, Superman # 138 (July, 1960)
Editor Perry White assigns Clark Kent and Lois Lane to take underwater photographs for the Planet’s Sunday supplement. They will board a steamship and be lowered in a bathysphere. Clark puts some polish on his timid pose by expressing worry over going beneath the waves. As usual, Lois can’t pass up the chance to belittle his manhood.
In the underwater city of Atlantis, Lori Lemaris has chosen that moment to catch up on how her old boyfriend, Superman, is getting along. She finds his “secret identity” dance with Lois silly and decides that the Man of Steel would find life easier, and happier, if he just married Lois. Disregarding her husband Ronal’s warning not to mess in Superman’s life, the matchmaking mermaid goes ahead with her scheme to manipulate the Man of Steel into marrying Lois.
Now, Supergirl was motivated by a teen-ager’s flight of fancy: that once married, Superman and Lois would adopt her and she’d have loving parents, again. But Lori’s rationale is straight out of every domestic sitcom going back to Mary Kay and Johnny. You know, the inevitable episode in which the happily married housewife decrees that the happily unmarried male friend or relative is actually miserable; he just doesn’t know it. It then becomes said housewife’s bounden duty to find him a wife by the end of the thirty minutes.
“I’m pulling every trick I can to get him to propose to Lois!” determines the Cupid-playing mermaid.
Lori makes her first move at dawn the next morning when, at sea, Lois talks the ship’s crew into sending her down in the bathysphere alone, while Clark Kent is still asleep. “He who slumbers gets scooped!” she says off-handedly.
When the diving bubble is well submerged, Lori telepathically orders a monstrous sea-creature to envelop the sphere and scare the bejesus out of Lois. The “intrepid” lady reporter faints at the sight of it.
Then, the enchanting mermaid beams a mental alert of Lois’ peril to Clark’s brain, which he writes off to “super-instinct”. Changing to Superman, he plunges into the ocean and scares off the sea-monster. The bathysphere is raised, and Lois revives.
Lori implants in Superman’s mind a mental suggestion to kiss Lois, and he does so---right on the forehead, the way any good brother would do to his rescued sister. In response, Lois blows her cork over the Man of Steel’s tepid display of affection. While Lois flees to her stateroom to have a good cry, Lori realizes that, oops, she should have been a tad more specific in her mental command.
The next day, Lori comes across a man adrift in a life raft. The handsome young fellow is half-starved and delirious. Despite those obvious drawbacks, she decides that he’s just the guy to turn Lois’ head and make Superman jealous enough to propose.
The matchmaking mermaid pushes the life raft within range of the steamship, and the man is rescued. It turns out that the unfortunate castaway has amnesia to boot. He can’t recall a thing about who he is or where he comes from. Lori’s plan seems to take root, though, as the lady reporter becomes smitten with the good-looking stranger. And since nothing propinks like propinquity, he falls in love with Lois.
Ultimately, the ex-castaway asks Lois to marry him. Lori telepathically observes Clark Kent secretly witnessing the proposal, and she gleefully applauds her handiwork when she sees him become Superman and swiftly take off. To pick up some flowers and candy before he pops the question to Lois himself, no doubt.
Instead, the Caped Kryptonian returns with a distinguished-looking man in royal finery. They interrupt Lois before she can declare her response to the stranger’s proposal. The distinguished-looked man is the prime minister of the kingdom of Varonia, and he knows who the amnesiac castaway is: Prince Gregory of Varonia!
And the prince cannot marry Lois. He’s already pledged to wed a princess of the neighbouring country of Elmar. Should Gregory renege, it would cause a war between the two nations. Ruefully, Prince Gregory chooses duty over Lois, and Superman returns him and the prime minister to Varonia.
In the seas below, Lori is just as disappointed as Lois. In her giddiness, she failed to read Superman’s mind completely. She knows now that he was never jealous; he’d simply recognised Prince Gregory and acted to return him to his kingdom before Lois could make a terrible mistake.
I guess Atlantean romance magazines offer the same advice to the lovelorn as the surface ones do, because after the standard trick of making him jealous fails, Lori goes with the gambit of making Superman see Lois everywhere he looks. Hey, it got him to make a date with Lois when Supergirl tried it!
While Superman is patrolling the depths beneath the steamer, he begins to see Lois’ face on every fish that swims by. But when he swims within arm’s reach of the creatures, they look completely normal. The Lois faces vanish! The Man of Steel shakes his head in bafflement.
“Either I’m going stark crazy . . . or I’m falling in love with a certain Daily Planet girl reporter!”
Actually, it’s neither. The answer is the life-like plastic masks of Lois, fashioned by an Atlantean scientist, that Lori placed over the heads of the fish for Superman to see. Then, when he moved in close, she dissolved the masks with a remote-control device.
But Superman has been down this path before, and it led to a date with Lois Lane that didn’t work out so great. So, Our Hero decides to leave well enough alone---much to Lori’s chagrin, when she reads his mind.
In desperation, the mermaid from Atlantis pulls out all the stops on her next effort.
After Superman returns to the ship and resumes his Clark Kent identity, Lori orders a pod of whales to surface near the vessel and jar it from its anchorage. The tremendous impact pitches Kent over the side---and right into the gaping mouth of one of the whales. The gaping maw slams shut with a clomp!
“If Clark escapes from the whale now, it will prove he is Superman!” figures Lori. “Then he’ll have to marry Lois, so she will keep the secret of his identity!”
And this time her sneaky trick seems to work. Lois sees the whale’s mouth suddenly fly open and Clark disgorged into the water. Aha, cries the triumphant newhen, figuring only Superman would have the strength to force open a whale’s jaws.
But even as Lois is getting ready to radio Perry White to stop the presses, the super-hero Aquaman surfaces near the ship. He explains how a passing Superman spotted Clark’s danger, and the Sea King used his power to command sea creatures to order the whale to release Kent.
Thwarted again, Lois gives up in frustration. A few fathoms below, so does Lori. A little while later, Superman locates his former girl friend and has a few words with her.
He tells Lori, first, he caught on to her little matchmaking scheme when his super-vision spotted the dissolving Lois masks on the fish. Second, he deliberately fell into the whale’s mouth and arranged his “rescue” by Aquaman to teach her a lesson.
Third: “In the future, allow me to pick out my own wife!”
In the fade-out, back on board ship, Clark reflects how, first, Supergirl, then Lori, tried to marry him off to Lois Lane. He bemusedly wonders who’s going to try next---Krypto the super-dog? A nice bit of sarcastic humour to close out the story, the readers probably thought.
If so, they didn’t know Mort Weisinger.
“Lois Lane’s Secret Helper”, Superman # 142 (January, 1961)
That’s right, folks. After having a supergirl and a mermaid fail in the matchmaking department, Unca Mort thought it would be fun to see a dog take a shot at playing cupid.
It begins one evening when Krypto, returning from a romp in space, encounters Supergirl flying over Metropolis, secretly patrolling the city while Superman is occupied elsewhere. As the super-duo pass by the building where Lois and Lucy Lane reside, their super-hearing picks up sobbing from the Lane apartment. Taking a peek, they see Lois yet again crying her eyes out over Superman’s lack of interest in marrying her.
Supergirl explains to Krypto how she, and then, Lori tried to persuade Superman to marry Lois, and how they both bombed. The idea, though, gives Krypto something to think about. He imagines a nice comfortable life as the house pet of Superman and Lois, curled up in front of the fireplace with the occasional dinosaur bone. Even if they later have an annoying brat of a kid, that still seems like a pretty good deal to him.
Through gestures and barks, the Hound of Steel reveals that he’s going to take a stab at getting his master and Lois together. Supergirl laughs at the notion. He’s only a dog! He has no understanding of the concept of human romance and love.
Krypto admits that she has a point. After all, he can’t just have Superman and Lois sniff each other’s butts. So he decides to do a little research into the matter. He flies across the world, looking for examples of how human beings fall in love.
In Venice, he spots a couple enjoying a moonlight ride along the city’s canals, while the gondolier sings a romantic song. The serenade lures the man into proposing to his lady. That’s the super-dog’s first hint of how human courting works.
The next evening, Superman takes Lois to the park so she can take notes on a news story he has for her. Observing the two of them on a park bench, Krypto sees a perfect opportunity for a serenade to work its magic. With some birdseed, he lures some songbirds to the trees near-by the bench where they chirp sweetly. And, damn, if it doesn’t work! Superman edges closer to Lois and starts hemming and hawing about their relationship.
But before the Man of Steel can say anything of a committal nature, a clowder of stray cats, drawn by the chirping, swarm in. Seeking their feathered entrées, they begin yowling loudly. The feline screeching breaks the mood and drives Superman off. His plan spoilt, Krypto angrily chases the cats into a near-by pond.
Once again, the Dog of Steel takes to the air for lessons in human courtship. He spies a man and a woman, survivors of a shipwreck, about to be rescued by a passing ship. He overhears them speak of how their isolation together made them realise how much they love each other. Aha, thinks Krypto, all he has to do is get his master and Lois alone together for an extended time.
The next week-end, both Clark Kent and Lois Lane are guests of Perry White at his seashore cabin. Clark and Lois borrow White’s motor cruiser for a run on the water, which gives Krypto the perfect opportunity to put his next idea in action.
Plunging underwater, the super-dog wags his tail at super-speed, creating a young tidal wave which swamps the motor cruiser and washes it and its passengers onto a deserted island. Kent inadvertently aids Krypto’s scheme by pretending clumsiness and letting the launch drift back out to sea.
Lois, of course, responds with her usual compassion: “Some girls get shipwrecked with a he-man! I get marooned with a sissy!”
Knowing that, as Clark Kent, his master will pretend to be hapless and weak, Krypto conspires to make him look good, despite himself.
When Lois gets hungry, the super-dog secretly pushes a rock down a hill; the stone then hits a palm tree with such force that cocoanuts drop from its stems. Lois assumes that Clark did it and applauds his cleverness.
Kent figures the rock was just loose and chanced to roll downhill, but Lois is impressed enough to invite him to sit a little closer to her. The friendly overture goes right over Clark’s head.
Once again, the Hound of Steel takes a hand . . . er . . . paw. He slams into the cliff face on the other side of the island, making the entire isle shudder violently. Back on the beach, Lois mistakes it for an earthquake and leaps into Clark’s arms.
Unfortunately, the quake Krypto caused causes the ground to crack open beneath their feet, exposing the rays of a green-kryptonite meteor buried there when it landed on Earth. The incapacitating radiation makes Kent pass out.
Instead of worrying if Clark is hurt, Lois assumes he fainted from fear of the earthquake and, true to form, remarks, “Bah! You’re still a sissy!”
The ground shifts again, and the minor fissure closes, reviving Kent. But the damage to his image is done, as a rescue helicopter arrives, giving Krypto no chance to make Clark look like a manly man, again.
It’s back to the drawing board for the super-dog, as he once more scours the world for other examples of how men and women fall in love. In a European country, he sees a man gain the courage to propose to his girl friend when he sees another man also popping the question to his own loved one. From that, Krypto concludes that human love is contagious.
Fate plays into the Kryptonian canine’s next plan when Lois Lane temporarily adopts a cocker spaniel left at The Daily Planet’s lost-and-found office. She names the dog “Beauty” and, when he passes by on patrol, Superman builds a doghouse for Beauty.
Krypto locates and digs up a tower of bones and brings them to Beauty, making a big show of being smitten with the friendly cocker spaniel. As Beauty licks Krypto’s face adoringly, Superman appears to catch the love bug and he takes Lois in his arms.
But before the Metropolis Marvel can say anything more than um . . . and er . . . , a pack of hounds burst free of a passing dog-catcher’s wagon, drawn by the mountain of bones Krypto collected. The pooches swarm over Superman and Lois in a beeline for the bone bounty.
It shouldn’t happen to a dog . . . but it does, as Krypto sees another stratagem foiled. Again, the romantic spell is broken. After Superman recovers all of the animals at super-speed and turns them all, including Beauty, over to the dog-catcher, he tells Lois to forget about his “weak moment”.
Our Hero flies off, leaving Lois in a red-hot burn---“Oh, he’s a super-skunk!” Krypto’s snout is bent out of joint too, and he decides to teach his master a lesson---by becoming Lois Lane’s dog.
The next day, Superman spots Lois taking Krypto for a walk in the park. The Hound of Steel has traded his crimson cape for a dog sweater and a leash. “He’s my dog now!” sniffs the lady reporter.
Before Superman can respond, a police officer approaches and asks which of them owns the dog. He’s my dog, Lois insists loudly. Krypto even growls at Superman to back up his new mistress’ claim.
That’s good enough for the officer, who writes Lois a citation with a stiff fine---for not having a licence for her dog.
Unlike the matchmaking efforts by Supergirl and Lori the Mermaid, this situation doesn’t end with Superman revealing that he had caught on to Krypto’s plotting. However, with that wink he gives the reader in the last panel, one can’t help but think that one, or maybe more, of the occurrences which fouled Krypto’s tricks were arranged by the Man of Steel.
So why didn’t Superman marry Lois? Well, the external reason is, of course, publishorial fiat---there was no way DC was going to remove the Superman-Lois Lane-Clark Kent dynamic. Heck, two-thirds of the stories in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane were based on it, either in Lois’ efforts to find out Superman’s secret identity or get him to the altar.
But within the conceit of the Superman mythos, why didn’t Our Hero take the plunge with Lois? I’d conject it was because he was smart enough to know that love doesn’t conquer all. Lois was a handful, with her deceit, manipulation, and winner-take-all attitude; that was just too much to put up with after a hard day of super-heroing. No matter how much he loved her, or she, him, her personality was a liability.
Apparently, Supergirl came to realise that, too, when she tried to matchmake her cousin again, in “Superman’s Super Courtship”, from Action Comics # 289 (Jun., 1962). When she sets out once more to find a mate for Superman (against the instruction of her adoptive father and mother, the Danvers, by the way; one of the few times we ever saw them take a true parental role), she never considers Lois Lane, except for a passing mention that Superman will never marry her.
That’s probably because, by this time, the Man of Steel had impressed upon his young cousin what a shrew Lois was.
All those times that we saw Lois weeping in her pillow over Superman not asking her to marry him, she had no-one but herself to blame.
Wow, that's one deranged-looking picture of Linda Lee!
Perry White has a seaside cabin and a yacht? The Daily Planet pays pretty well, indeed!
I'm surprised that Jimmy didn't take a stab at it! If Superman married Lois, then maybe Lucy might want to get married too!
Also Wayne Boring always drew Lori prettier than Lois!
Lois and Superman really shouldn't allow their kid to torment the dog.
Amusingly, a couple of stories established Lois saw her identity-snooping as much superior to Vicky Vale's – Lois just wanted to prove herself to Superman, Vicky would report Batman's identity in a story!
One Astro City story from about 15 years ago was built around the premise that Superman finally gets fed up with Lois pushing him and leaves Earth forever.