At the end of one of my comments in the Secret Identities thread, I posted, "I never understood why they made CK into a crusading hero in his reporter guise. That just seems so wrong. But then, so does marrying Lois, and they did that, too."

 

To which Lee Houston Junior replied: 

Mister SA:

I was going to comment on the subject of secret identities until I read the last line of your comment.

Are you saying it was a mistake for Clark to marry Lois? If you are talking the Silver Age versions of the characters, then yes, I do agree with you. But if you are referring to the golden or present age versions, then I most humbly have to disagree.

The Golden Age Lois had a lot going for her, even if society was not quite prepared to deal with an independent woman. As portrayed up until the end of World War 2 (thankfully, I have seen a few reprints, so I can at least comment on the subject), Lois was a more than capable reporter in her own right. If she wasn't, then that era's Miss Lane would never have gotten out of the clerical pool at the Daily Star/Planet. Their marriage in the 40th anniversary issue of Action Comics was a milestone within the Superman mythos and lasted until the destruction of Earth 2 at the end of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.

As for the Silver Age Lois, I have absolutely no idea what the powers that were at DC then were thinking. If it wasn't for Superman's last second rescues (and granted, there were times when she needed rescuing because of the Kryptonian), Lois would have never made it out of the 1960s alive. If they did ever get married and it wasn't a hoax or an imaginary tale, then they quickly would have gotten a divorce within a couple of years.

But thankfully she did survive, because the Lois of today not only harkens back to the confident female reporter of the Golden Age, but has blossomed and matured into the lady that the character is today, and has truly not only earned her reporter's status at the Daily Planet, but her role in the Superman family today.

Unfortunately, it's only been within the last couple of decades (reading wise) that the character has had any serious creative developmental work. I just hope that someday, some future power that be doesn't want to take Lois back to her Silver Age roots in their version of "One More Day/Brand New Day". 

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To which I replied: 

Yeah, we disagree. I feel the same way about Superman and Spider-Man marrying. A large part of their iconic story is their relationship problems. When those are resolved, the story is over.

The absolute greatest thing to me about Superman is the Clark-Supes-Lois triangle. That Lois can't see past the glasses and demeanor to realize that her Superman is standing right next to her is a key ingredient. That every shlub can think that there is a Superman inside them that nobody sees because they don't look closely enough is what resonates for me about the character.

When Lois DOES see past the milquetoast exterior and realize the inner man is truly super, then she marries him. Which she did. End of story. It's like taking all those "They lived happily ever after" endings and continuing to tell the story for 25 more years. It can be done, but meh. My interest is gone. Then he's just the most powerful person in the world living the perfect life with his dream companion, punching strong aliens and winning the day, every day, day after day. Yawn.

Those are really the only two that strike me that way. Flash, Aquaman, Hawkman, Daredevil, Mr. Fantastic, even Iron Man or Green Lantern could all be married and they'd still be interesting. But that's not the case for me with Superman and Spider-Man. Their story is about being accepted and winning the girl of their dreams.

SA Lois stories were written for 8- to 12-year-old boys, who had about the same relationship with girls that Superman did. They were pests, they got in the way, they were what you saved from monsters.It worked well enough that she had her own comic for 100+ issues. I don't see that kind of interest in Lois in either the GA or today.

Today Superman comics are read primarily by adults. But whenever there's an animated version, we get the Clark-Supes-Lois triangle. That's what kids relate to most of all, I think. Well, that and the punching aliens.

-- MSA

 

To which Lee replied:

Okay Mr. SA, I can see your point, to a point.

But I personally feel that after a certain amount of time (allowing for a publisher's release schedule, character time versus real time, etc.) that such stories need to grow.

Married life has not hurt any of the Flashes. Like Sue to Reed, at times the Mrs. has been a help mate/confidante, etc; to their respective Flash. I thought Ralph and Sue Dibny had a wonderful relationship untilIdentity Crisis.

Life does change and evolve. I think that as I grow older, I just want to see some of my childhood friends do so too, to an extent. I loved the fact that Peter Parker finally married Mary Jane Watson, and before anyone comments on that, Gwen Stacy was before my comic book starting point, so I only know her from back issues and reprints.

Granted, I dropped all of the Spider-man titles when the "Return of the Clone/Scarlett Spider" mess started, and Marvel tried to tell me that the hero I had been reading about since Amazing #180 was a fake. But "Civil War, One More/Brand New Day" ruined any chance of me ever considering picking up those books ever again.

Some characters probably do need to stay single. I can definitely see Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne as eternal bachelors; except for maybe Selina Kyle in Batman's case.

But while it's never stopped us before, we are starting to get off on a serious tangent here.

Would you like to exercise whatever (super) powers you have on this board and split these last couple of posts off onto a new thread so we can continue this discussion? Or would you, Phillip, and company like to continue the discussion here because after all, part of being a hero's mate does involve knowing their secret identities.

 

To which I now reply:

Married life has not hurt any of the Flashes. Like Sue to Reed, at times the Mrs. has been a help mate/confidante, etc; to their respective Flash. I thought Ralph and Sue Dibny had a wonderful relationship untilIdentity Crisis.

I agree, but their relationships were not at the core of their story to such a degree for me. Married life does hurt Superman and Spider-Man, IMO. Flash's story certainly changed, but it still worked. Ralph and Sue, like Katar and Shayera, came to us as a couple, so any of that earlier part of the story was not part of our vision of them.

I would disagree on Batman, at least, I think. It may be good for their cover if they never marry, but I don't see it changing the character so much. Bruce Wayne marrying Selina Kyle might make it harder to justify why he goes out every night looking for murderous thugs, but I don't see that it changes him radically. 

Of course, it depends on which Batman we mean. The one I know doesn't change his mission because he's a little happier personally. For all I know, the notion that someone would want to marry the current Batman may be a hilarious idea.

I think that as I grow older, I just want to see some of my childhood friends do so too, to an extent.

No offense, but I think that's a pretty selfish way of looking at it. I don't want to read about the Hardy Boys as police detectives solving rapes and murders. I don't want to read about Little Lulu all grown up. I don't want to rob later generations of the enjoyment I had so I can drag these guys out of the setting that made them interesting just to try to keep them interesting to me.

It's a real problem with serial adventures that go on forever. Everything is the second act, and that one is always the least interesting. But when they move to the third act, they probably leave behind people who aren't as interested, and they never attract the new audience that doesn't want to come in at the end.

I think the answer is for us older readers to find new heroes to read, not to demand that Peter Parker and Clark Kent get married, settle down, have families, get divorced and follow our own life paths alongside us. I think it's sad when the creators either don't understand that or think it'll work out. It's really hard to go back once you get into the third act, as One More Day has shown for a lot of people.

Once they mess with the core concepts of iconic characters who have been around for a long time, they're messing with something bigger than yourself.

-- MSA

 

Every so often my pal Mr. Age comes up with something so profoundly right that I can't add anything to what he said, so I'll just quote him:

 

I think the answer is for us older readers to find new heroes to read, not to demand that Peter Parker and Clark Kent get married, settle down, have families, get divorced and follow our own life paths alongside us. I think it's sad when the creators either don't understand that or think it'll work out.

I agree up to a point: there's more to a series than its central character, and resolving its storylines might leave it without much of its interest. However, they might be replaced by new interesting storylines.

 

I think the negative reaction to Peter's de-marriage shows the ongoing storylines of a series matter to long-term readers. But the interest of long-term readers may not be retained by the character's original "story" forever. Take the example of the Hulk: I like the strong-but-dumb version, but it's plausible that Peter David's versions were what the market of the late 80s/90s wanted. Likewise, the Superman/Clark/Lois triangle version of Superman may have deeper appeal for more people than the married Superman/Lois, but it doesn't follow the former would have more appeal in the current market.

 

Moreover, the triangle may have been part of the original version of the character, but it doesn't follow that without that element the character has no appeal, or can have no appeal. It's not the case that all good Superman stories from before Crisis turned on the Clark/Lois/Superman triangle. In Superman's Golden Age tales Lois was virtually Superman's sidekick; that element receded from the stories in the 60s-80s, but their marriage has restored it. I don't buy that marriage can't be interesting in fiction, and I do find "stories about the married Superman" an interesting concept in principle.

...I think one problem with seeing the SA Superman as the " true " Superman , as you , I think , are kind of doing in bemoaning his marraige , is that , as I and Lee have historically pointed out:

Mort's re-working of the Superman mythos was itself a change from the Golden/Atomic Age version , which arguably sold more still than the SA version did .

  A must-be-endlessly-rescued-from-her-styupidity Lois was getting old by the end of the 70s and the cancellation of her strip - Argably , the marrying off of Kal-L and Lois was itself an attempt to allow a little " test " forward movement - while not interfering with , yes , leaving them single in the then-imminent Reeve movies .

  Frankly , Superman , of all super-heroes ever I suppose , has been the one who has been most tied down by " But what about the media version ? " !

  Now , granted , if you find post-marriage stories uninteresting , that's your opinion . Maybe the marriage IS the reason .

  However , I don't know that it follows taht A Whole New Generation of lil' 'uns would enjoy Superman who aren't enjoying him now if only the equation was changed to make him single .

  And , yes , I guess we essentially agree?? that such " turning back to the second act " concepts as One More/Brand New , or whatever a similar Super-version might be called , are , as you said about Archie's strictly Elseworlds attempt in the same direction - " train wrecks " .

 I feel the same way about Superman and Spider-Man marrying.

 

I think you've just found the plot of the next DC/Marvel cross-over!

Nonsense! Everyone knows Batman and the Hulk are the real deal!

The Baron said:

 I feel the same way about Superman and Spider-Man marrying.

 

I think you've just found the plot of the next DC/Marvel cross-over!

Not to be ganging up on our friend Lee Houston, Junior (and let me give you a hearty "Welcome! We're glad you're here!"), as I do sympathize somewhat with your position, but I agree more with Mr. Silver Age.

 

I think it's an interesting wrinkle to posit that Superman/Lois Lane wedding is a different thing when you're talking about the Golden Age versus the Silver Age versus today's, and I agree that your assessments of each are spot-on.

 

But I think Mr. Silver Age is right:  

The absolute greatest thing to me about Superman is the Clark-Supes-Lois triangle. That Lois can't see past the glasses and demeanor to realize that her Superman is standing right next to her is a key ingredient. That every shlub can think that there is a Superman inside them that nobody sees because they don't look closely enough is what resonates for me about the character.

There are pages and pages of stuff about this in the ever-wonderful Superman edition of Michael Fleischer's Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes (published in the '70s as The Great Superman Book, recently reissued).

 

On the other hand, I don't agree that "taking all those 'They lived happily ever after' endings and continuing to tell the story for 25 more years" automatically and necessarily makes for uninteresting fare. But I do think there's still mileage in the Clark-Superman-Lois triangle; that story vein isn't tapped out.

 

As for this:

I think the answer is for us older readers to find new heroes to read, not to demand that Peter Parker and Clark Kent get married, settle down, have families, get divorced and follow our own life paths alongside us.

 

... I mostly agree. I think it makes sense and works for some characters to grow and change, but not all. For others, I'm perfectly fine with the illusion of change, because sometimes, the characters are taken down roads that lead to ruin (I'm particularly thinking of Bat-Psycho through most of the '90s and '00s). I never thought Peter Parker getting married was a good idea, because, to me, he should always be the lovable loser -- and I say this having lost interest in him scrounging for money from J. Jonah Jameson and always on the run. It made better sense for me to leave him behind than to expect him to travel along with me into adulthood.

ED said: I think one problem with seeing the SA Superman as the "true" Superman, as you, I think, are kind of doing in bemoaning his marraige, is that, as I and Lee have historically pointed out: Mort's re-working of the Superman mythos was itself a change from the Golden/Atomic Age version, which arguably sold more still than the SA version did.

I won't deny that a guy who allows himself to be called Mr. Silver Age likes the SA version of Superman best or thinks that the character works best when written for kids. But I'm not saying that version, with all his relationships and gimmicks and such, is the only way he can be done or the "true" one. I don't have to go that far. 

I'm saying that, at the core of Superman as an iconic character is his relationship with Lois and the fact that he hides how great he is under a superficial disguise. His powers have changed from the GA and he added all kinds of plot-starters in the SA. But only when the comics audience become primarily adults and DC got little dollar signs in its eyes in the 1990s did they lose sight of what really made him interesting and try to "relate" him better to the grown-up audience.

Superman and Spider-Man have the best developed supporting casts for their "civilian" guises of any super-heroes ever. Their stories are about those relationships over everything else. Their marriages went a long way toward resolving those relationships. That makes them way less interesting.

Argably , the marrying off of Kal-L and Lois was itself an attempt to allow a little " test " forward movement - while not interfering with , yes , leaving them single in the then-imminent Reeve movies .

The problem is that you can't "test" this stuff and put that toothpaste back in the tube. Especially not with Lois Lane. You might get rid of Mary Jane, which would certainly be in keeping with Spidey's doomed-relationship persona. But I think that ship sailed a long time ago if it were going to happen. So they took an awkward, ill-conceived way to get back to the second act.

The licensing is a bit of a problem, assuming DC wants to capitalize on the movie publicity. Because nobody ever is going to license a married Superman, and that's the one movie-goers will find if they go to the bookstore--and don't buy an SP collection. DC licenses the version that is great, and they sell comic-book readers a watered-down version.

Now , granted , if you find post-marriage stories uninteresting , that's your opinion . Maybe the marriage IS the reason

Oh yeah, it is a big part of the reason, no question. There's no real story left to tell. I understand all the outrage over undoing the Peter-MJ marriage, because there are probably a lot of readers who don't know any other Spider-Man. He's a decent hero with a few problems married to a nice woman. That's the guy they know.

You know what happens to those guys? They're the Elongated Man, Hawkman and Aquaman. They're Bo-Ring. They disappear, and nobody misses them.

Or they become The Flash, who gets married and changes his relationships, and his third act plays out for awhile, then he gets boring, so they kill/eliminate his wife, and then they kill him (because that "widower" thing is a lot of baggage) so they can bring in a new guy to replay the second act (because his own first act also played out in the SA), and they let the first guy lie fallow for awhile, and then they bring him back to replay a new second act.

Those aren't going to happen with Superman or Spider-Man. But Spider-Man used to be the flagship comic at Marvel, and that's not true any more. He wasn't interesting enough. 

BTW, what ever happened with Wally West's marriage and kids? I kind of lost track of him along the way somewhere, and I don't know if they still exist. 

I don't know that it follows that A Whole New Generation of lil' 'uns would enjoy Superman who aren't enjoying him now if only the equation was changed to make him single .

I don't think just making him single would make him wildly popular with kids all by itself. But more enjoyable? Yeah, I think that would be true. I think if he were single and frustrated that Lois was so dense and his stories didn't involve reading six different titles for 10 months at a time to find anything reasonably considered to be a conclusion, he'd have better circulation. Just saying.

"turning back to the second act"...might be called..."train wrecks."

It really can't be done for the characters we care most about. You can't undo the marriage of Superman or Spider-Man, you can only hope, if you do it, that readers forget about it quickly. 

I will not be surprised if they someday decide to reboot Superman yet again, which is the only thing they can do. There's only so long they can sustain his third act. Older readers will get tired of the never-ending battle, and new readers won't be much interested in a nigh-omnipotent guy who disguises himself as a world-reknown journalist married to a sexy world-famous journalist spitfire. I'm getting bored just writing it.

Then CK said: On the other hand, I don't agree that "taking all those 'They lived happily ever after' endings and continuing to tell the story for 25 more years" automatically and necessarily makes for uninteresting fare.

I think the best Spider-Man book, by far, of the past 25 years has been Spider-Girl. It allowed Peter to marry MJ and keep on going--having a baby who grew up to have powers and go to high school and start the cycle all over again. But now, instead of Aunt May in the house, it's Peter and MJ, and they know a little about sneaking out of the house and battling villains, etc. Peter couldn't fight but wanted to, May made all kinds of mistakes and seldom listened to Dad's good advice, etc. 

But that comic is telling May's first act. Peter's third act ended back when he got married and had a kid, and now he's a supporting character. But nobody told Marvel that, they still think this supporting character can support eight books a month. They only reason they could just "undo" the marriage is that they had little to lose--Spidey wasn't on the radar any more for the most part.

But I do think there's still mileage in the Clark-Superman-Lois triangle; that story vein isn't tapped out.

I don't see it, because there's no suspense when there's no friction among the three points. There can be marital discord, but I don't see them rocking the boat that much. The problem is that Superman used to be the greatest super-hero with one of the greatest origins in history (along with Batman and, what a surprise, Spider-Man). Now, he's just another super-hero with villain problems.

-- MSA

Yeah, where IS Wally? He's not even in  Justice League, replaced by Jesse Quick for some reason and despite her revamp as Liberty Belle II.

With Marvel wanting to keep Spider-Man/Peter Parker relatively young, marriage is not the direction they want to go. I feel the same mistake was made with Scott Summers and Jean Grey. It alters the characters and their dynamics. Especially with the unwritten rule of the Silver Age that the first woman that you're seen with is the one you're stuck with forever linked to romantically. Even when they tried to change (Green Lantern, Daredevil), they always go back to their first!

Superman, however, was unwilling, unresponsive and even incapable of making the commitment that the Flash, Aquaman, Hawkman and the Elongated Man made. There has been some heated debate if the Silver Age Man of Steel actually loved the Silver Age Lois Lane. And she did not help her cause with her antics. We saw far more positive reactions with the Golden Age Lois who had spunk, courage and was a major cutie. My feeling is that the Bronze Age Lois was a better match for Superman. She was caring, resourceful and got rid of that unflattering hairstyle. That was a woman who could get the attention of the Greatest Hero of them all!

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