Forgotten Masterpiece: The Buried Newspaper Marriage of Superman and Lois Lane

One of the drivers of interest in the Superman series when it was first starting out was the romantic triangle between Lois Lane, her would-be suitor Clark Kent, and Kent’s powerful alter-ego, Superman. While this relationship has largely been pushed to the wayside over the past 20 years or so of publishing, it was a bedrock mainstay of the series for decades, and one of the recurring aspects that kept readers–particularly more casual readers–interested for decades. And yet, it was a situation that was allowed to reach a climax, although that situation was reversed some time later. I’m talking about the legitimate and permanent marriage of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Not a Dream, Not a Hox, Not an Imaginary Tale. The genuine article, intended to be a status quo change going forward.

The story in question played out in the daily SUPERMAN newspaper strip that was syndicated all over the country. Because it appeared in newspapers, this was the version of Superman that most casual adult readers were familiar with. At first, it’s pretty clearly set up to be simply a dream, with Clark Kent falling asleep after an evening out with Lois in which she once again refused his overtures. But Clark is awoken (or seemingly awoken) by a more receptive Lois, who is smitten with her fellow reporter and agrees to marry him. This sequence began on September 5, 1949 and the marriage between Clark and Lois would play out over the next two years in the daily strip.

The only byline that ran on these strips during this time was for Wayne Boring. But Boring was mainly handling the Sunday strips, which ran a separate continuity from the dailys. So most of these strips were drawn instead by Win Mortimer. Alvin Schwartz was the primary writer of the strip at this point, and so he doubtless was responsible for this storyline going forward. As I mentioned at the outset, this was clearly intended to be just a passing storyline, a dream that Clark is having after his unsuccessful date. But that set-up is forgotten along the way as a strange thing happens: after a few years of declining interest, suddenly attention is being paid to the strip once again. This was the era in which the wedding of Al Capp’s L’il Abner was a major news story, and it seems as though this sequence prompted a few news stories and got the strip picked up by a number of additional papers.

And so, the end point of the sequence is never reached, and Clark falling asleep after being rejected is completely forgotten about. For a month or two, various forces–including Luthor–attempt to prevent the wedding from taking place. But it does, on December 20, 1949! And the marriage isn’t eliminated or annulled. Rather, it is worked into the continuity of the series. Despite being married, Clark hasn’t come clean about his true identity as Superman, so most stories play out along familiar lines. Though this does cast some doubt as to the depth of the Kent-Lane relationship, if Clark isn’t willing to let his wife in on the secret of his actual identity for literally years. (They also sleep in separate beds, though this was a sop to the mores of the time. There’s really no question that Clark is getting some.)

Incidentally, this post-wedding sequence in which Lois attempts to prove that Clark is really Superman by shooting at him with a gun loaded with blanks was adapted by Richard Donner for the second SUPERMAN film, but left on the cutting room floor when control of that picture was given over to Richard Lester.

Anyway, Clark Kent and Lois Lane were married through 1952–but only in the daily strip, which focused heavily on their married exploits (including at one point them starting a morning radio show called “Koffee with the Kents.” Lois’ habitual liar niece Suzie also makes a series of return appearances, forcing Clark to go to extreme lengths to protect his true identity from his wife, really for no good reason.

Eventually. a decision was made to get rid of the marriage. It wasn’t being reflected in any other Superman media, in particular the live action ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN television program that was then being filmed. It seems that this decision was made over Schwartz’s head, as he was replaced as the writer for the strip temporarily, and it was Jack Schiff who wrote the sequence in which we learn that the past two and a half years have all been a projection set up in Superman’s mind by nefarious aliens for their own purposes. Possibly I’ll take a closer look at that sequence in the days ahead.

5 thoughts on “Forgotten Masterpiece: The Buried Newspaper Marriage of Superman and Lois Lane

  1. that “Koffee With the Kents” morning radio show was likely a nod to the radio show that journalist Dorothy Kilgallen did every morning with her then-husband, radio actor Dick Kollmar. I forget what the name of the show was, but it was huge, as was everything about Kilgallen.

    later on, Kollmar was outed as a homosexual, and later still, Kilgallen met her death under extremely mysterious circumstances. in the opinion of many, she was rubbed out because she was getting too close to revealing the conspiracy behind the JFK assassination.

    fascinating essay, Tom. after sixty years as a reader, and 45 in the industry, I have never, ever heard of this.

    Liked by 1 person

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