Aside from “Who would win in a fight?” nothing gets comic fans more heated than the question of whether or not superheroes should marry. In our final entry (for now!) of this ongoing mini-feature, Rebecca Henely-Weiss and recent bride Kayleigh Hearn take a trip down memory lane to the most significant times comic companies took the plunge and got their characters hitched! Did we like the couple? Did we like the dress? And more importantly … why did (or didn’t) the marriage last? Today we look at the wedding of Superman and Lois Lane …
The Couple: Lois Lane and Clark Kent
The Issue: Superman: The Wedding Album
Published: October 6, 1996 (cover date December 1996)
Today: Like most DC couples, Clark and Lois’ marriage was undone with the new 52 reboot. However, these versions of the characters have managed to survive various universal undoings and mergers and are once again married. They also have a superhero son, Jonathan Kent.
Rebecca: When we started this column mid-way through my wedding planning three years ago, we always hoped to end it with Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Love them or hate them, the very first superhero and his tenacious reporter love interest are the most famous pairing in comics—the baseline by which every other superhero couple is compared or contrasted. With that reputation, I wonder if any story could live up to the legend of their decades-old love, because I don’t think this one does. It’s not bad but … it’s also no better than OK. And I wanted better for them.
Kayleigh: Oh hey, I got married! And it was perfect! No one incinerated the priest, no Brotherhood of Evil Mutants rejects attacked, and I’m pretty sure my husband isn’t a Skrull. Like, 98% sure. Maybe I’m still floating in a champagne bubble of wedded bliss, but I really liked Superman: The Wedding Album. It’s overstuffed (there are more creators credited than there are words in a Chris Claremont word balloon) but actually feels like it’s about a wedding. It reminds us of all the good moments between Lois and Clark over their 81 years (!) together, and none of the bad.
Rebecca: The 1990s were a tumultuous time for the Man of Steel. For perspective, this wedding issue came out between two of the most controversial Superman stories of that era: The Death of Superman in 1994 and the electric blue Superman storyline in 1997. Even the issue itself opens with the characters’ lives in flux. The opening splash page shows Lois in a wedding gown, but we soon learn that this marriage isn’t to Clark. In fact, she’s spent the last year after rejecting Clark’s proposal cozying herself up to a drug lord named Naga so she can bring down his operation on their “wedding day.” Meanwhile, a superpower-less Clark has been leading a lonely life as editor of The Daily Planet while Perry White undergoes cancer treatment.
All is soon set right, though, when Lois returns to the Planet offices, still in a tattered white dress (oh comics!). When Lois sees Clark bleeding she reaches into his pocket to get a handkerchief and finds Clark still has the ring. This time, she asks him to propose and accepts. The rest of the comic is the lead up to the wedding—they tell their parents, Lois’ family holds a shower and takes her dress shopping, and a thug rides a motorcycle through Clark’s bachelor party because he’s pissed he and his friends can’t play pool … it’s weird. Anyway, Batman calls on every other superhero to patrol Metropolis during the ceremony, so while a visit from Mr. Mxyzptlk suggests some villainy will eventually be heading their way, the couple manages to say “I do” in peace.
Kayleigh: A question that’s been in the header of every Wedding Issue column is “Did we like the couple?” and for Lois and Clark, my answer is definitively yes. Superman: The Wedding Album is a very solid, charming depiction of their relationship. Lois storming into Clark’s office in a torn wedding dress is a scene right out of a Rosalind Russell/Cary Grant screwball comedy, but the comic also knows when to hit deeper emotional beats. “Every time one of us got lost reaching for the stars, the other helped keep their feet on the ground” is a beautifully succinct way to describe a relationship that’s survived decades of turbulence and even the death of a multiverse.
Rebecca: DC went big for Superman and Lois Lane’s wedding. The ceremony takes place in a giant-sized one-shot instead of the main books and was released to coincide with the couple’s on-screen marriage in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. That’s all well and good … I usually like the big issues that focus just on the couple going through their wedding planning and/or ceremony. Unfortunately, as part of making this comic “big,” DC also decided that as many previous Superman artists/writers as possible should contribute. So this becomes a comic with five writers and THIRTY artists. I guess I should be glad that it’s not MORE discordant than it is, but there are plenty of bad jokes (Who’s responsible for the Australian thug brandishing a knife and declaring, “That ain’t no attack—this … this is an attack”?) and some really awkward art (ugh, the pages of Lois sitting around arguing with her family where she’s always pushing her breasts out).
I’m also not that fond of how Lois is characterized in this story in general. Despite Louise Simonson being one of the writers, a lot of Lois’ wedding planning scenes read as “Men’s Understanding of 1990s Feminism.” I can get her not being comfortable with trying on wedding dresses, but her getting mad at receiving household appliances for her shower made me roll my eyes. Hon, there’s a difference between not wanting to be a housewife and being offended that you own a vacuum cleaner and a popcorn maker. I did like some of Clark and Lois’ scenes together, particularly their reunion, but I still got a weird feeling like I wasn’t reading the best versions of these characters.
Kayleigh: Superman: The Wedding Album does lean hard into that mid-90s pantsuit feminism (“You think Gloria Steinem will still talk to me after I’m married?”) but I really like Lois here, and I like that the comic takes her seriously. We have to keep in mind that the Silver Age made a long-running joke out of Lois “scheming” to get Superman to marry her, and that these stories often ended with a lot of patronizing sexism and Lois looking like a fool. Their relationship dynamic here, with Clark pining for Lois while she goes on adventures and worries about marriage tying her down, is so much more interesting. She’s just as much a protagonist of this comic as Clark is, and it takes time to explain her point of view—we see her troubled relationship with her father, so it makes sense that she skips the patriarchal tradition of “giving away the bride” to instead walk down with Clark as an equal. And I just have to say, Lois Lane hijacking a crime lord’s plane in a torn wedding dress with a gun in one hand and a champagne bottle in the other just fucking rules. It does.
Rebecca: This issue has a huge cast, even if not everyone ends up with an invitation to the wedding. In addition to the superheroes patrolling the city and the aforementioned Perry White cancer subplot, we also have a storyline where Jimmy Olsen is bummed he won’t get to be the wedding photographer (you can probably guess why not). The wedding itself also has cameos from several Superman writers/artists, including depicting Jerry Siegel as the priest who marries them which … ehh. I’m already not that comfortable with how Superman has been depicted as a Christ figure due to his Jewish creators, so let’s just say that while I get the gesture was meant to be nice, I’m not really here for a Jewish man dressed up as a priest.
Honestly, my favorite cameo bits were anything with Lori Lemaris. I liked how the artists gave subtle “hey, she’s a mermaid!” hints—like her scaled shirt and seashell earrings. The scene where she freaks out over shrimp being served at the rehearsal dinner also made me smile.
Kayleigh: There are a lot of fucking characters in this comic! Not even the people you’d expect to see, like Perry White or Lana Lang, but *frantically switches tabs to Google* Bibbo Bibbowski? The Alpha Centurion? I know I’m just asking for Comment Guys [or our own Corinne McCreery — Ed] to show up and scold me for not knowing Lucy Lane’s boyfriend Ron, but this is a lot. There’s also an extraneous flashback to Superman and Maggie Sawyer saving Bibbo from a fire, which leads to a mawkish splash page where Superman calls firefighters “the real heroes.” But I’m not entirely made of stone, I did feel an emotion (just one! I’ve got a rep to protect!) at the beautiful double-page spread of the Justice League flying overhead to protect Metropolis on Superman’s wedding day.
Rebecca: Lois ends up wearing a lot of white wedding dresses between the fake-out beginning, the “trying on dresses” sequence and the final ceremony. Unfortunately, other than the deliberately horrible “demure” dress that Lois’ mother loves—which kind of looks like a bad imitation of something from the 19th century—none of them are really memorable. They’re not terrible, but they also don’t look like they have a lot of thought behind them (although with so many artists who knows who was able to put their ideas through or not …). Actually, I may just not like Lois’ actual wedding day look in general. The veil is nice, but the daisy detailing looks kind of childish and I don’t like her curled, pulled-back hair. The pink bridesmaid dresses are also boring. Clark’s black suit is fine, even if he doesn’t seem to know to tuck the tie under the collar. Still, I really don’t care because I am SO GLAD they didn’t have him get married with that terrible Steven Seagal ponytail that he has for the rest of the issue. Honestly, maybe I’ve descended into full mom mode because I kept thinking, “You’re not going to go down the aisle looking like THAT?” whenever I saw it earlier in the issue.
Kayleigh: I was disappointed that the wedding dress we see on Lois on the very first page was a fakeout, because I think the gloves and pointed shoulder pads are much more fitting for this incarnation of Lois as a go-getting 90s feminist reporter. Her actual wedding dress, with the bow on her veil and the aforementioned daisies, feels very representative of the kind of femininity she eschews the whole issue (she did not like that crockpot) so it doesn’t fit quite so well. Then again, I liked the dress more on the cover by John Byrne, who also drew the first page, so how pretty the dress is may be a result of who draws it.
Rebecca: Superman and Lois Lane are a timeless couple … but they got married in an issue that is very OF its time. The fashion is rough. The gender politics are clumsy. The whole “this is a big event rushed out with rough art because we need to rope in the speculators who will bag these, board these, and eventually sell these for less than the cover price” aesthetic makes this whole thing feel like the stunt it is rather than a genuine culmination for two beloved characters.
On the other hand … maybe this WAS the only way Superman and Lois Lane were ever going to marry. This was a major status quo change, and while the marriage lasted for quite a while it must have felt like a huge risk—maybe that was only possible in an era of comics that was all for huge risks with huge rewards (until they eventually burned themselves out). It makes sense. It’s not that bad. But … man, they teased this couple forever. One column we considered doing for the longest time was just a bunch of quick hits on several “Superman and Lois almost marry” issues from the Silver Age, because this idea was so omnipresent. I just wish the actual walk down the aisle wasn’t so lackluster.
Kayleigh: Wow, I don’t think a Wedding Issue has left us this split before? I really liked Superman: The Wedding Album. I want to edit it with a machete—there are a lot of scenes we don’t need, like Maxima’s cameo or the five whole pages dedicated to Bibbo fighting the Hell’s Angels—but I think it holds together remarkably well considering how many cooks were in the kitchen. I was also probably a bit more starstruck by the artist roster than you were, since there are some great names here (“Oh dang, Stuart Immonen’s in this?”). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that The Wedding Album features the last work for DC drawn by the legendary Curt Swan, published only a few months after his death in 1996. Stunt though this wedding may be, DC pulled out all the flaming school buses for it.
Rebecca: I want to say before signing off that I’ve had a lot of fun with this series. I knew of a lot of women who decided to chronicle their wedding planning process through columns, and for me when I got married I wanted to do something that blended that tradition with this longtime interest of mine (and doing it with my best friend was a bonus). I do like superhero weddings. I like how they can bring together the fantastic and the ordinary—and isn’t that what weddings are? Something very common, but hopefully very special? Wedding issues have a lot to say about how we feel about heroes and the people they love, about the era they’re written in, and about how we feel about marriage in general. They’re not always good things, they unfortunately don’t always last, but at their best they’re still fascinating …
Kayleigh: It is very bittersweet saying goodbye to The Wedding Issue as a regular column; when I started this with Rebecca as a fun activity during her wedding planning, I had no idea it would accompany me through my own wedding as well. But this won’t be goodbye forever, as we’ll probably be back for the next big superhero wedding. (I’m still rooting for you, Batman and Catwoman!) I want to thank everyone who stuck with us, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death (or clone, or Skrull, or retcon) did us part. And with that, take us away, Lois and Clark!