The news here isn't that Superman and Wonder Woman are going to be having super, wonderful sex, 1. because it's been done and 2. Why not? They're young, they're single, they've got a lot in common.
If you just responded to my Why not? with Why not? Lois Lane is why not! you haven't been following the ongoing reboot of the DC universe. Just about every superhero in the pantheon has been moved back in time to near the beginning of their careers. It’s kind of like what J.J. Abrams has done with Star Trek. All the heroes are younger and still learning how to be the heroes we old timers know them as, which means that their futures are still open questions, and like Abrams, DC has reserved the right to alter those futures or, in the case of the comic books where the clock gets reset every decade or so, the various futures different generations of fans thought were settled. Superman has been patrolling the skies of Metropolis for only a few years. Lois and Clark aren't an item yet, and that's the news or the lead in to the news.
Since DC relaunched its characters and universe nearly a year ago, some of the origins have changed — Wonder Woman is now the daughter of Zeus — and the costumes have, too.
One aspect that did not survive the relaunch: Lois Lane's role as Superman's love. She's still around, but the two have never dated, nor are they likely to.
I don't know if the reporter is assuming this or if he's summarizing something that's been reported. If he's assuming, he's assuming something different than the comic experts in this house who tell me the Lois and Clark and Superman triangle is already in view. But if the plan really is not to bring them together ever then I suspect “ever” just means as long as the crew presently running the show sticks around and that's because they don't intend to let things advance far enough in time. At its farthest point along, the story will always be a year or two or three before Lois and Clark become Lois+Clark.
Which is fine.
In any number of the previous timelines, including the original, the romance was more potential than actual. In the Fleischer cartoons, their future as a couple was treated as such a given there was no point in mentioning it. Besides the action was so compressed and relentless they barely had time to flirt. I think the whole of their courtship was handled in one scene in which Lois perches on Clark's desk and displays some leg while they are talking about doing their jobs as reporters. The result was that Lois was left free to be the heroine she is and not a damsel in permanent distress. Lois frequently needs to be rescued by Superman because she’s heroic. Her courage and resourcefulness and pluck --- and her stubbornness and recklessness---often carry her in over her head, but that usually means she’s in there ahead of the cops and the army and, routinely, Superman himself. This idea of Lois as a heroine in her own right was picked up in the cartoon series in the 90s and it's where things have started in the reboot.
It's even the case in the Silver Age comics of the 50s and 60s in which Superman and Lois are only ever a couple in alternative universe stories. True, Lois' feelings for Superman are more overt---to the point that she's practically his stalker---and she spends an awful lot of time scheming and dreaming of ways to get Superman's romantic attention. But the fact is they aren't a couple...yet. Their "real" future is still an open question.
So, since the very beginning, both Superman and Lois have almost always been free to date other people and have. This is a fact I grew up with and internalized so completely that any timeline in which Lois and Clark are Lois+Clark strikes me as fundamentally wrong. Oddly, this feeling doesn't extend to the TV show Lois and Clark or to Smallville. Go figure.
Now, it is possible that the current crew really plans to fix it so that Lois and Superman can never get together. This would be an incredibly arrogant move. It's a major alteration of the mythology. It'd be as if they said, I know! What if Bruce Wayne's parents weren't murdered? Lois Lane is as essential to Superman’s story as the death of the planet Krypton. You would think no one would dare to make such a drastic change. But it seems that each new generation of artists and writers thinks they now own the myths and have the incontestable right and even the duty to fiddle with them in any way feel inspired to. I suspect this is truer for the gangs at DC than at Marvel where Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are still revered and everyone has to keep looking over their shoulders to see if Stan Lee's in the room. Still, the Human Torch is dead or he was or he is again or will be and Steve Rogers isn't Captain America anymore or he wasn't or he is and he is and isn't or...why isn't he dead again, again? So I wouldn't be surprised to read someday that from here on out Peter Parker was never bitten by a spider or the X-men aren't mutants they're aliens or androids or figments of Charles Xavier’s imagination. It won't matter for long if Lois marries Lex Luthor or Lana Lang. A few years from now a new crew will take over and put everything back as it was.
Actually, it won't matter even right now because what happens in the comic books is only important to people who read the comic books and, really, only to a certain subset of those readers. For the rest of us superhero fans or onetime fans Superman and Batman exist well outside the comic books. The comic books are just retellings of what really have come to be like myths in popular imagination. And it's not the comic books that did that. It's radio, television, and the movies.
Without getting into how much of what we think of as essential to the Superman story was put in there by the writers of the radio show---and the Fleischer cartoons. You know why Superman flies, right?---the comic books, all the superhero comic books, not just Superman's, were saved by the TV series. Superman was saved again twenty years later by Christopher Reeve, and say what you like about Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, it was Tim Burton's Batman movies and then Bruce Timm's cartoons that saved Batman. And at the moment, the Batman belongs more to Christopher Nolan than he does to DC, although I think Nolan rather graciously offered to hand him back at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.
So...Wonder Woman and Superman? Fine by me. What bothers me is this:
DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, who has drawn each issue of "Justice League" since its debut, called the canoodling in Wednesday's issue not a stunt or an alternate reality smooch.
"This has been in the works for some time and we certainly wouldn't have pulled the trigger on without there being great creative benefit to the liaison," he said in an email. "Beyond the joy and sorrows of new love, there are potentially huge ramifications and dramatic ways this single relationship between these iconic characters will change the entire political and interpersonal landscape of the DC Universe."
Great. It's not just a romantic subplot, it's a goddamn soap opera that's going to take over the whole story. What's worse, it's apparently an adolescent soap opera:
Wonder Woman and Superman are an item, locking lips in a passionate embrace as the pair realize that there's no one out there like them.
Can't you hear Diana Prince whining to Hippolyta, "Kal-El isn't just any superboy, Mother! He's the only one who truly understands me and loves me for who I am!" while Kal-El is whining something similar to the hologram of Jor-El?
This better not turn into Twilight for fanboys.
Again, I don't know if this is the reporter's assumption or a summarization, but I'm not optimistic it's just the former. There's a lot that's so much better about comic books now than the ones I read as a kid, but one thing that is not better and is in fact something wrong is the way the superheroes have stopped being idealized grownups and have become stand-ins for the arrested adolescent twenty-something men who are among their most obsessive fans, reflecting back their neuroses, insecurities, angers, dreams of self-aggrandizement, power fetishes, revenge fantasies, and sexual hangups in ways that normalize those pathologies.
Oliver Mannion has assigned himself the job of keeping me up to date on the reboots. When we go to Barnes & Noble, he fetches the latest issues of the titles he knows I'm most interested in and makes sure I read them. I have to say I'm really enjoying the new Flash, and not just because it does my old heart good to have Barry Allen back. I like the cartoonishness of the artwork and the wit in the streamlined dialog. And I like the new Superman, which until I read this article I just took for granted was taking for granted Lois and Clark's future as Lois+Clark. So maybe I don't have to worry about what's going on in the Justice League story arc.
But given what they've done with Starfire, I can't help wondering if the whole point is an excuse to draw Wonder Woman naked.
Warning: The Starfire link will take you to a post that may not be safe for work, which is DC’s doing not the writer’s, as you’ll see.
Top image courtesy of DC.