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Author Topic: Lois Lane vs. Carol Ferris  (Read 7197 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: February 21, 2007, 06:55:01 PM »

In some ways, the Carol Ferris/GL dynamic has much more longevity (and is better thought through) than the Superman/Lois relationship.

I've often wondered why exactly it is Superman in his heroic identity can't get together with Lois. Superman and Lois are both consenting adults. "You like me? Well, I like you. Let's have dinner sometime" (which was in fact, what actually happened come the late seventies where Len Wein and Marty Pasko had Lois and Superman go on dates). Unlike with Lois, however, there's a very good reason that Hal Jordan doesn't woo his gal-pal in the identity that she would like to be wooed: Hal Jordan believes that Carol Ferris's attraction to GL is nothing more than an infatuated fascination with a unique individual. Note in GL #2 (1960) Hal as much says so: "I can't believe that her feeling for GL is anything more than fascination..."

In other words, Hal doesn't think Carol's sincere. That's why Carol can't get together with GL. But why not her and Hal? The reason is because Carol is Hal's BOSS - Carol Ferris obviously is quite attracted to Hal, but she doesn't give in because it would be deeply unprofessional. Carol has something to prove both to her father and as a woman in the business world and she overcompensates. That's the long term reason, but in the short term, the reason Hal and Carol don't get together is because Hal is always sabotaged by having to be Green Lantern.

This reminds me less of Spider-Man, but much more like the funny "human interest/day in the life" Wally Wood THUNDER AGENTS stories of the middle sixties, where Dynamo might have a kickass power belt, and a sweet (though nowhere near high paying) job as a THUNDER Agent, but the poor guy couldn't buy a break.

(It's interesting to compare GL and Spider-Man. Both are men that have a heavy responsibility because of their powers, and often catch themselves cursing it for interfering in their lives. The difference is, Hal is a virile active action guy and Peter Parker is something of a nebbish; Hal is an adult with an established career whereas Pete is not established in the world and is prevented from doing so by Spider-Man's duties. It's very likely that if Hal had gotten the ring at Peter's age, he'd have Peter's money and personal problems too. Alternatively, if Pete had gotten bitten by that spider after skipping adolescence and becoming a famous chemist, he might be much more like Hal Jordan.)

Carol Ferris, like Lois Lane, seeks to prove that GL and Hal are one and the same, but I get a sense that this is done for a fundamentally different reason than why Lois does. Hal is, unlike Clark Kent, serious competition and a rival for Carol, and Carol loves Hal Jordan...and if the two were the same, it's win-win from Carol's perspective.

Lois Lane always tries to marry Superman, just as Carol did...but you get a sense with Lois that she wants to marry Superman because she longs for domesticity (just about every Silver Age story with them married has Lois become a housewife and leave her job) whereas Carol is a go-getter type, and impulsive; it often seems as if Hal is trying to protect Carol from herself.

Though I don't agree with this view 100%, the strongest piece of evidence I can think of for the Len Wein belief that of the two identities, Kal-El identifies most with Clark Kent...is that Superman chooses not to be with Lois Lane.

Likewise, Hal Jordan goes out with lots of women as GL, none of whom really have names...and why not? Lantern's a famous superhero. I find it interesting, however, that even though Hal uses his superhero prestige to get dates with starlets and debutantes, he NEVER went after Carol.as GL...perhaps because he feels differently about her than these other women.

It may be interesting to speculate why Superman doesn't do the same...it may just be that Hal Jordan is an extroverted playboy type and Superman is much more humble.

Kurt Busiek, with his Superman analogue Samaritan, puts forth the idea that because Samaritan is always so busy, he doesn't have time to be with women, which he resents...an interesting perspective, but one not appropriate for Superman because Samaritan

Englehart, with his Superman analogue Hyperion, puts forth the idea that the reason Hyperion doesn't have a girlfriend is because he is sexless and alien, and may not even find human women attractive at all...a perspective that MIGHT have worked for Superman up until he started going out with Lois and Lana.
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NotSuper
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2007, 03:43:51 AM »

I always liked the fact that Carol was Hal's boss. It was something fresh, as the love interests of heroes tended to be either their co-workers or subordinates.
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2007, 05:04:42 AM »

In some ways, the Carol Ferris/GL dynamic has much more longevity (and is better thought through) than the Superman/Lois relationship.

I've often wondered why exactly it is Superman in his heroic identity can't get together with Lois. Superman and Lois are both consenting adults. "You like me? Well, I like you. Let's have dinner sometime" (which was in fact, what actually happened come the late seventies where Len Wein and Marty Pasko had Lois and Superman go on dates). Unlike with Lois, however, there's a very good reason that Hal Jordan doesn't woo his gal-pal in the identity that she would like to be wooed: Hal Jordan believes that Carol Ferris's attraction to GL is nothing more than an infatuated fascination with a unique individual. Note in GL #2 (1960) Hal as much says so: "I can't believe that her feeling for GL is anything more than fascination..."

I suppose there are many different ways one can go with this.  If we took the Shuster/Siegel era Superman, he simply couldn't be bothered with the dame.  He was a man on a mission. 

If one considers the psychology of the character based on Siegel and Shuster's own form of "revenge" against the girls who turned down their own noses to them - then the very good reason not to fulfill or consumate the relationship was more of a "look at what you could have if you cared to really know who I was", spiteful attitude expressed through the character of Clark/Superman by the authors, but really doesn't make sense from the viewpoint of the character of Superman.  What would he need or desire to be spiteful towards Lois for, outside of maybe taking her digs on Clark a little too personally?  If the latter, this would be highly debatable to me, as Clark's timidity and cowardice is a false persona as it is, why would he even take this personally knowing that he's creating it in his act?

But, because the triangle was conceived at the outset of the character and into publication - it was a building block for the future.  Again, and interestingly, in the K-Metal script, as well as some of the earlier archive issues, we see Superman professing love for Lois - and it was Siegel's intention to bring them together into a team, which would have been historic in it's own right.  And although I agree with Rao's assessment on why K-Metal was never published, I believe amid that was the ol' corporate maxim "When presented with change, maintain status quo".  Hence, we have, in essence, a inherently flawed relationship in Lois and Superman. 

Carol Ferris, like Lois Lane, seeks to prove that GL and Hal are one and the same, but I get a sense that this is done for a fundamentally different reason than why Lois does. Hal is, unlike Clark Kent, serious competition and a rival for Carol, and Carol loves Hal Jordan...and if the two were the same, it's win-win from Carol's perspective.

That's a very good point.

Lois Lane always tries to marry Superman, just as Carol did...but you get a sense with Lois that she wants to marry Superman because she longs for domesticity (just about every Silver Age story with them married has Lois become a housewife and leave her job) whereas Carol is a go-getter type, and impulsive; it often seems as if Hal is trying to protect Carol from herself.

See, but here is another interpretation of the relationship.  At this period, apparently it is resolved that there will always be the Superman/Clark/Lois triangle.  Let's face it on this.  We really are comparing 70 years of Superman/Lois/Clark, over the barely 30 of GL/Hal/Carol.  To all intents and purposes, this is apples and oranges.  The relationship of Carol and Hal's is a snap-shot in time compared to the overall panoramic view of their relationship, just as a Shuster-era Superman/Lois/Clark is a snap-shot to the panorama that is 70 years of Superman.  However, in this era, we are looking at a post-Wertman (Seduction of Innocents) Superman love triangle.  It is unfortunately this era where Superman becomes the veritable spokesman for the status quo and "good, honest American values"-1950's style.  Where your favorite performer and every other neighbor might be a communist, etc.  Unfortunately - this is a highly politically correct Superman and Lois is expounding the values of what is expected of the all-American wife.  Why?

I would say because of the inherent flaw in the S/CK/LL triangle.  What's the point to it?  No one got it, or no one wanted to get it and with no real direction, we end up with the least offensive version of the relationship we could get - and instead of actual intelligent story telling, we are getting what an editor might think is a good story.

Though I don't agree with this view 100%, the strongest piece of evidence I can think of for the Len Wein belief that of the two identities, Kal-El identifies most with Clark Kent...is that Superman chooses not to be with Lois Lane.

And I believe there is much thinking by writers to try to make sense out of something that is inherently flawed.  The most sensible direction was simply to have them as they are now, a team and married - or phase Lois out completely.  Interesting, Carol and GL's relationship takes the other angle - make them enemies.

Carol was very fortunate to be conceived and developed by a very forward thinker who really did have a direction for her, and a dynamic between the three (GL/Hal/CF) that actually did make sense - and could be continued forward from there.

Likewise, Hal Jordan goes out with lots of women as GL, none of whom really have names...and why not? Lantern's a famous superhero. I find it interesting, however, that even though Hal uses his superhero prestige to get dates with starlets and debutantes, he NEVER went after Carol.as GL...perhaps because he feels differently about her than these other women.

It may be interesting to speculate why Superman doesn't do the same...it may just be that Hal Jordan is an extroverted playboy type and Superman is much more humble.

IMO, conceiving that the character Superman is real and not controlled by the mighty and unseen hand of a writer, I'd say more to the point, Superman is just confused.  He lost his identity through longing to be a regular guy - and up in the air about to be Superman or to be Clark, and simply couldn't tell anymore.  I would assert that after Superman left his creators, character development was tossed out the window for the more amenable ""Ozzie and Harriet" self-contained sit-com stories of the 50's and early 60's.  Rather than making Superman more Superman, we end up with a plethora of friends, family and cute pets and Dobie Gillis relationships.  Although he does remain "mankind's benefactor" - the ludicrousness of his personal life doesn't go very far in enhancing the image.

Of course, I'm also the same guy who really like Krypto, Supergirl, et al.  So, go figure.

Kurt Busiek, with his Superman analogue Samaritan, puts forth the idea that because Samaritan is always so busy, he doesn't have time to be with women, which he resents...an interesting perspective, but one not appropriate for Superman because Samaritan

Englehart, with his Superman analogue Hyperion, puts forth the idea that the reason Hyperion doesn't have a girlfriend is because he is sexless and alien, and may not even find human women attractive at all...a perspective that MIGHT have worked for Superman up until he started going out with Lois and Lana.

Well, in closing, the real difficulty outside of what I offer up - and more basic I think to all of this is simply, as Ray Bradbury so interestingly put it in the Forward to the 1980's Man of Steel series - Superman was there 1st (paraphrased).  Superman was the ground breaker, and the front man to the entire genre that we all enjoy so well.  But, just because you're the ground breaker doesn't mean that those you sire won't be better at what you do.  So, Superman and his better or worse half (depending I guess on one's attitude's regarding the present marriage) and all their 70 years or so together are entitled to their big mistakes or little ones, and everything in on the other side.  It's not like there are very many other characters around that are older than him in continuous publication (actually I don't believe there are any - but I'm not sure) that one can one-up.  I believe that when one is handling this character, in some way, shape or form, you are always breaking new ground with him - and everyone else is trying to catch up.

All said and done, you are completely correct in your assessment IMO.  However, I believe the reasons for the differences have more to do with inherent flaws in the dynamics of the characters and their motivations (none), Siegel's blueprints weren't followed until 60 years later and by creating a ground breaking character - your mistakes are magnified by someone taking what you did and making it better.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2007, 11:26:17 AM »

Quote from: NotSuper
I always liked the fact that Carol was Hal's boss. It was something fresh, as the love interests of heroes tended to be either their co-workers or subordinates.

That was a pretty cool idea. What worked about that was not so much that Carol was GL's boss, but how seriously she took being his boss - I said above that it was because as a woman of the time in a position of power, being trusted by her father with a company, Carol consequently has something to prove.

Obviously Carol Ferris is in love with Hal Jordan, but she can't be with him because it isn't all about what she wants.

There just isn't a good enough reason on this level for why Lois and Superman shouldn't get together. It's interesting to note all the writers that focus on Superman's psychology like Wein and Pasko (and recently, Busiek) have had Superman and Lois (or Lana) have a relationship.

The other Silver Age love story that broke the mold was not in the Silver Age itself, but happened afterward, between the Atom and Jean Loring...and the reason is because it just didn't work out: they got divorced, and Jean just didn't WANT her man back, and the Atom was swinging a sword in a tiny city with a tiny princess. In other words, they both were in love, fell out of love, and moved on with their lives.

Though I love a good love story as much as anybody else, the most aggrivating thing about the Silver Age love stories is how the hero and his girl are made for each other and they stick together. This makes sense for characters like Hawkman and Hawkwoman, who are a little like the Korean couple in LOST: they're from a stricter, Spartan, less-decadent culture that values absolute loyalty and they are in a situation where they are isolated from others and dependent on each other. I doubt that Hawkman has even so much as looked at another woman since they were married.

But I find it somewhat hard to believe that Elongated Man and Sue, or Iris and Barry have as few problems as the comics make it look, that they're as perfect for each other to the extent they show. I especially don't buy Adam Strange and Alanna being as perpetually happy as they are. Take the relationship problems for any interracial/intercultural couple and multiply that by a billion to get some idea.

This isn't cynicism, this is just how relationships work; most of them eventually end.

Look at all the failed relationships Captain America's had over the years (I personally, liked that South American revolutionary chick in the Daisy Duke shorts that Jack Kirby created).  Which is why the Jean/Ray relationship made sense to me.

Quote from: Criadoman
I would say because of the inherent flaw in the S/CK/LL triangle.  What's the point to it?  No one got it, or no one wanted to get it and with no real direction, we end up with the least offensive version of the relationship we could get - and instead of actual intelligent story telling, we are getting what an editor might think is a good story.

First, thank you for the observations, Criadoman. They're interesting, I agree with what you're saying, and the comparison to K-Metal never even occurred to me. Something always bothered me about Superman and Lois and I can't quite put my finger on what it was. The idea their so-called triangle relationship is fundamentally flawed is intriguing, and that even way back when Siegel was taking steps to correct this by incorporating Lois as Superman's partner or girlfriend, and clarifying how Superman felt about her.

Quote from: Criadoman
And I believe there is much thinking by writers to try to make sense out of something that is inherently flawed.  The most sensible direction was simply to have them as they are now, a team and married - or phase Lois out completely. 

There's a thread somewhere, where I defend the Super-Marriage, and if you notice, I don't really put forth why the relationship is a good idea, and I never realized why until now: the Lois/Superman/Kent relationship is painfully artificial, implies negative traits in both Superman and Lois, and there's no real, in-story logic for it to continue; the permanent triangle we've gotten accustomed to breaks down because, unlike Carol and Hal, it wasn't designed to have any longevity.

Quote from: Criadoman
Superman is just confused.  He lost his identity through longing to be a regular guy - and up in the air about to be Superman or to be Clark, and simply couldn't tell anymore. 

Interesting point. I'm reminded of Martin Pasko's speculation that Superman is NEITHER Clark Kent or Superman, that BOTH personas are to some extent, created and artificial as a consequence of Superman's displaced origin giving the character a massive identity crisis.

Though I agree that Superman created Clark Kent because of his humility (otherwise, he'd be someone other than an ignored reporter), but I'm not sure if I'd attribute that to a desire to be normal; Superman quite clearly loves his powers and enjoys them.

Quote from: Criadoman
Rather than making Superman more Superman, we end up with a plethora of friends, family and cute pets and Dobie Gillis relationships.

I too, agree with the belief that the reason the Silver Age went wild with too much of a good thing gimmickry and expansion sets to the Superman concept, is because the character of Superman himself was not clear so they worked around him, with the various colored Kryptonite and so on as distractions from the fact Superman's standing still.

Superman, post-Code, did indeed lose his "edge" as an adventure character, and he does suffer from excessive sanitization...though Frank Miller makes this point much more eloquently than I.

Quote from: Criadoman
Carol was very fortunate to be conceived and developed by a very forward thinker who really did have a direction for her, and a dynamic between the three (GL/Hal/CF) that actually did make sense - and could be continued forward from there.

It's interesting to compare the Superman Mythos to the unfolding of the Green Lantern story; it's like comparing a haphazard city like Madrid or Barcelona to one with a grid system that was planned, like Seattle. Things that aren't explained in the Superman mythos have an explanation in the Green Lantern mythos.

It strikes me when reading early GL, how none of the elements felt tacked on, that it all seemed to flow naturally as if it was all conceived from the outset: the revalation of the Lantern Corps, the Guardians, Sinestro, Qward - everything that is really significant about the GL mythos is there, built element by element with a blueprint for worldbuilding in mind.

My problem with the "explosion" of the Super-Mythos was, as it all wasn't planned, it was never as cohesive or interesting as the Green Lantern mythos, where everything fits together, and everything is in a specific idiom: with Superman you get things from wildly different periods smushed together, but with Green Lantern, everything is science fictiony adventure.

I've argued that it's not as important to have a "volume" of ideas, so much as it is to have a few good ideas that are well-developed. And GL is certainly thought-through. The early stories answer questions like, "what happens if GL uses his ring...to make a ring copy?" Or "what if GL falls asleep when wearing his ring, and has a dream?"

And GL does something that not even Superman did: it thought through the introduction of powers. Consider: in the first appearance of Tomar-Re, Green Lantern creates a duplicate of himself to fight for him...and Broome takes the effort to explain that this is only possible under a specific set of circumstances. If you think about it, having the power to create energy duplicates makes a monkey out of just about any superhero story! A problem of mine with Superman is, he's given powers but nobody thinks through what the effect of this character having the power would be.

I'm not saying that Superman suffers in the comparison to GL at least in every way, but that, as you said, because Superman was first, he made mistakes later characters corrected.

Quote from: Criadoman
Of course, I'm also the same guy who really like Krypto, Supergirl, et al.  So, go figure.

The only time I ever really hated the character of Supergirl is when Alan Moore wrote her: prior to him, she was a gutsy, intelligent, independent and deeply (and occasionally, violently) passionate character. She was not and never was a ditzy Gidget type, even in the Silver Age. Supergirl, asking vacuously if "she grew up to be pretty" was very out of character, and its unfortunate that when the so-called Silver Age Supergirl is brought back by writers that pretend to know who the character is, like Peter David or Jeph Loeb, they bring her back with a grin and poodle skirt instead of with guts and elbow grease.

If I was a supervillain, I'd much rather fight Superman than Supergirl, because under the right set of circumstances, if you threaten someone close to her...Kara Zor-El just might rip limbs off.

There was one moment where Krypto ever "worked" for me, and that wasn't in a Superboy or Superman story at all, but in an Elliot S! Maggin Green Arrow/Black Canary back-up in ACTION COMICS. In this story, Krypto used his mouth (and canine superintelligence) to actually figure out and work a doorknob and latch. That's the only moment the character transcended his origin as an embarassing piece of detritus from the Weisenger Years. If writers remember that Krypto is super-intelligent (by dog standards, anyway)
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Genis Vell
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2007, 05:33:05 PM »

Superman loves Lois, but (in the pre-Crisis era, I mean) he'll never stay with her. His sense of responsibility and his "alienitude" are too strong. Superman, even if he is the most powerful being in the DCU, is ALONE.
This makes him very tragic, I appreciate this element in the old stories.
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2007, 11:02:02 PM »

I always liked the fact that Carol was Hal's boss. It was something fresh, as the love interests of heroes tended to be either their co-workers or subordinates.
I wonder to what extent the "Carol as boss" theme may have derived from some specific movie or pop culture thing at the time.  Does anyone have any interviews with Broome about GL that are worth reading?

FWIW, I'm amazed that this thread has gone on as long as it has without a reference to the classic Superman-Star Sapphire teamup:





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jamespup
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2007, 03:11:14 AM »

It's a matter of trying to maintain ANYTHING for 70 years !

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Genis Vell
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2007, 09:47:04 AM »

FWIW, I'm amazed that this thread has gone on as long as it has without a reference to the classic Superman-Star Sapphire teamup:



[/quote]

Lois Lane as Ultra Woman! That was a bit trash... And I loved "Lois & Clark"!
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