Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"I Can't Marry You, Lois"--The Cliche That Makes No Sense!

There are some traditions, some shibboleths of our comic book universes that make no sense, even on their own terms.

Take Superman's secret identity, for example.

I will grant you, without any arguments, that there are a thousand and one good reasons for most heroes to have a secret identity.

And there are plenty of reasons for Superman to hide the fact that he's Clark Kent: he needs down time, it's good for an all-powerful dude to experience life as a mere human, etc.

But the one that never made sense in Superman's case? "I have to maintain a secret identity to protect my friends and loved ones."

That makes sense for most other heroes. But not Superman. Why?

Because (and we're talking Silver Age here, even though some of this still applies in later continuities) the set of Clark Kent's friends and loved ones is 100% congruent with Superman's friends and loved one.

Think about it. Clark's best friends--Jimmy and Lois--are already famous as buddies of Superman. Jimmy Olsen is well known as Superman's Pal, and the public knows that Lois and Superman have a thing going. Who else is there? His only family, the Kents, are dead. Perry White is friends with both Clark and Kal-El. Who's left to protect? Steve Lombard?!?

[I suppose you could make a case that the secret identity protects his Smallville friends, Lana and Pete. Then again, since everyone knew Superman came from Smallville, if villains were interested in going after Superman's childhood friends, why not take the whole two-bit town hostage? Unless, of course, you believe Smallville has a population of 36,000...]

So Clark revealing that's he's Superman couldn't put Lois and Jimmy in any more danger, because the entire world already knows that they're close to Superman. They're attacked, or kidnapped, or made the focus of villains' schemes several times a month for decades on end!!

How is the secret identity protecting them?!? Is there someone who says "Well, I wouldn't attack Superman's girlfriend before, but now that I know he's Clark Kent, she's fair game"?!?

And then there's the related silly meme:

Wait--villains won't target Lois when she's Superman's girlfriend, but they will target her if she's his wife? Is this something from the Villain's Handbook?

Well, no. Because that makes no sense. And it's not something that actually happens, even in the comic books. Even in this particular story. As the next few panels reveal:

WAIT!!!! Superman, you've completely undermined your own ridiculous argument!! You're NOT married to Lois, but they STILL targeted her!! She's ALREADY in "constant danger"!! How could being married make the situation any worse?!?!?!?!?!?!?

If you're really serious about protecting her, shouldn't you stop going on beach dates with her? That was what tipped the thugs off, not marriage!

Sorry, this has always bugged me...

Panels from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #128 (1972)


SallyP said...

I personally feel that Superman hired those goons, just to get Lois off his back.

George Chambers said...

Superman wears his full costume to the beach? When solar energy is like meat and drink to him?? Would Lois be so keen if she just realised Kal was a fetishist?