This is more of an opinion piece than the usual features I publish, so bear with me. A recent and very poignant editorial on Wired's website by blogger Corrina Lawson written in the voice of Earth 2 Lois Lane was really touching, and it also got me thinking about the role of Lois in the upcoming EARTH 2 story by James Robinson. "Dear DC Comics: Why Do You Keep Fridging Me?" delved into the number of times that Lois Lane, as of late, has gotten some negative treatment at DC Comics -- and Lawson brings up some very good points. She discusses the way that Lois has been presented as a supporting character to Superman and how much of the staff working at DC's editorial level really don't know what to do with her. And I feel she's right, they don't know what to do with her.
It's not very often that we see a really solid Lois Lane story; one where she reads as a fully capable, thoughtful, intellectual and interesting female character. Often she's put on the back burner (or dare I say, "grounded") until she is needed by the writer in one respect or another to act as support for Superman, or to give him a reason to save her. Lets face it, too often Lois's character has been treated as a plot device. In that respect, I think Lawson makes some very good points. Yet, to judge the upcoming Earth 2 story set to be released this May based on a press release and without having read the first issue of James Robinson's story, is equally as wrong as it is to "fridge" a character like Earth 2 Lois Lane. The fact of the matter is, we don't have the whole story.
The controversy erupted when DC Editor Pat McCullen revealed (in not so many words) that the way to turn Superman into a really angry guy is to kill the love of his life, Lois Lane. It's true, Lois has certainly held a very special place in the Earth 2 Man of Steel's heart, so to remove her from the equation is certainly a way to fire him up. Then again, it's also been done before. If you recall the fifth issue of INFINITE CRISIS, Lois Lane's death caused Earth 2 Superman to go haywire. Blaming the death of his beloved Lois on Kal-El and launching an attack on Earth 1's hero.
Perhaps the reason so many people got upset so quickly when they first heard that Earth 2 Lois will die is because we, as fans, have seen the deaths of so many female characters in the past (particularly Earth 2 characters). Take Supergirl; one of the most prominent DC ladies met her match in a battle against the Anti-Monitor in CRISIS IN INFINITE EARTHS -- a story involving heroes from both universes. Her death occurred in a story that involved both Earth-2 and Earth Prime.
Supergirl isn't the only female character to have died in a story involving Earth-2. Many female characters who hold a prominent place in current DC continuity have met their match on Earth-2. The most iconic of them being Wonder Woman, who was ret-conned out of existence during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Honestly, it doesn't get much worse than when a publisher pretends a character never existed. I'd say that's just as bad as being used as a plot device for another character, wouldn't you? Yet, that's what happened in the case of Wonder Woman -- at least until she made her return (briefly) during INFINITE CRISIS #5. Who knows if she still exists on Earth 2 or not.
Catwoman is another female character whose Earth 2 version met her demise. She too was ret-conned out of existence thanks to the events of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. There is no question that these women are some of the most popular in comics, so it is no wonder that watching the Earth 2 versions of these characters fall out of existence is difficult for some readers. Of course people were up in arms when they first heard Lois Lane would be dead in Robinsons's upcoming Earth 2 book. Why wouldn't they be after witnessing so many Earth 2 ladies die? Yet, even if you don't like the press release; it's hard to pass judgement on anything we have yet to read.
As much as I don't like seeing my female characters used as a plot device in the regular universe or otherwise, I have to admit that there are very few things that could drive the "Man of Steel" to madness -- and doing away with the love of his life is certainly one of them. The thing is, I really love Lois Lane. I love what she represents, who she is as well as her importance to comics. Yet, even knowing that the character won't be alive when Robinson's Earth 2 book launches in May, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, all we really have is a quote from a press release to go on.
Having said that; I do sincerely hope he and DC editorial take into consideration the number of popular Earth 2 women that have either met their doom or been ret-conned by one crisis or another. The fact that some of the biggest ladies in comics don't exist in that universe leaves many female readers and fans in general (myself included), a bit uneasy about how women are still being treated in comics. No, they shouldn't exist solely as plot devices, no they shouldn't just be ret-conned out of existence like they don't matter. I like to think we've come a long way from when women existed solely to make the boys look good in a panel, and I hope creators keep that in mind when writing their stories.