On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.
There have been a number of stories over the years that have toyed with the idea of Superman and Wonder Woman becoming a couple, sometimes with Lois Lane and maybe Steve Trevor looking on in dismay. Heck, quite recently in Geoff Johns’s Justice League series, Supes and WW got to smooching, but of course in the New 52 relaunch, for worse or for worse, Superman and Lois Lane aren’t even a couple.
Now, I love Lois Lane. She’s a freaking badass, the most hard-nosed newspaper reporter in comics. That’s what she was when she debuted in the late 1930s, and she’s that way now. In the 1960s, however, she was a little different. In her own series Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane she seemed to spend most of her time either trying to trick or coerce Superman into marrying her or falling in love with some random space centaur. So it’s pretty natural that it was in that series that Lois Lane and Wonder Woman fought over which one of them was going to marry Superman.
Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #93, DC Comics, July 1969.
The funny thing about this particular WW-Supes pairing is that it happens during the period when Wonder Woman gave up her superpowers and became a karate-chopping mod detective. So it’s not even the usual thing about two of the most powerful beings on the planet and how they should hook up to breed a master race to enslave us all. Or maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Anyway, Lois Lane thinks she’s finally safe now that Wonder Woman is human, because Superman won’t marry her for the same reason that he won’t marry Lois—because players gotta play. Oh wait, I mean because he doesn’t want one of his enemies to kill her. Still, that doesn’t keep Lois from having nightmares about Superman hooking up with his super friend.
With art by Irv Novick, this story was written by Robert Kanigher, who wrote the Wonder Woman series for 22 years, taking over directly from creator William Moulton Marston when Marston died and writing it right up until Mike Sekowsky took over and turned her into a mod. Kanigher wasn’t even the regular Lois Lane writer, so it’s interesting that he stepped in for a story about the heroine who’d seemingly left his era behind. This issue is collected in the trade paperback Diana Prince: Wonder Woman vol. 2, along with Sekowsky’s Wonder Woman stories.
Wonder Woman is supposed to perform a circus act for charity with Superman—which is all her idea, by the way—but she decides she can’t do it without superpowers, so she enlists Lois’s help in getting her some new superpowers. Why Lois? Well, just because she was the one assigned to cover the event for the Daily Planet. She has Lois borrow a “mercury stone” from the science museum that will allow her to fly. You know, because of science! Apparently it’s common knowledge that WW doesn’t have powers anymore, because random folks in the audience are talking about it, but she surprises the crowd and Superman with her flying aerial act. Just like at any other circus, the audience is so impressed that they demand that the two performers make out, and marry each other as soon as possible. And you know what that means: More nightmares for Lois!
Lois is assigned to write a puff piece about the private lives of Superman and Wonder Woman—you know, because she’s a woman—and she finds them just hanging out together in Diana’s new mod boutique, flirting up a storm. Diana makes Supes try on crazy flower-power duds, and they go dancing “froggie underwater” in a hippie club. You know, “froggie underwater.” Like you do. Even the hippies wonder when Diana and Superman are going to tie the knot, and they’re all about the free love.
There’s only one thing for Lois to do. Talk to Superman about her fears? Ask Diana what’s going on? Don’t be ridiculous. She has to go learn karate so that she can kick Wonder Woman’s ass and Superman will love her again. Because clearly the way to a man’s heart is through mortal combat.
After an intense training montage, Lois feels ready to crush Wonder Woman, and that night she dreams that she thoroughly vanquishes the former Amazon warrior. But when she actually challenges WW the next day, she can’t lay a hand on Diana, who pretty quickly slaps the crap out of her.
This is the first confirmation the reader has that Lois isn’t just imagining the whole thing, as Diana says outright that she’s totally into Superman now and Lois can just suck it. And Superman? He’s happy just to watch them fight, and flies off silently with the victor while the supposed love of his life is left crawling and weeping on the ground.
I love how Superman just goes along with all this. “Oh, Wonder Woman says she’s going to marry me? Well, gosh, I guess that’s just what’s going to happen. Funny, I thought I remembered something about loving somebody else. Oh well, it couldn’t have been too important.”
Still, Supes is concerned that Wonder Woman isn’t super-strong and invulnerable like he is—but wait! She tells him to use his x-ray vision on her Amazon ring so that the vibrations will change her molecular structure—because of science! And sure enough, next thing we know she’s lifting a 20-story rocket with her bare hands and surviving an atomic bomb explosion.
If this seems fishy to you, you’re not alone. Lois’s keen reportorial instincts tell her there’s no way Wonder Woman has that kind of power. So she does a little sleuthing on her own and figures out exactly what Diana’s secret is. What’s more, she finds the real Diana hidden away in Wonder Woman’s basement. It turns out that this Wonder Woman who’s been trying to steal her man is a Kryptonian supervillain we’ve never met before, freshly escaped from the Phantom Zone and wearing a rubber mask! She wants to marry Superman because no one would suspect her of “ruling the crime world” if she was his wife.
This fiendish woman Ar-Ual is about to send Diana and Lois to the Phantom Zone so that no one can stand in her way—and she would have gotten away with it, too, if not for that meddling Superman, who flies in in the nick of time and saves the day. I guess because it would be unseemly to actually fight a woman, he throws Red Kryptonite dust at her, which seems like it would be a crazy thing to do because Red K has totally unpredictable effects on Kryptonians, and he would be just as vulnerable to it as she is. An editor’s note attempts to explain this away by saying, “This particular type of Red K can remove a Kryptonian’s powers for 24 hours. Since it affected Superman once before, it can’t do so again.” Just the fact that an editor felt the need to come up with this cockamamie explanation seems to indicate that Kanigher just couldn’t be bothered to think it through.
Oh, but Superman helpfully explains that he’d decided not to marry Wonder Woman after all because he cares too much about Lois, and Diana says she doesn’t like him that way anyway. It’s a happy ending all around, and Lois will never, ever have cause to fret about Superman again. Especially not in the next issue, and the issue after that, and the issue after that.