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Introduced all the way back in Action Comics 1, Lois Lane is just as old a character as Superman, who also was introduced in the same issue. With her appearance based on Joanne Kovacs (who would later go on to marry Jerry Siegel) and her personality based on awesome historical reporter Nellie Bly, it's curious how some elements from her introduction changed over time while others stuck around.

What I'm saying is that it's curious how Lois went from a tough adventurous reporter at a time when such a career for women was actively discouraged, to comparitively recent portrayals which take a huge step backwards in terms of characterisation.

Starting up, we have our introduction to Lois, where Clark decides to ask her out after a busy night of beating up domestic abusers. Unfortunately, some gangsters decide that Lois should just abandon Clark mid-date, leading to a physical confrontation.
This quickly escalates into Lois meeting Superman for the first time, when he picks up the gangsters' car and smashes it into some rocks. So yeah, that iconic Action Comics 1 cover? It's Superman totalling some jerks' car for being creepers to Lois.

But yeah, notable things about this introduction? Lois is shown to be someone who makes Clark, a man established in previous pages as being, well, Superman, nervous. When confronted with much larger, intimidating men she's more than willing to talk on her own terms and take no crap from sexist jerks... which it being the 1930s, would have been probably most of the people she encountered in her daily life.

Additionally, it's established that Clark isn't as good a reporter as Lois, and she actually uses her investigative skills in later stories in the 40s to try and prove that Clark and Superman are the same person, something which is only foiled by Superman using his powers to foil her scheme. In 1944 she even had her own feature in Superman's comic (Lois Lane, Girl Reporter) which had her investigating stories and beating bad guys without Superman's help.

More about the series here.

So yeah, Lois. Strong female character based on an actual person who got up to a number of old timey antics that Lois wouldn't be out of place doing, what changed?

Well despite Lois continuing to grow in popularity in through the 1950s, enough to even garner her getting an actual proper solo series (Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend) the arguement being made is a sadly familiar one, especially in regards to geek culture today. Which is, the foreseen target audience of Superman at the time consisted of young boys, and with the start of the space race old stories of gangsters and mad scientists were phased out in exchange for ones about aliens, fantasy creatures, and the stereotypical Silver Age nonsense.

So while Lois was introduced as a superhero genre homage to Nellie Bly, her role quickly devolved into wanting to marry Superman, by any means necessary. This included trickery, an ongoing feud with Clark's childhood friend Lana Lang, etc. etc. Which when combined with the weird authoritarian behaviour of Silver Age Superman... things got weird really fast.

As comics moved from the Sixties into the Seventies and the perception of women changed, Lois began to slowly become more like her original Siegel and Schuster self, being less concerned with discovering Clark's secret identity and once again getting her own comic to investigate and capture bad guys (the Superman Family). By the 1980s and the John Byrne reboot in the form of his Superman: Man of Steel comic, we at least ended up with the form of Lois which is so familiar today.

Albeit considerably less... errr... "Eighties" as time progressed, naturally.

So yeah, what caused Lois to gain a reputation for being a kind of shallow woman with an obsession for Superman? Marketing and changing attitudes to women. Not really the political kind of stuff responsible for Catwoman's temporary disappearance from comics (short expanation: she by her nature defied the CCA by making crime look cool etc.), but still... interesting in its own right.

It is curious how Lois started out as being progressive for the time she was first created, much like how Superman was first created as a positive force for change by his creators (fighting slumlords, domestic abusers, gangsters, war profiteers etc.), but as time progressed different agendas came into play which detracted from the creator's original intent.
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