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As part of their promotion of September’s new Superman #1, DC Comics and the New York Daily News are asking fans to vote on whether Lois Lane’s new boyfriend “Jonathan Carroll is an upgrade from Clark Kent.” That’s the way the Daily News puts it, anyway. On DC’s Source blog, they phrase the question a bit differently: “Are you Team Superman or Team Jonathan?”
It’s difficult to set aside feelings about Twilight when that’s exactly what DC’s alluding to. One of the biggest criticisms of the Twilight series is that its lead character is largely defined by who she’s dating. Robin Browne (by way of Andrew Futral) put it well when she compared Twilight to Harry Potter (though her quote is often attributed to Stephen King): “Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity…Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”
It’s frustrating to hear DC express Lois Lane’s story in similar terms. By asking readers to join either Team Superman or Team Jonathan, DC’s suggesting that what’s really important isn’t whatever’s going on in the rest of Lois’ life, but who she ends up with. I hope there’s much more to it than that.
All we’re seeing is two pages from Superman #1. I hope that what we’re not seeing is that “boyfriend” is a hyperbolic term and that Lois isn’t really interested in this new douchebag. I hope it’s a one-night stand. I also hope that it’s a good long time before she sees anything in Clark Kent beyond simple friendship. And vice versa, come to think of it. I hope that DC allows her to be her own character before throwing the messiness of a relationship with Clark/Superman at her. Show her dating, sure. Let’s see what kind of guys she likes. That’s part of who she is. But I sure as hell want to see what she’s like in other areas too. I hope that she’s not just a prize for Superman to win.
It’s just that based on DC’s marketing so far, I don’t hope it very strongly.