Just who is older between Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman? Is there even really an answer? Like almost everything in comic book history, the answer is complicated.
In Comic Book Questions Answered, I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at [email protected]).
Longtime reader Nicole K. wrote in to ask, “I’m not sure what category of articles at CBR this question would fit in but who is older, Lois or Clark and when was it established? I ask because the other day I was watching the animated shorts of DC SuperHeroGirls, which was surprisingly clever in many way, and they had a high school reporter Lois Lane seeing Daily Planet college intern Clark Kent on the front page. This stuck out to me because I always think of Lois is older than Clark. I say this because Lois always seems so established and accomplished when Clark comes to Metropolis in the media I’ve seen. And I always liked the idea of Lois being older than Clark.So in the comics was Lois older than Clark?”
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My pal Pat Curley, of the Silver Age Comics blog, did his best to address the issue of Superman’s age years ago and so a lot of what he dug up is relevant to this question, so I figured I’d thank Pat right away!
Okay, here’s the thing that’s really important to get out of the way as we begin. The comic book creators and editors of comic books during the Golden Age did not care about that stuff. The joke is that there are basically four ages of all comic book characters – baby, kid, adult or elderly. Once you became an adult, you were an adult and it didn’t matter what age you were, you were treated the same as every other adult. That really tied into how comic books were mostly aimed at a young audience and there’s a famous Peanuts comic strip (that is coming up on its 50th anniversary very soon) where Linus informs Charlie Brown that Bob Dylan is turning 30 that month and Charlie Brown replies, “That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.”
That’s because, to a kid, 30 is actually OLD. The issue, though, is that while a kid might not want Bob Dylan to turn 30, does he or she really care if SUPERMAN is an adult? What does it matter to them if Superman is an adult? After all, there’s even a specific comic book just for the adventures of SuperBOY if you didn’t want to read an adult Superman.
But anyhow, they kept things pretty vague for many years until suddenly, out of nowhere, at the end of 1957, with Lois Lane getting her own series, DC did a house ad with facts about Lois, including that she’s….22 years old?!?!
What the what?
Suffice it to say that that little detail was quickly ignored. 1959 was a big year for ages, as suddenly the Mort Weisinger-edited Superman comics (who around this time were doing letter columns and, naturally, readers were asking this stuff) decided to sort of kind of address it, like how in Action Comics #251 (by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino), we see Superman aged 40 years to 70…
That’s quite vague, though, right? As it’s not like the serum literally added 40 years, it was just a basic aging thing and he’s estimating that he’s about 70 now. But still, it DOES suggest he’s 30, right?
A few months later, in Superman #133 (by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino), we see how Clark Kent got his job at the Daily Planet and it sure seems like Lois Lane should be OLDER than him, right? Since she is an established reporter at the Planet when Clark gets his job…
That’s generally been how the story has gone over the years, with Clark applying for his job at the Daily Planet while Lois Lane was already working there.
In 1961’s Superboy #90 (by Jerry Coleman and Al Plastino), Lana Lang sees Lois in a future projection device and sees that Lois is basically her age. Lana tries to sabotage Lois’ future career as a reporter, figuring that that would keep Lois from dating Superman years later (the whole Lana/Lois rivalry could get MESSED up sometimes. There was a story that played on the idea by having Lois “pretend” kill Lana to make fun of their rivalry, but it’s nuts how not out of line that sort of thing really seemed!)…
So they’re clearly all roughly around the same age.
In the late 1960s, DC would send out “FAQs” to readers who would send in letters and Steve Thompson posted the one he received around 1968 and that point, Superman was now around 32, with Lois and Lana a year or two younger…
My pal Commander Benson did a good bit on trying to reconcile the whole “Lana is a year or two younger than Clark but is in the same grade as him” aspect of it all in an article here.
Then Julius Schwartz took over the books and his whole deal was that Superman was always going to remain 29, as demonstrated in 1980’s Action Comics #508 (by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte), when a powerful force drove all of the people over 30 years old in Metropolis from the city and Clark, Lana and Lois all remained in town…
So I guess, all things considered, that I would have to say, then, that Superman is, in fact, older than Lois Lane, even if it a matter of a few months or whatever. The interesting thing, of course, is that the movies have tended to go for older actresses to play Lois (Margot Kidder was four years older than Christopher Reeve and Amy Adams is nine years older than Henry Cavill) with the notable exception of Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns, who was four years younger than Brandon Routh and at 23 during the movie with a five-year-old son, makes Lois Lane’s age in that 1957 house ad look good in comparison, huh?
But, again, this is all purely speculative, since ages are constantly changing in comics, but this is my best answer!
Thanks for the question, Nicole!
If anyone else has a comic book related question, just drop me a line at [email protected]!
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