Joye Murchison Kelly and Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk to be Honoured with Bill Finger Award

June 14, 2018

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This is very, very cool. Two of the most important women in the early history of Wonder Woman are going to receive the Bill Finger Award at San Diego Comic-Con this summer. Joye Murchison Kelly was a ghost writer for William Moulton Marston in the early 1940s, while Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk was an assistant editor on the original Wonder Woman comics and later returned to DC for a fascinating run editing Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane. Heidi MacDonald has a full report at The Beat, and you can read more on the official Comic-Con page.

The Bill Finger Awards honour comic book creators who have not received proper credit for their work and contributions to the industry. Bill Finger was famously screwed over by Bob Kane and DC. He did most of the work creating Batman, but Kane took all the credit. The awards were created by Finger’s friend Jerry Robinson in 2005, and 28 creators have won it since. Kelly and Woolfolk are the first women to do so.

I’ve written about both of these women in my books Wonder Woman Unbound and Investigating Lois Lane, and I’m absolutely delighted that they’re sharing this award. Both women are compelling and important figures in the history of the genre, and their work has been overlooked for decades.

In Kelly’s case, it’s because she was never credited. Marston hired her as a writing assistant in 1944, and she was soon writing full issues by herself as Marston’s health began to fail. Everything was still credited to “Charles Moulton,” Marston’s penname, in the comics, and Kelly’s contributions were long forgotten until DC’s Wonder Woman Archives line gave her due credit many decades later.

Kelly wrote several classic Wonder Woman stories featuring some of her most well known villains, including Dr. Psycho, the Cheetah, Dr. Poison, and more. She also continued Marston’s themes of female strength and power extremely faithfully, including Marston’s preoccupation with bondage imagery (it was a metaphor, but it had its limits). Perhaps most notably, Kelly coined Wonder Woman’s famous catchphrase “Suffering Sappho!” It had ancient Greek roots, of course, but was also a subtle nod to what the Amazons were actually getting up to on Paradise Island.

Woolfolk was an assistant editor on Kelly’s comics back when she was just Dorothy Roubicek. She worked for All-American publisher Max Gaines and was the first female editor at DC Comics, making sure that all the books came out on time. And when critics objected to Marston’s bondage fixation, Woolfolk was tasked with coming up with ways to tone things down. Marston didn’t listen to any of them, but it speaks to Gaines’ high opinion of her that she was his go-to gal on matters concerning his bestselling comic.

(Some sources suggest that Woolfolk wrote a few early Wonder Woman stories, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. She’s not credited as a writer in any of the Archives collections, which are painstakingly thorough).

Woolfolk worked for other publishers for a while, then married writer Bill Woolfolk and took a break from publishing when she had her kids. She returned to DC in the early 1970s as a full editor and revitalized the publisher’s romance line with fresh, relevant stories. Because of her success there, she was given control over Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, and she brought the same modern, feminist sensibility to everyone’s favourite reporter. In her first issue, Lois dumped Superman and quit her job at the Daily Planet because she was sick of men telling her what to do. This feminist revolution was short-lived, though. The men in DC’s offices didn’t take kindly to having a woman around, and Woolfolk was unceremoniously ousted a few months later. You can read more about that in an excerpt from Investigating Lois Lane over at The Atlantic.

Both women are absolutely fascinating figures in comic book history, and this award is very much deserved. Kelly is 90 years old now, and will be in San Diego to accept the award. Woolfolk passed away in 2000, but her daughter will be there to accept the award on her behalf. This recognition is long overdue, but I’m so happy it’s here. Wonder Woman wouldn’t be the same without Kelly or Woolfolk, and I hope the award encourages fans and comic book historians alike to dig into their great work.

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Wonder Woman #48 Review: All Jason, All The Time. I Could Not Be Less Interested In This.

June 13, 2018

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Nope. Nope nope nope.

I’m not going to waste an hour of my life writing a review of a Wonder Woman comic that stars her stupid brother for the whole dang thing.

We’ll get into it all, briefly, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you don’t want to know what happens in this Wonder Woman comic book that barely has Wonder Woman in it!

Ugh, this run.

THE WORST.

So basically, while Wonder Woman’s whisked off to Zamaron for the events of last week’s annual, Jason is left behind to fight the Dark Gods on his own. He uses a magic spear that I’m pretty sure is a rip off of the Chance Lance from Adventure Zone. And also he instantly knows everything about the Dark Gods because of the Athena powers in his special suit and he painstakingly tells us all about them via lengthy narration. Then the Justice League shows up to help for a bit. They lose. Wonder Woman is on the first and last page, and that’s it for her.

The Dark Gods look goofy. Jason is terrible. This issue is dumb and bad.

The end.

We’ll be back in two weeks, with Wonder Woman actually in the mix this time. Two more issues until this is over, gang. We’re almost there.

Wonder Woman Annual #2 Review: New Planet, Same Bad Writing

June 6, 2018

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So, remember a few weeks back when Wonder Woman was fighting an angry god and she defeated him by channeling the power of love? Well, for only five American dollars, you can read a very similar story this week in Wonder Woman Annual #2. Honestly, gang, I don’t know what anyone involved in this series is thinking right now. James Robinson is either phoning it in or he’s forgotten everything he ever knew about storytelling. The editors must be checked out entirely at this point to let this dreck hit the stands every two weeks. The artists are doing their best, I suppose. I do appreciate that. But why has this mess been going on for so long? It’s embarrassing.

Also, one year and a few days ago, the Wonder Woman movie was the biggest thing in the dang world. And in response, DC introduced her brother? Tied the book into the remnants of an out of continuity event? And now they do this story, which ties into their latest big event book? None of this is accessible for new readers. None of this is what anyone who loved the movie (or who loved the character before the movie, frankly) wants to see in a Wonder Woman comic book. The folks at DC have dropped the ball spectacularly when it comes to Wonder Woman, and wasted the biggest opportunity the character’s had in decades. It’s stupid, and it’s sad, and I hope they figure something out by the time Wonder Woman 2 comes out, because the comic should be a dang powerhouse.

Anyway, let’s talk about this dopey annual, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all the details of Wonder Woman’s encounter with the Star Sapphires!

I said it before, but this book costs FIVE DOLLARS!

For what? A rehashed plot? Good lord.

Last we saw Wonder Woman, she was being whisked away from Earth by the Star Sapphires to help them face a grave threat on Zamaron. Turns out, the Zamaron threat is a lot like the Earth threat. They have a Dark God, too, and it’s killing them one by one because it detects impurities in their love or something? I don’t know. That bit, like most of this issue, was pretty dumb. Anyway, Wonder Woman swaps costumes and goes to fight the god, learns his boring backstory, and channels all the love of the Star Sapphires to defeat him. The end. Except in the comic, it took like forty pages of drawn out conversations and subpar action scenes.

The book’s first big problem is that the Dark Gods just aren’t interesting. I mean, here’s the rationale for their appearance: At the end of DC’s Metal event, Wonder Woman was too vague in the wording of a magic wish she made. Oof. Robinson gets paid to come up with that? She wanted HER gods to return, but she wished for THE gods to return, and so the Dark Gods showed up. Never mind the fact that they’re from a different universe and you can’t return to a place you’ve never been. Let’s just set that incongruity aside, because why even bother? There’s no point in giving this comic more thought than the writers and editors did. But yeah, the Dark Gods are wreaking havoc on the universe because Wonder Woman misspoke slightly. Cool story.

This particular Dark God has a tragic backstory, of course. He’s from the Dark Multiverse, after all. It’s not a nice place. It’s in no way interesting, though. And now he’s all mad at Wonder Woman for separating some of the gods from the rest of their family, even though the gods don’t seem to like each other very much? Again, let’s not overthink this comic book. It does not warrant careful analysis. Just in terms of pure entertainment value, the dude is boring, he doesn’t even look cool, and the fight sucks. A fun encounter can make up for some haphazard plotting, but this book’s got neither.

In the end, Wonder Woman wins, and she goes back to Earth to fight more of these things. Oh, the Star Sapphires are in this, too. I like the Star Sapphires, but they’re pretty much wasted here. They deliver the exposition then help with the final takedown, and that’s about it. Also, there’s a mention of Blackest Night, a DC event from their old universe that’s no longer in continuity. And it was an event that was DEEPLY rooted in that universe’s continuity because it involved old friends and foes coming back to life, evil zombie style. So how Wonder Woman was flashing back to that, I have no idea. Her entire world is different now, twice over, since then.

The artists try their best with this issue, and the end result is a bit of a jumble. There are four different artists, which is a bit jarring. Sometimes swapping between them works, like when Frazier Irving steps in to do flashbacks to the Dark Universe and such. But then Irving does a chunk of the main fight as well, and it just doesn’t fit with the styles of the other three dudes who are doing the present day art. Their art is serviceable, if not particularly strong or interesting. And the book is really missing Romulo Fajardo Jr., who doesn’t color this issue! You can tell, too. Fajardo brings so much life and texture to his pages, and this book just feels flat. Though to be fair to the colorists, when an issue’s got four different artists, it usually means one guy was late and other guys were brought in to help so pages were coming in last minute. The colorists may not have had much time.

Overall, I was sort of curious about this Zamaron adventure. Wonder Woman getting snatched away a couple weeks back amused me, and I was hoping that this annual might be mildly fun. It was not. It was long and dull and not especially nice to look at, and I’m very annoyed that I had to pay five dollars for it. American, too. That’s like six something Canadian. But here’s some happy news: We’ve only got three issues of this left, then we get new creators. We can do it, gang. It’s gonna be rough, but we can do it.

Women + NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch, August 2018 Solicits: 25 Creators on 21 Books

June 5, 2018

womenatmarvelAUGUSTThe year thus far has not been great for female and non-binary creator representation at Marvel, with the numbers dropping down to the low teens for a stretch this spring. So when I say that this is the publisher’s best month of 2018, that’s not saying much. Still, things are improving, even if Marvel’s past highs remain a long way off and sustainability continues to be an ongoing concern. August doesn’t look like it’s going to be terrible, and that’s a welcome change of pace. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel in August:

  • Amanda Conner: Extermination #1 (variant cover)
  • Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #23 (cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Moon Knight #198 (cover)
  • Carmen Carnero: X-Men Red #7 (interior art)
  • Devin Grayson: Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel/Squirrel Girl #1 (co-writer)
  • Elsa Charretier: Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel/Squirrel Girl #1 (variant cover)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Fantastic Four #1 (variant cover), X-Men Gold Annual #2 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #35 (cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel/Squirrel Girl #1 (co-writer), Ms. Marvel #33 (writer)
  • Gail Simone: Domino #5 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel/Squirrel Girl #1 (cover)
  • Irene Strychalski: Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel/Squirrel Girl #1 (interior art)
  • Jenny Frison: X-Men Red #7 (cover)
  • Jody Houser: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #22 (writer), Star Wars: Poe Dameron Annual #2 (writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Infinity Wars #1 (variant cover)
  • Kelly Thompson: West Coast Avengers #1 (writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: The Life of Captain Marvel #2 (writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: Hunt for Wolverine: Claws of a Killer #4 (writer), X-23 #3 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #34 (interior art, cover)
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Wakanda Forever: Avengers #1 (writer)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #12 (writer)
  • Sara Pichelli: Fantastic Four #1 (interior art, variant cover)
  • Vanesa Del Rey: Wakanda Forever: Avengers #1 (variant cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Infinity Wars #2 (variant cover), Wakanda Forever: Avengers #1 (variant cover)

All together, there are 25 different female creators scheduled to work on 21 different comic books at Marvel in August, 3 more creators and 3 more books than in July. As far as I can tell, there are no non-binary creators with gigs at Marvel this month. The August totals are Marvel’s highest of the year, and their best showing since last September. It’s been a bit of a free fall since then, but maybe they’re climbing out of it?

I’m cautious, because so many of the jobs above are temporary. I know I bang this drum every month, but as much as one-time gigs can be a foot in the door, dependence on them can lead to a collapse of the numbers. We’ve seen it several times over the past few years. Only about half of the women listed here are guaranteed to be back next month. Others may be be back too, but it will be elsewhere, and that shuffling can sometimes collapse. It’s been holding well for the past few months, though, and perhaps an influx of new, stable jobs will shore things up and help the numbers continue to grow.

Speaking of new, stable jobs, we’ve got a couple this month in the form of two returning favourites! Kelly Thompson is back, writing West Coast Avengers, and it looks FANTASTIC. Hawkeye is in the mix (I mean the good one, not the dude one, though he’s there, too) along with Gwenpool, America, and a few fellows. I think it’s going to be a blast. Sara Pichelli is back as well, drawing Marvel’s long-awaited relaunch of Fantastic Four. I’m not so keen on the writer there, but Pichelli will make the book look amazing, I’m sure.

These new books mean it’s a good month for fictional women as well. Hawkeye, Gwenpool, and America are front and center in West Coast Avengers, Sue Storm is back in Fantastic Four, and the Extermination event focuses on the original X-Men, which means a big role for young Jean Grey. The Wakanda Forever oneshots are continuing, too, and that brings us another rad Dora Milaje adventure. And the Marvel Rising oneshots feature more Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, and more.

Overall, Marvel’s definitely on the up right now. While they dug themselves a very deep hole and they’re still far behind their past highs, they’re in the ballpark of some relatively okay numbers this month. The big issue is whether or not the numbers will hold, and so far they seem to be doing so. After the bottom fell out in the spring, the obvious worry is that it will happen again. But hopefully Marvel continues to regain ground and grow!

Women + NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, August 2018 Solicits: 25 Creators on 19 Books

May 30, 2018

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August looks like it’s going to be a relatively decent month for female creators at DC Comics, with the publisher posting its highest numbers since March. It’s a welcome change after an underwhelming spring and start to the summer. However, August is also a month of transition, with some big beginnings, endings, and returns, so the sustainability of these numbers is very much up in the air. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at DC Comics this August:

  • Adriana Melo: Plastic Man #3 (interior art)
  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn/Gossamer Special #1 (co-writer, cover), Supergirl #21 (variant cover)
  • Babs Tarr: Teen Titans #21 (variant cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Shade, the Changing Woman #6 (cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: The Sandman Universe #1 (interior art)
  • Cecil Castellucci: Shade, the Changing Woman #6 (writer)
  • Elena Casagrande: Batgirl Annual #2 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Batgirl Annual #2 (cover), Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special #1 (cover)
  • Gail Simone: Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special #1 (writer), Plastic Man #3 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #52 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #53 (variant cover)
  • Jill Thompson: The Sandman Universe #1 (co-writer)
  • Jody Houser: Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #6 (writer)
  • Joelle Jones: Catwoman #2 (writer, art, cover)
  • Julie Benson: Green Arrow #43 (co-writer)
  • Kat Howard: The Sandman Universe #1 (co-writer)
  • Magdalene Visaggio: Eternity Girl #6 (writer)
  • Mairghread Scott: Batgirl #26 (writer), Batgirl Annual #2 (writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batwoman #18 (writer)
  • Marley Zarcone: Shade, the Changing Woman #6 (interior art)
  • Nalo Hopkinson: The Sandman Universe #1 (co-writer)
  • Rachel Dodson: Justice League Odyssey #2 (variant cover), Supergirl #21 (cover)
  • Sana Takeda: The Wild Storm #16 (variant cover)
  • Shawna Benson: Green Arrow #43 (co-writer)
  • Shea Fontana: Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special #1 (writer, backup story)
  • Yasmine Putri: Scooby Apocalypse #28 (variant cover)

All together, there are 25 female creators scheduled to work on 19 different comics in August 2018, 4 more creators than in July and 3 more books. To the best of my knowledge, there are no non-binary creators set to work at DC Comics in August. Relative to the year thus far, this is a solid showing for female representation at DC. The numbers remain noticeably below the publisher’s past highs, but hitting the mid-20s is still a nice change after a consistent, lower stretch.

We’ve also got a major debut in August with The Sandman Universe #1. Not only is it more Sandman, which is always exciting, it’s also an introductory issue for four spinoff series that will begin this fall. The book has several female creators in the mix, including writers Kat Howard and Nalo Hopkinson, both new to DC, and artist Bilquis Evely, who you may remember from her excellent run on Wonder Woman. They’ll also be part of the spinoff books moving forward.

But we’ve got a lot of endings as well. Batwoman is drawing to a close after a very enjoyable run, and between that and the cancellation of Bombshells United I’ve got my fingers crossed that DC has something else lined up for Marguerite Bennett because she’s been doing fantastic work for them. August also marks the end of the “Young Animal” imprint, which will be a major blow to the numbers. “Young Animal” creators account for 5 of the 25 women listed above, and losing 20% of your female workforce in one fell swoop is not ideal. They’re all amazing creators, too, and I hope DC is wise enough to keep them in the fold with new work.

There are also a lot of oneshots and annuals in August, including a few Looney Tunes crossovers that sound amusing. These are one-off gigs, though, and combined those with a few random variant cover jobs and the cancellations I just mentioned, there are only 11 female creators in the list above that have long term jobs guaranteeing they’ll be back next month. Several of the 14 other women may return in some other capacity, but it’s no sure thing.

Overall, while August will be one of DC’s better months for representation so far this year, things are very much in flux right now. Barring a rash of one-shot gigs or major creative shake ups, reaching this level again in September could be tricky. Plus it’s not even that impressive a level to begin with. DC’s hired far more female and non-binary creators in the past. And they also hire about a couple hundred dudes each month, so women and non-binary creators remain a small minority regardless.

Wonder Woman #47 Review: At Least the Art is Decent

May 23, 2018

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We’ve got four issues of this mess left, gang. An annual next week, then three more issues to get us to Wonder Woman #50 and the end of this god awful run. After that, new creators! And a writer who is actually good at both dialogue and plotting. I’m so looking forward to it. These past few months have been a real slog, and I’m optimistic that Wonder Woman will be readable once again come late July. Maybe enjoyable, even? I’ve got a good feeling about Steve Orlando, and Laura Braga and ACO on art should be a lot of fun.

But for now, we’re still in the middle of James Robinson’s foolishness. And dang, is it hard to care about this story. It’s just bad, and is building on all of the bad arcs that preceded it. It’s terrible all the way down. Jason’s still around, and he’s both the worst character AND the worst idea for a character I’ve seen in some time. And there are some Dark Gods that are doing something or other? We’re two issues in now, and we still don’t know much about them. It’s all so underwhelming. So let’s talk about it! But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you have not read this issue yet!

Unless you, unlike me, are sensible and have dropped the series and are just reading this to keep yourself in the loop of what’s going on!

I can understand that!

And I envy you your spare $3.99!

This issue is centered mainly on a fight between Wonder Woman and Supergirl, as we can see from the main cover. Kudos to Emanuela Lupacchino and the cover gang for the old school word balloons here. That’s a nice, classic touch. However, you should take a peek at Jenny Frison’s lovely variant cover for the issue:

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Ice cream fun with Diana and Kara! And you know they’re having a good time because a) they’re smiling and laughing, and b) they splurged on waffle cones, the most delicious form of cone. This is the story I’d much rather be reading, two superheroines out having a fun day, enjoying some ice cream. Something will inevitably go awry, of course, and they’ll shoot off to save the day. It sounds like a delightful issue! And I appreciate Jenny Frison giving me the opportunity to imagine such a pleasant story.

The actual issue is less pleasant. It begins with Supergirl, crazed by the Dark Gods, picking a fight with a flummoxed Wonder Woman. Much like the Cheetah battle two weeks back, Stephen Segovia does a solid job with the fight choreography, with some breakdown help from Rick Leonardi. The scene is dynamically rendered, with lots of action and velocity. And style, as well. I really like how he draws Supergirl’s heat rays with a bit of flair, and the entire flying battle is a master class in cape crumpling as she whips through the air. The whole thing is a good time.

Well, a good time until you read the words. Also much like last issue’s Cheetah battle, the fine visuals are undercut by some embarrassingly poor writing. The dialogue and narration are poor, and any sort of explanation for the fight is non-existent.

I will say, though, kudos to Saida Temofonte. Yes, most of the words are quite bad, but she does an excellent job laying them out on the page. I don’t talk about her lettering skills enough, partly because I spend most of my time rolling my eyes at the story and partly because when a letterer is good their work is so seamless that you almost don’t notice it. Temofonte is excellent, and has been doing a fine job on the book for months now. Her skills are on display particularly well during the fight scene. She stays out of the way of the action while still following along with the direction of the art, even across several two pages spreads. It makes everything easy to read and follow, which is exactly what you want in lettering.

If only they’d let her put in good words, instead of the bad ones James Robinson keeps choosing. He’s come up with an interesting fight scene here, and then sucks all the fun out of it with his writing. Every word he puts in Wonder Woman’s mouth, every caption that shows her thoughts, rings absolutely false. She just doesn’t feel like Wonder Woman. Supergirl’s got the excuse of being wacky with the Dark Gods’ influence; her dialogue should be wonky. But Wonder Woman’s in her right mind, yet she hasn’t seemed like herself for months.

Then we cut to Jason, who’s hanging out with the Fates because, I don’t know? Glaucus knows them, I guess? Anyway, we learn that his fancy new armor was meant for Diana, not him, and he still dons the armor anyway to go face the bizarre stone monoliths that have appeared in the sky. Kind of a jerk move, really. If Zeus wanted Diana to have it, he should probably stop using it.

I will say, I was mildly amused by the issue’s conclusion. Star Sapphires appear out of nowhere to take Wonder Woman off to Zamaron for next week’s Wonder Woman Annual #2, just as the battle with the Dark Gods is about to begin. The annual is going to suck, most likely, since James Robinson is writing it, but that ending is such a classic comic book move that I almost have to respect it a little bit. I love an out of the blue whisk away for a special issue.

This leaves us with a bigger problem, though. It sounds like the next issue of Wonder Woman proper is going to be Jason vs. the Dark Gods, and I do not want to spend four dollars on that shizz. When I go to buy Wonder Woman and her dopey brother is the star of the book instead, I get very, very, very annoyed. If we get little to no Wonder Woman in that issue, my review might just be “Nope. Nope nope nope.” Time will tell. But next week, Zamaron!

Remembering Margot Kidder, A Remarkable Lois Lane and a Remarkable Woman

May 14, 2018

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Margot Kidder was a spectacular Lois Lane.

On the surface, it seems like a pretty straight forward role. Ace reporter, Superman’s girlfriend. Easy enough. But it’s a deceptively tricky part. There’s a difficult balance to it that’s so essential to the character. A good Lois needs to be a take charge, courageous reporter, brash and almost a little bit foolhardy in her dedication to tracking down scoops and uncovering truth. But she also needs to have a softer side, one that comes out when she’s with Superman and she lets down her guard. Lean too far in either direction, and the character doesn’t feel quite right. But capture both, and you’ve got magic.

Kidder played both sides of the character seamlessly, and established the quintessential Lois Lane in Superman: The Movie. Her introduction is perfection: She storms into Perry White’s office, ignores new hire Clark Kent entirely, and pitches a series of articles about a string of senseless killings that are plaguing Metropolis. Kidder’s chemistry with Christopher Reeve is palpable from the start, even when he’s the bumbling Clark Kent. And it soars when he’s Superman. Her reaction to the dramatic helicopter rescue is a dang delight:

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And her first interview with him is absolutely brilliant. Kidder captures the balance of the character so well. She’s thorough and relentless in her questioning, but charmingly flirtatious all the while. The entire conversation is tough yet sweet, and also slyly dirty. Watching Kidder and Reeve together is an absolute joy. It’s well crafted scene, but Kidder takes the strong script and elevates it further into something truly special.

When Superman: The Movie came out in the late 1970s, Lois Lane wasn’t in the best spot. The fearless reporter of the 1940s had given way to a lovesick, constantly put upon girlfriend in the 1950s, and this stayed the norm for several decades. The 1950s Adventures of Superman television show followed a similar pattern, with Phyllis Coates playing an enjoyably tough Lois in the show’s first season before Noel Neill took over from the second season on with a softer, more acquiescent take on her. Lois did have a brief feminist revolution in the comics in the early 1970s, dumping Superman and striking out as a freelance reporter, but it didn’t last. For the rest of the decade, her career took a backseat to her primary role as a romantic interest for both Superman and Clark Kent.

Then Kidder found a way to capture it all. The bravery, the determination, the compassion, the romance. She embodied every iconic element of Lois Lane, putting them all together in a compelling, layered performance. Kidder’s take on Lois defined the character not just for that time, but potentially for all time. Every Lois we’ve seen since, on page and screen, has had a bit of Kidder to her. The more successful ones have had a lot of Kidder. The less successful ones, less so. Kidder set the standard for what Lois Lane can be.

She went on to play Lois three more times. Superman II was a bit loopier than the original, but it had plenty of great moments for Lois. Whether she was infiltrating a terrorist plot to blow up the Eiffel Tower, discovering Superman’s secret identity, or trying to punch out a Kryptonian villain, Kidder was wonderful from start to finish. The next two Superman films suffered a substantial dip in quality, though. Kidder was largely written out of the third movie after she was vocal in her disagreement with the studio’s firing of original Superman director Richard Donner. The fourth and final film was a low budget mess, but even then she made some poor material work well and her talents shone through the subpar writing.

Margot Kidder was far more than just Lois Lane, of course, and her life consisted of a fascinating and inspiring series of ups and downs. She was born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, a remote town in Northern Canada. From there she made her way south into the Canadian film and television industry, and then to Hollywood. She starred in a few notable films before landing the role of Lois Lane, but she became an overnight superstar when Superman: The Movie became one of the most successful films of all time.

She had an interesting career throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, earning critical praise for some gritty film roles and well-received stage performances. After suffering a nervous breakdown in 1996, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and became a mental health advocate in the decades that followed. She was also very involved in progressive, liberal causes, and devoted much of her later life to political and mental health activism.

Kidder passed away yesterday in her home in Montana at the age of 69. She was a remarkable woman who led a remarkable life, in so many ways. Her take on Lois Lane was a spectacular moment in pop culture history that has inspired viewers for generations now, while her activism touched and helped so many. She’ll be greatly missed.


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