Posts Tagged ‘Adventures of Superman’

A Celebration Of Noel Neill, The First Live Action Lois Lane, To Be Held Nov. 5 In Metropolis, Ill.

September 6, 2016

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The superhero world lost an icon when Noel Neill passed away in July. She was the first live action Lois Lane, portraying the character alongside Kirk Alyn’s Man of Steel in the big screen Superman serial in 1948 and reprising the role in Atom Man vs. Superman two years later. Superman moved to television in the 1950s with George Reeves in the lead role, and Neill returned to play Lois Lane when Phyllis Coates left after the first season, staying with the show for the remainder of its run. For a generation of fans who grew up watching the Adventures of Superman TV show in its first run and then in syndication, Noel Neill WAS Lois Lane.

Neill led a long and fascinating life, and on November 5, 2016, many of her friends and admirers are gathering at the First United Methodist Church in Metropolis, Illinois, to remember and celebrate her life. It’s a fitting locale; Metropolis is the home of the annual Superman Celebration, and there’s a Lois Lane statue modeled after her likeness in the town. The three hour event will feature rare footage of Neill, along with presentations from several speakers, including:

  • Dr. Pam Munter, author of Almost Famous and When Teens Were Keen
  • Jim Nolt, editor of The Adventures Continue
  • Jim Bowers, editor of CapedWonder.com
  • Steve Younis, editor of supermanhomepage.com
  • Larry Blankley
  • John Field
  • Lisa Gower & Karla Ogle of the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce
  • Terry Ryan
  • Stephanie Perrin
  • Angie Sivori
  • Larry Thomas Ward, author of Truth, Justice, & The American Way: The Life & Times of Noel Neill and Beyond Lois Lane

There will also by music from The Melungeons.

The event is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend, so if you’re in the area you should definitely mark it on your calendar. Noel Neill was both a wonderful Lois Lane and a fantastic ambassador for the character for decades, and hearing about her life from those who knew her well should make for a fascinating afternoon. Such events always have a note of sadness, of course, but I’m sure it will also be infused with the joy that characterized Noel Neill throughout her 95 years.

The poster above appears in the October 2016 edition of Classics Images magazine.

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Remembering Noel Neill, The First Live Action Lois Lane

July 5, 2016

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Noel Neill passed away last Sunday at the age of 95, having lived a long and fascinating life. She wore a number of hats during her time in show business; she was a model, a singer, and an actress in both film and television, but she was best known as Lois Lane. Neill was the first live action Lois, playing the character alongside Kirk Alyn’s Man of Steel in the 1948 serial film Superman and reprising the role in its 1950 sequel, Atom Man vs. Superman. After Phyllis Coates left the Adventures of Superman television series after one season in 1952, the producers immediately reached out to the original Lois, and Neill played Lois next to George Reeves’ Superman for the next five seasons of the program until it ended in 1958.

Neill was Lois Lane during the bulk of the run of the Adventures of Superman, making her the person that an entire generation of fans associated with the character. The show was a hit in its initial run, and remained popular in syndication for a long time as well. Until Margot Kidder took over the role in Superman: The Movie in 1978, Noel Neill WAS Lois Lane.

Neill’s Lois was pleasant and kind-hearted, a stark contrast to the no nonsense brashness that Coates and later Kidder imbued in the character. Neill brought a warmth and friendliness to the role, which fit the part; the program was aimed primarily at children from its second season on, and Neill’s Lois was a good match for its fun, sometimes silly tone. She often found herself in goofy adventures alongside Jimmy Olsen, caught up in a zany plan that required Superman to come save them.

But Neill’s Lois wasn’t all damsel in distress hijinks; in one notable episode, she wrote an editorial that encouraged women to come out and vote in order to get rid of a corrupt politician, leveraging her position at the Daily Planet to try to make a difference. Moreover, she was a constant presence at the newspaper, always chasing down leads and trying to land front page scoops. She was a respected career woman at a time when most of the women on television were homemakers, serving as a role model for young girls in the 1950s and offering them an alternative future to aspire to.

After the Adventures of Superman ended, Neill remained closely associated with Lois Lane and the Superman franchise. She cameoed as Lois’ mother in an early scene in Superman: The Movie, appeared in the Superboy TV show in 1991, and had a small role in Superman Returns in 2006. Neill was also a regular presence at comic book conventions over the decades, representing the show alongside Jack Larson long after most of the original cast had passed. By all accounts, she was delightful, kind, and encouraging to everyone she encountered at conventions, and was a wonderful ambassador for Lois Lane.

I was so sad to hear about her passing yesterday, but wow, what a life. She got to be Lois Lane, TWICE, and seemed to love every minute of it. As a young girl growing up in Minnesota, her father ran a newspaper and she dreamed of being a reporter; she even wrote some articles for Women’s Wear Daily before turning to show business. Then as Lois, she got to live her dream on the big screen and the small screen, and wholeheartedly embraced her association with the character from then on. She will be remembered and missed by legions of fans, young and old.

Finally, here’s a bio of Noel Neill that first appeared in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #7 in February 1959. When Lois’ new series began, many of the letters from young fans asked about Neill and wanted to know more about her, so DC put together this piece for them. Fans continued to ask about her even after the article ran, so DC reprinted it a few more times throughout the 1960s:

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Lucy Lane Will Be On CBS’s Supergirl, And I Hope She’s A Riot Grrrl

August 4, 2015

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CBS’s new Supergirl show is set to debut this fall, and it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s already got several comic book stalwarts in the main cast, including Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, and Hank Henshaw, and now they’ve added another one with the addition of Jenna Dewan-Tatum as Lucy Lane, Lois’ younger sister.

Lucy is probably best known for her Silver Age exploits as Jimmy Olsen’s fickle girlfriend in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. She was kind of the worst, always jerking that poor boy around. It sounds like the show is going to pick up on that romantic angle and have Lucy be Jimmy’s ex-girlfriend, in Metropolis to right an old wrong.

But the Lucy Lane I’d really like to see is the one from the mid-1990s. Throughout the decade, Lucy had a running storyline through all of the Super-books. She dated Jimmy for a bit, then dated Daily Planet reporter Ron Troupe, got pregnant, and married him. Her best storyline came between these two relationships, when Lucy got involved in the riot grrrl movement. Riot grrrls came out of the underground punk scene, and they dealt with feminist issues through art, zines, and music, including notable bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. They were brash and direct, speaking their minds on issues ranging from sexuality to rape to politics.

The riot grrrls of Metropolis were somewhat less hardcore, what with them appearing in a comic book for kids and all. Nonetheless, they tackled the issues of sexism in superhero narratives from their very first appearance. Here’s a scene from their debut in Adventures of Superman #515 from August 1994, where Lucy stumbled upon them salvaging some instruments from a music store that was razed by an attack from Lex Luthor:

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These gals didn’t give a hoot about Superman because they knew full well the limiting roles that getting wrapped up with a male superhero entailed. Instead, they preferred to do their own thing, in this case starting a band literally called the Riot Grrrls. Their confidence in their future success despite none of them knowing how to play any instruments was reminiscent of Bratmobile, who talked up their band in their zines before any of them ever picked up an instrument.

Lucy hung out with the Riot Grrrls for a year or so across sporadic appearances. They often critiqued the sexism of their superhero world, and Lucy’s time with them marked a real turning point for the character. She moved beyond Jimmy Olsen, who never treated her well, and became a voice for more grounded storylines. Lois was always busy with Superman and his superhero adventures, so Lucy became a sort of woman on the street, dealing with real issues like interracial dating, poverty, and unexpected pregnancy.

It didn’t last, of course. Lucy disappeared after the Super-books became a cycle of crossover events starting in the 2000s, and then came back as Superwoman a decade later only to be killed (sort of) in the “World of New Krypton” event before the whole universe got rebooted.

I’m hoping that we get more of the riot grrrl, relevant Lucy instead of another superhero or a fickle ex-girlfriend. Lucy’s been depicted in a variety of ways over the years, and her riot grrrl incarnation is probably the least well known, but I think it’s the most interesting by far. Greg Berlanti, the producer of Supergirl, has done a good job in general with his other superhero shows, including Arrow and The Flash, but when it comes to female characters their roles have often been what the Riot Grrrls critiqued in their first appearance: cheerleader, girlfriend, or victim. Here’s hoping that on a show with a female lead, the women in the supporting cast will have more to do, and that Lucy can be an interesting, relevant character.

DC Announces New Digital Superman Series OR The First Two Issues Are Written By A Bigot

February 7, 2013

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Yesterday, IGN announced that DC is launching a new digital series featuring notable comic book creators telling non-continuity (and non-New 52) stories about Superman.  In the vein of their current Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, the new Adventures of Superman will come out weekly digitally and then be collected in comic book form a few weeks later as a regular monthly series.

This is an absolutely fantastic idea.  Not only do we get back the red shorts Superman, we also get awesome creators telling their own stories.  There are some great names attached already, including Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jeff Lemire, Michael Avon Oeming, Bruce Timm, and many more.  Plus check out that Chris Samnee cover above!!  Chris Samnee is drawing a story written by Jeff Parker, so that’s going to be great.

The only problem is that the opening two issues are written by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, with art by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story.  I’ve got no problem with Johnston, and I quite enjoy Sprouse and Story, but Orson Scott Card is a bigot.

Card is best known as the writer of Ender’s Game, a science fiction novel that won all sorts of awards and is considered by some to be one of the best SF books of all time.  However, his stance against homosexuality and gay marriage was at one point worrisomely militant (“those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society”) and hasn’t toned down all that much.  He is vehemently opposed to gay marriage, and is a member of the board of directors for the National Organization for Marriage.  He’s also one of those idiots that likes to frequently link homosexuality with rape, molestation, and pedophilia, despite such links being widely debunked by every reputable study.  In short, he’s a bigot, and a vocal one.

Now, I’m not saying let’s go burn down Orson Scott Card’s house and throw all his books in the blaze.  The man can say whatever he wants, as much as I may disagree with it.  What I am saying is that he is a TERRIBLE choice for launching a new Superman book.  Superman is the ultimate outsider, an alien from another world who lives in a place where the vast majority of people are not like him.  Superman cares about the marginalized, and understands those who are different, whether they be confident in their difference or conflicted.  He’s been there, and he gets it.  Orson Scott Card does not.

Furthermore, as much as Ender’s Game gets a lot of praise, there are some substantive critiques of the book and it’s sequels in terms of it’s apologetic approach to genocide, and Nazism specifically.  The ties between Ender and Hitler are rather blatant, and in trying to understand Ender and his motivations behind killing an entire species the book thus paints Hitler in a more sympathetic light.  This is not to say that Card is a Nazi or an anti-semite (he’s just a homophobe), but rather that his most famous work examines how far we can push forgiveness and understanding through the guise of a Hitler analogue.  This brings up several points:

  • Card strongly denies all of this, despite the VERY clear connections.  He’s either being disengenuous or, as some suspect based on his lack of knowledge of his own book in its defense, he didn’t actually write it.
  • This type of narrative, trying to justify the actions of powerful, terrible men, is just so damn cliche.  As Elaine Radford puts it, “our society already focuses too much on telling the powerless to forgive and forget.”
  • Superman’s Jewish roots are very well-known, and it just seems absolutely bizarre to have the man who wrote what is basically an apologia for Hitler now write Superman.

On the basis of Card’s anti-homosexuality bigotry alone, this is an awful choice by DC.  In light of the problematic messages of his most famous work, it seems beyond ridiculous to have this man write Superman.

But this is DC Comics, and nothing is beyond ridiculous anymore.  I’m very curious to know if they considered any of this when they chose him to launch the book.  My bet is that they thought “OH!!  Famous author!!” and saw that the Ender’s Game movie was coming out this year, and went with Card on star power alone.

Orson Scott Card is a terrible choice for Superman.  Orson Scott Card is a terrible choice generally, really.  I wouldn’t buy him on anything, and I can’t believe he’s launching this series.  That being said, I’m very much looking forward to Adventures of Superman #3 and beyond.  Unless DC goes and hires Fred Phelps for an arc.


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