Valentine’s Day is this week, so I thought I’d look at one of comics’ biggest romances, which of course would be the romance of Superman and Lois Lane. In light of that, and since comics love to pretend they’re showing major character events “for the very first time!” in various reboots, I thought I’d take a look at the comics’ major depictions of Lois and Clark’s “first meetings.”
“Action Comics” #1, published in 1938, doesn’t show any elaborate first meeting of Clark and Lois, though it is the first-ever appearance of both characters. Instead, we see Lois has been on the paper’s staff for some time before Clark joined the staff.
Clark and Lois’ first lines to each other: “W-what do you say to a, er, date tonight, Lois?” “I suppose I’ll give you a break…for a change.” “Action” #1 (and the much-later retelling/elaboration in 1986’s “Secret Origins” #1) shows Lois had been avoiding Clark.
After an incident with mobsters at a night club requiring Clark to keep up his milquetoast persona, Lois storms out. As she tells Clark: “You asked me earlier in the evening why I avoid you. I’ll tell you why now: because you’re a spineless, unbearable coward!”
Of course, the relationship between the two greatly improved over time. 1978’s “Action Comics” #484 revealed how Lois and Clark of Earth-2 were married sometime in the early-to-mid 1950s.
There’s no exact switchover issue from Earth-2 to Earth-1 for Superman’s comics. However, there is chronologically a first appearance* for the Lois Lane of Earth-1. It also conveniently happens to be the Earth-1 first meeting of Lois and Clark: “Adventure Comics” #128, published in 1948. Yes, their first meeting was shown as teenagers, during Superboy’s era.
The plot: Teenaged Clark wins a contest to work as a cub reporter for the “Daily Planet” for a week, and goes to Metropolis. At the paper, Clark meets the other winner of the contest: a teenaged Lois Lane. (Their first thoughts about each other, expressed in thought balloons: “Golly! She’s so pretty!” “Golly! He’s so unexciting!”)
Lois, learning Clark is from the same town as Superboy (Smallville wouldn’t be named until 1949’s “Superboy” #2), asks Clark various questions about the Boy of Steel. Meanwhile, Clark wishes Lois were more interested in his civilian alter-ego.
The paper’s editor (not Perry White here—presumably, he’s still a reporter or lower-level editor at this point in Lois and Clark’s lives) decides to award whichever teen brings the best story the honor of front-page publication and a byline. Lois also makes a side bet with Clark (an ice cream sundae) over who’ll bring in the winning story.
As the story goes, Lois ends up beating Clark to filing several stories, as Clark’s forced to go into action as Superboy each time. Eventually, Lois also uncovers a group of crooks’ scheme, which Superboy rescues her from. However, the resulting story wins Lois the front page byline, and her ice cream sundae bet with Clark. As the week ends, Lois and Clark both head back to their respective hometowns, with Clark wondering if he’d ever see Lois again.
Of course, Lois and Superboy do meet again several times between this point and adulthood. However, Lois doesn’t meet Clark again until they’re both adults. By that point, Lois was already employed at the “Planet.” “Who’s Who” states Lois did work for the “Planet” during college summer vacations. This established her as a veteran at the paper well before Clark showed up.
Their first meeting as coworkers at the “Planet” has had two major versions. The first was shown in “Superman” #133 in 1959 (“How Perry White Hired Clark Kent”). The second version was an updated and summarized version of “Superman” #133’s story for “Action Comics” #500 in 1979 (a retelling of Superman’s life story). It’s the second version that sees Clark proves to a skeptical Perry his journalism merit. He does so by writing a story about Superman defeating the Anti-Superman Gang with a fake kryptonite ruse. However, Lois had been working (without success) on cracking said story. Lois’ response to Clark scooping her: “I don’t know how you did that, ‘Mister’ Kent—but unless you want your life to be miserable around here…don’t ever do that to me again!”
Lois and Clark’s relationship improves, of course, with the two even dating briefly in the 70s. Various stories flashing-forward into the future, particularly 1980’s “Superman Family” #200, shows Clark does eventually marry Lois (as Clark, not as Superman). The final (non-canonical) pre-Crisis story, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” shows a different sort of wedding between the two, of course.
(* – If curious, the first appearance of the adult Earth-1 Lois is at the end of the class reunion story in “Superman” (vol. 1) #46 in 1947—the first time Superboy is mentioned in a Superman story—followed by the present-day section of “Superboy” #1 in 1949, though the comics’ setting doesn’t fully switch to Earth-1 until the mid-50s. “Who’s Who” considers “Adventure” #128 as the Earth-1 Lois’ first appearance, however, so maybe “Superman” #46 isn’t considered canonical? The story showing Clark attending high school in Metropolis, among other anachronisms, might not’ve helped…)
With the post-Crisis reboot of Superman in Byrne’s “Man of Steel” comes yet another take on the first meeting of Superman and Clark. Here, Clark is once more shown getting hired at the “Daily Planet” by writing about his alter-ego, in this case, getting the first-ever “interview” with the Man of Steel.
However, Lois and Clark had met in issue #1 of the “Man of Steel” miniseries. An uncostumed Clark used his powers to rescue the endangered experimental “space-plane” (that Lois was on) from crashing. Lois’ first words to Clark (just before he flies off): “hold it right there, buster!”
Later (in “Man of Steel” #2), Lois does meet the “proper” Clark Kent, after the latter was hired by Perry. Clark had turned in the first-ever “interview” with Superman…which Lois had spent the entire issue working to get. Unlike other first meetings, we don’t see Lois’ obviously-angry reaction to her new coworker’s scoop.
Eventually, Lois and Clark started to date each other, with the two marrying in 1996’s “Superman: The Wedding Album.”
Several later storylines would show some revisions to “Man of Steel”‘s versions of events. The two biggest revisions come in “Birthright” in 2003-2004 and “Superman: Secret Origin” in 2009-2010.
The New 52
I couldn’t find a clear “Lois meets Clark for the first time” meeting for the New 52, which somehow doesn’t surprise me. From what I can tell, the first interaction between Lois and Clark is in “Action Comics” (volume 2) #3. There, Lois meets Clark and Jimmy at a diner.
In this issue, Lois is meeting Clark under orders from the “Planet” to try to get Clark to come work there. At the time, Clark was working for rival paper the “Daily Star.” However, an earlier adventure has left Clark badly bruised. Lois’ first line to Clark in the New 52, upon seeing Clark? “Kent, you look like something a pig couldn’t hold down.” Clark’s response? “Duly charmed.”
Unlike other versions, Clark and Lois aren’t shown as dating each other. Instead, Superman’s shown dating Wonder Woman (for ill-conceived reasons). Meanwhile, Lois (early on in the reboot) had someone else as her boyfriend.
That about sums up the major comic first meetings. Of course, there’s various other “first meetings” from other media, including the movies, TV shows, etc.