Warning: SPOILERS for Action Comics #1004
Superman and Lois Lane are taking a break … but not necessarily ending their marriage. At least that’s the direction Action Comics scribe Brian Michael Bendis is taking DC Comics’ most famous and longest running couple. When DC relaunched their universe in DC Rebirth many classic elements from the publisher’s history returned. One of the most significant was not only the return of the Man of Steel and the Daily Planet's top reporter, but confirming Superman and Lois were married, and parents.
During writer Dan Jurgens' run on DC’s Superman and Action Comics series, Superman’s status as a family man was front and center. Since Bendis has taken over the titles though, Superman has been depicted much less as a husband and father. Now, even Lois Lane feels that the two need to spend some time apart.
It was revealed at the very end of Action Comics #1003 that despite Superman’s belief that Lois was in outer space with their son Jon, she's been living in Metropolis for some time. In Action Comics #1004, Lois explains she wasn’t necessarily hiding from her husband, and planned to reach out to him eventually. Yet there’s a reason for her radio silence: Lois has lost herself in being a mother and wife.
In a lengthy monologue where Lois calls Superman "baby" an almost ridiculous amount of times, she explains that while she loves her life with Superman and Clark Kent, it’s not normal. Lois wants to get back to her old life before she was married to Clark and had Jon; her life as investigative reporter. Lois tells Superman (very casually) that she left Jon with Kal-El’s father, Jor-El but that their son is flourishing outside of their collective shadow. Jon doesn’t need her anymore... and she believes the same is true of Clark.
Lois makes clear to her husband (and to the audience) that they’re not breaking up. They just won’t be together in the same way. To hide Lois and Jon’s trip to outer space, the couple concocted a cover story where Lois and Clark were having marriage troubles and mysteriously separated. Now that Lois is back that will continue publicly. Lois wants to devote all her energy to investigating former president Lex Luthor along with whatever else might interest the prize winning reporter.
It’s a strange but not an altogether surprising change of status quo for Bendis’ Superman. Before Action Comics #1004 Lois had a perfect balance in her life as a mother, wife and reporter. Yet since taking over the Man of Steel’s comic adventures, the ex-Marvel scribe has made Superman as "classic" as possible. Superman's wearing his red trunks, he’s working at the Daily Planet where he’s treated like a clumsy dork, and now he’s no longer living in domestic bliss with Lois and Jon. Even if Lois and Clark are technically still married the foreseeable future seems like it will be the old days with their relationship being mostly a secret.
All of this upheaval raises the question of how long this new/old status quo will last. The pendulum of comic book character progression usually always swings back with the most radical changes being eventually undone. It is a little more difficult to erase Lois and Superman’s child but by putting Jon in outer space, DC Comics and Bendis can kick the can down the line for a very long time. Especially since the previous Superboy, Kon-El, is returning to DC continuity.
However, unlike previous comic book character changes Superman as a family man was widely and warmly received. Superman as a father moved the character into a new era and felt like a natural progression of his character. Hopefully Lois and Superman's break isn't the first step in reversing that development but a temporary back-pedal in a larger tale. Superman can have marriage troubles but they should be so sudden.
Action Comics #1004 is available now from DC Comics.