What happened 30 years ago is still kind of cutting edge

As I’ve mentioned in the past, movies (and other media) have a bad habit of assuming that women’s careers are just what they do until they meet the right guy. Which makes Superman Family #200 a pleasant surprise.
(Cover by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano; all rights reserved to current copyright holder)
Superman Family was an anthology book that combined Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane (other series were added over time) when DC decided that their ties to Superman counted more for sales than the individual characters (so the new book highlight’s Superman’s name in the title). This issue was set on the day of Lois and Clark’s anniversary in the year 2000 (as a story of a future that might come to pass but wasn’t guaranteed).
Different story threads involve the Kents’ 16 year old daughter realizing she was developing powers, Superwoman finding the perfect gift (traveling through time to catch key moments of the relationship on film) and Jimmy Olsen (now the Planet’s editor) exposing a crime ring that stole his gift. But two particular aspects jumped out at me.
•Superwoman admits that her love life sucks. She’s both a super-heroine and (as her alter ego Linda Danvers) the governor of Florida (not a random choice: As I once mentioned, she was a guidance counselor at a school in Florida during this period in the real timeline). That puts a lot of stress on her time and she hasn’t had a relationship last more than a year. She regrets it—but not so much that she’d change.
After seeing so many movie heroines who can’t wait to ditch their jobs when they find Him (see the first link for discussion), that’s so refreshing.
•Lois, jubilant at going back to full-time journalism now that their daughter is 16, discovers she’s pregnant. She tells Clark that as he’s the one who wants more kids, it’s up to him to step up to the plate and be primary caregiver if Lois is to go through with the pregnancy. And that requires giving up his job—she can see him being Superman and a full-time father, but not if he throws “reporter” into the mix as well.
That one still startles me. Not that stay-at-home dads are unknown in fiction now, but they’re not common (even conceding that Superman is obviously not going to just stay at home). And doing it with a major, established character is even rarer.
And while they don’t spell it out, it’s hard not to see Lois as saying she’ll get an abortion if Clark isn’t willing to be the caregiver. And that you’d never see today, I think—even though lots of American women make that call, you rarely see abortion for any reason in TV or movies (or comics). This may reflect how much more heated the debate is now compared to 1980; as noted here and here, evangelicals were only just ramping up against abortion by then.
The story was by Gerry Conway, and those little bits still impress me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Politics, Uncategorized, Undead sexist cliches

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.