How Gwenda Bond’s “Lois Lane: Double Down” Encapsulates the Lois Lane Spirit
Being a Lois Lane fan is difficult. It’s one part supplying her name when people refer to her as “Superman’s girlfriend,” two parts insisting she’s actually a bomb character who’s her own person, and another three parts sighing in resignation when the inevitable argument of her being “just a weak damsel in distress,” surfaces.
Much of the sighing stems from an acknowledgment that Lois Lane does not, in fact, get the best representation. A lot of the time, she’s written by authors who are unconsciously sexist at best and rarely give her the depth she has the capacity for. However, in the right hands, Lois is an all-star.
In his book, Investigating Lois Lane, author Tim Hanley says, “One of the keys to Lois’s long-term appeal is the solid base at the core of her character. Lois has been the same woman since her very first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938. She was tough, she was ambitious, she was fearless, and she had very little respect for authority. Through every reboot and adaptation, these basic facts have remained the same.” It is precisely this spirit that Gwenda Bond, author of the popular Lois Lane novel series, nails in her portrayal of the iconic first lady of comics.
I finally felt was this was a portrait of one of the Superman mythos’ finest characters that was done justice. Clark (or should I say, “SmallvilleGuy”?) and his issues take a backseat to Lois’ enthralling life, as both the one who worries about her without cease but also her biggest fan.
Lois Lane: Double Down begins after the events of the first novel, Lois Lane: Fallout, which means Lois has already established herself as the young journalist to watch. The newest resident of Metropolis has landed herself a job working for the teen-run section of the Daily Planet, The Scoop, and as you might imagine, this headstrong heroine faces off against cyber bullies, evil principals and her consistently-strict (in every depiction) father, General Sam Lane, all in the name truth, justice and a byline above the fold.
Already itching for her next sensational, Lois struggles with handling every day news stories. Before long, she gets drawn into another whirlwind of mystery when she’s determined to find the connection between her best friend’s sister has with an unnamed clone, a shady doctor, and a blackmailed politician and a life-threatening mental connection. All the while she is helped by the mysterious SmallvilleGuy, who she regularly connects via IM’ing, texting and a virtual reality game, where he appears to Lois as green space alien.
Double Down includes plenty of easter eggs for the comic-obsessed reader, while being self-contained enough of a story for the Superman fan and new reader alike. As someone who collected Nancy Drew books growing up, the tone is very much a mix of the Drew sleuthing and the modernity of the new Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr Batgirl.
When I pick up a Bond Lane novel, I know she’s going to be giving me a version of Lois that I know and love the best. Lois is fearless, snarky, sarcastic, breaks rules in the name of justice, loyal and compassionate (but only when no one is looking.) She is a warrior with her pen, and will accept nothing less than a challenge she deems worth conquering.
I reached out to Bond via Twitter and when I asked what she loves best about Lois, Bond replied: “Her wit, her bravery, and her inability to stand aside when she sees something wrong/someone being mistreated.”
I had the opportunity to meet Bond in person while she was on the Dangerous Ladies Tour at Fountain Books in Richmond. I couldn’t help but smile as I saw her interact with the audience because it made perfect sense to me this was a woman who could write an A+ Lois Lane. With her electric blue hair, willingness to engage fans while giving witty responses to questions, I could think of no one better to lead the “League of Loises.” She herself embodies the Lois spirit in real life. It’s a certain spark that draws people in. And it’s this spark that not only readers love about Lois, but what the other people in Lois’ life value about her, including Clark Kent.
Bond does a fantastic job of setting up Lois and Clark’s relationship in the book as a virtual relationship allows for the distance necessary for Lois to create an identity all her own in Metropolis. She builds on the image of a young Clark in love with Lois I already had as a fan. Clark is absolutely blown away by the hurricane that is Lois and treats her with reverence and awe, confusion but admiration. Half the time, you can almost see him thinking, “Wow. Lois. So cool. Very smart. Wow. Wow.” My favorite line falls on the last page of the novel, when he tells her, “That’s how I see you. A hero. I want to be the kind of guy you deserve.” Um, Clark, your “Ambition to be Mr. Lois Lane” t-shirt is showing.
They are each other’s favorite superhero. There is nothing more precious than that, if you ask me.
I love that Bond is giving Lois Lane, the natural wanderer in pursuit of the story, a chance to put down roots. She’s situating Lois in her own story, instead of Clark’s, so well, but in a way that makes her even more mythic, even more heroic, and I cannot wait to see what Lois will get herself into next.
Thanks, Gwenda, for giving my heroine the story she deserves.
Ravynn Stringfield is recent graduate of the University of Virginia and rising graduate student at the College of William and Mary. She enjoys Black self-expression, collecting sweat-shirts with popular culture references on them, and regularly gives dissertation length talks about representations of Lois Lane in American culture to her dog, Genghis Khan. She can be found on Twitter: @RavynnKaMia