April 8, 2015 | by Ellie Hillis
She Can Fly: How Lois Lane Became Nancy Drew

Next month, Lois Lane—who’s starred in comics, cartoons, the silver screen, and small screen—will be gracing the pages of YA Fiction. May 1, 2015 will see the debut of what is implied to be an ongoing Young Adult series starring Lois Lane; Lois Lane: Fallout, by Gwenda Bond. The series focuses on a high school age Lois Lane who just moved to Metropolis, and ends up out to solve a mystery for the school newspaper.

Bond’s own autobiography cites Lois Lane as the inspiration for her getting a degree in journalism, and the book embraces the “girl detective” concept popularized by Nancy Drew, but adds its own modern, Veronica Mars-inspired edge, according to early praise from Entertainment Weekly. The book’s blurb also implies that Lois has already established a connection with Clark Kent (probably the only person who would actually have the screenname “SmallvilleGuy”), not only through her online chatting with him, but also through her survival or a “near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.”

Lois Lane: Fallout promises a more modern take on the classic teen girl-based mystery novels, like the Sweetbriar Twins and the Babysitter’s Club, with a less restrictively “feminine” plot. Lois is trying to find out about a high-tech, immersive videogame (perhaps made by a lil’ Lex Luthor) which seems to be able to mess with the minds of people who may not even be playing the game. Instead of having Lois try to solve relationship drama or save cute animals, the book is pushing her in the direction of a medium that has recently been under fire for its treatment of women.

Lois Lane has often been portrayed as a woman who denies conventions and pushes past the female stereotype, so setting up young Lois in a position where she can question both a medium, as well as, potentially, a genre, is brilliant. Early praise for the book has complimented Lois as a well-rounded, witty, and determined young woman, and Bond’s inherent connection with the character is promising in terms of how Lois is written.

But Lois Lane isn’t the only superheroine to be making her way to YA. Black Widow will also be the star of a Young Adult book to be released later in 2015, Black Widow: Forever Red. Taking the same high school-age slant as Fallout, Forever Red will feature a young Natasha and the Red Room of (possibly Soviet?) Russia. The details on the novel, which was first announced at NYCC 2014, have yet to be released, but it will be written by Margaret Stohl, who has co-written a number of Beautiful Creatures titles.

This trend of comic heroines making their way to the pages of books started back in 2013 with Marvel’s She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch. Each book took an individualized slant on the characters:  the She-Hulk Diaries, by Marta Acosta, taking a modern chicklit twist on the character, in a similar vein to the Princess Diaries’ Meg Cabot’s adult novels. Rogue Touch, by Christine Woodward, came off as an edgier Young Adult novel, with heavy science fiction influences.

These novels from Marvel, as well as DC’s upcoming Lois Lane book 1, are an amazing acknowledgment of female fans from companies that have been traditionally seen as only catering towards male fans. While Marvel’s first two books received some praise, they didn’t receive much fanfare, and were regarded by many as pandering to women who didn’t read comics to begin with. The books, though they could be easily categorized as “chicklit,” were fun, unique takes on two of the most well-loved heroines in the Marvel Universe.  The diminution of these titles, just because they embrace the inherently female aspect of the characters, speaks to a great sense of misogyny in fans, internalized and not.

Much like Marvel Divas, an amazing miniseries that failed mainly because of the title and sales pitch (“Sex and the City with superheroes!”), these books come off like they’re being advertised as a “lowest common denominator” of female-directed content. But they are actually much more complex than that. Look at it this way, while Sex in the City is now much maligned for a handful of poorly written, clichéd movies, the first season of Sex in the City was actually a subversive, fourth wall-breaking comedy that touched on female topics that were never spoken about on television before: menstruation, female orgasms, multiple partners, vibrators. These titles, if they are like Sex in the City, are like the first season: unexpected, feminist, and exciting.

These upcoming books promise similar content, and with the current rise in the popularity of Young Adult fiction, if Lois Lane: Fallout becomes well received (and sells well), there’s a potential that the book could lead to a lot more for the character:

A solo comic.

Maybe a starring role on the CW’s upcoming Supergirl, or a television show of her own.

Perhaps it could even lead to Lois Lane movie?

 

 

Full solicitation for Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond below:

Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight.

As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy…

Ellie Hillis is a mild mannered blogger and reporter. When not writing academic essays on comics and pop culture, she is probably watching comedies, listening to nerd-core, writing and drawing comics, or sewing her next big cosplay project. She absolutely does not have a secret identity as a superhero. Nuhuh. No way.

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