Twenty-five years ago today, Superman #50 was released, featuring the engagement of Lois Lane to Clark Kent.
Clark's proposal and the couple's subsequent marriage, more than arguably any other single element, differentiated the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-Flashpoint Superman from all other iterations of the character before and since. It set in motion events that would ultimately lead to the biggest storyline in superhero comics history (The Death of Superman) and even reverberates today in the newly-launched Superman: Lois and Clark, in which the pre-Flashpoint version of the couple has been transplanted into the post-Flashpoint DC Universe.
Lois and Clark were engaged at the tail end of a storyline titled "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite," during which Superman briefly lost his powers as a result of Red Kryptonite given to Lex Luthor by Mr. Mxyzptlk. Superman #50 featured a script by Jerry Ordway and art by legendary Superman creators John Byrne, Kerry Gammill, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway and Curt Swan. All of those and more would later return to participate in Superman: The Wedding Album, which would come out more than five years later.
Why? Well, in part, because the original plans to marry the pair (in either Superman #75 or The Adventures of Superman #500, depending on who you ask) were scuttled by the producers of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (see our list of the ten best episodes here).
The series was preparing to launch at the time of the planned wedding on the page, and Warner Bros. and DC decided that it would be a clever move to marry the pair at the same time in the comics and on TV. The plans had already been made to marry Lois and Clark, but instead the writers were brought back together to come up with a viable Plan B.
Here's a snippet from our 2012 interview with longtime Superman writer Roger Stern, who was part of the creative team at the time:
What you need to remember is that there were about a dozen writers and artists working on the Superman titles in those days. And we all used to gather -- once or twice a year -- for a meeting to discuss plans and brainstorm ideas for the next year’s worth of stories. We called these meetings the "Super-Summits."
When we got together in '92 to outline the books that included Superman #75 and Adventures of Superman #500 … well, originally we were going to plan the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. We'd started setting that up in Superman #50, when Clark proposed and Lois said, “Yes.” But the wedding scenario was put on hold, because Warner Brothers had gotten the green light to produce the Lois & Clark television series for ABC. They didn’t mind us having Clark and Lois marry, just as long as they got to set the stage for the wedding first on TV.
So we had our work cut out for us. Everything that we'd been working toward had to be delayed.
Not too surprisingly, there was a lot of chaos on the first day of the Summit, with all of us brainstorming new ideas. Somewhere in there, Jerry tossed out his usual “We could always kill him” gag. And someone else … Dan? Louise? Bog? I don't remember now. Someone else chimed in with, “Yeah, if we can't marry him, let's kill him.” Or words to that effect.
At that point, Mike Carlin, showing great editorial acumen, replied, “All right, wise guys, suppose we kill him. What happens next …?”
And that was when the ideas really started flowing. How does the city react when Superman dies? How does the world react? How does Lois react? Don't forget, she was one of a handful of people on the face of the Earth who knew that Clark Kent was Superman. She was engaged to him. And now … she still can't tell anyone, because it would endanger his parents.
Within a few hours, we had so many ideas, that we couldn't not do the story.
There was a rocky road to The Wedding Album even after Superman returned to life, but eventually it did happen -- once again, at a time when Superman had no powers.
Earlier this month, just shy of the twenty-fifth anniversary of their engagement, that version of Lois and Clark returned, with their son Jonathan in tow, and have now established themselves as a presence in the modern-day DC Universe.
If you want to read up, you can pick up a digital copy of Superman #50 here. You can also read the issue in the Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite trade paperback, but it's kind of a pain to find locally and you'll probably have to turn to Amazon and pay a little extra. You can also pick up the first issue of Superman: Lois and Clark at your local comic shop, or digitally here, if you want to see the couple back together again.