Saturday, July 19, 2008

Episode :29: Happy Birthday, Lana Lang!

According to the web site, July 17 is the accepted birthday of Lana Lang. She is one of the famous, or infamous, "LL's" in Superman lore. Lana first appeared in Superboy #10 (September / October 1950). She was created by writer Bill Finger and artist John Sikela. Lana was a friend of teen-aged Clark Kent at Smallville High, and lived next door to the Kents. Her father was an archaeologist. Like Lois Lane, Lana tried to prove that Clark Kent and Superboy were the same.
Lana rescued an insect-like alien who was trapped under a tree near Smallville. The alien gave Lana a "biogenetic" ring in appreciation. It gave her the ability to use insect-like powers, including arachnids). She created a yellow and black costume and called herself Insect Queen. As Insect Queen she had adventures with Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and eventually became an honorary member of the Legion.
The Earth-2 Lana Lang was slightly different. Her family moved away from Smallville when she was a young girl, and never met the young Clark Kent. She only met Clark Kent when she joined the Daily Star newspaper as a TV critic. She became Insect Queen when her archaeologist father gave her a mystic amulet. The ancient origin of the amulet was a gift to a Pharaoh to use as a weapon against locust hordes that threatened ancient Egypt. The amulet activated at the sound of insect wings, and the sound of Superman's flying was close enough to that sound that Lana's amulet turned her into Insect Queen. After her first clash against Superman, the Ultra-Humanite gained control of her and kept her from breaking the spell that would have returned her to normal. Superman found an antidote that Lois used to help Lana break free from the Ultra-Humanite's control. She would go on to help Superman as needed. The Earth-2 Lana Lang was phased out of existence during the Crisis of Infinite Earths.
The Earth-1 Lana Lang died in Action Comics #583, part two of the story Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, which concluded fifty years of Superman continuity and prepared the way for John Byrne's Man of Steel mini-series. She regains her powers by bathing in a sample of the pool of radioactive water that gave her powers similar to Superman in the past. She was killed by the Legion of Super Villains. Saturn Queen telepathically learned the source of her powers, Cosmic King transmuted those radioactive traces to common body chemicals and Lightning Lord electrocuted her.
John Byrne introduced Lana Lang again in Man of Steel issues one and six. In the final sixth issue we learn that Clark confided in Lana after Pa Kent explained to Clark how the Kents found him. Instead of getting a marriage proposal Clark flew Lana around the world and said goodbye, because he needed to use his powers to help the world. In the years that take place between the first and last issues Lana aimlessly wanders through life, before she returns to Smallville to rebuild her life in her childhood home. Unlike her pre-crisis version, Lana does not move to Metropolis nor begin a career in journalism. She lives and works in Smallville.
Lex Luthor notices her in crowd scenes of many filmed scenes of Superman's exploits, as he has employees searching for Superman's secret identity. Lana is kidnapped when she innocently visits the Kent farm as Luthor operatives are breaking into the Kent home for information on Superman. In Metropolis Lana is tortured for information about Superman. Lana braveley keeps the secret of Clark's secret identity, and she is dumped alone on the city streets. Lana and Clark continue their friendship.
She still hopes that Clark will fall in love with her, but her dreams are dashed when Clark and Lois fall in love. After Clark and Lois visit Smallville together, Pete Ross convinces Lana that Clark has eyes only for Lois. This is confirmed to Lana when Clark tells Lana his true feelings. After Pete Ross takes a job for one of the Kansas senators in Washington, D. C., Lana falls in love with Pete, and they eventually marry. Upon the death of his boss, Pete is appointed as his replacement in the Senate.
Lana and Pete have a boy they name Clark. He is born eight weeks premature when a car accident induces labor for Lana. Brainiac, in control of Doomsday's body, kidnaps the infant in an attempt to clone a new body for himself, bringing the baby to full term through his efforts before Superman rescues baby Clark.
Pete Ross becomes Lex Luthor's running mate when Luthor campaigns for President. After Luthor's election, Lana eventually becomes First Lady when Luthor is forced to resign and Pete takes office. Pete and Lana eventually drift apart, and briefly reunite when they are threatened by Ruin, the villain exposed as a now insane and evil Prof. Hamilton. Lana and Pete divorce. Pete and young Clark move to Smallville and Lana eventually becomes CEO of Lexcorp, after Luthor is forced to resign from his company and becomes a criminal renegade. The Insect Queen returned in Superman #671 - #673.

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