Thanks to Lois Lane, reporters have been covering super heroes in comic books for the last 70 years.
Lois, a Daily Planet reporter, made her first appearance with Superman in 1938’s “Action Comics” No. 1. The spunky journalist, who has became synonymous with being a damsel in distress, actually named the world’s first super hero. Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen, like Lois, has been in every incarnation of the Superman universe.
In 1958, Lois’ popularity led to “Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane,” a light-hearted series that lasted 16 years. By 1996, she had married fellow reporter Clark Kent — Superman’s secret identity.
Gotham City newspaper reporter Vicki Vale debuted in 1948. However, the red-headed Lois Lane clone hasn’t had the same staying power. Vale has disappeared from the Batman comics for respective periods of 15, five, 12 and until recently, 17 years.
Forty years after appearing in a movie serial, Vale returned to the big screen in “Batman” — this time as a photographer (Kim Basinger), teaming with a reporter doing an exposé on Gotham’s vigilante. The widow of Batman creator Bob Kane, Elizabeth Sanders, played "Gossip Gerty" in the 1995 and 1997 sequels.
Director Chris Nolan, in a Dec. 5 interview with movies.ign.com, discussed why he has included another reporter, Mike Engel, in his “Batman Begins” sequel.
“The reason being, particularly in the case of ‘The Dark Knight,’ we’re attempting to tell a very large, city story or the story of a city,” Nolan explained.
“If you want to take on Gotham, you want to give Gotham a kind of weight and breadth and depth in there. So you wind up dealing with the political figures, the media figures. That’s part of the whole fabric of how a city is bound together.”
In 1986, writer/artist Frank Miller must have had a similar philosophy when incorporating the media into his gritty limited series, “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.”
The writer adds an “every person” flavor by having journalists interview Gotham citizens. “Returns” includes excerpts from late night TV shows and news broadcasts, allowing Miller to satirize media coverage, celebrities and the U.S. political climate of the time.
Certainly the best example of the “every man” reporter in comics has been Ben Urich, an investigative reporter for the Marvel Comics newspaper, The Daily Bugle. Miller created the hard working, chain-smoking New York journalist during his early 1980s tenure on “Daredevil.”
Character actor Joe Pantoliano plays Urich in the 2003 film “Daredevil.”
After the vigilante leaves a criminal for dead on a subway track, a police officer tries to put off an inquisitive Urich. In a visually arresting scene, the reporter flicks his cigarette to a portion of the sidewalk behind police tape, lighting the unseen gasoline and forming the DD logo.
Urich isn’t the only Marvel reporter to make the jump to the big screen.
Eva Mendes plays Roxanne Simpson in last year’s “Ghost Rider.” She is a TV reporter who interviews and reconnects with her high school lover, daredevil biker Johnny Blaze (aka Ghost Rider), years after they were estranged.
Many of Ghost Rider’s early comics adventures focus on the devil attempting to get Simpson to no longer protect Blaze, who made a deal to cure Simpson’s father’s cancer.
Spider-Man’s alter-ego, Peter Parker, has lived paycheck to paycheck by setting up his camera to sell exclusive Spidey photos to the Bugle. The onscreen version went from working for his high school newspaper to doing freelance work for Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson.
Parker, in the comics, publicly revealed he was Spider-Man in 2007. Jameson used an editorial to blast Parker for his lack of journalism ethics, boasting he always suspected the super hero was up to no good.