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Comicbook: Lana Lang

Lana Lang is Clark Kent's high school love interest and one of the most prominent supporting characters in the Superman mythos. She was originally created as a teenage Captain Ersatz of Lois Lane to complicate things for Superboy the way her older counterpart complicated the life of the adult Superman.

Lana was first introduced in Superboy #10 (September/October 1950). As Clark's next door neighbour in Smallville she was mostly depicted as equal parts close friend and nuisance, being determined to prove Clark and Superboy were one in the same. In keeping with the tradition set by Lois she was attracted to Superboy but had little time for the timid Clark (romantically anyway.) During the Silver Age Lana would prove nearly as much a Weirdness Magnet as Jimmy Olsen himself, going through many transformations and gaining or losing powers as the plot demanded. After gaining a "bio-genetic" ring from an alien she even had a few adventures as a superheroine using the name "Insect Queen" and ended up a reserve member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Meanwhile Lana had started to appear as an adult in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane (while still appearing as a teenager in Superboy stories). Many Superman tales of the 60s dealt with the Lois/Superman/Lana triangle. Later, in the 70s and 80s she was Clark's co-anchor on the WGBS-TV's evening news.

Lana was substantially reinvented for Superman III, her first major role outside the comics which emphasised her Girl Next Door aspects and her friendship (and romantic interest) with Clark rather than his alter-ego.

Post-crisis with Clark's time as Superboy retconned away Lana's role was altered into being Clark's Unlucky Childhood Friend and Secret Keeper, largely keeping her characterisation from Superman III. She appeared occasionally in the Superman stories and had a rocky few years, marrying and then divorcing fellow Smallville native Pete Ross and never quite getting over Clark. Later on she returned to prominence as a surrogate mother/big sister figure to Supergirl.

In the New 52 she has so far only appeared in flashbacks but her role as one of the very few people who Superman has confided his real identity in remains secure.

Outside of comics Lana played a major role in the TV series The Adventures of Superboy (where she was played Stacy Haiduk), Smallville (where she was played by Kristin Kreuk, but many Smallville fans would like you to forget everything about her) and the film Superman III (where she was played by Annette O'Toole). Jadin Gould plays her in Man of Steel.

Lana Lang provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: As played by the brunette Kristin Kreuk in Smallville.
  • Alliterative Name
  • Betty and Veronica: Pre-crisis Lana and Lois were in a long running triangle over Superman. Broadly speaking Lana was the Betty (as the childhood friend) and Lois the Veronica (as the glamorous big city gal) but they actually had aspects of each in their characters - Lana ended up a TV reporter making her pretty glamorous too while Lois frequently showed a softer side to her personality. Post-crisis Lana is firmly in Unlucky Childhood Friend territory.
  • Buttmonkey: Tied with Jimmy as the unluckiest major character in the Superman mythos. Pre-crisis it was frequently her own fault when a scheme backfired, post-crisis she is more of a Woobie type.
  • Damsel in Distress
  • Expy: Of Lois. She was originally introduced to be the nosey investigative love interest for a young Clark Kent. For Smallville the creators created a new character (Chloe Sullivan) to fill this role as their version of Lana didn't mesh with that role, resulting in the odd situation where they had both a Lana character and a character who was for all intents and purposes an Expy of the comics version of Lana.
  • Hot Scoop: In some continuities she is a TV anchorwoman.
  • Fiery Redhead: Iconically red haired (except in Smallville) but her fireness tends to vary depending on time period (she was a lot firer in the 50s and 60s for instance.)
  • Friendship Moment: In pre-Crisis continuity Lana was the person who stayed with the Kents during Johnathan and Martha's terminal illness and tried to keep Clark's spirits up.
  • Genius Ditz: Silver Age Lana was notoriously reckless and lacking in common sense even for the Silver Age but in her quest to prove Superboy was really Clark Kent she could be incredibly cunning and inventive.
  • Girl Next Door
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Pre-crisis Lana was in love with Superman (or Superboy depending on the timeframe of the story). Post-Crisis (and in Superman III) she was best friends with and interested in Clark.
  • Pet the Dog: The pre-crisis Lana could be plenty obnoxious at times but on many occassions she showed that beneath her often selfish exterior she was a good person.
  • Secret Chaser: Pre-crisis. The page image says it all.
  • Secret Keeper: Post-crisis. Pre-crisis due to Status Quo Is God the times she learned Clark's secret she either forgot it thanks to some handy plot element or was tricked into thinking she'd misinterpreted things.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: As a teenager in the Silver Age, with shades of a Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend
  • Zany Scheme: In the Silver Age, mostly to get Superboy to reveal his real identity. They didn't tend to work out.
Lady ShivaDC Comics CharactersLex Luthor
Green LanternThe FiftiesFilms of the 1950s

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