Shiny Shelf

What’s in a name?

By Mark Clapham on 21 July 2011

I never thought DC comics would bother to break up the marriage of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Even more so than with Peter Parker and Mary Jane, here was a couple that were so inextricably linked that there was no real point in having them apart – as their romance is inevitable, why not have them married and just move on?

Well, apparently with September’s partial reboot of the DC universe, the marriage of Clark and Lois will never have happened, and this preview of Superman #1 seems to seal the deal with the introduction of Lois’ new boyfriend Jonathan Carroll.

It seems this is a done deal, and a tiresome love triangle in the making… but then there’s that name: Jonathan Carroll. Companies like DC have legal checks done on character names to avoid any clash with real, potentially litigious, so I find it hard to believe that its coincidence that Lois’ boyfriend has the same name as this guy.

If you’ve not read The Land of Laughs or Carroll’s other work, then it’s worth noting that his work is distinguished by a blurring between reality and fantasy, fact and fiction, where that barrier can be weakened or broken down by the will of a strong authorial figure.

Now, the name could just be a tribute to a favourite author by writer George Perez or someone in DC editorial, or it is a coincidence and DC’s legals decided there was nothing about the fictional Carroll that would give the real one grounds to sue… or the name could be significant.

Could Superman’s new, unmarried, status quo be something other than an off-page change to continuity? Has reality been changed by some nefarious force (a nefarious force other than editorial edict, that is), and will the plot lead to the ‘real’ continuity where Clark and Lois are married being restored? If so is Carroll (the character) the illusion, or the illusionist?

It would be nice, in the muddle of kept, revised and rebooted continuity coming in September, to think that there could be things that are smarter than they seem, and which confound expectations. I guess we’ll find out in due course.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

2 Responses

  1. Craig Fisher says:

    The whole relaunch takes place in a divergent reality, think Age of Apocalypse (or maybe Heroes Reborn, depends how they decide to end it).

    Its pretty clear the name is not a coincidence, it just has nothing to do with Mssr. Kent and Ms Lane’s marriage specifically. They will probably be back together by the end of next year. Green Arrow and Black Canary on the other hand…

  2. Mark Clapham says:

    It’s actually so long since there’s been a Green Arrow comic I’ve wanted to read that I don’t even know what the status of Ollie and Dinah’s relationship is.