Superman fans: Why all the 'L's?

I posted this just before The Great Crash and promptly forgot about and of course it was lost. I don’t know if anyone answered last time but let’s try again.

I noticed watching Smallville that a large proportion of the people in Clark Kent’s life have ‘L’ initials in their names. Lois Lane. Lex and Lionel Luthor. Lana Lang and her parents Louis and Laura. Is there any reason for this? Was it just on the whim of the writers or is there some deeper meaning that I’m missing?
Thanks in advance for any insight.

Stan Lee (who has nothing to do with Superman :)) has said that he gave all his characters double names to make it easier to remember them, hence, Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, etc. Maybe it’s the same with Superman?

I don’t know if it was intentional on the authors’ part. By the 60s, it did seem to become a “running gag” in the Superman comics. I remember one Superboy story where young Clark and his parents actually ponder all the “LL” people in Clark’s life. Then Lex Luthor attacks, and almost has the upper hand, until one of his allies from the Legion of Super-Heroes shows up and saves the day.

And it’s Lightning Lad, no less. (Superboy even comments out loud something to the effect of “Aha, Luthor, you didn’t count on another person with an LL name!” Ugh.)

Oh, and don’t forget Lori Lemaris, Superman’s mermaid girlfriend, and Letitia Lerner, Superman’s babysitter from last year’s Bizzaro Comics.

From all I’ve heard and read, it was sheer coincidence. They started with Lois Lane. Luthor had no first name – he was just “Luthor.” When they decided to create Superboy and give him a teenage girlfriend, they must have thought the use of the same initials would be cute, so they called her Lana Lang.

At that point, it became a tradition and/or in-joke. So in the 50s, when they did a story about Clark’s college romance, the girlfriend was Lori Lemaris. And in the late 50s or early 60s, they also did a story about how Luthor lost his hair and started out as Clark’s friend but then became angry at Superboy (thus Luthor’s fanatical hatred and obsession in later life) … and they gave Luthor a first name, Lex, to continue the LL tradition.

So, it basically was a coincidence that Superman’s girlfriend in the earliest days was named LL, and then it became a running gag.

Dex got it exactly right.

But let me add some other LL’s

Lyla Lumni (I’m butchering the spelling): an alien chick Superman fell in love with.

Lyla Ler-Ol (ditto): Superman went back to Krypton and went on a double-date with Jor-El and Laura with this Kryptonian actress

Lara Lar-Van (Lor-Van?), Superman’s mommy, with maiden name.

Linda Lee: Supergirl’s secret ID, before she was adopted.

Light Lass: (aKa: Lightning Lass)-Legion of Superheros member
Lightning Lord: Legion of Super-Villians member

Lena Thorul (aka Lena Luthor): Lex’s little sister…their parents changed their last name.

There’re others, but off the top of my head that’s the best I can do for now.

ResIpsaLoquitor: there’s a similar story with Superman. A future viewing-computer tells Superman that his life will be saved by “LL” today. A Green Kryptonite meteor just happens to fall near Superman. He thinks "A-HA! This is when my life will be saved by an “LL”. But none come. He uses his telescopic and x-ray vision to check out all the "LL"s he knows. They’re all busy (even Luthor and the Legion LLs…I don’t remember how he saw into the future).

Just as he’s about to pass out, a kid playing baseball goes to catch a ball and stumbles across Superman. The kid tosses the meteor in the (apparently lead-lined?!) sewers and Superman promptly recovers. He asks the kid his name, sure that it’ll be an LL. The kid tells Superman his name is (let’s say) Joe Smith. Superman’s shocked! The computer was wrong! Until the kid turns around and Superman realizes that the kid was playing for the Little League!

They don’t write 'em like that any more, dammit.


…of a cute bit in the Spider-Man movie novelisation (yes, I know it’s cheating a bit, but it was written by Peter David) where Peter Parker is grousing about Jonah Jameson naming the new villian who attacked Spidey “Green Goblin.”

**“Alliteration sells!” said Jonah Jameson.

“Is that true?” Peter Parker asked Robbie Robertson.

Just then, Jameson’s secretary Betty Brant popped her head and reminded him of his meeting with eminent scientists Reed Richards and Bruce Banner.**


HA! I say, HA! :smiley:

Anyway, I vaguely recall hearing that the reason for so many LL’s in the Superman mythos is because Siegel or Schuster (don’t remember which one) had an ex-girlfriend whose initials were LL – so Lois Lane was dropped into Superman as a result. Can anyone confirm?

I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned that Clark Kent is alliterative as well.

My wife has a perfect Superman-sounding LL name, plus with my nebbish ways, dark hair and glasses–Hmmm…

Actually, Dex, Luthor’s original name was Alexei. That was back in the days when he had hair (early 40’s). Lex was used much later.

Not exactly. Originally, he was just Luthor. (and only had hair for a few appearances…until the Ultra-Humanite faded out of the picture and there was an opening for a bald mad scientist)

He became “Lex” Luthor in the late 40’s IIRC. During the Weisinger years, Lex got his backstory about how he Then, in a Roy Thomas book (All-Star Squad or DC Comics Presents, perhaps) to distinguish between the Earth-2 Luthor and the Earth-1 Luthor, Thomas did a retcon saying that Alexi was his first name. But that was a retcon from the 70s or '80s.)


Lois Lane was partly named after the girlfriend of one of the creators (Shuster, the artist) and partly after Margo Lane, the girlfriend of The Shadow, an established pulp fiction and radio character.

I’ll have to dig up my copy of Steranko’s History of Comics to double-check, though. At the very least, the name makes a nice contrast from the sharp syllables of “Clark Kent”. After a while, the L-use just got silly, including this frame from Supergirl’s first appearance, as she chooses her Earth name:

Supergirl: …Linda Lee! How’s that?
Superman: Er, as good as any! (thinking: Lana Lang was my girl friend when I was Superboy, and Lois Lane replaced her when I became Superman! By sheer coincidence, she picked the same initials… L.L. !)

Suuuure she did.

I disagree, Fenris. When I started reading those comics in the mid- to late-50s, he was just plain “Luthor.” The “Lex” appeared in a Superboy story where a young “Lex Luthor” appears to become friends with young Clark Kent. I could be wrong, my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I have a pretty clear recollection of that.

In the May 2002 issue of “Wizard: the Comics Magazine,” Matt Groening is quoted as saying “We never officially gave [Simpson’s character Comic Book Guy] a name, but in the back of my mind the name that I have for him is Louis Lane.”

-Myron Meyer

Well, I may have also set the date early for when “Luthor” became "Lex Luthor, but the Red-Headed Luthor was just “Luthor” until the '70s (or '80s) when he became Alexi.

Anyway, you’re most likely right. A quick scan of my old Superman and Actions (just spot checking, but…) shows that the Gangster-ish Luthor was from running around in the late '40s as just “Luthor”. The chubby guy running around in prison greys, was also just “Luthor”. I know for a fact that in Adventure 271 (or 270…I’ve forgotten in the time it took me to go upstairs. :rolleyes:), which was mid-1960, we saw the origin of “Lex Luthor” in the Superboy story in that issue. (It’s the famous one that you remember: Lex shows up in Smallville, befriends Superboy, makes A) artificial life and B) a kryptonite cure, but accidentally starts a fire in the process. Superboy, in one of his dumber moments decides the best way to put out a fire in a lab filled with beakers of volitile chemicals is to blow it out with super-breath. The fumes kill the artifical life and make Lex go bald. Lex vows eternal vengance…etc.)

So, the latest that “Lex” showed up was mid-1960, right in line with what you’re saying. I woulda thought it was earlier than that (mid '50s, at latest) but I can’t find any evidence, so I conceed. :slight_smile:


When Superman first met his cousin, Supergirl, he asked her what name she would use when passing as an ordinary human. She said that from listening to the names of girls on earth, she had chosen the name Linda Lee. Superman then thought to himself something such as: “ooooooh! Spooky! And tedious!”

The real mystery is why Supergirl’s adoptive parents were named Danvers. Maybe the writers just couldn’t take it any more.

There was also a story from the early 60s where Superman,in his guise as a mild mannered reporter, is being held at gunpoint outside of his place of business. The crooks are knocked out when the two L’s from the Daily Planet marquee come loose.

<< So, the latest that “Lex” showed up was mid-1960, right in line with what you’re saying. >>

Bear in mind, Fenris, that I’m very nearly perfect in almost everything I say. :: bowing to the applause of the multitudes ::

However, I’m jealous that you have all those old comics. My mother gave all my Superman and related comics away when I went to college, back in 1965. Sigh.