Lana Lang is a fictional supporting character in DC Comics' Superman series. Created by writer Bill Finger and artist John Sikela, the character first appears in Superboy #10 (September/October 1950). Across decades of Superman comics and adaptations into other media, Lana has most consistently been depicted as Superman's teenage romantic interest growing up in Smallville; as an adult, she is a distant friend of Superman in his civilian identity as Clark Kent.
Lana is one of many Superman characters with the alliterative initials "LL", the most notable other examples being Superman's principal love interest Lois Lane and nemesis, Lex Luthor. In the Silver Age, she regularly appeared in comic books depicting the adventures of Superman's teenaged self, Superboy, and also appeared as an adult in numerous Superman titles, vying with Lois Lane for his attention. In modern revisions to DC Comics continuity, she and Clark are shown to have remained close friends since their teenage years. The precise story varies across differing revisions of Superman's origin story. For example, in Superman: Secret Origin, Lana becomes privy to Clark's unusual abilities at an early age and becomes his earliest confidant outside of his parents and the futuristic Legion of Super-Heroes.
Lana has been featured in most other media adaptations of Superboy media, typically as a teenager. These portrayals include both the Adventures of Superboy television series, where she is portrayed by Stacy Haiduk, and the WB/CW television series Smallville, in which she is played by Kristin Kreuk. Lana appears in all 100 episodes of Adventures of Superboy, and in Smallville is teenage Clark Kent's primary romantic interest throughout the show's first seven seasons. She has also appeared in many adaptations of Superman stories, although her role is generally smaller. In the 1983 film Superman III, she is played by Annette O'Toole (who would later portray Martha Kent on Smallville).
The character was ranked 91st in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
In the original Superboy stories, Lana was the girl who lived next door to the Kent family in Smallville, and was a romantic interest of Superboy. In the Silver Age stories, Lana often behaved like a younger version of Lois Lane, spending much of her time trying to prove that Superboy and Clark Kent were one and the same.
At one point, Lana once rescued an insect-like alien trapped by a fallen tree in Smallville. In gratitude, the alien gave her a "bio-genetic" ring which allowed Lana to gain insect (and insect-like, such as arachnids) characteristics. Lana created a yellow honeybee-like costume and mask, and took the name "Insect Queen", under which identity Lana had several adventures.
Lana also had various adventures with Superboy, and several with the futuristic superhero team the Legion of Super-Heroes. Also appearing in some Silver Age stories was Lana's uncle, Professor Potter, an eccentric inventor.
After Clark and Lana graduated from high school, Lana went to college, and eventually became a television reporter for Metropolis TV station WMET-TV. As an adult, Lana became a rival to Lois Lane for Superman's affection in various 1960s stories, often appearing in the title Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Lana became an anchorwoman for WGBS-TV's evening news in Metropolis, as a co-anchor to Clark Kent. Her attraction to Superman during this time had also died off, leaving Superman to Lois Lane. Lana later became romantically linked to the alien super-hero Vartox. Eventually, she and Clark Kent became romantically involved in stories prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earth.
In the early 1980s, with the use of the multiverse system DC had in place, Lana Lang was also shown in several stories to have had an Earth-Two counterpart (Earth-Two at the time the home of the Justice Society of America and DC's Golden Age versions of its characters, versus its mainstream universe of "Earth-One"). The Earth-Two Lana Lang was introduced in Superman Family #203. In this story, Lana Lang joins the Daily Star as a television critic. On Earth-two Lana's father left Smallville and move to Metropolis as a young man, so Clark did not know Lana in his youth.
Later, she became an Insect Queen like her Earth-One counterpart; in this case, Lana had received a mystic amulet from her archaeologist father, said amulet having been created to allow a Pharaoh to control and divert the locust hordes that threatened ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, the charm associated with the amulet was set to be energized by the sound of approaching insect wings; by unfortunate coincidence, the sound of Superman's super-speed flying was similar enough to activate the spell. Lana was thus compelled to create a Chitinous golden-brown costume (woven by silkworms under her control) and adopt a villainous alter ego, the Insect Queen. After an initial clash with Superman, the Insect Queen fell under the mental influence of Superman's enemy, the Ultra-Humanite, who kept her under the spell's compulsion and prevented her from reverting to normal. Earth-Two's Superman was able to locate an antidote to the spell, which Lois Lane used to remove the compulsion (Superman Family #213), letting Lana break free of Ultra's influence and making her able to use the amulet's power at her own discretion. The Earth-2 Insect Queen would later use her abilities to aid Superman in times of need. This version of Lana Lang was retconned out of existence after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
After the 1985-1986 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths was written, various aspects of Lana's history were retconned, starting with comics writer John Byrne's miniseries The Man of Steel, which was designed to rewrite Superman's origin from scratch. In the post-Crisis version of events, Lana was a childhood friend of Clark, with a certain degree of romantic tension in the air as Lana had long pined after Clark, who had loved her only platonically in return.
After they graduated from high school Clark took Lana on a private walk, saying that he had to tell her something important, which Lana honestly expected to be a marriage proposal. He then divulged to her that he had superpowers, displayed by flying her around the world, before explaining that he felt he had to leave Smallville to help humanity as a whole. Kissing her goodbye "like a brother," Lana was left in considerable shock, not only over the revelation of Clark's superpowers, but also over the final realization that he held no reciprocal romantic feelings towards her, leaving Lana heartbroken and alone. When Lana finally aired her grievance with him years later (The Man of Steel #6), Clark felt very badly over how he had hurt her.
When Clark appeared in public as Superman some years later, the lonely and depressed Lana deduced his true identity and became something of a stalker, to the extent that Lex Luthor noticed the frequency with which she appeared in the vicinity of the hero and actually had her tortured in an attempt to gain whatever inside knowledge of Superman she might have. However, Lana bravely kept Clark's identity a secret and upon his rescuing her their relationship became more healthy once again, albeit still at a distance. This stalking proved to be caused by a long-term conspiracy of the Oan-created androids, the Manhunters, from whose control Lana and the rest of Smallville's children born around the same time as her were eventually freed. Unlike the pre-Crisis Earth-One continuity, Lana did not go on to have a journalistic career or compete with Lois for Superman's affections, nor play a significant role in Clark's life in Metropolis.
Lana's relationship with Clark is again altered in 2003's Superman: Birthright limited series by Mark Waid, which again revises Superman's origins. This storyline, which takes some inspiration from the TV show Smallville (such as the appearance of Ma and Pa Kent), also shows Clark and Lana to have had a mutual romantic relationship during their youth. At the start of the storyline, Lana has already left Smallville prior to Clark's return from his world journey. Upon his arrival home, Clark is told that Lana left some time prior and has not been heard from since. Following this storyline, there is never again made mention of her history regarding Clark or Superman.
Lana's "Birthright" history has been yet again re-made following the events of the Infinite Crisis, which has revived Clark's pre-Crisis Superboy alter-ego. In this new history, Lana's romantic relationship with Clark was often interrupted by her two obnoxious brothers (which she lacked in previous versions). The full extent of her history and her connection to Superboy/Clark has not been fully disclosed. Again, her previous history has not been mentioned since this revision.
Years later, the post-Crisis Lana eventually married Pete Ross. The two settled into a quiet life in Smallville, where they had a son they named after their mutual friend, Clark, after Lana asked Clark to save the baby's life when a car accident caused him to be born eight weeks premature; although Clark's efforts to take him to receive care were interrupted by the attack of the Brainiac-controlled Doomsday, Brainiac's subsequent attempts to use the baby's DNA to create a new body for himself brought the baby to full term. Pete began a career in politics that got him elected to the Senate. In 2000, Senator Ross became Lex Luthor's vice presidential running mate in Luthor's bid to become President, and after the two won, Lana moved to Washington, D.C. Eventually, Luthor was forced from his office, and Pete Ross became President (and Lana the First Lady). As she and Pete began to drift apart, Lana began to subtly attempt to regain Clark's affections, much to the anger of his (now) wife Lois Lane. Pete and Lana briefly reunited after Superman saved them from being killed by the villainous Ruin.
In Superman #654, Perry White reported that Lana had become CEO of Lexcorp following the ousting of founder Lex Luthor. In Superman/Batman #49, it is revealed that she sold Kryptonite to the government to prevent Lexcorp from going under, and had caches of Kryptonite placed all over the planet, as a last-ditch defense if Superman should ever go rogue. When Superman and Batman come to remove the Kryptonite, Lana refuses to hand it over, and pushes a button which turns the caches into "dirty bombs" which spread Kryptonite molecules through the entire planet, forcing all Kryptonians to vacate. However, Toyman uses special nanobots to remove all of the Kryptonite molecules, undoing the damage. Superman meets with Lana again, with Lana telling him she was left with no choice. Superman responds by telling her that, while he does sometimes wonder what things would have been like if he had married her rather than Lois, there is a reason he is with Lois instead of her, Lois would never have pushed the button. After Superman flies off, someone is shown watching Lana crying on a screen, saying to her "you did perfect". In Superman/Batman #63 suggests that this was Gorilla Grodd, when Batman mentions that "Grodd finally finished what he started when he controlled Lana all those years ago." However, this scenario is late revealed to be a simulation created in the Batcomputer.
She later tries to help Superman, facing the time-traveling strongman Atlas, by sending the Luthor Squad. This act activates a dormant program inside the Lexcorp mainframes, an holographic version of Luthor. The holographic copy of Luthor informs Lana that by helping Superman she has violated the Lexcorp standard contract of employment ("very, very fine print"), that forbids Lexcorp employers to use Lexcorp resources for helping Kryptonians, under the penalty of termination. Lana is given five minutes to leave the building, or she will be shot to death.
In 2008, new Supergirl writer Sterling Gates told Newsarama: "We're integrating Supergirl's book more into the Superman universe, and that includes having a supporting cast that overlaps with that world. I'm very interested in tying her back in to Metropolis and making sure that her world is a part of the Superman universe. Cat Grant will be a regular supporting cast member, as will Lana Lang."
Lana takes it upon herself to reach out to Supergirl. She offers her advice and friendship. Around the same time, Perry White has been actively pursuing Lana to take over the Business section of the Daily Planet, a position which Lana was afraid to accept, following her bad experience with Lexcorp. Eventually, Lana and Supergirl decide together that Lana will accept the position, and that Supergirl will take on the secret identity of Linda Lang, niece of Lana Lang. Lana now lives in Metropolis with Supergirl, and is working as the editor of the Business section of the Daily Planet.
She briefly returns to Smallville to attend Jonathan Kent's funeral. However, unable to muster enough resolve to patch up things with Clark, Lana leaves before giving him her condolences.
While attending a student journalism award ceremony with Jimmy Olsen and Cat Grant, Lana suddenly collapses, with blood pouring out her nose.; She receives a call from her doctor telling her that he has "bad news" for her. Following another collapse, Lana is taken to hospital and operated on. She apparently dies on the operating table, but her body is later encased in a cocoon by black insect-like creatures, which then starts to crack open. The hospital is soon engulfed by a gigantic cocoon-like structure, and a number of workers as well as the Science Police and the Guardian are taken hostage by an army of giant insects. Supergirl is soon captured and awakens bound and gagged at the feet of Lana, who is now possessed by the Insect Queen. The Queen reveals to Supergirl that during her last encounter with Lana, she injected her with a portion of her DNA and has been slowly taking control of her body for the past year, with the ultimate goal of capturing a Kryptonian to use as a template for an army of hybird insects. Supergirl breaks free and is able to expel the Queen from Lana's body with help from Kryptonian technology, and Lana returns to her normal state. While recovering, Lana is visited by Supergirl, who tells her she can no longer be a part of her family due to her lies about her condition. Lana and "Linda" have since reconciled and are currently living in the Hammersmith tower building in Metropolis.
In September 2011, DC Comics rebooted the Superman titles with a new continuity. In this new timeline, Lana was a childhood friend of Clark and has been privy to Clark's unusual abilities from an early age. They also shared mutual romantic feelings for each other during their youth. Lana eventually left Clark behind in Smallville to make her own mark on the world, but not before reassuring him that she would always love him.
In the present day continuity, Lana works as an electrical engineer on various projects around the world. It is hinted that adult Clark still harbours romantic feelings for Lana.