Unlike most major American cities in 2024, Metropolis has always had a thriving local newspaper due to the fantastic and exceptionally long-running Daily Planet. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the city has fostered the careers of many great journalists including, of course, Clark Kent and Lois Lane. But today I'm here to talk about one of the city's undersung journalistic minds, a trailblazer who I discovered only recently while reading the delightful solo series debut of Supergirl. If you’re not yet familiar with her, then it’s my honor and deepest pleasure to introduce you to Melba Manton.

The bombastic, funny, thoughtful character appears in a Supergirl backup story that soon had me scouring the DC archives for her other appearances. The daring reporter starred in only handful of issues (plus a bonus one if you count a reprinted story in an issue of The Best of DC Vol. 1) before she was lost to the Crisis on Infinite Earths. But in her short time, she was a dynamite addition to Metropolis.

Melba Manton debuted in 1973's Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #131 by Cary Bates and John Rosenberger as a fellow journalist and newscaster colleague of Lois Lane. Since it was 1973, Melba’s debut was in a delightfully strange issue where Lois begins to hallucinate about a bizarre invisible child named Mic. While Lois becomes seemingly more lost in her mind, Melba is enlisted by Perry White to check out what's going on and see if she can help her friend before she has to testify in a high-stakes criminal court case.

Somehow, the reality is far stranger as Lois really has adopted a child from the future who wanted to have Superman as a father. Melba, though, doesn't know that and we get to see her pursue the story with grit and integrity that would make Clark proud.

A fair few of Melba's later appearances are mere cameos, but interestingly, she's always represented as being close to Lois and Clark, even coining the charmingly cute nickname “Clarkie” for the latter. She became a regular face in the Daily Planet newsroom, often popping up to help with a story or to win a bowling match, as seen in the Daily Planet's battle of the sexes bowling challenge featured in Superman #289.

Melba sometimes got center stage, though, and even got her own featured backups in issues of both Supergirl and Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane. In "Introducing Melba!" from Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #132, we see the reporter's smarts and courage as she attempts to talk down a man who thinks he's been framed for a murder. It feels like writer Robert Kanigher saw the potential for Melba to take on a role as a street level hero in Metropolis, something that was continued in "The Final Cut!" from Supergirl #6, where she saved a fading film star from a brutal death. She's an intriguing part of lost Metropolis lore that feels ripe for revisiting.

As a newscaster, her signature appearances often put her at the center of unusually complex and interesting action sequences for a female character. During 1977's Superman Family #186, Melba and Lois went on what was clearly a Blaxploitation inspired romp, as Melba is reporting from an independent nation when a coup occurs, leading Superman and Lois to head there to save her. But Melba has to take action when Superman is hypnotized, karate-chopping her way to freedom alongside Lois in a rare ’70s female-led action tale. (Unfortunately, though, Lois is in what essentially amounts to a blackface disguise. Sigh. One step forward, two steps back.)

Still, it would seem that Melba's reception by readers was very positive, as editorial ran not one, but two glowing letters of praise in the back of Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #135. The intrepid reporter was even on hand for the end of an era in the final issue of Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, when the series' star made a special visit to WGBS Studios to seek the aid of her newscaster pal to help out with a special human interest story.

Sadly, Melba's final Pre-Crisis appearance was a wordless cameo in 1978's Action Comics #479 that saw her witness a super-battle in the offices of her workplace at WGBS-TV as Superman fought for the safety of the world once again.

And yet, though she was never named, Melba quietly made a return during the Rebirth era in Dan Jurgens and Ian Churchill's Action Comics #977, where Churchill drew her on the opening and ending splash pages as part of Clark's larger Daily Planet family (she also had a brief potential background appearance in #978 as well).

Still, while Rebirth was a soft relaunch that reintegrated some of DC's deeper history, the much larger Infinite Multiverse is now officially back in action following Dark Crisis. That means we're closer than ever to seeing Melba properly return to the main canon and get her time in the spotlight once again.

Rosie Knight is an award-winning journalist and author who loves Swamp Thing, the DC Cosmic and writing the monthly gossip column here at DC.com. You can also listen to her waxing lyrical about comics, movies and more each week as she co-hosts Crooked Media's pop-culture podcast, X-Ray Vision.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Rosie Knight and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.