Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Retro Review: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #34 (1962) Review and **SPOILERS**



Luthor Fonzarelli

Cover Artists: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Editor: Mort Weisinger 
Cover Price: 12 cents 
Cover Date: July, 1962 
Publisher: DC Comics

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

I try to appease you, the legion of Lois Lane fanatics, by reviewing two issues of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane in the last couple of weeks. “But no,” you cried, “that’s not our Lois! Our Lois would never submit to chasing after Superman like that!” I’ll have you know that Lois doesn’t always define herself as Superman’s potential wedding prize at all. Sometimes she panders to Lex Luthor! Check it out in my review of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #34, appearing below!


Explain It!

“The Bride of Luthor!” 
Written By: Maybe Bill Finger? 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
This is one of those “Imaginary Stories” DC Comics liked to do through the 1950s and 60s, where alternate possibilities were explored without the usual constraints of a fantasy comic book featuring men that fly through the air. It was sort of the Elseworlds of its day. Whenever one of these stories happened, DC would make sure it was crystal clear through the use of these incredibly coy captions running through the chapters, like, “This didn’t really happen, but it could happen, hmmmm?” You can almost picture someone twiddling their mustache while saying it. 
"It's an imaginary story, like the time I said 'I love you.'"
So one day, Lois Lane is strolling down the street, when a spaceship flies by and snatches her up in its mechanical claw. Aboard the craft, Lois sees it’s piloted by Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor! 
In Metropolis, we call this "Wednesday."
His plan is to stash Lois in a lead-lined castle on a planet called Omark, and then use her as leverage with Superman. The planet is not uninhabited, however: indeed it is populated by a race of bald, bearded white folks that speak telepathically, and who Luthor tells Lois to disregard. They are interested in Luthor, though, and move in to cure him. 
"Can you please tell us how to get to the Buck Rogers fan convention?"
They lay their scrawny hands upon Luthor’s noggin, and suddenly, he is cured of his evil tendencies! You can tell because he stopped scowling. 
Mmmonsters are such INNteresting people.
Luthor feels very remorseful for…well, for being like the main villain in Superman comics for going on three decades now. He and Lois head back to Earth where Lex turns himself into the police, divulging all the pertinent information he has about his criminal endeavors. 
©1942 Lev Gleason Publishing
This fairly well lands him in prison for life right away, which Luthor and everyone else pretty much expected. He does his time with true remorse, so much so that Lois even comes to visit him. Though he is glad to see her, Luthor still feels sorry for himself, and wants to make amends. 
"And I can probably get 'Amos and Andy' on this, too."
Later, Lex discovers a listening device in his shoe that the guard didn’t catch when he came to prison…come to think of it, he really shouldn’t be wearing the same shoes right now, either. Luthor decides to use this sensitive microphone to eavesdrop on the cells around him, and uncovers a plot to assassinate the Governor, unfolding that very moment! Luthor had been in the Governor’s home before for nefarious means, and somehow using some kind of thingamajig, projects his hologram into the Governor’s bedroom, frightening the assassin into firing his gun wildly. 
"I forgot to mention that I'd installed holographic projectors in the bedrooms of many officials."
Luckily, that wild shot did not hit the sleeping Governor, who takes his pistol from his night stand and trains it at the befuddled gunman. Somehow, the Governor figures this all out and pardons Luthor from prison, which is kind of selfish of him. I guess you don’t get to be Governor without some level of narcissism. 
"As for those people made to suffer while you were a criminal, fuck 'em."
Fresh out of the clink, Lex Luthor and Lois Lane have lunch (hey!). They’re having a swell time, then Lex has to go ruin it by asking her to marry him. And not in a demonstrative, Luthortarian kind of way, but like a milquetoast little sheep asking for a nibble of clover. She stammers him into embarrassment and then he scurries away emotionally like the timid shrew that he is. 
"And by 'work,' I mean 'jerk.' I think you get the idea."
A week later, Lois is driving on some cliffside road, when her convertible sports car conks out. And then, Lois has the dumbest idea she’s ever had in her entire life. 
"Calling Triple-A will take forever!"
Superman doesn’t show up, because he’s busy sometimes you know, and Lois splashes into the water and washes up against the rocks, knocking her unconscious. Some wharf rat pulls her ashore and probably grabs a boob real quick-like for his troubles. And you know what, he deserves it. 
"No fish, but the dizzy suicidal broads sure are biting!"
An hour later, Lex Luthor is in his laboratory, coming up with a new recipe for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, when he hears about Lois’ plight over the radio. Immediately, he hurries over to the hospital with a healing invention of his own, which looks like an old Polaroid camera. I’ve heard of sick games like these! Not in the hospital, bud! 
",,,incidentally, I just deliver the water."
Luthor zaps his brain-healing ray on Lois, and she is healed. Luthor gives the ray up to the hospital as part of his generosity, never explaining how it was made or why he had it without donating it to medicine right away. 
"Too bad I haven't a ray to fix...a broken heart."
When Lois comes to, the nurse explains that Luthor saved her life and, incidentally, Superman didn’t do diddly-squat. Women normally fall in love with whomever saves their life most recently, so Lois begins to have feelings for Lex. 
"I'd never considered marrying for money, but it could be an idea."
Once the bandages come off of her melon, Lois marches right over to Luthor’s evil lair apartment, and accepts his offer of marriage. Luthor hems and haws, showing his feelings of inadequacy, but Lois assuages those fears by comparing him to celebrities, with whom there would actually be no competition. 
"Oh, and I also have Gout and Type-2 Diabetes and Alzheimer's runs in my family. Let's be wed now!"
And so, despite the protests of Superman, Lex Luthor and Lois Lane are wed! Look at that asshole, hollering right at the end of the ceremony! Have you no composure, man? He didn’t even throw on a suit! But that’s not the end of the story, it’s only the first chapter! Of two chapters. 
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to be a disruptive piece of shit elsewhere."
So now that Lois and Lex are together, things couldn’t be better. Lex is churning out stuff to ease mankind’s toil, like this robot that replaces the housewife, diminishing the last bit of importance for many mid-twentieth century women. 
"Now I have plenty of time for day drinking!"
Luthor also makes some kind of gasoline-enhancer that allows cars to get five-hundred miles per gallon. Now people love Luthor, and he can stroll around town, wife on his arm, beaming with pride. It really burns Superman’s ass, let me tell you. 
"To think that I, too, could have had the adoration of nerdy old ladies."
There’s nothing left for Superman to do but marry his second choice, Lana Lang. She’s such a sad sack, she doesn’t mind being someone’s safety wife, she’s just happy to marry her childhood sweetheart. Superman says he’ll give Lana a monthly dose of serum that will give her super powers…wait, what? Such a serum exists? What the hell is going on around here? It’s not worth addressing now, since this tidbit doesn’t factor into the story again at all, but I sure would like to know more about Superman and Lana At Home. 
"I was gonna marry Aquaman, but forget him!"
Things for Lex and Lois Luthor, they couldn’t be better. Both of them are elated, and eventually their shared love brings forth a son. Lois tells Luthor that they’ll name him Larry, because parents can be cruel sometimes. 
"Lawrence Lucius Luthor. All of his classmates will be so jealous of the alliteration!"
The years fly by, Lois and Luthor making a happy home with their precocious little boy. On their fifteenth wedding anniversary, an older but chubbier Lois Lane presents her hubby with a cake, and her presents her with a surprise. 
"I had some help from Steven Urkel."
Lois enters the chamber created by Lex, and is zapped with a ray that makes her all jittery. 
"Whew! That could have gone poorly."
Luthor has de-aged Lois! And given her eternal youth. There was only enough youth juice for one go-round, and he gave it to his wife so she wouldn’t look like a bag of potatoes anymore. Lex, on the other hand, looks no different than he did a decade and a half ago. 
"And I have a wife I find sexually attractive again."
While Lex is off creating great things, Lois is stuck home with her teenage son Larry. And he’s become quite a handful! When he asks about a secret room in his own home, Lois tells him to forget all about this room, in the house in which Larry grew up, one that is locked with a padlock and that he has never been inside, that his father will tell him about someday. This isn’t good enough for Larry, so he pries the lock off with a crowbar! 
They should have put DO NOT ENTER and SUPER SECRET signs on the door!
Inside are records of all the crimes committed by Larry’s dad, Lex Luthor! There are some neatly-arranged scrapbooks, plenty of blueprints and photographs—clearly, someone went through a lot of trouble and care for this collection. Larry can even watch movies of his dad in action using a convenient projector called a Timescope. In the first film, Lex is driving some kind of combustion engine that tosses out differently-colored Kryptonite rocks at Superman while he flies around. 
"Gosh! Pop had all sorts of hare-brained schemes!"
Then Larry watches a movie of a campaign against Superboy, when Lex had some aliens made of Kryptonite try and murder Superman as a child. I happen to know this actually did occur in Superboy #86 (January 1961). I assume the other incident is from the comics as well, but I don’t know the issue. Before long, Lois catches Larry in his dad’s man cave, and orders him out. Larry acquiesces, but steals a stray nefarious plot before leaving. 
"You march right into our bedroom and look at your father's Playboys like a normal teen-aged boy!"
Later, Lois catches Larry at his workbench, using one of Luthor’s blueprints! Taking a look, she finds that’s a paralysis ray. Didn’t Luthor ever make anything besides rays? There are other ways to dispense things, you know. Lois is very concerned for her wayward son, but Larry just wishes she would get out of his hair! Because he just combed it! 
"Get off my case, ma! All the kids have paralyzing rays these days!"
Larry tries to commit a crime using one of Luthor’s tricks, and he’s caught by Superman himself. Because he’s the son of a girl that wanted to have sex with him, Superman flexes his emotionally-controlling muscle by giving Larry a break and dumping him off at home—much to the elation of his mother. Larry, however, is furious that she was so obsequious to the guy! 
"You act like you're Superman's Girl Friend!"
Lois still hasn’t told Lex about the problems at home, because she doesn’t want to worry him. Why not tell him? Maybe he’ll make a ray that can solve everything. Larry heads out to free some of his buddies from Space Alcatraz, so they can form a gang and do crimes like his dear old dad. But Lex has made a crime-detecting satellite, and he catches his son in the act! 
"That's mah boy!"
Lex literally teleports himself right to Space Alcatraz…okay, hold up a second. Lex Luthor has teleportation? That’s kind of a game-changer right there. Anyway, he zaps up to Larry, and the two of them tussle for a moment. Then Larry tosses his father against an electrode, sending a fatal dose of voltage through his body! 
"Let the record show that the electrode, and not my shove, killed my father."
Now a murderer, Larry takes off, leaving the authorities and his mother to find Lex’s body. And Superman as well, who is there to gloat, apparently. The space cop says they’re already calling Larry “Black Luthor,” which is appropriately insensitive and non-descriptive, per the context of the time. 
"We'll check all the jazz clubs and juke joints in the galaxy."
Larry speeds away into outer space, seemingly not remorseful at having killed his father (and he didn’t even have sex with his mother! …yet). His craft can turn invisible, so he will never be found! Not by sight, at least. I bet sonar or some kind of computer imagine could detect him just fine. 
"The invisibility paint job costs a bundle, but it's worth it."
And uh, that’s it. If Lex Luthor was ever turned into a good person by well-meaning aliens, then he’d marry Lois Lane and eventually be murdered by his own son, who would then become an interstellar fugitive. Glad that question was answered! Remember though, it’s only an imaginary story. Unlike the other story in this issue, which is a straight re-telling of recorded factual events!
"The ladies in the book club are going to have a field day with this!"

“Lois Lane, Millionairess” 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
I know it isn’t en vogue to use words like “comedienne” or “actress” anymore, but “millionairess” shouldn’t be a word. It’s not in conventional use, but it is a word, and there was a British romantic comedy titled The Millionairess in 1960. It sounds ridiculous! Someone with at least a million dollars but less than a billion dollars is a millionaire, regardless of gender! 
Up from a thousandairess.
So reclusive millionaire Ms. Grant has decided to give an exclusive interview to Lois Lane of the Daily Planet, because Lois reminds her of her daughter Agnes, who disappeared while mountain climbing. Indeed, Ms. Grant has been out of the picture because she’d been in Switzerland, looking for her. When the old bitty reaches for some family albums that she can use to bore the hose off of Lois, a pile of books starts slipping off the top of a bookcase, headed for Ms. Grant’s head! 
"Let me show you some photos from her grade school piano recital."
A heavy book of pictures from her long, long lifespan knocks Ms. Grant on her dome, and she’s knocked out cold. Ms. Grant’s personal physician comes by to check on her, and put a sack of ice on her forehead. Ms. Grant comes to, and recognizes Lois as her daughter, Agnes! She’s elated to see her. 
"Agnes, you've returned! Oh my dear daughter, I'm so sorry for naming you 'Agnes.'"
The physician suggests that Lois keep up the ruse, because his medical school was run by the people who wrote scripts for Three’s Company. Lois figures this is a good opportunity to get her story for the Daily Planet, and tells her fake mom all about it. 
"We must maintain this old woman's fantasy or she may slip into a permanent fantasy!"
To support Lois, Ms. Grant showers her with all the finery a newspaper reporter needs: a brand-new luxury wardrobe, including mink coat; a bathtub the size of an Olympic swimming pool; a new five-thousand dollar camera for snooping reporter reasons; and chauffeured limousine service to and from the office, in a specially-made limousine that has an office inside, and probably a little receptacle into which she can discreetly dispose of tampons. Plus, Lois gets a grand of fun money! 
"I'm going to need the air conditioning if I'm to wear this mink. And I am to wear this mink!"
When Lois gets to the Daily Planet, she wows everyone with her richness, even sharing some of the Pheasant Under Glass that Ms. Grant had delivered to the office for Lois’ lunch. Lois is living high on the…pheasant, and uses the thousand dollars she got from Ms. Grant to buy some helium-filled Superman balloons for some wounded orphans, or some such to-do. 
A thousand bucks on balloons? Maybe Ms. Grant should re-think that allowance.
And now, we learn the twist: the whole thing is a set-up to get Superman! All of this cash outlay, the hired help and physician, they’re all part of this grand plot that will use Lois Lane to take Superman down for good. And you can tell they’re bad folks because they’re all smoking cigars. 
Mobb Cigars. To celebrate a job well done.
See, there’s a standing five-million dollar reward for killing Superman, provided by “gangland,” which is about as good as a promise from a hidden ghost as far as I’m concerned. The real Ms. Grant is still out there, looking for her daughter, but she’s been trapped by an avalanche and won’t be back for a week. All of this—the fake exclusive interview, dressing like an old lady, the mink coat and Pheasant Under Glass—was all thrown together in that time, in hopes of capitalizing on the moment to ice Superman. And the limousine! Wait until you hear about the limousine. 
"Come to think of it, we could just rob this empty mansion. It would be a lot easier."
The next day, Clark asks Lois if he can take a little ride in her swell limousine. For some reason, they all sit in the front seat, which completely negates the point of a limousine, if you ask me. Clark wants to hear the new Little Richard single on the radio, but it doesn’t work—which is super embarrassing. You invite someone into your hoity-toity car, and the damn features don’t work. Clark isn’t too disturbed by it (though you know he’s inwardly snickering at Lois and her failed showing-off) and splits, and now it’s time to bring this evil plan to its fruition! 
Nice limo, Lois. ...NOT!
The idea is that Lois will carry these helium-filled Superman balloons, hanging out of the window of her limousine, while they drive to the little league fundraiser or whatever. The criminal driver will lose control on a hairpin turn, causing the limousine to break the barrier and careen over the cliff. This will bring Superman a-running, even though we just read a story in this issue about a time that Superman didn’t come a-running, and Lois Lane almost died! 
"That limousine belonged to J. Edgar Hoover!"
Superman does grab the vehicle, though, and when he puts it down, the trap is sprung! Metal panels fly off the car, revealing an all-Kryptonite chassis that immediately starts killing Superman! 
The designs started to get really lazy in the eighth wave of Transformers.
An all-Kryptonite chassis, that has to cost a lot. While Superman is weakened and turning green, Ms. Grant and the crew reveal themselves to be bad dudes, ready to smoke cigars at a moment’s notice! 
"I can't help but think this is all my fault, somehow."
Lois feels just dreadful about all of this. Simply awful. Luckily, Supergirl comes flitting overhead, so Lois undoes the Superman balloons, hoping they’ll float past Supergirl and get her attention. The balloons carry Lois herself to Supergirl, so Lois explains the situation, sort of…in any case, the result is that Supergirl tosses a boulder on the Kryptonite car, and Superman is back in the pink (skin) again. 
"Thinking about it now, I'm a pretty great person for sure."
Later, Supergirl tells her cousin about how Lois wasn’t carried by the Superman balloons themselves, but an updraft made from Supergirl’s super-breath. What, is Supergirl trying to say she’s fat or something? What does this have to do with anything? 
"You shoulda seen the strings on those balloons struggling to hold Lois!"
Superman, on the other hand, says he got suspicious when the radio and clock in Lois’ limousine didn’t work. A quick check with X-ray vision revealed that the whole car was line in lead—a sure sign that someone’s hiding Kryptonite, in this universe! Also an indicator that everyone involved should probably get tested for lead poisoning. 
"It's also worth saying that this car's air freshener is two years old."
But they’ll let Lois think it was all her idea because, aw, she’s a sweet kid. In the end, Lois’ ill-gotten gains are confiscated by the police, but she’s still the richest of all because she’s got a tender heart and stuff. And also, I’m pretty sure she is at least upper-middle class. She lives alone in her own Metropolis apartment, for goodness sakes.
"Now that you're broke again Lois, I don't have to feel threatened by you!"

Once again, two Lois Lane stories so deliciously stupid, you want to eat them up with a spoon and fork. Or some kind of spoon/fork combination, that might even speed up the process. I call it the “fpsork” and patents are pending. In terms of storytelling, this is the comic book equivalent of Reader’s Digest: short on substance but plenty intelligible. The situations are just ludicrous, though the first story does seem like something thought through by a creative after ten days of insomnia. The way it just drops off…why didn’t this get a third chapter? Was it not delivered in time? Or not written at all? Or perhaps there was some other problem? The mind boggles, but not for too long. It is just an imaginary story after all.
The family that eats together, meets together.

Bits and Pieces:

Lois Lane marries Lex Luthor? Lana Lang marries Superman? Lucy Lane marries Shemp? Jimmy Olsen marries Titano the Super-Ape? Jennifer Aniston marries Lori Lemaris? It's 2018 folks! Educate yourself to the new reality where women can marry mermaids!
7/10
-->

1 comment:

Farseer said...

Wonderful! Thanks for the laughs with your recap. This looks awesome.