Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Retro Review: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #38 (1963) Review and **SPOILERS**

Give Me a Woman with Low Standards

Cover Artist: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Editor: Mort Weisinger 
Cover Price: 12 cents 
Cover Date: January 1963 
Publisher: DC Comics


Last week, I reviewed an issue of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane where Lois fell in love with Lex Luthor, married him, and then had a son that killed him. But you Lois Lane fans hated it because, the scores and possibly hundreds of you said, she was still defined by her relationship to a man. It isn’t always that way, though! Sometimes, she can disregard Superman altogether! Or maybe Lana Lang can. One of them can do it, that’s for sure. Find out which woman would be able to eschew Superman, and which one would follow him into a live volcano in my review of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #38, which appears below!

Explain It!

“The Invisible Lois Lane!” 
Written By: Definitely feels like Mort Weisinger here 
Pencilled By: Curt Swan 
Inked By: George Klein 
I think this is a Mort Weisinger gem because the title promises one thing, but the story delivers something else entirely. This jaunt begins when Lois is visiting Professor Potter, who’s developed an experimental invisibility serum that he’s still fine-tuning to minimize any side effects aaand Lois already drank it. 
"You had me at 'unpleasant side-effects!'"
After almost getting run over by a bus, Lois decides to do something important while under the influence of this serum: find out if Clark Kent really is Superman, as she’s suspected!
"I can think of no better use for invisibility."
The crime-ridden city of Metropolis has its usual lunchtime robberies, and Clark steps into an alleyway to change clothes and take care of one. There, Lois sees him pull off his suit and expose the Super-jammies! 
This must violate several privacy laws.
Superman dispatches the thieves handily, then steps back into the shadowed alleyway to become a nobody again. Having proved her theory, Lois decides not to confront Clark with these facts, or go to the media with a blockbuster story. No, Lois decides to screw with Superman a little bit. 
I see "Fuck With Superman Day" has come around again.
First, she pretends to accidentally meet Clark in the street, and only by arranging a hasty lunch date does he miss getting flattened by a falling safe. Of course, he wouldn’t have been flattened, which is the point. 
"It's still a tragedy! That safe is full of 78 rpm records."
Clark puts on the scaredy-routine at the restaurant, but Lois doesn’t buy it. Later, at the Daily Planet, Perry white tasks Clark with adding up some charity donations using a counting machine, then writing an article about the total. Lois breaks the counting machine, which would force Clark to count the coins as super-speed, but then she insists on helping him count, so he has to count slowly while in Lois' company. Well, that’s pretty fucked up, Lois! And she stays to help so she’s got to suffer through this boring shit, too. Who got pranked here? 
"Counting this filthy change for hours is worth it to see the look on your face."
Next, Lois and Clark go to an amusement park…oh god, this is so needlessly complicated. One of the games in the midway is that thing where you whack a pad with a hammer that shoots a slug up a chute, in an attempt to ring the bell at the top. This particular one is rated “infant” to “Superman,” from weakest to strongest. Lois notices that the carnival barker can rig the machine so that a ringer can hit “Superman” every time, thereby attracting business. Lois convinces Clark to give it a whirl, then rigs the machine so he hits “Superman” and feels all embarrassed. Mind you, plenty of regular humans have presumably hit “Superman” on this thing, and it’s certainly not proof of anything. But that’s a Lois Lane prank for you.
"By carnival law, you may now have sex with my daughter."
There’s a scene where Lois locks Clark in a meat locker in attempt to get him to show his hand, but it doesn’t work. Then, the stupidest scheme of all: Lois hangs a costume in Perry White’s closet to prove that the Chief is actually Superman! 
"According to this other article hanging in the closet, Perry wears a size 18 evening gown."
Anyone else you want to ensnare in this dangerous lie, Lois? How about you throw Jimmy into a live volcano to force Clark’s hand? Or drive a bus headlong into Ma and Pa Kent’s farmhouse, maybe that will ferret Superman out. Perry is snoozing in his office chair, and Lois threatens to shoot him in the head, proving his invulnerability! Before she can pull the trigger of her toy gun, however, Perry wakes up and stops her. 
"Do we still publish newspapers around here?"
Perry has a black eye, which he explains away along with his excuse for napping at work. More pertinent to this ludicrous story, if Perry has a black eye, he can’t be invulnerable, and therefore cannot be Superman. Clark shows the reader how he really rigged it so Perry would wake up, but I think it’s important to remember that PERRY WHITE CANNOT BE SUPERMAN BECAUSE HE’S A PORTLY, MIDDLE-AGED MAN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. 
"Sometimes Mrs. White gets angry because I'm so stupid all the time."
Later, Lois gets a bulletin about a ship sinking at sea. She tells Clark to suit up and save the day, but Clark is like “Do I know you, bitch?” 
"And I've got news for you Lois, you're NO Jacqueline Kennedy! Not by a LUH-HOONG SHOT!"
Lois grabs some scissors and applies them to Clark’s supposedly invulnerable hair, and they snip! She pulls open Clark’s shirt to expose his Superman costume, but he’s bare-chested! And quite hairless, if it must be said. Lois is confused, and calls Professor Potter who says that the invisibility serum does cause hallucinations, which he tried to tell her before she ran out of his laboratory like her ass was on fire! This is all a ruse by Superman…a very stupid, amazingly complex ruse. 
"And that's why I don't think I should have to keep paying alimony."
As luck would have it, Superman met a test pilot named Roy Wilkins who had developed amnesia after an accident. He remembered nothing from before his crash…er, except that his name was Roy Wilkins, I guess. Superman gave him a Clark Kent mask and had him play the role for Lois’ benefit while Superman went and saved that sinking freighter, or whatever the problem was. 
"Oh how I wish I could have been there to see Lois make a fool of herself."
The plot worked, as we saw, so Superman holds up his end of the bargain: curing Roy’s amnesia by doing loop-de-loops in the stratosphere! I’m not sure that would work, but since further fake science is employed when Superman says that (once his memory is cured) Roy won’t recall anything that happened in his post-crash life, I suppose the point is moot. Believe what you want about amnesia, Superman. You’ve just given away your secret identity to Hal Jordan’s stunt double.
"This will either cure your amnesia or give you irreversible brain damage. Either way, we're even."

“Lois Lane’s Signal Watch!” 
Written By: Maybe Weisinger? It’s certainly weird 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Metropolis crime boss Kimbo has set up one of his underlings with plastic surgery and other instructions so he can mimic Superman. Meanwhile, Lois Lane and Perry White happen to be talking about a letter, given to Lois by the missing criminal Bugs Gorcey, that she’s promised not to open until three o’clock tomorrow. Why, you ask? Because Bugs went on the lam five years ago, and figured that would be enough lapsed time that he’d be dead or safe from retribution. How sweet. 
"Yes Perry. I know."
Gorcey owes Lois a favor, you see, because she drove him to the hospital or something mundane like this. Perry and Lois suspect the sealed letter contains the hidden location of his cache, and Perry muses that some nefarious figures might want to access that information. Some chubby, middle-aged figures whose hair is greying at the temples. Some figures who may be sitting in the very same room as Lois. Superman is hanging out in the Bottle City of Kandor, so Lois can’t call on him—and she doesn’t want to! 
"Unless there's a jar to open, that is."
So you get the gimmick, right? Kimbo is going to send his Superman look-a-like to intercept Lois and worm Bugs Gorcey’s letter out of her. This happens the very next day, when Fake Superman finds Lois just strolling along the waterfront. He gives her a signal watch, just like the one he gave Jimmy Olsen, that she can press whenever she’s in trouble. I don’t know why he’d bother, since he always shows up when Lois is in distress anyway, but Lois is thrilled because ladies like baubles and trinkets. 
"It's a Swatch™ watch so I have a warranty if it stops working."
Fake Superman tells Lois to keep her new watch mum, and then (hilariously) dives into the water because he can’t fly away! He comes up with some nonsense about checking the hinges on a submarine or something, but you just have to think of how funny this scene is: Superman has a chance meeting with Lois on the waterfront, hands her a watch, and dives away into the dark waters, all in about three minutes. Fake Superman resurfaces under the dock, where Kimbo and an associate are there to receive him. They explain that Lois’ signal watch sends out a signal alright—that only they can receive! 
"So long, Lois! I gotta take a whiz." :dives into water:
Later, Lois sees Jimmy Olsen is battered and bandaged up. Seems he got into a dust-up with a horse or something, forgetting that Superman was in Kandor and couldn’t respond to his signal watch. Lois thinks this is odd, but is too enchanted by her watch to question anything. Kimbo has the office bugged, and overhears this development! 
"Either Superman's still in Kandor, or Jimmy Olsen is out one super-pal!"
That 3 PM hour comes, so Lois opens Gorcey’s letter—and it contains the location of his hidden loot! She doesn’t say where it is aloud, but does mention that she’ll need to take a taxi to the rendezvous. Kimbo sends out one of his guys to be her cabbie, then Fake Superman pretends to save the car when the driver acts like the brakes have failed. You’re just compounding your lies, fellows! Honesty is the best policy! 
"Driver, take me the rest of the way, even though your brakes must still be faulty."
If that didn’t convince Lois—and this is fair warning that you might laugh yourself sick here–Fake Superman inflates a Superman balloon with helium to make Lois think it’s the real Man of Steel flying away. You just have to picture this, again: Lois looking out of a car window at a Superman balloon just lazily drifting away…boy, men really didn’t think much of womens’ intelligence back in the day, did they? 
"Why does it look like Superman had a stroke?"
Having been convinced, Lois continues on to her location, which is some old cave. Perry’s hooked her up with a station wagon and spelunking gear, and Lois heads right over to the cave and jumps right in! 
"This is the worst hiding spot of all time!"
Inside the cave, Lois finds a box full of diamonds! Needing Superman’s help to carry it, she presses her signal watch…perhaps forgetting that the man is still in Kandor, for goodness’ sakes. It doesn’t matter, because only Kimbo and his men can hear the signal anyway! 
"Our radio is the only one that can get Baruch College radio really well."
They show up in a helicopter and descend, then immediately begin firing wildly into the cave. Is that the proper way to begin an exploration? This causes a cave-in to fall on Lois, not hurting her at all but damaging the signal watch. She figures to try it again, and it’s then that Fake Superman stands over her trapped form and laughs mockingly! It took you this long to figure out you’d been had, Lois? 
"Superman, you stop gloating this instant and help me out from here! Superman! Are you listening to me?!"
Superman doesn’t show up, but his cousin, Supergirl does! She melts part of the cave wall to trap the thugs, then pulls Lois out from under the rubble. 
The eruption at Pompei is a lie.
Back at the Daily Planet, Supergirl explains that when the watch was broken, the signal changed so that only Supergirl could hear it…for some reason, her hearing is different than Superman’s? I thought they both had “super-hearing.” Apparently, this can be broken into a “penis-based” hearing and a “vagina-based” hearing.
"The adjusted signal sounded like lipstick and perfume."

“The Girl Who Refused to Marry Superman!” 
Written By: I’m gonna boldly suggest it was Bill Finger 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
It’s Valentine’s Day in Metropolis…and presumably everywhere else in the same hemisphere. Superman’s received a load of mash notes, care of the Daily Planet, and he’s got to sit down and read them all–taking particular care, admonishes Lois, to scrutinize her and Lana Lang’s respective love letters! 
"You know, the two of you could have handed them to me personally."
Superman uses his super-speed to cruise through the pile at 1,000 cards at a clip, eventually coming to a card with a red heart on the front—a red heart that contains traces of Red Kryptonite! This form of Kryptonite has unpredictable results that affect Superman for no more than 48 hours; he might turn into a gorilla, or become explosive to the touch, or get really gassy! He takes off out the window before the Kryptonite can take effect, lest he harm any bystanders or Lois. 
"The message in that card was way too smutty to be believed!"
After he takes off, Perry White floats the question about whether Lois would still swoon for Superman if he couldn’t fly and shoot lasers from his eyeballs. And Lois is like, hell yeah man, you see that guy’s body? Whew! 
"I would love him if was the second greatest super-hero of all time. But not if he were third."
While waiting for the Red Kryptonite to take effect, Superman spies two crooks robbing a bank. He descends to apprehend them, and one of the hoodlums tosses a grenade at him, which, as the other hoodlum points out, is like throwing a cotton ball at a charging lion. 
"Yeah, but sometimes you gotta have faith things will work out."
But somehow, the grenade has an effect! Superman falls from the sky and hits the ground hard, breaking several bones and landing himself in the hospital. 
"Step on it! My liability insurance ain't paid up!"
In the hospital, Superman tries to explain that he’s, well, Superman, but since he’s injured and stuff, no one’s buying it. The Man of Tomorrow realizes that he must have lost his powers temporarily due to the Red Kryptonite, though he doesn’t say this aloud. 
"Verifying that patients aren't Superman is standard operating procedure for the hospital."
Perry White is brought in so Superman can prove his identity, which he does, to the alarm of everyone! 
"You'd think I'd use the lighter as a conversation piece. But I hate idle chit-chat."
Lois Lane and Lana Lang attend to Superman’s every need, desperate to prove that they still love him despite the fact that he’s essentially an epidermal sack of shattered bone fragments. 
"Believe it or not, you just kissed my right ear."
And that’s when Superman gets the notion to play these women against each other and find out if either one would still chase after him, even if he was without super powers! What is it with the characters in this series? They’re all such dicks to each other! While Superman is convalescing, Perry White practically trips over his own feet, rushing to Supes’ side so he can record his life story. 
"Get to the part where you relinquish all rights to the name and image of Superman to one Perry White."
Superman remembers some of his greatest exploits, like the time that he saved Lana Lang from some dinosaurs in the distant past. Or the time he created a chasm at super-speed to save Lois from some aliens. Seems like this guy, he does a lot of the saving around here. The rest of the page is a nightmare layout, with arrows pointing the way at every angle. It’s a great example of how not to do a comic book page. 
Follow the bouncing arrow.
As the story’s gone on, we’ve seen both Lois and Lana have misgivings about marrying a superhero that has no super powers...I mean, now he’s just a weird guy wearing pajamas in the daytime. They take Superman back to his apartment to recover…hold on—his apartment? Since when does Superman pay rent? At least, rent separately from what Clark Kent must pay. While there, he sets up a recorder to archive this moment for all posterity. 
"Then it's settled: the woman with the initials L.L. will back off of Superman for good!"
One of the women announces that she is no longer interested in Superman as a lover, but will be happy to keep him in the “friend zone.” We can’t tell who it is, however, because their faces are kept in shadow. And when Superman plays the tape back later, the storm outside interferes too much with the recording and he can’t discern who is who! This makes him so mad, he is barely surprised when he finds himself having captured the two bank robbers from the beginning of the story. 
Ahh, who the hell cares what those broads think anyhow!
And everything after that didn’t happen! It was a Red Kryptonite-spurred hallucination that Superman experienced in the split second between getting hit with the grenade and snatching up the hooligans. What a twist! But who do you think would drop Superman like a hot potato? Write in to this website and let us know with a 5,000+ word essay!
Basically, we want to know which lady you want to screw more.

All of these stories are moronic, but still much more fun than many comics on the stands today. I’m starting to love these Mort Weisinger-derived stories, he seems to have a flair for turning situations on their ears and highlighting the mundane parts of fantastic moments. I also love how the cover story of this issue is arguably the worst one. There are a couple of really badly-plotted pages, but otherwise it's a pretty standard read. This is a great comic for children if you want them to grow up despising the opposite sex.
Why waste a full-body cast?

Bits and Pieces:

Would you marry Superman if he lost his powers? What if he lost his powers, but he was a great orator? What if he lost his powers, but he was good with cats? I think you need to search your feelings for Superman and realize that the greatest love was inside of us all along.


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