Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Retro Review: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #108 (1971) Review and **SPOILERS**

The Ghost with the Most

Script: Cary Bates 
Pencils: Werner Roth 
Inks: Vince Colletta 
Letterer: John Constanza 
Cover By: Dick Giordano 
Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell 
Cover Price: 15 Cents 
Cover Date: February 1971 
Publisher: DC Comics


Okay, I think I understand you Legion of Lois Lane fans, who feel jilted since Brian Michael Bendis turned Lois into a Metamorpho or whatever it was he did. You want to read about the headstrong, self-assured Lois that was a symbol of feminism and the growing collective voice of women. You know that character didn’t exist, right? You’re thinking of Wonder Woman. Lois Lane didn’t become bad-ass until the 1980s, and in this series, she was always a goofball, as will be shown in my review of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #108, commencing now!

Explain It!

“The Spectre Suitor!” 
Reporter Lois Lane is interviewing some rich shmoe at his well-appointed home, when they hear some noises coming from his souvenir room. When this lover of collectible spoons opens the door, he’s hit by a blackjack and knocked out. Lois is right behind him, and the crooks decide they’ve got to erase her—fast! 
"Hey fellas, wouldn't 'The Spectral Suitor' be a better name for dis here tale?"
Lois flips the lights on to see three criminals advancing on her, weapons in hand. But Lois Lane is not defenseless, herself! 
That purse is packed densely with pictures of Superman.
Just as a man lunges as Lois with a jousting foil, for some insane reason, he turns inexplicably and sticks the sharp end into the wall. Another man knocks himself out with his blackjack. Lois gets an eerie feeling to get low to the ground, and once she does, the ceiling falls in around the robbers! They’re not going to take any more indignities this evening, so they flee. 
And the Housing Authority does nothing.
The next day at the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen tells Lois to meet Perry White in his office. Once she leaves her desk, some unseen form takes a phone call from the old dude she interviewed the previous evening. Seems he’s got some important information—about a ghost! 
"You want the Local Interest department, I'll transfer you now."
While the old guy tells the ghost about its own existence, Perry tells Lois that he didn’t ask Jimmy to fetch her—Jimmy seems to snap out of a trance, and agrees! 
"I probably shouldn't have taken that DMT an hour ago."
When Lois gets back to her desk, the phone call warning her about the ghost is over, but she’s still feeling a little freaked out. She leaves work to prepare for a romantic dinner date with Superman—they’re actually dating at this point in continuity—but for some reason Lois is pulled downtown, into a treacherous back alley where some fat cat is the victim of a stick-up! 
It looks to me like he's offering far more than what a single bullet is worth.
This guy is a greedy slumlord, so either for that reason, or for the fun of it, this ghost gives the fella a heart attack and he dies. He says this is the first man he’s killed, and that he was reminiscent of characters he knew in his own time, 83 years ago in London…hmmm…. 
"To be a crummy landlord in the time before public sewers took real dedication."
Lois recognizes the dead landlord as someone who’s beaten several murder accusations, but not even that will keep her from having a date with Superman, which is in her apartment. Uh, can’t you have dinner on the rim of a volcano or something? What kind of dreary, humdrum shit is this? 
"So, which episode of 'Friends' are we up to?"
Superman gives Lois a big ol’ super-smooch, which makes this ghost jealous. So, he puts a hex on Superman or something. I actually got a little nervous for Superman here, since he is susceptible to magic—and the powers of this ghost far exceed those of the normal, garden variety haint. 
"...it's all the stars in the sky, darlin'."
The ghost makes Superman see an image of his Kryptonian mother, Lara, reflected in Lois’ eye. Lara appears threatened by something that casts a looming shadow over her. At the tension reaches its pitch, Lois bursts out laughing, which almost has Superman ready to apply some slap therapy! Confused by these happenings, Superman takes off, just the way he came. 
"And there was no way I was going to eat that awful lentil soup of Lois' again."
That night, Lois’ sleep is fitful. She dreams of marrying Superman, which is something she has dreamed of every single night since 1939, but this time the wedding is interrupted by Gentleman Ghost’s cousin, who thinks Lois oughta be with him. Since no one is sure if marriage between an Earthling and Kryptonian is legal, sure: let’s push the envelope and see what society thinks of a living person wedding a ghost! 
"Why, the cad isn't even wearing a proper tuxedo and tails!"
The next morning, Lois wakes up to find a very nicely-written letter from the ghost. After soaking her underwear and legs with piss, I assume, Lois reads it. Therein, she learns for the first time that a ghost from the 19th Century is hot for her, and that he intends to have her join him where he’s comfortable, which I’m going to say is most likely the afterlife. 
"Oh hey, I got a fully coherent letter from a ghost. I'll read it right after I recover from my heart attack."
Lois decides that it’s time to tell her co-workers that she’s being harassed by a specter, but the spook paralyzes her vocal chords and her writing hand so that she can’t communicate. He’s just sparing you the embarrassment, honey, ain’t nobody trying to hear about no ghost! 
Carpal tunnel syndrome. You don't have to bear it in silence.
Hearing that there will be thunderstorms on the radio that evening, the ghost…wait a minute. This ghost has to find out about the weather from the radio? He’s damn near omnipotent, can be anywhere and control all forms of matter, but something weather patterns are obscured from his ethereal grasp. Whatever. Point is, the rainstorm will bring about ideal conditions for whatever the hell he wants, so he sets his plan in motion. 
"Er...never mind the outfit. I've just come from a Sherlock Holmes Club event."
Lois busts into the mansion where this whole mess started, and throws the door to his souvenir room off its hinges. I credit Lois with this, but clearly the ghost is making all of this happen. Which begs the question: what is it that he needed Lois for, anyway?
Is there a name for a haunting that causes a maximum of property damage?
Lois grabs a dirk, which a caption tells us is a long, slender dagger, then holds it aloft in the thunderstorm. A flash of lightning hits the dirk, and Lois…is gone! 
"I really must get some better security for my trophy room."
Superman is contacted, by way of story convenience Clark Kent, and he’s flabbergasted by the destination that the old fart advises. Meanwhile, Lois finds herself on a cobblestone street in the pitch black night… 
…A man emerges from the thick fog to menace Lois—but he cannot bring himself to harm her and he scampers off! It’s Jack the Ripper! The first and only man of note to have committed murder in all of 19th Century London. 
"You're an American!"
Just then, Superman shows up. He’d flown back through time, then spot-checked through ten weeks of the year 1888 to rescue Lois from her Industrial Revolution-era attacker. Is it just me, or is this story like the worst tardy excuse a teacher’s ever gotten? 
"I wanna stop off in 1956 and pick up some Elvis records."
Back in our time, they muse over ol’ Jack, who wasn’t such a bad fellow aside from his penchant of butchering women. But he couldn’t kill Lois because she was just too foine. 
"...he was a total pussy!"
Well, the dirk is toast, so that’s that! The end! Drive safely now.
"I don't actually know that for sure, I just wanted to say 'dirk.'"

“Mourn for the Thorn” 
Writer: Robert Kanigher 
Penciller: Ross Andru 
Inker: Mike Esposito 
What th’…?! A whole ‘nother story in this jam-packed honey of a hum-dinger??! You bet your third nipple there is, comic books used to be value-packed before the people running Marvel and DC Comics tasted human flesh, which would swing their priorities from comic book publishing to hunting the Most Dangerous Game and dining on well-earned man’s liver and onions. So, the thing that happened here was Rose Forrest’s dad, a police Sergeant, was killed by a group of hoodlums known as “The 100.” They’re known as The 100 because there’s a hundred of them. Mild-mannered blonde chick Rose flips out, and develops a split personality named Thorn, who wears a brunette wig and is killing each member of The 100 in revenge. This happens while Rose is snoozing, so she doesn’t have any idea. 
"That's right, I decree that there will be at least one-hundred installments of this backup!"
Even though Thorn collects bodies like Pokémon, The 100 got the best of her by trapping her and asphyxiating her with carbon monoxide, which is pretty low-budget for an outfit of purported assassins. You guys never heard of poison, or acid bombs? Have a little class. 
"Plan B was to give you 'purple nurples' until you passed out."
Thorn dies, and the hoods put her in a golden casket for some reason? There’s a wake that only they attend, then these mugs take Thorn up to the Mansion of Mourning, which honestly is a pretty catchy name. 
"So...is there an open bar at this wake?"
Why did they even bother lying about it to people? It doesn’t seem like anyone else cares about Thorn’s corpse. 
"They were gonna call it the 'Estate of Shock' but it was too clever by half."
On the way to the burial side, these butter-fingered mobsters drop Thorn’s coffin and she falls out. Before anyone can laugh, some rain hits Thorn’s face and…she wakes up! 
Giving credence to that popular phrase: "Raining hard enough to wake the dead."
Turns out she took a special drug to fake her death, and the carbon monoxide didn’t affect her because she wears nose plugs all the time. Now ensconced within a base of The 100, Thorn racks up some more kills. Right. They’re the bad guys though. 
"I was sure my 'internal alarm' would wake me up."
The next morning, Rose wakes up to learn that Thorn has died…and though she does not know the woman, she weeps! Think of how she’ll feel when he finds out Thorn is her alternate personality! She’ll be really distraught.
"I must be PMSing."

If the main story happened in an issue of Detective Comics, there might be some supernatural happenings, but it would be unclear whether they resulted from ghostly intervention or not. There are lots of yarns like that surrounding Batman. But here in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, ghosts exist! Case closed. Ghosts exist, they have a limitless power set that stretches across time and space. One would think that this would be of greater interest than the fact that Lois has an invisible boyfriend. Lois doesn’t behave feministic in this, but she isn’t a shrinking violet, either. She has a stylish bob, which is nice. The “Rose and Thorn” story is boring, like all “Rose and Thorn” backups, and if I was reading this for fun (and not attempting to provide a complete review) I would skip it.

Bits and Pieces:

You WILL believe in ghosts! In fact, it's a requisite if you want to swallow this total farce of a story. Which I do, normally. But this one just stretches credulity beyond even the "Jimmy Olsen turned into a telepathic Venusian" levels.


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