Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Retro Review: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #10 (1959) Review and **SPOILERS**



Whatever Happened to Baby Lane?

Cover By: Curt Swan, Stan Kaye 
Edited By: Mort Weisinger 
Cover Price: 10 cents 
Cover Date: July 1959 
Publisher: DC Comics

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

The Captain Save-a-Lois Crew are always kvetching about how mean Superman is to Lois, and how he’s always passive-aggressively teaching her “lessons.” I say, Lois is the architect of her own passive-aggressive lessons! And if you don’t believe me, you need to read my review of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #10, and learn what’s what!


Explain It!

“The Cry-Baby of Metropolis” 
Written By: Robert Bernstein 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Lois Lane has a nightmare about being too nosy for her own good, and pissing off Superman by wrecking his train set or whatever. Since this is a precise scenario that might happen during her waking hours, I assume that the dream wasn’t too jarring. 
"Oh why couldn't I have my usual pornographic dream!"
The dream takes a turn when Superman tells Lois that he wants nothing more to do with her, and she wakes up feeling sad. Looking into the most 1950s-style mirror ever depicted in a comic book, Lois feels that she’s getting to wrinkly and old-looking for that super-sexy Kryptonian. 
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most mid-century modern of them all?"
That day, Lois has to cover some new youthifying ray, developed by Professor Lockhart. Superman’s comes along because no volcanoes were erupting that day. Professor Lockhart demonstrates how his machine can turn a chicken into a chick with a brief but wildly carcinogenic application of his ray. 
"I was attempting to feed the world, and I wound up doing the reverse of that, somehow."
The ray works so well, the chick turns into an egg! That is pretty impressive stuff, clearly this is a device that will change humankind in profound and lasting ways, the worst thing we could do is to use it spuriously to aaaaaaand Lois is using it to eliminate her laugh lines and crows’ feet. 
"These rays make my thyroid feel funny."
When Superman and the Professor return from using the little boys’ room together, Lois has to play it off like she didn’t just mistake a time machine for a photo booth at the mall. The next morning, however, Lois awakes to find that she’s shrunk! 
"I wonder if kids still have switchblade fights these days."
And not just that, Lois is demonstrably younger than she was the day before! Figuring she’s about sixteen years old, Lois heads over the malt shop and ask the kids if they have the latest Glen Miller 78 rpm, and if they’re wearing yak furs to the pep rally. At Professor Lockhart’s laboratory, Lois learned that only Superman’s X-ray vision can reverse the effects of the electric youth ray, as was demonstrated for her when Supes turned the experimental egg back into a chicken. So Lois endeavors to trick the Man of Steel into using his X-ray vision on her, without having to reveal the fact that she’s a total liar and fraud. Lois figures that if she thrusts a jar full of jelly beans between herself and gives the ol’ Kryptonian, he’ll have to use his X-ray vision…why? Wouldn’t he just see right through all of them? 
"After that, tell me your social security number!"
He could have opted to spill the candies, count them, and replace them at super-speed––surely within the ten-second time limit. Instead, Superman chooses to use super-mathematics, which is as handy as any other bullshit explanation. The next day, Lois has gone even younger–she’s now of grade school age! 
"Does this mean I have to go back to wearing a training bra?"
Lois joins the Girl Scouts, in hopes of getting Superman to use his X-ray vision to light a campfire for her. Which would be a complete violation of Girl Scout rules, incidentally. Does that sound like a good survival tactic? “When lost, wait for Superman to show up and light a fire for you.” If you’ve got Superman, you don’t need a flipping campfire. In any case, before Superman can help Lois cheat, she’s been tasked with finding a missing black-and-white cat, the troop’s mascot. 
The Girl Scouts' most negligent troop leader.
Because she was raised in a Looney Tunes cartoon, Lois returns with a skunk. What gives here? Lois might be ten or eleven in physical age, she still has the smarts of the under-thirty aged old maid that she was at the beginning of the book. Yes, under thirty. Don’t question it unless you want a sock in the mush from a Lane girl. 
Pepe LePew, eat your heart out.
After he’s finished mocking a child, Superman agrees to light her fire…by rubbing two sticks together at super speed! Which is what you should have been doing yourself, Lois. Let this be a lesson to you. The next day, Lois has gotten even  younger–about six years old. 
"Though if I stay this size, I can fit into the gown I bought for my friend's wedding."
Lois figures her best bet to get Superman to shine his X-ray peepers on her, without having to give up her betrayal of his trust, is to lock herself in a safe that will force Superman to bust her out. So after flummoxing a police officer, she does just that! 
"I was going to arrest a serial rapist, but I guess I have time for this kid."
Superman does show up, and rips the door right off its hinges. Of course he would! Why would he bother using his X-ray vision, to see if the girl was wearing clean underwear? He knows a child is trapped, he needs only to get to life-savin’! 
"Kid, we should take this act on the road!"
Lois figures its time to come clean about her using that experimental ray, but now she’s become an infant and can’t even speak! To make things more humiliating, Superman brings Lois over to the home of her romantic rival Lana Lang, and then has to watch while they are necking on the couch. Which is pretty much the same experience I had every time I had a baby sitter, with more sneaked drinking of my parents’ alcohol. 
"The next thing I chuck comes out of my diaper."
Out at a picnic with her new mom and dad, Baby Lois tries once more to get Superman to use his X-rays by climbing into a drain pipe, but he just busts it open and takes it out. Again: why would he need to use his X-ray vision here? He knows there’s an infant trapped in the pipe. He doesn’t need to relay a play-by-play of what the kid is doing before cracking her out of there. Lois is bawling because all of her plans are idiotic, and that’s when Superman reveals that he was on to her all along! 
"I could tell it was you, Lois, because you annoy me so much––even for a child."
Superman explains that he and the Professor Lockhart saw her sneak a use of his Youth Booth––which is an awesome name for the machine––and decided to teach her a lesson by lying about Superman’s X-rays reversing the process. He’d merely been toying with Lois, allowing her to physically de-age and threatening her health and safety, as a gag. The antidote, in fact, is a green serum that he just so happens to have brought along in a baby bottle. 
"And if you vanished from existence, no harm done."
In the last panel, Superman demonstrates how not to hold a baby while feeding.
And that's how Lana Lang got the idea to have a diaper fetish.

“Lois Lane’s Romeo” 
Written By: Boy, this really feels like a Mort Weisinger special 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
I don’t normally show the opening splash pages to Silver Age stories, since they often give away important plot points and even, at times, the ending. But this one was too ridiculous to not be seen: Lois and her amore, cruising the Venetian canal while Superman watches from a nearby pole, perched like a vulture. Just the very idea of it…why wouldn’t he hover overhead, somewhere out of sight? Anyway, on with this honey of a story.
THIS BARBER POLE RESERVED FOR SUPERMAN
At a friend’s wedding, Lois Lane catches the bouquet. Tradition dictates that she will be the next to marry––but not with that sourpuss and negative attitude, sister! 
"And plus, I'm such an unremitting bitch."
The next day at the Daily Planet, Perry White tells his only visible employees Clark Kent and Lois Lane that Superman is the guest of honor at that year’s Italian film festival, and he’s sending them to cover it. I guess Jimmy Olsen can do local and national news, weather, sports, and the Arts & Lifestyle section while they’re gone. Clark is glad for the cover story, but Perry points out to Lois that Superman’s gonna have debutantes climbing all over him, so she’d better, uh, be more slutty, I guess? He doesn’t offer much in the way of solutions. Reading an issue of the biggest newspaper in Metropolis that he works for, Clark notes that Italian hottie-cake actress Gina Loretti will be part of Superman’s welcoming committee, which we must assume gave him a super-chub. Lois can’t even bear to watch her unrequited love get smooched on television, so she intends to skip the very event she was sent to this country to cover in the first place. Why the hell doesn’t Perry White fire these two jokers? 
"Unless they aren't going to be clothed."
Later, Gina and the Man of Tomorrow speak the international language of love. 
"I can't wait to tell Lois about what an awesome kisser Gina is."
In lieu of working, Lois decides to stroll around the city of Rome and probably run up major expenses on her company credit card. In a storefront window, she spies a painting of a woman that looks strikingly like her. Being that she’s spending the company’s money, Lois snaps up the painting, and the tour guide she hired on the Daily Planet’s dime says he can introduce her to the artist! 
"Yes, a pale-skinned, brunette waif––the rarest type of female we have in Italy."
Lois meets the guy, who looks like Alan Alda with Vincent Price’s haircut. Lois is immediately interested, but doesn’t come on nearly as hot and heavy as the fellow! Talk about your schmaltz. 
"Ma'am, you have made my career as an artist obsolete!"
That evening, Superman heads to Lois’ hotel room to hang out with her, but finds that she’s absconded to Venice with this mysterious artist. Seeing some of the mystery man’s work, Superman decides he’d better head to Venice because fuck Perry White and his journalistic assignment, Lois might be smooching another guy! 
"Feh. Who drew these, Wayne Boring?"
In Venice, the artist hires a gondola, in which he intends that he and Lois will enjoy a moonlit float. Unfortunately, the skies are cloudy. So, in order to reveal the moon, Superman uses his super-breath to push the clouds aside. This likely affected weather patterns around the world, and caused several crops to fail, dooming millions. 
"Why does the air smell like Funyuns all of a sudden?"
Later, Lois and her fella zip down to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but due to an earthquake the building shoves over to be perpendicular with the ground. 
"I've got seconds to further weaken the foundation of that ancient landmark!"
Not wanting Lois to be disappointed, Superman pushes the structure back to its original leaning position, creating an international incident that would plunge America and Italy into a bitter war, lasting for generations. 
Thereby raising the area's romance quotient by 270%.
By now, the Italian artist has asked Lois to marry him, and of course Lois agrees because she’s sort of on the spot, being in a comic book and all. Superman gives his blessing, then dresses up as Clark to meet Lois and her fiancée at the Roman Coliseum, where the film festival is…re-enacting the Ancient Roman tradition of throwing Christians to the lions?? Just what the hell kind of film festival is this? 
"I knew we shouldn't have hired the guys from Fyre Festival to organize this event."
One of the lions attacks Clark, damaging only his suit. Discarding those tattered rags, but not his spectacles for some reason, Superman knocks the lion cold by hilariously bouncing it off his taut pectorals. 
"Come back, I want to juggle you on my biceps for a while."
Then, Clark steals a toga from backstage to hide the fact that he’s Superman, and hauls the lion out into the center of the Coliseum by its tail. By its freaking tail! Buddy, d’you think that might give something away, too? Lions are like six- to eight-hundred pounds, a typewriter jockey shouldn’t have the grip, much less the strength, to drag one alone. Or, even easier, he might have just ditched the damned eyeglasses. 
"Uh, the lion also took a huge dump right before going unconscious. He weighs almost nothing."
Later, Clark visits the art studio of Lois’ husband-to-be, and even later, while out and about, Lois spies her tour guide with a blonde tourist––pulling the same shtick he used on Lois a few days ago! 
"I'm guessing it's that Peeping Tom that's been stalking women for years."
Indeed, the whole thing plays out exactly the same way: the blonde woman is compelled to buy the portrait that looks like her, Luigi Mario says he can introduce her to the artist, and Lois’ fiancée unrolls the same spiel about having painted these pictures for years. Lois overhears all of this, which means she really went far and wide to make sure this scam was identical. You’d think she’d have all she needed to know once the tour guide named Lois’ hubby as the celebrated painter. 
"It's weird how I paint nondescript women and they wind up really existing."
Lois heads back to Clark for support, which of course he provides because he’ll always be a bridesmaid, never a bride. More investigation turns up the scheme in total: Lou Albano would take pictures of arriving tourists, the artist would speed-paint some portraits, then they’d reel these ladies in. At worst, each paid 30,000 Lire for their framed paintings and were on their way. But with luck, the artist could get American citizenship and hopefully mooch off of some sugar mommy and such. 
"Er, I'm going to take these Polaroids back to my hotel room for closer investigation."
See, he goes through great lengths to trick these women. Probably a little too much effort, since they believe in a fated love that began when they happened to walk past a portrait that looked like them. 
"I didn't happen to snag one with major yabbos, but one can't have everything."
You know they had to have a requisite “painting busted over one’s head” scene, it was just waiting there to be used. 
🎶Down at our rendezvous...three is company, too!🎵
Even better, it looks like this oil-based Svengali is going to be arrested for duping gullible women, since his most recently attempted conquest was none other than Italian actress Gina Loretti…somehow portraying an American here. So she must be great with accents. We wrap up the story with Superman…using his super-artistry power? He’s painting his own portrait of Lois, thinking about how he knew Lois was being jerked around, but decided against spilling the beans due to the Bro Code. 
"I also said nothing about that woman he date-raped. Bros before hos!"
Meanwhile, back in Metropolis’, Perry White recuperates from a heart attack that resulted from him seeing Lois and Clark’s initial overseas expense report. [Not pictured]

“Lois Lane’s Super Séance” 
Written By: Not sure! Some jokester 
Pencils By: Wayne Boring 
Inks By: Stan Kaye 
Buckle up, because the pretense for this story is so ridiculous, that it might be more of a schizoid recollection of events than a straight narrative. One day, Lois and Clark are strolling down the street, when they see a gangster named “Mike the Mouse” walking into the parlor of paranormal medium Madame Zabanga. Thinking she might get a confession for a recent bank heist, Lois convinces Clark to tail Mike into the séance shack, even while Kent suggests they inform the authorities. Lois heads brazenly to Madame Zabanga to ask for her assistance, but it turns out that she’s too ill to contact spirits today. Then why was the front door open, hah? No matter: Lois will simply don Madame Zabanga’s vestments and play the role of medium herself. After all, says Lois, it’s simply a matter of concentration and will. And an ability to contact the intelligence of dead people, long after they have expired. That’s a pretty important component to all this, as well. 
"I'm here to meddle in forces I don't fully understand."
Lois goes into her act, and commands the spirits to raise the table they’re all sitting at. So what do you think happens? 
"Spirits, if you can't raise the table, then try lowering the floor."
Yep. 
Never play "footsie" with Clark Kent.
Then Lois commands the spirits to play “Blue Danube” on a nearby piano, and Clark surreptitiously uses his super-breath to tickle the ivories. I must say, it’s cool to see two people whose friendship is so deep that they don’t even need to go over these details before perpetrating a ruse on the general public. They are simpatico; no words need be exchanged when wholesale lying is involved. 
"If I had a better angle, I could breath-play 'Benny and the Jets.'"
Even Madame Zabanga is amazed, since she didn’t rig the piano to play itself. Really? You’ve got all these tricks and gadgets, and you didn’t do anything with the piano? Never heard of a Player Piano? Seems like that would be the lay-up where conjuring phony ghosts is concerned. Lois further stuns those in attendance by making the statue of a cat speak, in the voice of a passed member of the Mafia named “Lucky Louie.” He wasn’t that lucky; he’s being totally humiliated in the afterlife. 
"Now: bring me some catnip."
Mike the Mouse thinks there’s merely a speaker inside the cat statue, so he smashes it to pieces—and the pieces yet speak! Of course, it’s Superman using his super-ventriloquism. He tells Mike that the bulletproof car he just paid a bundle for is not, in fact, bulletproof! 
"I'm risking my secret identity for this, but the gag is just too good!"
Mike races off to check his ride, and Superman flies ahead and, using super-speed, constructs an exact replica of Mike’s car, from inferior materials. So when Mike the Mouse fires a tommy gun at his vehicle, it is torn to shreds. The plan was as foolproof as it was ridiculous! 
Admittedly, that looks pretty cathartic.
Here’s where the story takes a really strange turn: Madame Zabanga is duly impressed by Lois Lane’s spectral abilities, and says that not only will she crow about Lois’ talents from the highest mountain, but she also readily admits that she’s a fraud. Looks like Clark and Lois have effected a drastic life change, here! And they were just in it for the kicks. When the pair head back to the Daily Planet to file this story, Perry White won’t publish it because he doesn’t believe in spirits and haints. White tells Lois he will believe her only if she can make Great Caesar’s Ghost appear. 
"And that's Julius Caesar! I don't want to see Claudius or any of the other lame-asses."
The three of them head back to Madame Zabanga’s—I guess since she’s quit the medium biz, it’s open house for any spiritualist that needs a dark chamber––and hilariously, Lois is able to make an image of Julius Caesar appear in a picture frame, and have it speak directly to Perry. Of course, Superman rigged the whole thing, and the idea that Lois is just self-assured in her ability to perform arcane magic is hysterical. 
"I use this same technique to let house guests know they've overstayed their welcome."
Then, Perry goes to a statue of Emperor Caesar in some Metropolis Park, and beseeches the inanimate object to forgive him for taking his name in vain. Let me restate that: Perry White speaks aloud to a statue of Julius Caesar, as penance for uttering his pet phrase “Great Caesars Ghost!” And then, Superman throws his voice so Perry thinks the statue answered him! Is it normal to drive your good friends to long-term stays at the funny farm? All of this dallying with Perry White has cost Superman some time: he’s late to another séance where he’s needed to spread more lies! 
It's fun to have your boss committed to an asylum!
When Clark arrives at Zubanga’s, however, he sees that Lois has conjured a giant glowing head, who commands Mike the Mouse to stash some money in a safer location. Could it be? Could Lois Lane have the abilitity to talk to…g-g-ghosts? 
"It is I, Yul Brenner."
No, of course not. That was some dame impersonating Lois while she was knocked out in the back room or something. This was all a ruse, perpetrated by a rival gang, in order to learn the location of the…you know, the details don’t matter. Superman wraps it up in a panel anyway. 
"...and he's wearing a wire!"
It ends with Lois still thinking she has paranormal abilities. Does anything ever come of this? Does she have to challenge Madame Xanadu at some point? Clark doesn’t seem to give a shit, either way. Lois could wind up committing her soul to a demon, for all he cares.
"I'm going to walk everywhere with my eyes closed from now on. My psychic sense will guide me."

Here’s a collection of spectacularly stupid stories in the great tradition of this series. The first one is so inane, and subtly cruel, it’s obvious why it made the cover image. Still, in terms of crafting an enticing image, the other two stories would have done just as well: the opening splash page of “Lois Lane’s Romeo,” with Superman perched atop a striped pole, is amazing, and you could definitely have had Lois on the cover conjuring spooks if “Lois Lane’s Super Séance” was the highlighted story. I guess that’s the hallmark of a good issue, in terms of consistency. The final story is definitely the strangest, almost meandering along to a hurried conclusion, while including that bizarre exchange with Perry White. One might think that the scenes with Perry White were thought up first, and a hackneyed tale was cobbled around it. Because the bits with White imploring Caesar’s literal ghost were absolute gold.
"You may invoke my name, but only when you see some bodacious bootay!"

Bits and Pieces:

Three stories of consistently idiotic quality makes for a fun read of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane. These yarns could be further nit-picked, but why bother? They're clearly half-dreamed up by drunks and layabouts, so if they can't be enjoyed at face value, they should be binned altogether.

8/10
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