Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Retro Review: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #3 (1958) Review and **SPOILERS**

Parents Just Don’t Understand

Cover By: Curt Swan, Stan Kaye 
Edited By: Mort Weisinger 
Cover Price: 10 cents 
Cover Date: August 1958
Publisher: DC Comics


One of the joys of reviewing a randomly-selected issue of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane every week is that, no matter how insipid and foolish a story might be, I know there’s an even stupider one right around the corner. It’s uncanny, really, because it’s not like something that gets progressively worse. It’s always bad, in an omnipresent sense: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane was dumb, is dumb, and will be dumb, and we are blessed to glimpse its eternity during life’s brief spate. So let us do that, fellow mortals, and take a look at the earliest issue of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane that I have access to, which is number three!

Explain It!

“The Rainbow Superman” 
Written By: Otto Binder 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
In Silver Age comics, many times you can tell what seedling of an idea was the foundation for a story. Very often, this is because the yarn will spend an inordinate amount of time on, say, Superman dunking Jimmy Olsen’s head in a toilet, and less time on whatever crime or plot that needs to be foiled. With this story, I can’t tell what the writer was going for, what scene upon which he hinged the whole narrative. It begins with Superman foiling an attempted bank robbery when he hoists the burglar by his own petard. 
"...for if you do, then you will die! Ha! Rhyming is sort of my 'thing' now."
Just as Superman brings this criminal to the police station, Lois Lane opens her compact to apply some face gunk––and then Superman glows with a multi-colored radiation! 
"I probably shouldn't have eaten that pot brownie for breakfast."
Superman brushes this off as some freak anomaly, but when it happens again, he’s puzzled for sure. Don’t you think he should be treating this with more seriousness? Superman is suddenly emitting a discotheque floor show from his skin, and he behaves like there’s an errant hair where he hadn’t noticed before. 
"Is this what the humans call a 'ghetto pass'?"
Having submitted himself to Professor Egghead for examination, Superman learns that he brought this condition on himself when he clobbered a rainbow-colored meteor last week. This made him sensitive to the meteor’s colors, somehow? Whatever the case, socking the meteor resulted in Superman getting all glowy whenever a chunk of that same punching-bag meteor is in the vicinity. Supes assumes it must be the bit he gave to Professor Egghead, but… 
"In layman's terms, you are a 'disco superstar.'"
…his sample has been in a lead-lined box all along! And that’s when Superman remembers something absolutely, completely ludicrous: you see, he was going to give a bit of that rainbow meteor to his pal, Jimmy Olsen. So Superman visited the orange-headed twerp at the Daily Planet offices one day. 
"Hi Superman. Nice to see you again. We only work for a living, that's all."
Upon opening her compact to check that her eyebrows are penciled on straight, Lois finds the mirror is cracked. So Superman decides not to give Jimmy Olsen a gift at all, and instead works the space glass into a mirror to replace Lois’ broken one. Superman used his X-ray vision to fuse the glass…which, theoretically, he could have done to Lois’ mirror fragments. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as cool! 
"Anything to indulge your narcissism, Lois."
At first, the Man of Tomorrow thinks nothing of his new radioactivity, which would probably enhance his relations with moths. But when he goes all flashy while in the guise of Clark Kent, he realizes that he doesn’t own a stitch of clothing that goes with rotating hypno-lights. 
"I wish I could go outside and play with the non-radioactive children."
Clark is able to hide in his apartment all day like a total pussy––why he doesn’t just cape up and at least do the crime-fighting thing, I have no idea––but that night Lois forces him out to some gala event they’ve got to cover for the Daily Planet. It’s some Superman-themed thing, and to evince that, a statue of Superman on a rotating pedestal holds an electric fan, in order to cool off the attendees. What mystical, ancient fungus did Otto Binder eat to come up with this shit? Afraid that the fan’s wind will mess up Lois’ hair, thereby forcing her to fix it using her compact, Clark uses his own super-breath to whoosh the statue the other way, and I can’t believe I am even writing about this comic book incident. 
For truth, justice, and oscillating electric fans!
Later, a waiter dressed as Superman brings the two some ice water, just as Lois announces, for some reason, that she’s going to whip out her makeup mirror. This gives Clark an idea that must have come to him when he was feverish. 
"Luckily we came to a place that's famous for its six-inch ice cubes."
Using super-speed, Clark works an ice cube into a reflective surface, and before Lois can whip hers out, he puts his ice mirror up to her face, perhaps hoping she’ll turn herself to stone. 
"I hung on to this shard of mirror from my days in prison."
Later, Lois is about to open her compact, but a blast of cold breath from Kent freezes the hinges of the thing so that it remains shut. How about you blow that thing out of her hands and into traffic, Supes, so you can stop this insane charade? 
"Also, all of my fingers have contracted spontaneous frostbite. In the middle of August, yet!"
Superman realizes he can’t keep this up forever, so he comes up with a plan. First, he blows a bunch of dust into the window of the Daily Planet. 
"I'll plant this cocaine in the office and then blackmail them."
The next day, at work, Lois opens her compact, causing Clark Kent to glow with rainbow radiation! Everyone in the office realizes that he must be Superman! Because only Superman would be so rude as to wear a hat indoors, Kent! 
"Either that, or he's the Neon Noodle!"
But then… 
It seems everyone’s emitting radiation now! What a kick! What a gas! We’re all like a Times Square billboard! Whee! And they all died of cancer within the year.
"Instead, I'm green with envy at Lois' makeup. But that's a whole other thing."

“The Man Who Was Clark Kent’s Double” 
Written By: Otto Binder (according to the DC Comics wikia) 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
The DC wikia, which is a terrific resources for comic book fans, claims this one is written by Otto Binder…I’m not so sure. It doesn’t feel like an Otto Binder story, it is more like a Mort Weisinger misogynist’s masterpiece. One day, Lois is waiting for Clark to arrive, when she spies him––angrily confronting some sidewalk loudmouth! 
"It all depends on whether he punches that stranger's lights out or not."
She strides over to greet Clark, at the same time that Clark strolls up! Huh? Looks like Clark Kent has an exact twin in Mark Benton, an amazing coincidence that is politely noted and then dropped entirely. After all, Lois is clearly on the make for the bespectacled dreamboat! 
When two white people that shop at L.L. Bean meet each other.
Mark surmises that Lois and Clark are in town to cover the “Robin Hood” mystery, which involves a vigilante dressed as Robin Hood having robbed the richest man in town, Ronald Van Horton, and given his wealth to the needy. Lois is like “Excuse me, I need to change my underwear,” and the two of them go for a walk in the country. Superman decides to follow them out of jealousy, though he uses some deft internal logic to justify it. 
"I'll kill their parents, and they'll seek each others' solace."
Superman decides to play Cupid, so he whips the blades of a windmill to create a gale force wind that forces Lois and Mark together. For crying out loud, why don’t you just shove a hurricane into the mix so they’ll be forced to take off their soaking wet clothes? This is Cupid, if he shot sledgehammers instead of arrows. 
"Yeah, well I lost my hat. And I bet it costs a whole lot more than your balance!"
Lois can’t even pay attention when interviewing Van Horton for the newspaper, exhibiting once again why she is the worst employee in America. That night, Clark, Lois and Mark are at some event, and Clark admits that he is a bit jealous of Mark’s hairstyle. 
"I have to save a bunch of kids at a burning orphanage. Ugh! Being Superman is so tedious."
Having a prior commitment as Superman, Clark bids a hasty farewell to Lois and Mark. Lois thinks that she would have found this suspicious in the past, but now that she’s got a new romantic fixation she really could care less what drugs Clark’s peddling to whose kids. Then, ironically, Mark excuses himself hurriedly, claiming illness! 
Lois Lane, plagued by legendary flatulence.
He wasn’t claiming to be sick when he had his hand in my panties, thinks Lois. Later, when Mark returns, he has a black thread above his eye––and this suggests that he might be that Robin Hood fella! Mark grips Lois and insists that she trust him. Probably fearing for her life, Lois agrees. 
"Don't let the fact that I could very easily shatter your dainty hands sway your decision."
Later, Superman is flying overhead and sees Lois plucking petals from a daisy, to find out if Mark loves her, or loves her not. The Man of Steel can tell that her petals will end on the negative, so he uses his X-ray vision to surreptitiously burn one away… 
"Gosh, it's nice to have fuck-all to do on a weekday."
…causing her to land on “he loves me!” Just what the fuck was the point of this scene? To show us that all good things come from our Lord, Superman? This is what I mean about a writer coming up with one scene, then haphazardly building a story around it. I’m pretty sure this could be that scene for the chapter. In that morning’s newspaper, Lois sees that Robin Hood struck the evening prior, just when Mark excused himself from dinner. And then in that evening’s edition of the paper, the headline is about a costume ball being held that night! This is how people kept up-to-date on things before Twitter. Lois asks Mark to take her to the ball, dressed as Robin Hood to compliment her Maid Marion costume. 
"That's convenient, because I already have a Robin Hood costume. No further questions, please."
At the party, Mark is enlisted to shoot a fake arrow at some guy’s kid, in a mock-up of the famous stunt by William Tell. You know, since he’s got a quiver and a bow and all. Is this what we call a “contrived situation?” If Mark came dressed as a mug, would he have to catch some falling kid dressed as a coffee bean? When Mark is about to do the trick, he is distracted by some old biddy and pulls a real arrow by accident! Superman just so happens to be flying by, and sees the potential disaster unfold. 
"And by 'act fast,' I mean 'act stupidly.'"
He hasn’t a moment to spare, but Superman doesn’t want to ruin this swell costume party. So with super-speed, he––follow me now–––he melts a junked car into steel slag with X-ray vision, then dives right in, coating himself from head to toe. 
Secret Robert Crumb inspiration, number XXVII.
Then––again, with super-speed––Superman forms the steel exoskeleton into a knight’s suit of armor. He’s done all the in the time it took for Mark to remove an arrow from his quiver, aim it and fire his bow, then Clark walks by and the arrow bounces off his chest plate! 
"In hindsight, I shouldn't have made this suit so form-fitting in the groin area."
Lois’ hackles are again raised when Mark makes a hasty excuse to cut out early. When she prods him about his strange behavior, Mark tells Lois to simply believe his total lack of explanation. Then he says something sexually suggestive. 
"It's a salami sandwich on rye bread. What did you think I meant?"
Later, at a picnic, Mark continues to tell Lois to get off of his back, and when he’s off to gather wood and two blasted minutes of silence, Lois checks his sports coat to find out where Mark got such a hideous thing. 
"And if I happen across some cash, well that's just my luck!"
In the coat, she finds a domino mask, just like the one Robin Hood wears when he does his robbin’! Mark returns to find Lois fumbling through his pockets, and he’s pretty pissed off––due to her lack of efficiency! 
"You didn't even check the small change pocket sewn in the inside breast!"
In the other pocket is a monocle and Van Dyke beard, that Mark used to portray Ronald Van Horton as well. He was playing both sides of this arrangement, so he could be a philanthropist without having to be nice to people. 
"I also wear this get-up when I do magic shows, for obvious reasons."
And now that Mark, a man with two other identities, knows he can’t trust Lois Lane, he wants no more to do with her. 
"I was also going to get along well with your mother and be the best lover of your life. Alas! You wrecked it."
Lois may have gotten her scoop, but she’s lost her Clark Kent look-alike. Now all she’s got is the same ol’ lame Clark Kent as always! Sheesh.
"I should do something wittingly cruel to Lois, to get her mind off of Mark."

“Lois Lane and the Babe of Steel!” 
Written By: Otto Binder 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Before beginning this story, you might want a stiff drink or strong dose of the drug of your choice. The orphanage that held Clark Kent for a short time, before he was adopted by Jon and Martha Kent, has moved from Smallville to Metropolis. The Daily Planet’s lamest reporters, Lois and Clark, have been dispatched to cover the scene, and while there Kent spies his own box of baby stuff, which includes some clue to his true identity. Why wouldn’t this box have gone with Jon and Martha? Why would the orphanage move this stuff from Smallville to Metropolis? Don’t start asking questions now, we’ll never get through this thing. 
"Could you ask a couple of kids from the orphanage to wash my car?"
On the way out, Lois notices some promotional baskets that the orphanage once used to advertise what children they had for sale. Since they’re getting rid of them (THANK FUCKING GOD), Lois asks Clark to grab a novelty basket and drop it off at her apartment, because he’s become her lackey all of a sudden. This works well for him, since he plans on flying into the past to fix the situation with his orphanage baby box, probably by incinerating the orphanage with his heat vision or something. When Lois gets back to her apartment, she sees a baby in an orphan basket in front of her apartment’s door, punching a hole right in it. And then she immediately realizes that this is Baby Superman, displaced from the past because Adult Superman went there on a mission. Let me type that again. Lois immediately realizes that this is Baby Superman, displaced from the past because Adult Superman went there on a mission. This is what it means to be one of Superman’s buddies, you have to be prepared for all kinds of temporal nonsense. 
"Of course, this means I'll have to get some Teflon diapers."
Lois, also known as the Worst Babysitter in the World, decides that Superbaby is her ticket to getting a world-class scoop. First, however, she and the tyke are near a toy store, and he throws a tantrum over a toy train. The store’s owner tells young Clark that he can have any item in the store that he can lift, so he hoists a locomotive over his head, just to make the store’s proprietor shit a brick! 
"According to the rules of toy retail, you may now have my wife."
Lois wants to follow up on a mad scientist that lives atop some inaccessible mountain. She gets the baby to fly her up there, then tells him to stay in a cave while she goes to work because, again, she is the Worst Babysitter in the World. 
"Don't talk to any strange Cave Trolls."
At some point, she decides to check in on Baby Superman, and finds him playing with a couple of rattlesnakes! 
"Why me drop them? Me already ate three."
This is just the distraction the mad scientist needs to escape in his awesome-looking drilling vehicle. I call it the “Drillmobile,” and he uses it to mine a rare element that powers a robotic army. He plans to use that army to destroy all the soft cheeses in the world! Unfortunately, we’re not following his story, instead we’re following Baby Kal-El and his cranky foster mom.
"Caring for another living thing is a real bummer."
Next, Lois seeks to uncover the poor safety standards of a carnival ride, so she plans to use Superbaby to break the ride, ensuring her scoop. 
The Daily Planet: We make the news.
The way this ride works is that a child is tied to a wire, which is then swung around in a wide circle twenty feet above the ground. Do we really need Baby Superman to prove that this ride is unsafe? This is worse than when my drunken uncle would push me on the swing and try to get it to wrap around the crossbar. A policeman is there, at Lois’ request, to see the crime in action. When the Babe of Steel’s wire snaps, however, he keeps flying in a loop, so the cop can’t tell that the ride broke! 
"Lady, I've been swinging my children around by ropes for years, and it's hurt only two of 'em."
After the officer leaves, Superbaby does fly off track, and smashes into a shed that houses the machinery for the ride. In doing so, the ride has been shut down, but there’s no scoop for Lois! 
"Well, it was only a matter of time before my high life as a carny had to come to an end."
She’s really pissed off now! Lois grabs Li’l Clark Kent’s hand and hauls him to a castle…in Metropolis…where a clandestine meeting between two heads of state is due to happen that evening. And she wants the scoop! 
"If this doesn't work, Superbaby, then you're taking me on a bank heist."
Lois and the baby hang out on a window’s ledge, where Lois can spy on the goings-on inside. The Worst Babysitter in the World gives Clark some bubble gum to occupy him, which it certainly does! If I have to write what happens to ruin Lois Lane’s unethical journalistic scoop in this scene, then you haven’t read enough Silver Age comic books. 
Bubble Yum.™ Yum it up.
At home, Superbaby petitions Lois for some cookies, but she admonishes him and insists he must not remove the lid of the aaaaand he punches a hole in the bottom to remove cookies. Why is this scene even happening? Just to show how ineffectual Lois is as a babysitter? Because we knew that already. 
"Now me punch a hole in your purse and take credit card."
Lois attempts to spank Baby Superman, but she winds up breaking every single bone in her hand. 
Lois makes this mistake in like every other issue.
She’s had it up to here, so Lois grabs Baby Clark’s hand and lets him know what a horrible piece of shit he is. While tearing apart the small child’s self-esteem, Superman returns to the present, so he swaps places with his infant counterpart––and Lois is so into ripping this baby a new asshole, she doesn’t even notice! 
"You would really make a terrible mother, Lois."
Ah, but what of Clark Kent’s orphanage box that no one else gave a shit about? Looks like he went back in time and replaced his super-booties for real ones. This was written by a human person, ladies and gentlemen. 
"I refashioned them into indestructible jock straps."
And that evening, at the Daily Planet… 
"Clark! What. The. Fuck."
Your nightmare, realized.
"Oh, this old thing?"

Is that Clark’s idea of flirting with Lois Lane? That’s more a page from the textbook titled How to Ensure a Woman Will Never, Ever Sleep With You. The stories in this issue of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane absolutely beggar belief. That the middle tale, about how Clark Kent’s doppelganger was a false flag Robin Hood, is the most believable one is an indicator of how wacky the entire issue is. Frankly, the cover story is the worst of the three, but the Superman office did love its babies. I bet there was a little spike in sales for comics with covers depicting babies, crossing over into girls’ comic book territory.
"Will there be enough time for me to 'experiment' with Pete Ross?"

Bits and Pieces:

Three stories, each one stupider than the last. Lois Lane's piss-poor mothering skills is probably among the top three funniest things in this issue, competing with Superman surreptitiously burning a flower petal to assuage Lois' feelings, and an entire story based around stopping Lois Lane from applying makeup. This is what we read these comics for, folks.


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