Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Retro Review: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #19 (1960)



Super Secret Super Marriage

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

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

Man, wouldn’t it be something to find out what really might happen if Superman and Lois Lane were potentially married? Well, you’re in luck! Back in the Silver Age, DC Comics employed “imaginary stories” in Superman comics; stories that haven’t happened, but could…and might? They were always so fucking coy about it. Point is, unlike the other fact-based stories in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, issue #19 contains one of total whimsy! How about that? Let’s check it out!


Explain It!

“The Day Lois Lane Forgot Superman!” 
Written By: Robert Bernstein 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
One day, Lois Lane’s astute younger sister Lucy identifies Lois’ problem as having an incurable lady boner for Superman, who will never reciprocate. This is on her mind later, when, while working as a stewardess aboard a commercial airliner, she spots famous date-rapist hypnotist, the Great Majo! 
"Er, no 'Mile High Club' service this flight, I'm afraid."
After he proves his abilities by forcing a hysterical woman to love flying, Lucy gets the idea that her sister can be helped by being made to do something against Lois’ will, as well. 
"First, an auditor scrubs you of your thetans, then you 'go clear' by climbing the ladder. It's fun! You'll see."
The Great Majo uses his gimmick to make Lois forget she ever loved Superman! 
"...But you really want to give a blowjob to the Great Majo."
Lucy tests it out by exposing Lois to a parade in honor of Superman, which she bags. I can’t really blame her, I don’t think parades have been exciting since before the Industrial Revolution. The next day at the Daily Planet, Lucy tells everyone Lois’ business, just like the bratty little sister she is. 
When Clark Kent fixes Lois’ typewriter, she notices that he is deft with his fingers and asks him out on a date––a two-for one ticket to a 3-D movie that night, courtesy of the Planet.
"Maybe I can shock Lois by doing some work around here for once."
When Lois goes home to get sexied up for her date, she sees a wall covered in pictures to Superman. After directing Lucy to chuck all of them out, Lois walks away in a huff—before she sees that they’re all signed to her specifically! 
"Replace those with the 'Dogs Playing Poker' painting I won at the carnival."
At the theater, Clark tries to cool Lois’ loins by acting afraid of the movie, but she is surprisingly understanding. Later, a crook leaps from an alley to rob Clark and Lois, and he feigns running away in fear, but instead slips on a banana peel and knocks the robber out cold. Lois is more in love with him than ever! What a…rotten…development? Isn’t this what you’ve wanted all along, man? 
"Plus, I'm pretty sure I inadvertently dislocated that guy's jaw."
The next night, Lois invites herself out on a date with Clark, but he says he’s broke until payday. Clark hopes that his stated financial stupidity will dry Lois’ nethers, but she just invites him over for dinner with Lucy. When Clark arrives, Lucy is out! And Lois plans to make a couple of TV dinners. That means that she wants to get down to fucking, soon. 
"If the ham steaks are no good, we can run a lighter under some beef jerky."
Clark freezes the TV dinners so they can’t be defrosted, then burns the ham steaks Lois picked as an alternative with his X-ray vision. By that time, the TV dinners are thawed, so Lois goes back to plan A. Oh gosh! I guess Clark will just have to let someone be nice to him! 
You did your level best to ruin this evening, Clark. That's all you can do.
At dinner, Lois is bashing Superman, when Clark spots an imminent ferry crash with his X-ray vision. I love this bit here where Lois is complaining about Superman being an undesirable “celebrity”…like, he’s a “celebrity” because he’s saved thousands of lives, not because he married a Kardashian. Clark excuses himself by telling Lois that her cooking sucks, so he can stop the ferries from colliding. 
"I have to make boom-boom and it will be stinky."
The next day, Lois leaves a note on Clark’s desk informing him that he’s taking her to the company dance that night. What is this, Bayside High School? Since when to newspaper publishers have dance-offs? 
"Also if Iron Man is in the crowd, your car is being towed."
When an announcement comes over the loudspeaker that Superman is needed due to some bombing, Clark makes a lame excuse to duck out, takes care of business, then comes back like everything is perfectly Jake. But Lois, she’s no fool. She thinks Clark might be leading a double-life. Lois thinks Clark might be…a drug addict! 
"I sorta liked it better when she treated me like a worm. I wonder if that's a fetish?"
Whoops, I mean she thinks he might be Superman. She’s thought this a lot of times, but this time the wrinkle is that if he is Superman, she wants nothing to do with him because he’s an arrogant celebrity. The next day, Lois decides to test her theory that Clark Kent is Superman by storming into his office and firing a Tommy Gun at him! 
"Nyeah, see? I'm gonna rub you out, Kent, see?"
Lois thinks the gun is full of blanks, but feels that Clark being afraid of it is proof enough that he’s not Superman. Clark informs Lois, however, that her automatic gun had live rounds—and left bullet holes in the window behind him! 
Sadly, this was the third shooting at the office that week.
When considering she might have killed Clark, Lois faints dead away—but of course this is just another ruse pulled on poor Lois Lane! Clark explains that he poked those holes in the window at super-speed, to make it appear that the bullets were real. Indeed, he knew they weren’t, because he could see the bullets by looking down the barrel of the freaking gun with telescopic vision. I mean, for crying out loud here. The man is a horrifying menace. 
Never let 'em see you sweat.
Committing attempted manslaughter was apparently enough to snap Lois out of her Superman-hating, which suits Clark just fine. Because he’s quite gay, thank you!
"Chicks can't get enough of my dick!"

“The Superman of the Past!” 
Written By: Otto Binder 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Unsurprisingly, this story by Captain Marvel scribe Otto Binder is a real corker. So I’ve shown essentially every panel of the thing here. One weekend, the core, named staff of the Daily Planet heads to a bucolic picnic spot, in order to have a dress rehearsal for a comedy sketch they’re performing on television next week. 
"I'm wondering where I've misplaced my dignity."
It’s some kind of play where Perry White is Julius Caesar, Jimmy Olsen is a court jester, Clark Kent is the Biblical character Samson, and Lois Lane is…woman. Lois chuckles at the idea that Clark could ever be the legendary strongman Samson, what with his broad pectorals and thick biceps and clearly rippling abdominal muscles. 
"Oh Clark Kent. You're almost as lame as a woman."
So we get treated to the big gag planned for this television appearance next week: Clark carries Perry’s throne made of balsa wood to him, so he can read an Ancient Roman version of the Daily Planet on a scroll. Uh, great one guys. You don’t go on the program last or anything, do you? 
There are "dad jokes" and there are "gross misrepresentations of comedy."
After the thespians conclude their rehearsal, they loaf around for a while, and Lois wanders off to get into trouble. Finding a cave full of flowers emitting a toxic gas, Lois strolls inside and is overcome! 
Dude! The buds are ready for harvest!
Being that this is a comic book, of course her condition makes Lois travel back in time. Stepping outside the cave, Lois can immediately tell she’s traveled about 2,000 years into the past! The Roman centurions on their horse-drawn chariots is a dead giveaway. 
"I know because I bought a pack of 250 toy soldiers from an ad inside this comic book."
No sooner does she enter the sunlight that Lois is snatched up by a centurion, whose language has also been translated by the flowers. Man, these are some flowers! I wonder what they go for, by the gram? The centurion has mistaken Lois Lane for one of Julius Caesar’s slaves, Loris Laynne. Ah, you mistook one for the other on sight because they have similar-sounding names. Perfectly understandable mistake, old chap. 
"Or was it Loris Puchura from Laynne? No matter, one slave is as good as another."
The solider tales Lois before Caesar, who is being entertained by his jester, Merrio. Lois pleads her case to the Roman Emperor, but he’s unimpressed, and has his Queen take her away. 
"What this? 'Women's rights?' The poor darling is positively mad, Helene!"
Seems Lois is a special assistant to the Queen, who takes time to chide Merrio when he proves too weak to lift his chest of puppets and joy buzzers. It’s all a ruse, however, because secretly, the jocular milquetoast Merrio is, in fact, ball-busting strongman Samson! 
"Turns out a good court jester can earn a cool six figures."
Now, I’m no history scholar, but I seem to recall the story of Samson and Delilah being more of an Old Testament thing—as in, preceding the Roman Empire. But what do I know? Maybe this is his cousin. Coincidentally, Samson has hidden a subterranean tunnel that he can uses to enter and exit the palace unseen—just like Superboy did as a lad! 
"This is also a good place to stash drugs."
The Queens asks Lois to go get her some maxi-pads or something, and she grumbles about it, but still hops into a chariot and takes off. Then Lois remembers: she doesn’t know how to drive a chariot! When the horse goes wild and puts Lois on a runaway course, Samson saves her by chucking two tree trunks in her path! Which, rightfully, could have killed her! 
"I meant to crush your chariot, killing you and your horse. My aim is off."
Samson hops in her chariot and takes Lois back home, immediately telling her about having a secret identity. Later, when Lois is doing laundry at the riverbank, Samson chucks a rock in the water to scare all the crocodiles away. How like Superman he is, what with an alter ego and a penchant for throwing rocks! 
"And just like Superman, he smells a little ripe after a day of exerting himself."
Just thinking about the ol’ lug makes Lois sad for the 20th Century, where Superman pranks her on a daily basis. 
"This Samson fella just doesn't tease and belittle me the way Superman does."
The Queen then directs Lois to feed the prisoners in the palace dungeon some scraps of food, for that is all they deserve. Lois heads to the basement to find a dozen disheveled men, kept in squalid conditions, for minor offenses like whistling on a Tuesday. Lois is horrified, then she’s even more horrified when Samson comes barreling through the wall, holding a massive log as a battering ram! 
The revolution will not be televised! Because television doesn't exist yet!
Just like the Man of Tomorrow, Samson peels back the bars that imprison these poor men, setting them free! And this results in…well, nothing important, really, since the next day the Queen simply tasks Lois with taking her baby around in a boat to quiet his incessant squealing. 
"Lady, we're both being punished right now."
Merrio, having nothing better to do, decides to go along for the ride. Then, because this is apparently the first time they’ve ever navigated these waters right next to the palace, the boat is pulled by a strong current towards a fatal waterfall! Merrio jumps overboard and swims to shore, emerging as Samson, who throws a lasso around the boat to hold it in place. 
"I learned how to do this when Lois fantasized about the Old West."
And with a little elbow grease…er, shoulder grease, Samson pulls the craft away from the waterfall and to safety. 
Tote that barge. Lift that bale.
Already keen to snooping around on her friends, Lois notes that Samson is leaving wet footprints, suggesting that he is Merrio, who swam to shore! Why these things follow one another, I have no idea. Like, no one else is allowed to have wet sandals? Also, she makes no note of Samson’s size 18 feet, but perhaps she’s keeping that bit of information in her personal mind vault. 
"I hope no one sees me drinking Samson's body water."
Lois tells Samson she’s figured out that he’s Merrio, and he figures the only thing to do is ask her to marry him! Lois vacillates a bit over how “fond” she is of Superman—way to understate it, lady!—but decides that one strong galoot is as good as another, and she accepts Samson’s proposal!
"If we marry, Lois, I will get rid of all my boy concubines. Except for two."
Elated, Samson takes her in his arms, and Lois begins to disappear! Which, come to think of it, is exactly how a similar situation in the Bottle City of Kandor was resolved in this issue. 
"Dudes, I swear she was right here! We were totally gonna kiss, honest!"
Lois Lane wakes up in the cave of noxious flowers, Perry White gently shaking her by the shoulders. She remembers her trip through time, and how technically she got engaged to Samson, but Perry brushes it off as a fantastical dream. But it must have happened––Lois lent that guy five bucks! 
"Women! Sober or hallucinating, you're all very stupid! Ha!"
This chapter is weird because it’s like it has two endings. Here’s our standard “knowing wink” from Clark Kent, when Perry White guffaws at the notion of him actually being Superman. This is how an average story in this series concludes. 
"Why, that's almost as preposterous as the notion that I'm fooling around with your wife."
Then, there’s like this “second ending,” where Lois is mooning over Samson while Superman flies overhead. I think this suggests that we’ll be revisiting this historically inaccurate setting again? I’ll keep my eyes peeled.
"I used to read Word Up! magazine, Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D all in the limousine."

“Mr. and Mrs. Clark (Superman) Kent!” 
Written By: Jerry Siegel 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Here’s the cover story, as advertised, an “imaginary story,” which means that it’s not “really” happening…though this particular imaginary story has at least three parts, which I will get to eventually. I’m not sure why the entire imaginary saga wasn’t included in one issue, like this one did. I assume it’s because Mort Weisinger liked to break Siegel’s balls for whatever reason. This story begins with Lois and Superman already married, and she’s waking up in the bed next to him (per I Love Lucy married couple strictures) to gaze at her husband lovingly, before going downstairs to prepare his breakfast. While making the Farina or whatever, Lois reminisces about how she and the object of her obsession got together in the first place: seems one day, Clark proposed to Lois, but she said she was saving herself for Superman. So he busted his suit off by flexing his muscles, revealing himself as the Man of Steel! That was it? Somehow I thought there would be something more convoluted here, like Lois being hit with a ray that makes her fart so hard, Clark’s disguise blows off. 
"Well I know you're no good with money, they way you tear through suits."
In the past, Superman was recalcitrant to marry Lois, because he feared she would become a target for his enemies if they knew he was married. But the ol’ Boy Blue has come up with a solution! Lois can marry Clark Kent, and therefore it will just look like she settled on the nearest available male because she felt her uterus calcifying, not that she’s married a super-powered man from another planet. 
From the pages of Kryptonian Super Romance
After breakfast, Superman gets a call from Perry White…for Clark Kent, but he’s asking for Superman. Just get a beeper, man, and stop all this confusion. Perry White tells Clark that there’s an oil tanker on fire or something…does the city of Metropolis even have a police department? Why is Perry always dispatching crime reports, and expecting journalists to become detectives? 
"If I come back smelling of beer, it's because I had to rescue a brewery."
As Superman dives through the secret tunnel leading away from his home, Lois reminds him that their neighbors, the Carlyles, own that property. When Superman emerges from his tunnel, he remembers that he used to have a similar tunnel for use when he lived in Smallville as Superboy…and we know, dude. Hercules just used the same gimmick in the last chapter. 
"Especially my side chick. She can never know."
Later, Lois is hanging out with some wives in the neighborhood who are talking up their husbands. They’re all rich robber barons or slumlords or something—certainly more glamorous than being one of the main reporters for the biggest newspaper in the city. If only Lois could tell them that she was married to Superman! 
White People Problems
To celebrate Superman’s saving of their oil rigs, Mrs. Carlyle is throwing a…neighborhood dance? Is that a thing? Unfortunately, she can’t invite Lois because her husband is a journalist, which is a super fucked-up thing to just say out loud. And of course, the irony is that Lois’ husband saved those oil thingies in the first place! 
"Thankfully, I've been stealing your cable television for months!"
Oh, if only Lois could impress her shitty neighbors by revealing that she’s better-off than all of them! 
"I wish people knew how jealous of me they should be!"
Superman arrives home to find Lois sobbing in the kitchen, so her turns on some of that old Kryptonian charm to calm her down…and it works! Though I have to admit, it seems very awkward to me, seeing the two of the genuinely intimate like this. 
"Come on baby. Quit ywr hollerin' an' carryin' on."
Lois makes peace with having a life half-lived! 
Be My Secret Valentine
The next day, we find out that Lois…still works at the Daily Planet? Clark! Get your wife in line! You’re embarrassing all of us at White Devil Industries! In any case, Lois works at the same place as her husband, so they have a little deal for when he has to dash off and save lives as Superman, and guys it is so adorable I can’t stand it! 
"And besides, Lois, I'm on my way to take a shit."
Though the thing they come up with for why Clark isn’t in the office is really bad: Lois says he went into the paper storage vault and was locked in accidentally, and because it’s a timed lock, he’s trapped in there for an hour. Later, when the door opens, he rushes in at super-speed so no one else sees it, then emerges as a worn and disheveled Clark Kent. None of this makes sense. Why are they keeping printing stock in the office? Why is it in a vault? Why does that vault have a time-lock on it? Why couldn’t Lois have said he was busy taking a crap? 
"That man is paper drunk! Get him to some scissors and rocks, stat!"
Later, there’s a scene with virtually no purpose: Superman brings Lois a dress made of a space material that changes color with her mood, and as the mercurial bitch cycles through emotions, the dress does as advertised. 
"Now your dress is turning the color of 'I want a divorce.'"
Later, Lois’ sister Lucy comes by to raid her closet, and seeing her space dress, wants to try it on. Lois can’t have that, so she chucks it right into the fire, releasing space borne gases and spores that will probably kill everyone. It’s hilarious that burning the dress is her best recourse, and not to just tell her sister to go fly a kite! 
When Lois does laundry, it stays done.
Lucy comments about how much better it is for Lois, now that she’s stopped jilling off to Superman snaps and has settled down with humdrum Kent. Lois sighs—the irony! Oh the cruel irony! 
"I wish I could tell her about Superman's face-sitting kink."
Later, Lucy and Lois and strolling about, when they happen upon an event featuring celebutante Gloria Lamour. And she’s getting some kind of recognition from Superman! Might as well check it out, suggests Lucy, completely disregarding her sister Lois’ feelings.
The annual ceremonies for the Award of Excellence in Existing.
Once inside, Lois catches her hubby getting an impromptu smooch from Ms. Lamour! He had better not be popping a super-boner right now! 
"I'll just break my husbands balls about it, instead."
At home, Superman apologizes to Lois, who is mad but reasonable. She’s not happy having to do the run-around all the time, and keep her marriage to Superman a secret. And he promises to do something about about…some day. And then, that’s it. No more happens, it just ends. There is a promise that there will be more installments of this imaginary story later—and there are—but this thing lands like a dead fish. Like a sitcom that ends with all the actors shaking hands and going their separate ways.
Marital bliss

Well that was weird as hell. It’s funny how the last two stories are basic boilerplate yarns for this series, which amounts mainly to Lois almost marrying Superman, or Lois almost marrying a Superman equivalent. Otto Binder’s story is definitely the most “out there,” the whole goofy play that the Daily Planet is supposed to put on is such an obvious contrivance to get them in those period clothes. The first story is a little discomfiting, but I suppose it fits neatly enough in a series known for dubious scientific acumen. This comic is incredibly dumb—but it knows that it is dumb. And that almost makes it smart.
"He's also faster than a speeding bullet, unfortunately."

Bits and Pieces:

Lois almost marries Clark Kent, she almost marries Samson, and then does marry Superman...in an imaginary story. Reading this comic book is the equivalent of planning your own wedding, and will probably make you reluctant to actually do so.

7/10

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