Tuesday, January 8, 2019

RETRO REVIEW: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #6 Review and **SPOILERS**



Future Shock

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

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

I know, it’s been a little while since I dropped another of these whoppers…I’m still going to do them bi-weekly, but that will be beginning now, since I also put out a podcast bi-weekly called Reggie’s Comics Stories (check it out here!), and I needed to alternate these reviews with that podcast. This ensures that I have less free time over a more consistent span, instead of lurching into panic mode every other week in trying to produce both things. Anyway, there’s no episode of Reggie’s Comics Stories this week, so check out my review of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #6, right now!


Explain It!

“The Amazing Superman Junior” 
Written By: Jerry Coleman 
Art By: Wayne Boring 
Our story begins with Lois Lane reporting on a rocket ship that will travel faster than light, and it’s surmised that anyone aboard will not age for 100 years. Of course, Lois wants a peek at the cockpit, so she feigns being light-headed, assuming she’ll thereby be allowed inside the shady space by the Professor…after some light fondling. 
Wow. Who could have guessed.
Of course, the ship takes off because Lois nudges a button or something, and she’s rendered unconscious by the commotion. Superman snatches the rocket and brings it back, but, seeing the opportunity to mess with Lois’ mind, sets a very plan into motion. First, Superman secures the help of Lois’ employer, Perry White. 
"Sure, I'm just putting out a newspaper twice a day. I'm not too busy."
Next, he grabs some sunken steel boats and, off-panel, hammers them into a futuristic city at super-speed. Uh, think you might want to use these talents for something other than fucking with Lois, man? I’m sure that even in 1959, there were some people that could have used some property like this. Finally, Superman has Robin undergo a make-up transformation to make him look older. 
"Now to set everyone on Earth's watches ahead fifty years."
Lois awakens and exits the ship, to find Superman, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White…and they’re olds! 
"Ugh, I am not emptying anyone's colostomy bag."
After Lois’ lady-boner for Superman subsides completely, the fake elderly explain that the Daily Planet was destroyed in the last war, and they’ve all retired to live on some island on account of having made no new friends in decades. I love the dark implication of this “last war,” something that destroyed a bastion of the free press for good. We can assume that this is Earth-X, and the Nazis are in charge. Lois gets a dig in on Jimmy Olsen before we leave this scene. 
"But you, Perry...you like strangely distinguished. What are you doing later? Is your wife still alive?"
The Daily Planet may be gone, but it has been replaced by a Daily Planet museum, which contains a framed newspaper whose headline tells of Batman and Clark Kent’s destruction. Jimmy muses to himself about what a great job Perry did in printing up phony headlines, but I’m wondering how long Lois was unconscious in that cockpit? For a week? Superman hammered out a futuristic city, Perry White set and printed mock newspaper pages…maybe it’s Lois’ brain damage that makes her so gullible. Also, I can understand why Batman’s name would be in a headline about his demise, but why Clark Kent? Because he worked at the Planet? And finally, was anyone else curious as to why Superman had to eliminate Clark for this elaborate prank to work? Like, you don't think he would have enjoyed being in on the gag? No? No one's asking? Okay. 
You'd really think Batman would be a marquee headliner, but that's show business.
In order to make Lois feel like shit, the guys show off a section of the museum dedicated just to her. Later, she meets Robin, now a balding insurance agent named Fred Ashley that writes crime novels. 
"In my spare time, I teach Earth Science to junior high schoolers."
Seeing how old her friends are makes Lois cry, so she heads back into the rocket ship, where she left her purse and compact. Oh! I forgot to mention that in Silver Age shorthand, a woman crying means she has to immediately fix her makeup. 
I can't believe Lois was parted from her makeup, a woman's lifeblood, for so long.
Lois checks her mascara while Perry and Robin conspire behind her. She can also see something else in her mirror, something that might be important later. Something that is prominently labeled and seems more obvious than the surrounding stuff. I’m talking about Robin’s hair lip. The next day, when the guys have planned to reveal their mean trick to Lois—yes, they were going to make her believe this insane farce for an entire day—a young Superman shows up, surprising everyone! 
Sheesh! Everybody wants to be Superman all of a sudden!
It’s Superman Jr.! And not the Superman Jr. created by Bob Haney years later…nor the Superman Jr. that you see in some imaginary stories—but a totally different Superman Jr.! Superman Sr. gives him the X-ray once over, determining he’s not a robot—but meeting his progeny was not intended part of the plan! 
"I don't remember having a son...unless! That night in New Orleans!"
Superman Sr. asks his son to impress the folks with an exhibition of his powers, so Superman Jr. uproots a couple of trees to dazzle the rubes. 
The deaths of those centuries-old trees was worth it for this stunt.
Then, Superman Jr. rubs the tree trunks together in order to ignite a blaze. When his dad asks him to stamp out the fire, however, Junior balks. 
"...I'll pee on the fire!"
Instead, Superman Jr. puts out the blaze the Heavy Metalhead way: with his hands! As he flies off with Lois, Superman Sr. and Perry wonder just what in tarnation is going on ‘round hyar. 
"I don't know who this guy is, but I'm going to beat the shit out of him."
Superman Sr. even gets a little jealous of Junior, as he pitches woo to Lois by defacing public property. Superman Jr. gets the idea to throw her a super-birthday party—that means with an unconscionably large cake covered in candles—and propose to Lois at the event…if dad will approve, that is! And by that, I mean if dad will allow his son to rub it in his stupid, bearded face. 
"I made the cake, so you just handle inviting the thousands of guests required to eat it!"
Superman Jr. uses his X-ray vision to ignite all of the birthday candles at once, and that’s when Superman Sr. is reminded of a little detail about when his boy put out that fire earlier. He has a sneaking suspicion, proved right by some X-ray vision…which I could swear he’d already trained on the kid earlier in the story. 
"This impostor intends to give the citizens of Metropolis diabetes!"
Superman Sr. reveals the ruse by setting his own son’s leg on fire. Holy crap! Turns out it was Robin, pretending to be Superman’s super-powered son all along, but for cripes’ sake, you’re practically burning him at the stake for it! 
"Once again, Robin has fooled us with his freakishly long arms."
Superman knew something was weird when Superman Jr. wouldn’t use his feet to step on that earlier conflagration, because it would have ignited a fire on his stilts…like Superman actually did, just now. But how was he able to suppress the fire with his hands? Why, by drinking a serum that gave him super powers, of course! Why do I even bother thinking there’s an actual mystery to be solved, here? 
"We were saving this serum to cure a kid with cancer, but it was worth using it for this prank."
Lois knew something was funny because she saw that the fuel gauge on the rocket ship was at “full,” when it should have been less. She busted Robin by snatching up a page from his fake novel to find him having only typed “all work and no play makes Dick a dull boy” over and over again. 
"Also, no bald man would compound his shame by wearing that uniform."
And then—and this is the part that just makes you want to jump out of a window—she enlists Robin’s help by blackmailing him with the threat of revealing his true identity. You see, she carries the fingerprints of six boys in her purse, knowing that the identity of one of them is Robin’s, just for this sort of emergency. I don’t even want to get into the morality or legality of walking around with the fingerprints of six random boys in her purse, I’m wondering how Lois got all of them to begin with? And why are they all on the same piece of paper? Was there some kind of a forensics festival and Lois ran the fingerprinting booth? 
"I also have the sanitary napkins of six girls, but I'm saving those to blackmail Batgirl."
Anyhow, that’s how Lois turned the tables on Superman’s hare-brained scheme: with an even more hare-brained scheme. Luckily, no one was hurt during this prank! Except for the narrative language of a sensible story. 
The only thing that can conquer a moronic plot: an even more moronic plot!
I love this weirdly-detailed picture of Perry scowling about Lois’ turnabout…he looks like someone the FBI should keep an eye on going forward.
"I'll get you next time, Lois. Next tiiiiime"

“Lois Lane – Convict!” 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Right, so this is the cover story, and it’s so great that no one ever laid claim to having written it. While strolling down the street, Lois is accosted by a seedy-looking man that wants to give her five-thousand bucks—to drop her newspaper story about some Mafia crime family doings! 
"You just won a prize for paying attention to a scumbag off the street!"
It seems that the Daily Planet tipped their hat by running a front-page headline about an article Lois was going to write, down the line. It’s like unless Superman is knocking a giant robot into the Atlantic Ocean, there’s no news worth reporting in Metropolis. The slimy thug reminds Lois that her mother needs an operation, which makes taking the money seem more palatable. 
"Maybe I'm not so good at math, but it seems that five times your annual salary should do it."
Then Lois thinks, “well forget my mom’s surgery,” and buys herself a sweet yellow dress to parade at the office the next day. Then, she stalls Perry White as Lois was paid to do. The next day, the same rat-faced hoodlum offers Lois an additional $4000 to keep, uh, not doing her job. 
"No thank you, I already bought a car with the bribe I took yesterday, and had $1000 left over."
The criminal shows Lois a photo of her taking yesterday’s bribe, thereby blackmailing her to do his bidding! Then, he bribes her anyway. Does someone want to explain how blackmail works to this guy? The picture supersedes the need for the money, dummy! 
"I should probably start taking stock certificates and diamond necklaces, as well."
So Lois keeps getting money from the Stupid Mob, and spends it on herself because that’s what women do when they get cash, according to a pimp I met. 
CRIME DOES NOT PAY
One day, flush with cash, Lois attempts to purchase a bracelet, but the snooty salesman traces the bills back to some criminals and calls a cop on her. He puts some “bracelets” of his own on…oh, he already made that joke in-panel? Oh, well. That’s fine. 
"Wait, let ms try that again. 'Since you like bracelets so much, Miss Lane...' Wait! I have it."
Lois goes through the humiliating process of being arrested, which includes being questioned while in a line-up containing only one person. I feel like this subverts due process, somehow. Lois is thrown into a jail cell, clearly deep within the Bastille, and Perry promises to get her the best lawyer that the Daily Planet can afford. So Jimmy Olsen will probably represent her. 
Plus she had to be fingerprinted in the gymnasium.
Seeing how awful she looks, Superman uses super-friction to create a mirrored surface on the prison wall so Lois can compose herself. These scenes where Superman uses his powers for innocuous things happen all the time in this series, and I love them. 
"I'll punch a hole into the sewer line so you'll have a more discreet place to poop."
Superman and the Daily Planet hold a fundraiser for Lois’ court case, and come up with an actual bin of cash. Lois cannot accept their generosity, however, because she is guilty of her crime! 
"...So you should really use that money to further bribe the judge."
I mean, not technically the crime she’s accused of, but a different crime of accepting bribes that led to the crime affecting her current state. She doesn’t bother to explain this to Superman and Perry, though, and Perry prints a headline about Lois’ confession the next day, since Superman didn’t do anything particularly interesting as we know. Though I’m sure there’s an article in this issue titled, “SUPERMAN TURNS PRISON WALL INTO MIRROR." That bribing crook from earlier visits Lois in the clink, and says that in appreciation for aiding and abetting their criminal enterprise, his superiors have graciously offered to break her out.
"...I'm hosting a Bridge game tonight."
And so, they do! 
Nice job on this panel, Schaffenberger.
The Chief of Police is informed that Lois is on the lam, and he says that only Superman can possibly stop this one human woman who is probably still clearly identifiable by her prison garb. Elsewhere, Lois is being ushered into a dilapidated, abandoned building—to come face-to-face with the (bald) head of the Mob! 
"Only Superman can capture Lois Lane! Because I'm way too drunk to do it."
They’re ready to kill her, but then Superman comes crashing in to save they day. The crooks try to destroy Supes in a bootleg license plate-stamping machine but, c’mon. Really?
And that's how Superman came to have "LUV2DRIVE" stamped permanently into his forehead.
Really??
"If you guys could just jump into a net or something next time, it would save a lot of time."
Just then, the District Attorney wanders in to reveal that the whole thing was a ruse—even from that first newspaper article, advertising the exposé Lois was going to write! Talk about your long cons! Knowing that the Mob would try to bribe her out of it, they went through the whole rigamarole, even putting Lois in prison for a crime they know she didn’t commit, just to reach this moment when they’d learn the identity of the Mafia’s Capo Buono or whatever.
"All we had to do was unnecessarily endanger a citizen!"
And for her troubles, which may have permanently damaged her reputation in some circles? They let Lois keep the fur coat! Aw, Metropolis’ District Attorney, you’re all right!
"I'll have sex with you for nothing!"

“Lieutenant Lois Lane, U.S. Army” 
Written By: Bill Finger 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Because Metropolis is, once again, bereft of anything newsworthy to report, Perry White arranges for Lois Lane and Clark Kent to join the U.S. Army, temporarily, as a publicity stunt in order to report on military life. The Colonel in charge of this charade thinks it’s a swell idea, and is prepared to enlist Clark as a Private—but notes that Lois will be made an immediate Officer because she’s got nice gams or something. Fans of Lois will smirk at the fact that her father is a General in current continuity, but that didn’t apply back in the far-off days of Sputnik. 
"Scratch that, a foine officer!"
Lois and Clark arrive at the military camp, where everyone is greeted by the friendly Major Wharton. Lois is suspicious of him…as we’re about to learn, it’s probably because he’s friendly! 
"Being friendly in the Army goes against every movie stereotype I've ever seen."
Much of this story is given over to Lois’ incessant ball-busting of every enlisted officer, and I’m betting this particular yarn fueled a few pre-adolescent male fantasies. And at least one post-adolescent male fantasy. When some army men make lewd comments at Lois when she passes by, she gives them a dressing-down. Which, come to think of it, should have been done whether Lois was a Lieutenant or not. 
"Whoever picks up the most trash may snff my corset this evening."
Clark meets up with Lois in the Mess Hall, but when he is insubordinate to her rank, she calls an M.P. and has Clark thrown in the brig! Or the galley! He’s thrown somewhere, I bet!
Check your privilege, Clark.
Clark is very disappointed in Lois, who has let a little power go to her head, instead of deferring to every male like she’s supposed to. 
"And I was the one that wanted to be a tyrant!"
Another officer tries to appeal to Major Wharton to have Clark released, but Lois quotes some military code that nullifies his attempt. She does have Clark released, however—so he can join the rest of the camp on a twenty-mile hike, enforced by Lieutenant Lane! 
"When we asked if we could stop for ice cream, though, she said, 'maybe.'"
Clark uses his X-ray vision to conk out Lois’ Jeep, in which she’s riding while everyone else troops along with a full pack. In the whole group, there’s not one mechanic that can fix the trouble, so she has them pull the vehicle along, up an incline, on ropes! Sheesh! I’d be pissed off if this weren’t so curiously sexy! 
All-wheel drive, my ass.
Clark figures that Lois will have to call off the march if there’s inclement weather, so he takes off his uniform to reveal the ol’ cape n’ tights, and sets out to create a dangerous, life-threatening cyclone. 
Sometimes you gotta break a few meteorological eggs to make a climate change omelet.
Superman spins the cyclone out, even side-swiping Lois’ Jeep—and she gets swept up in the cyclone and hung up on a tree branch! The day is saved, and Lois is humiliated. Two birds with one stone. 
Lois Lane was never heard from again.
Back at camp, Major Wharton tells the camp that Lois will be charge for the day—despite her crappy leadership—because he’s got to do grocery shopping or something. Lois reminds Wharton of an Army code forbidding him to comment on her performance in public, which shuts him up right quick. With Major Wharton gone, the fellas are worried about an upcoming inspection by Lieutenant Lane! 
"I thought I'd be sweating from all the masturbating. But she's actually making us work!"
As well they should be, because after a two-hour march to a sun-baked desert, Lois punishes the man for the poor state of their rifles by making them stand to attention under a blazing hot sun. Superman takes pity on them, and creates a storm in order to cool them off. Back at camp, some Privates have drawn a cartoon of Lois on the side of one of the barracks, which isn’t likely to go over well. 
Hum-de-dum. Just affecting more of the planet's natural weather patterns.
Lois finds the graffiti, tasks the guys with painting like everything in existence, blah blah blah. I only find this sexy when she makes them suffer pain and indignities, not labor. Hilariously, Superman helps out by getting a giant paintbrush from…somewhere? His collection of giant utensils, I guess? And then smears paint everywhere at super-speed. 
Going All-City
Later on there’s…a dance? Do they have dances in the Army? It’s a lot more like high school than I’d heard prior to this. Lois is there, dressed to the nines with her own tiara, but no one will take her traipsing. Lois gets revenge by telling one of the Privates to go back to the barracks and clean his uniform, even to the protestations of his date! 
"And don't you dare make fun of my regulation, military-issued tiara!"
Clark saves the day by cleaning the poor dope’s tie using super-speed, pretending it’s some kind of amazing spot cleaner. Today, he’d use a Tide pen and it would probably work. When he’s done with that, Clark finds Lois yelling at the entire camp because her tiara is missing—and one of them must have stolen it! Just find the guys that cross-dress, and the whittle the suspects down from there. 
"...And it wasn't her terrible dancing that did it!"
Lois heads back to the barracks with the Sergeant, and, quoting a non-existent military code, gets him to open all the foot lockets! Inside Major Wharton’s locker, she finds some microfilm—Major Wharton is a film enthusiast! 
"Let's see what he's got here: 'Lois Lane is a horrible bitch-stop. Making men miserable-stop.'"
Er, I mean Wharton is a spy, and Lois recognized him the minute she arrived on base. So she acted like a total bitch, just so she could quote phony Army rules to Wharton and catch him in not being actually trained. Once again, another great plan. And this time, executed, despite the attempts by Superman to circumvent Lois’ cruelty!
Funny that Lois is never asked to portray a kindly, giving person.

That last story, it’s a real misogynistic corker. But all three stories are about equally as dumb, with the cover story being the least interesting one. It’s amazing that this group plays such elaborate, well-worked pranks on each other all the time, it’s a wonder they have time to do their jobs. Or, in Superman’s case, save sinking cruise ships. You are saving those cruise ships, aren’t you, Superman? What do you mean, “most of them?” Which ones are you letting go?! That’s it! You and Lois Lane have to sit on different sides of the classroom from now on!
"Though to be fair, I've only worked on court stenographers' machines so far."

Bits and Pieces:

A trio of stories consisting of Superman and Lois Lane yanking each others' chains. It's sort of cool to see Wayne Boring do a "comedic" Superman story, but it still looks like it was drawn with stencils. Sucks that we never do get to see Superman's phony futuristic city, either.

4/10

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