Tuesday, January 22, 2019

RETRO REVIEW: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #9 (1959) Review and **SPOILERS**

Croon With Boone

Cover Artists: Curt Swan, Stan Kaye 
Edited By: Mort Weisinger 
Executive Editor: Whitney Ellsworth 
Cover Price: 10 cents 
Cover Date: May 1959 
Published By: DC Comics


I think that, after devotedly reading several of my reviews of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, you might think she’s pretty square. Nothing could be further from the truth! She’s such a hip chick, she sang a duet with Pat Boone! Who the hell is that, you ask? You can find out by reading my review of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #9, seen below!

Explain It!

“The Most Hated Girl in Metropolis”
Written By: Robert Bernstein
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
One beautiful day, Lois Lane wakes up and heads to her job at the Daily Planet. At the office, she finds that kid photographer Jimmy Olsen has left her a bouquet of roses, with a note! It reads, “To a RAT!!” Well that seems like a lot of effort just to be mean to someone. Not to mention the cost. Clark Kent is also miffed at Lois, though she doesn’t know why.

"The only language we speak in this office is sending each other rude floral arrangements."
Editor-in-Chief Perry White calls her into his office, and she learns why the newspaper’s staff is peeved: they almost ran a story by Lois revealing Superman’s secret identity as Clark Kent! Perry was able to snatch the papers off the press before too many were printed, but the secret is now out. Which begs the question: why is Clark sitting at a desk, still working for the Daily Planet?

They don't normally let reporters run headlines beginning with their own names, but this was a special occasion.
Lois says she never released this story—though she admits to having written it years ago, during a manic period in which she guessed Clark Kent was the Man of Steel. Perry doesn’t buy it though, since the copy boy said he got it from her copy-basket. Yep, you gotta trust the word of the copy boy. He may sniff printer’s varnish all day, but he’s on the square.

"If it's in the copy box, it gets printed. That's how we ran my wife's 'Dear John' letter last month."
Lois promises to write another article, redacting the claim and explaining the gaffe, but here’s an interesting wrinkle: Clark Kent has confessed to being Superman! So again: why is he still working at the Daily Planet?

"He's staying on with us for the health insurance."
Lois steps outside of Perry’s office to confirm his claim, and Clark angrily smashes a desk to prove he’s Superman. You, uh, you didn’t need to destroy company property, Clark. You could have just floated or something.

Clark even disrobes in front of Lois, showing off his Superman togs underneath, which also seems superfluous. Later, Superman has drawn a crowd for some contrived reason or another, and Lois aims to get him alone and explain herself to him, no matter what the outcome!

"The union is giving us headaches, but we'll save a bundle on construction costs."
But when Lois heads over to Superman after he’s done dazzling the crowd, he tells her to pound sand! She won’t be getting any more Superman story exclusives!

"All of my communication with Lois is now done in semaphore."
Seems that Superman’s secret identity isn’t public knowledge yet, but Lois guesses the word will be out soon enough. The staff of the Daily Planet sure knows the scoop, as shown when they’re rude to Lois at some watering hole frequented by them. Say, isn’t there some kind of rule in journalism about being truthful? Some sort of an oath, maybe? Never heard of it, you say? Pay it no mind, then.

"Any reporter that does her job is no friend of ours, the other reporters!"
With everyone pissed off at Lois for doing the thing she promised to do, Lois determines that she can no longer live in Metropolis!

 "I'll move to Coast City. A person can really start over there."'
The next day, while packing to leave, Lois sifts through some Superman memorabilia she’s pilfered collected over the years: a trophy, a lock of his nose hair, pictures of Lois being carried through the clouds that, by rights, could not have been taken by anyone living. Sad that she won’t be able to rob Superman anymore, Lois reconsiders her plan to run away.

"I have to admit, a lot of my character motivation is based around Superman."
Just then, the phone rings, and on the other end is Lois’ sister, Lucy. She’s an airline stewardess and, after having dinner with her, Lucy says she can get Lois a job flying the friendly skies, provided she’s got a butt that’s very resilient to mid-century pinching.

Nepotism is the scourge of progress.
Lucy and some colleagues take Lois to some kind of a contrived excuse for a movie shoot, then they ditch her without even explaining Lois’ character motivation!

"So long, beeyatch."
Behind Lois, a curtain raises to reveal a studio audience! Suddenly, she’s standing on stage with Ralph Edwards, host of the show This is Your Life! This was a real show that ran from 1948 to 1961, on two networks. The idea was that a member of the studio audience would be brought on stage without their prior knowledge, and then Edwards would go over their life’s story in detail, with guest appearances by familiar faces the audience member had met along the way. Sounds positively horrifying for everyone.

"Looking over your biography, it seems like a series of horrible pranks and cons."
And what’s this? The whole Daily Planet staff that were busting Lois’ balls earlier are here! And her own, dear sister was in on this elaborate prank, too. Lois should know by know that eighty percent of the events in her life are totally manufactured by Superman or his chuckle-head buddies.

"We all had a wonderful time betraying you, Lois!"
But what about Clark proving to be Superman earlier? Well, that was all bullshit, of course. Now, however, Clark has to produce Superman—and appear on stage with him at the same time!

"Oh, why didn't I just arrange for the Haunted Tank to be the special guest?"
Superman pulls this off by finding a captain at the docks who has amnesia, then he dresses the poor guy up like Clark Kent and hauls this confused fellow on stage for appearances’ sakes.

"Never mind the fact that Clark seems confused. He just smoked angel dust."
After his debut, the severely concussed Captain is taken high in the sky by Superman, just to compound his frustrating torture!

"This is either cure you or kill you. Either way, I'm in the clear."
This move by Superman, which he claims to have tried before, does the trick! The Captain’s memory prior to being kidnapped by Superman is restored, and, uh—what the hell was the point of this story again? I’m sure that’s all resolved, too. Incidentally, Superman did pull this gimmick another time that we know of—but much later, in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #38 from 1963! So we can assume that he got really good at snatching addled people off the street and making them pretend to be Clark Kent before mind-wiping them completely.
"Plus I fucked Edwards' wife while we filmed your episode."

“Lois Lane’s Stone-Age Suitor”
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Lois Lane and Clark Kent are headed back from a trip to Mexico City, funded by the Daily Planet, which was apparently a fact-finding mission about novelty lighters.

"We can worry about whether our careers are justified later!"
On the way back to the United States, their plane is attacked by a pterodactyl! Or possibly a Xudarian.

Flying the friendly skies.
The dinosaur attacks Lois and Clark’s plane, tearing Clark’s clothing to shreds and leaving Lois unconscious. With her knocked out, Clark can abandon the aircraft and fly Lois to safety.

"That pterodactyl seemed interested only in making me sexy."
While Lois naps, Clark explains why he’ll have to stash his Superman togs…to no one.

"While I have you here, let me tell the story of my costume. It all began when I was rocketed from the..."
Then, the pair are beset by cavemen! They look like Neanderthals, but I won’t make any assumptions. Lois wakes up to this all-too familiar scene.

"It's Charles Bronson!"
It looks like Clark and Lois have wound up in some hidden valley, lost to time! This is going to make communication diffi…uh, well it looks like these cavemen know rudimentary English already. That’s convenient. Any word as to how you learned this language, chaps? No? Alright then. Since Lois the first woman without a beard to show up in decades, they decide that she’s got to marry the shlubbiest guy in the tribe: Blog! Hey, wait a minute…!

"If you marry him, you will be known as a 'Blogger.'"
Lois wants Clark’s help in getting out of this arranged rape, but she made fun of him before, so he refuses! Let this sexual violation serve as a teaching moment!

Ladies: when in doubt, defer to a man.
According to tribal law, Blog must perform three feats of his bridegroom’s choosing. Seeing a generic dinosaur has lumbered into frame, Lois tells Blog that his first task is to face down the giant lizard!

"Hurry up, we've got to return this dinosaur to the Batcave by noon."
Holy shit, Lois, you’ve just potentially condemned a stranger to die! Blog isn’t thrilled with the job, but he steels himself to face down the dinosaur. Luckily, Clark is going to lend a little help with his X-ray vision…

"D'ya want I should do yer taxes, Mistah Dinosaw?"
…which he uses to prematurely hatch some dinosaur eggs off-panel. Hey Kent, have you ever heard of “leave only footprints; take only photographs”?

Breakfast is ready.
The dinosaur scurries off the eat the brand-new baby dinosaurs, technically fulfilling the task Lois set for Blog.

"Hey kids, let me tell you about this balding nebbish I almost ate."
Moments later, a bolt of lightning strikes a tree and sets it ablaze, and then the cavemen frantically rush to preserve the fire. Clark observes that this group hasn’t discovered the mystery of creating fire, which I understand to be an unlikely remote music festival co-signed by rapper Ja Rule.

"What a bunch of rubes!"
Lois’ next attempt at murdering Blog is to send him into a cave inhabited by saber-toothed tigers. Just tell the guy to jump off a cliff and be done with it!

The lady or the tigers?
Clark surreptitiously slips into the cave ahead of Blog, and fucks up all the saber-toothed tigers handily. Before Blog steps through the cave’s opening, Clark uses his super-breath to knock down stalactites, giving the impression that the prehistoric cats were knocked out cold naturally. Clark, Blog is a caveman. Just tell him they passed out from a witch’s curse and he’ll believe you.

"Truthfully, I'm not a cat person."
Blog steps forth from the cave, hauling a tiger by its tail, one step closer to getting into Lois Lane’s tattered pants!

"Looks like Blog gets to screw you in the mud."
With it pouring rain outside, and knowing that this tribe cannot create fire without a strike of lightning, Lois tells Blog that his final task is to build a fire! That’s right, she wants to force an evolutionary change within the group. Clark decides to help out by giving Blog the lighter picked up from Mexico City. For one thing: that’s Lois’ lighter, man, you can’t just give it away. For another thing: you have just destroyed this indigenous culture, good job.

"And remember: Chesterfield's have the smoothest taste of any class 'A' cigarette!"
Without having a heart attack when presented with this world-changing technology, Blog lights a fire to the delight and amazement of the rest of his crew. Though Lois is honor bound to blow him, Clark decides to take this opportunity, while the cavemen are distracted, to escape through some random hole in a rock face.

"Just think, in several thousand years, they'll have four channels of fire to choose from."
While Lois is hanging out elsewhere in the cave, Clark punches an escape route through solid rock…and she wouldn’t hear this? Where did he leave her, at the bottom of a mine shaft?

If you've got it, flaunt it.
Once they get out, Clark decides to seal the only exit, to preserve this ancient culture that he and Lois have utterly destroyed by communing with them. Lois wonders about Blog, and hopes he’s okay—a peek through Clark’s X-ray vision proves that he’s doing juust fine except for a lingering bout of gonorrhea.
"Damn, if Blog is getting pussy like that, I'm going back to the prehistoric valley."

“Superman’s Mystery Song”
Pencils By: Dick Sprang
Inks By: John Forte 
Alright, here it is folks: the cover story. It involves Pat Boone, a pop singer who was second only to Elvis Presley in the late 1950s. Indeed, he was the corny, parent-approved alternative to the sexy, hip-swinging Elvis. And apparently, Lois Lane can’t get enough of him—and not just Pat Boone’s music, but his merchandise, too. Who does this guy think he is? Superman?

"It's easy to afford this stuff when you eat three meals per week."
Lois even buys every product Pat Boone endorses! Which explains why she’s got a case of Erection Suppressant in her bathroom. Lois tells Clark that, despite spending half of her income on Pat Boone crap, she still loves Superman more. Then she’s off yammering about Pat Boone again!

"Now make a right, I'll show you the hotel where Pat Boone will take his underage groupies."
All of Metropolis is gripped with Boone Fever, as a crowd lines up to watch him perform that evening…and leading the crowd appears to be two hideous fish girls. Later, back at the Daily Planet, Perry White tasks Clark Kent with covering the Pat Boone concert, because he’s not a groupie and therefore won’t ruin the article by trying to fuck the talent.

"I know you're free tonight, Kent, because you have no life."
But even Clark is caught up in the swinging tunes of Boone, though that magenta jacket is probably helping to put him in the mood!

Wow, the Daily Planet scored some shitty seats to this thing.
After the show, Pat Boone is so mobbed by fans and stalkers, that Clark changes into his Superman costume, so he can snatch Pat up for some private smooching!

"Has anyone ever told you that you have pretty eyes?"
After they make out a little at the Daily Planet office, Pat hears some music through the walls. Time to investigate, and possibly prosecute for copyright infringement!

"Let's go check them out after you read my screenplay."
Why, the whole staff is rehearsing for some kind of talent show bullshit or something! There’s Jimmy Olsen, juggling everyone’s lunch.

"Strangely, Jimmy can juggle only toasters and random foodstuffs."
Clark and Lois sing a duet, and when Pat Boone offers some encouragement, Lois speaks Yiddish to him, for some reason?

"That might be a stage name, though, so don't quote me."
The stress of speaking an ethnic dialect proves too much for Lois, and she faints dead away. When she wakes up, Pat Boone is still there, offering Lois an opportunity to blow him in the back of his limousine! Oh, uh, and sing a duet with him on his television show, as well.

"Come on, baby! Forget this journalism bag and swing with me!"
Pat Boone suggests they do a song about Superman, and Lois ropes Clark and Perry into providing the lyrics and funding! Easier done than said!

"And Jimmy, you'll pick up my dry cleaning!"
That evening, Clark struggles to write lyrics for a song about Superman, because he’s too humble for it. Just pretend you’re writing a song about Captain Marvel, and then change the names at the end!

"Normally, I accept only cum tributes."
Just before morning, Clark is inspired to write the most insipid, shitty song about Superman, as shown in the next panel, held by the terrifyingly huge hand of Pat Boone, right next to his face.

"Say, are you aware that the first letter of every line spells out C-L-O-C-K K-I-N-G?"
Days later, Pat Boone and Lois are prepared to sing their duet on his television show, when Clark realizes that he can’t let them do the tune!

"I ended one of the sentences with a preposition!"
He heads over the television station and…I dunno, wings some shit around to mess up the broadcast? Whatever he’s doing, it looks crazy—but it works!

"In hindsight, I could have just pulled the plug"
Superman gets back to his apartment to see that he’s succeeded in ruining Pat Boone’s song—but he promises it will be sung, oh yes, IT WILL BE SUNG!!

"Game on, motherfucker."
Days later (though still wearing that magenta jacket), Clark uses his telescopic vision to spy Pat Boone and Lois, about to sing the Superman song at the Gotham State Fair!

"They've got to save this fire for the mixtape I'm dropping this summer."
Deciding that it’s fine for them to sing the song, provided only they hear it, Clark changes into the blues n’ reds and uses super-speed to fuse sand into a glass dome, because creating molten glass and then cooling it is always the most expedient way to go about doing anything.

You can't sing a song when you have no oxygen.
Pat is surprised to have been stuck in a jar with Lois, but she knows that this has the stink of Superman about it…could he be jealous of the time she’s making with Boone?

"If Superman is jealous of me, well that's...just too awesome!"
The glass dome is only temporary, though, and Superman has to think up a more permanent way to quell Pat and Lois’ singing. Now, in the title panel for this story, Superman is shown using his super-clapping ability to create a thunderous sound that covers the tune. This is normal for Silver Age comics, they often gave away the climax of the story on the very first page.

When audience appreciation goes wrong.
But in the story proper, Superman throws giant firecrackers into the clouds above the outdoor stage at Gotham City Fair! Giant firecrackers…isn’t that basically dynamite?

"I would rather destroy the world than let anyone hear that song."
Superman uses X-ray vision to explode the goddamned dynamite in the stratosphere, making Pat and Lois’ song inaudible and causing an untold amount of damage to the climate for years to come.

"Pardon me, that must be the bean soup I had for dinner."
Tired of fucking with him, Superman finally explains the situation to Pat Boone: he can’t sing the song with the lyrics Clark Kent wrote, because they inadvertently contain a clue to Superman’s secret identity! Never mind what the clue is, Pat. And don’t think about how Clark stumbled upon it. The point is that there are still a couple of more pages to fill in this chapter, so I’ve come up with this dumb scenario where I’ve lost the envelope containing new lyrics for your Superman-based jingle.

"On the outside of the envelope is written 'To my love, Pat Boone.'"
Pat Boone takes to the television air waves to tell his fans to find that envelope! All around the country, Federal crimes are committed as teens raid everyone’s mailboxes and tear apart their letters.

"And while you're looking for this envelope, kill your parents, my child army!"
The envelope is found, but now there’s another problem: one half of a page to fill! Quick! Come up with some contrivance about a broken master record plate or something!

"I also left a whole sink full of dirty dishes at home, so if you have the time..."
Superman is able to re-etch another master disc with his finger, but there are just a couple of more panels to fill!

"We could also use a super-volunteer for the street team."
Superman has to do literally everything.

"How about you just write and record the whole song next time?"
In the end, Pat and Lois sing their revised song on television, and Clark Kent—still in that damned magenta jacket!—reveals what the original lyrics of the tune read C-L-A-R-K K-E-N-T if you took the first letter of every line!
"The new lyrics read L-O-I-S H-A-S G-R-E-A-T T-I-T-S."

Which, considering how bad and overworked the lyrics were anyway, was pretty likely. I mean, “Ne’er does he cease to fight tyranny?” That’s not a sentence any person has said in history. It was weird to see Dick Sprang draw Superman and his trappings, you can definitely see his deficiencies in drawing faces, but the sharp, stylistic lines best-known for defining this era’s Batman stories are well-exhibited. It’s also weird that this one is colored more like a Batman story of the time…does this mean that pencillers did their own coloring? I didn’t think that was true. The other two stories are a lot more fun than the cover story, and—as silly as it may sound—more believable. But the Pat Boone story is far and away the big draw of the thing, and it was cool to see it played out to its stupid hilt. At least it didn’t involve Clark and Lois yanking each others’ chains for pages on end.
At least somebody's gettin' pussy.

Bits and Pieces:

A fairly tepid cover story, combined with two other stories that are truly "out there," makes for a satisfying comic book read. Seeing Dick Sprang on the main story was a surprise, but not an entirely unwelcome one.


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