Sunday, April 5, 2020

Retro Review: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #14 (1960) Review

Life in the Bat Lane

Cover By: Curt Swan, Stan Kaye 
Edited By: Mort Weisinger 
Cover Price: 10 cents 
Cover Date: January 1960 
Publisher: DC Comics


You know, I’m starting to get the impression that the Lois Lane of the Silver Age isn’t the strong, resolute character that her multitudinous fans want to see. She almost marries ghosts, fake Superman, some random alien dressed as Santa Claus…come to think of it, Lois Lane might be guilty of polygamy! Seems getting married isn’t the difficult part for Ms. Lane, it’s roping Superman into the ceremony. I wonder if she’ll have any luck in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #14? Best read my review and find out, you betcha!

Explain It!

“Three Nights in the Fortress of Solitude!” 
Written By: Otto Binder 
Penciled By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
One day, Lois prepares to journey to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude for a play date. 
"Plus I have very nosy neighbors, and they do understand, don't you?"
There, Superman shows off all of his amazing stuff, like some kind of self-loathing child. There’s some giant statues of his Kryptonian parents, a dumb animal that Superman likes to beat the shit out of, and some tentacle-having nightmare beast from the deepest recesses of sheer horror. 
You call it "cowardice," he calls it "self-preservation."
Hey, this is a nice nightmare beast from the deepest recesses of sheer horror, it’s merely incensed by the color yellow. This is just like some animals from Earth are angered by the color red, a claim that belies someone’s cartoon understanding of reality. Once Superman’s yellow belt is hidden behind Lois, the creature becomes Superman’s docile pet. One that flies into a hostile rage when its master is in uniform. So that works well between them. 
"If you touch one area of his body, it stimulates him sexually. I'll let you find out for yourself where it is!"
The Man of Steels continues trying to impress Lois with his prize marbles and mint condition baseball cards. At one point, Lois thinks that touching an artifact has turned her into clear glass! But no, it’s some kind of illusion jewel that merely made her think she was made of glass. Superman’s Fortress is full of all sorts of messed up pranks like that. 
"And now the White Queen is talking backwards! And the Red Queen's 'Off with her head!'"
In Superman’s observatory, he displays identical telescopes—but one gathers some kind of space jazz that is lethal to everyone but himself. For what reason? No one knows. Why does it issue from a device identical to a telescope? I really can’t say. 
"In the next room, I have a Matter Dis-integrator right next to my washer/dryer."
But the opportunity to show what this puppy can do comes immediately, when one of Superman’s fancy space butterflies drifts into the path of these star rays, and is reduced to atoms in the sunlight. This condition lasts for three days—meaning the susceptibility to sunlight, not the scattering of one’s atomic structure—which gives Lois a swell idea: she can imperil her own safety in order to prove some ill-gotten point to Superman! 
"Or to be more exact, Ms. Superman-Lane."
Lois pretends to step in front of the lethal outer space rays accidentally, bathing herself thoroughly. After calling her a fool, Superman shuts down the Fortress of Solitude so no sunlight can get in. Lois is now trapped there for three days! 
"Now I'm glad I didn't show you my colonic machine."
She decides to make the best of it, and show Superman what a great homemaker she can be in this remote outpost hewn from a sheer glacier. Superman, who thinks of everything, has even left Lois with all the acoutrements she needs to whip him up a turkey pot pie. Lois gets sleepy, though, and decides to nap on a floating Kryptonian bed—which then careens out of control!
"Ah! Um! Help! Oh! Ah! Murder! Curse that cheese toast I nibbled before bed-time! Ah!"
She smashes into one of Superman’s robots, which then goes haywire and starts spanking Lois’ heiney. The robot beats her so badly, she can’t sit down the next day! 
"You crossed paths with 'Spanky the Robot,' didn't you?"
Later that day, the Fortress becomes freezing because, Lois surmises, the heat’s gone out. You’re in Antarctica, Lois, you should probably be less nonchalant about it. She puts on a yellow trench coat hanging on a mannequin for no particular reason, and in doing so enrages Superman’s terrifying “pet” again! When Lois takes the coat off, the hellspawn cuddles up with her, because this has basically gone from a Lois Lane story to something drawn by Bernie Wrightson for Creepy magazine. 
"Maybe if we set another of those space butterflies on fire, things will heat up."
Eventually, the heat comes back on, so I guess Superman paid his utility bill. Lois goes snooping around, to find some Christmas presents in identical boxes, labeled with initials, in some cupboard. I hate people that are this organized. Lois sees two boxes with the initials “L.L.” on them. She assumes these are for herself and Lana Lang, because of course, everything is always about Lois!
Or this could be a gift for Chris Karnes of the Professor Frenzy Show!
Inside the boxes, are signed portraits of Superman—one of which names the intended recipient as someone that knows his secret identity! 
"And based on body language, the Superman on the right is totally DTF."
Lois’ mind reels from the revelation that Lana Lang might know Superman’s secret identity, when Lois doesn’t. She pokes around Superman’s personal things a little more, and reads something about some human beings on Krypton that were turned to plants for an unexplained reason. Just thinking about it makes Lois turn into some flora herself! But Superman shows up in the convenient nick of time, to show that it was merely the illusion gem that Lois tried to steal by chucking it in her purse. 
The Anatomy Lesson
After all this, it has been nearly three days—but it is night time now in Metropolis, so Lois can go home early if she wants to. Having had enough of this Fortress of Solitude craziness, she leaps at the chance to be wrapped in a cape burrito and flown back to the North American continent. That’s when Superman reveals, to the reader, that this was all part of a clever ruse he perpetrated, beginning as soon as he cottoned on to Lois’ plan by spying on her as she wrote her private thoughts! 
"As soon as I see her signature I can forge these checks!"
He blew air into the Fortress to throw her floating bed off course, and controlled the Superman robot to spank Lois mercilessly. 
"I'll have the robot spank her another hour for good measure."
He even held a fucking glacier above the Fortress of Solitude to freeze Lois out—you could have killed her, man! And, obviously, he was also behind planting the illusion gem near Lois so she’d think she was turning into a plant, and he could accuse her of stealing. 
To each Lois a lesson, Superman destroyed the habitat of ten thousand penguins.
As for the signed photos? The one Lois thought was for Lana Lang was actually for Supergirl, in her secret identity as Linda Lee! So…someone at her orphanage could find this picture and think Linda Lee was in cahoots with Superman? And this would doubtlessly result in her Kryptonian identity being discovered. I hate to say it, Superman, but next year for Christmas you should give everyone socks.
"I have a dick pic that I'm giving to Lori Lemaris."

“Lois Lane’s Soldier Sweetheart!” 
Written By: Hmm…maybe Weisinger? 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Star reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent have been assigned to cover a General’s retirement at Camp Jones, because they must have pissed the boss off, somehow. Once there, the journalists split up to cover their assignments and agree to meet up for lunch. 
"What's it like to love someone that can never love you back, Ms. Lane?"
At the mess hall, Lois meets Eddie Banning Jr., one of the army’s more diminutive cooks. Clearly smitten with Lois, he offers her some cake baked specially for her, at which she obliges. But when Eddie’s back is turned, she chucks the slice of cake in the garbage and makes some mean comment! Yet when Eddie asks Lois to be his date for a dance that evening, she enthusiastically agrees. 
Clark asks Lois what gives here: she’s acting all nice to Eddie’s face, but like a stone-cold bitch when he back is turned. Lois then reveals, with the help of a conveniently-placed movie poster, that Eddie’s dad is Edward Banning Sr., famous movie producer, and her ticket to fame and fortune! Which is actually refreshing to hear, an openly honest gold-digger. 
"Plus it's been simply ages since I crushed a man's heart."
He’s shocked that Lois is saying this, and Clark chastises her, but Lois says that results are all that matters. Later, she sees Eddie in his filthy car, and tells him to clean it up before taking her to the dance that evening. 
"And maybe air it out for a couple of hours, too."
Eddie gets right to work and cleans his car spotlessly, while his Army buddies sit nearby and tell him that he’s making a fool of himself over Lois. See, they saw her throw out the cake, so they know she’s just using Eddie to connect with his father. Just as Eddie finishes and walks away for a minute, another car zooms by and splashes Eddie’s with mud! Feeling badly about the whole thing, Clark cleans it up super-speed, and Eddie is none the wiser. His friends, however, will never believe their own eyes again. 
These two men were discharged from the Army and placed in an institution for the incurably insane.
That evening, Eddie and Lois are at the dance, when she “accidentally” dumps a punch bowl of lemonade on him. I put that in quotes because Clark can tell she did it on purpose…somehow? Is there some kind of “tell” that can’t be explained through artwork? 
On the plus side, all that ice probably killed Eddie's boner.
Eddie has to leave and change his uniform, so Lois entertains herself by dancing with the rest of Camp Jones. They begrudgingly oblige, which is weird, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. 
"I hate stabbing my best friend in the back! But a gentleman never refuses a lady!"
The next day, Eddie is so lovestruck that he goes AWOL just to see the woman he loves. He finds her having lunch with Clark at some restaurant in Metropolis, and with the Military Police hot on his trail, he asks Lois to marry him! And she accepts! 
"Look me up when you get out of the brig."
Seems there will be some show filmed at the base that month, so they’ll get married in front of live television cameras, which is every girl’s dream. The fact that she’s no longer mooning over Superman is big enough news that a reporter rushes off to the phones to get his story in—though I think Lois is going to have the inside scoop, bud. 
"I'll tell him that I turned gay."
That Saturday, Lois and Eddie are in front of some cameras about to get married, when Lois calls it off! She still loves Superman! And there doesn’t seem to be another, more humiliating moment about to present itself. 
Actually, this seems to be a perfect way to embarrass you, Eddie.
Lois admits that she was only using Eddie, and he is so despondent that he goes up in a helicopter and prepares to commit some very expensive suicide. 
"Uh, soldier, a bullet costs the Army less then a cent. Just saying. There are cheaper ways to do this."
Clark whips off his suit and Superman flies up to save the day! And that’s when it turns out that this was an elaborate show, concocted by Eddie and Lois, to prove to Eddie’s father that he’s a good actor. Yep, he imperiled his Army career and toyed with the emotions of his fellow military men just to make a point to his dad. 
"And when I played the U.S. Military for suckers, I acted like a traitorous asshole!"
And it works! Eddie’s father is willing to break the long Hollywood tradition against nepotism and cast his son in a leading role. Lois tells off Superman, who was an idiot to think that she fell out of love with him! So how about that bit with cleaning the car? Was that part of the plot? Guys? Was that planned somehow? Lois? Eddie? Anyone going to tell answer me?
"You know very well I'm locked into a delusion of potential romance between us, you super-clod!"

“Lois Lane’s Secret Romance!” 
Written By: Whoever wrote this, it’s like something written in the dark 
Art By: Kurt Schaffenberger 
Lois lies face-down on her bed, sobbing over her unrequited love for Superman, just as she has every day for the many years since she’s known that Kryptonian lothario. Supergirl, in her guise as brunette orphan Linda Lee, spies Lois’ plight using telescopic vision, which is probably illegal. Supergirl feels sympathetic towards her lovelorn sister. 
"She's so upset, she didn't even disrobe before going to bed. Oh well. Tomorrow night, then."
Having apparently taken a huge hit of crystal meth, Supergirl seizes on the idea to make Superman and Lois marry, so they can adopt her from a life of squalor and torture. I think it’s interesting that there’s a caption reminding us of Supergirl’s debut in Action Comics the previous year. This isn’t her second appearance since, but it may be her first appearance in this series. In any case: take that, “Marvel invented comics continuity” adherents! 
"This might be the cocaine talking, but I've got a great idea."
The Maid of Might decides to brainwash her cousin by paintings Lois’ face at super-speed on billboards along a route that is being driven by Clark Kent. Why is he driving, and not flying as Superman? No idea. But I think among her abilities, Supergirl can add “Expert Speed-Painter.” 
Given these portraits' enormous sides, it makes Supergirl''s feat even more impressive.
She does this so often, that Clark starts to question his mental faculties, which should make him more susceptible to falling in love. I gotta say, though, there’s far too much advertising on the outskirts of Metropolis. They should limit it to one billboard every twenty miles. 
You can hurry love. You don't have to wait.
Supergirl’s mind-wiping technique works, and Clark decides he should ask Lois for a date (as Superman, of course.
"Plus, in international waters there are no laws against human-alien sex acts."
The two have a romantic date on some yacht, Supergirl even secretly cooking steaks with her heat vision so Superman won’t find out what a lousy cook Lois really is. Then, Supergirl knocks out the electricity on the boat so they’ll be forced to have dinner by candle light. If the movies I’ve seen are any indicator, the next thing Supergirl will do is stalk Lois and Superman and shove machetes in their faces. 
Ch. Ch. Ch. Hah. Hah. Hah. Ch. Ch. Ch. Hah. Hah. Hah.
Just when things start getting hot, Superman has to take off to save a lousy human life. When he returns to his date, Lois is miserable because the food she didn’t even cook is now too cold to eat. 
"I hope saving that life was worth hours of my petulance."
Supergirl feels badly for having flubbed that attempt, but she refuses to give up! The next day, Superman is hanging out at Lois’ apartment, after apologizing for ruining their date by saving a human life, when she gets a box of flowers…from Batman! 
"Or must I be a ghost wizard from Neptune to have a chance with you?"
Of course, this is all a ruse perpetrated by Supergirl to make her cousin jealous. She memorized Batman’s handwriting from a sample kept on police file…hold on, the police have a sample of Batman’s handwriting? This is probably the best evidence they have to catch this vigilante! Or could they have even more? Superman suspects Lois of having committed the ruse herself, since she’s always pulling shit like this, but a check of her pulse shows that she’s just as surprised by the flowers as he is. 
"Lois has also developed carpal tunnel syndrome, but that's another matter entirely,"
Later, another delivery comes from Batman, this time a Batwoman costume for Lois to wear! And this would, of course, be that of the original Batwoman who debuted in Detective Comics #233 (July 1956) by Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff. Superman is stunned by this revelation, but acquiesces to Batman’s superior courting skills. 
"Wait, there's another costume in says that it's a dress...Batman's mother used to wear?"
Her other schemes having failed, Supergirl decides to literally brainwash Superman, using suggestions spoken to him in his sleep! Now this has got to be illegal. Unfortunately, the overachieving Girl of Tomorrow hypnotizes her cousin too well, turning him into a veritable proposing machine. 
And that's why Superman had to join a Fundamentalist Mormon sect.
Helpless against this hypnosis, Superman does propose to Lois Lane—as she’d always dreamed! But alas, she doesn’t want to share the Man of Steel with so many other women. One or two, maybe, but not like a dozen or more. 
"I should have had that news scoop!"
At the end, of course, it was mostly a mean trick played by Superman! At least, the end parts were. Seems that when Supes saw the Batwoman costume, he knew it wasn’t correct because it had a bat logo on the back…this is actually kind of a funny commentary on the design sense of Jerry Siegel versus Jerry Robinson. 
"Quite frankly, the costume lacked a certain 'metropolitan' sensibility."
So from that point on, he was yanking Supergirl’s chain. And as for those multiple marriage proposals, some idiot thought it was publicity for his film or something, so he gave Superman a fat check, which he will now turn over to Linda Lee’s orphanage! So she has learned nothing at all here.
"With my donation, maybe you can upgrade to a color television set."

These stories aren’t as “far out” as some others that I’ve read recently, but they are plenty stupid. I was surprised to see that Kurt Schaffenberg did all of the interior chapters (according to the DC Wikia, that is) because the second one looks a little more lively than his usual stuff. Not to put him down, but his work tends to be pretty “by the numbers.” Thinking about it now, he is kind of a good middle ground between Wayne Boring and Curt Swan, at least when considering that era of Superman comics. As for the stories, what can be said? I thought I would find a lot more outright misogyny in these comics, and while I find plenty of it, there’s more a feeling of general misanthropy, where everyone is constantly lying to each other to passive-aggressively prove some point. The relationships on display in this series are the most cruel and abusive, and I love every minute of it.
SOMEone's on her ♪perrriiooddd!

Bits and Pieces:

Can Supergirl get Superman to propose to Lois Lane? Yes! But the conditions surrounding it are so ludicrous, that none take it seriously. Too bad, really, since you know Kal-El could be juiced for alimony.


The fine folks at A Gal Walks Into a Comic Shop podcast have been doing radio plays of old issues of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane on their most recent shows. New episodes come out every Tuesday, check 'em out! @GalWalks

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