Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #97 (1969)


Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #97 (November, 1969)

"The Three Super Sirens!"
"The Mystery of Skull Island!"
by Henry Boltinoff & Irv Novick
Cover Price: $0.15

We have two titanic tales to discuss today.  Pour an extra cup Brew an extra pot of coffee, I think we may need it.

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Our first story is "The Three Super Sirens", and focuses on the past loves of the Man of Steel.  We open on Perry White telling Lois and Clark to head out to Sunken Cove.  A sea monster had reportedly been spotted, and Perry wants coverage on what he believes to be a hoax.  It's funny, Perry White has met Superman... he lives in a fantastical world, yet feels this Sea Monster report must be a hoax.  It's always funny comparing the "line" insofar as how far one will suspend their disbelief in comic book situations.

Lois and Clark head out, only to find that, get this, there is in fact a sea monster.  Clark runs off to change into Superman.  I very seldom read books of this vintage, I was unaware that Clark was something of an overt coward.  I always thought he would disappear during a distraction to change into Superman... here, he just bolts... leaving a protesting Lois alone with the beast!

Superman returns to the scene and Lois advises him that the sea monster vanished.  Looking out into the water, Superman is shocked to see his former squeeze, the mermaid Lori Lemaris.  He recounts his past with Lori... how they met and fell in love.  I thinks about how Lori became ill, and how he brought her to a Water World to save her.  On that Water World, Lori fell in love with and married a man named Ronal.


Lori tells Superman that Ronal has since passed, and she realizes she's in love with him.  Superman falls under something of a trance, and lunges toward Lori... embracing and planting a kiss on her.  She vanishes a moment later.  Superman pops down to Atlantis to see if she'd returned home, however, cannot locate her.

The next day, Lois meets Professor Danton at the Daily Planet.  He is an inventor who was experimenting with synthetic quartz crystals, and is desperately seeking Superman.  Wouldn't you know it, the crystals transformed into a living and rampaging beast.

Lois confronts the Crystal Thing, and tries to take it's picture for the Planet (I guess Jimmy was unavailable to be the human decoy this day).  The Thing ensnares her in crystal, just in time for Superman to arrive on the scene.  Knowing how tough a substance quartz is, Superman knows his best bet to humanely deal with this beast is to trap it.  He proceeds to hollow out a mountain of coal, presses the coal into diamond, and lures the best inside.  When the Thing arrives, Superman slips past him and seals the entrance.


As the fracas cools down, Superman is greeted by another past love, Kryptonian actress Lyla Lerrol.  Superman had met (and fell in love with) her after breaking the time-barrier.  He wound up on a pre-exploded Krypton.  Superman recounts a toast he and Lyla shared with his parents Jor-El and Lara.  Their entanglement ended when Kal and Lyla were acting in a Kryptonian film, and one of the "prop" spaceships on set actually blasted him through space.  Lyla, like Lori before her vanishes.

That evening, Lois invites Superman to her apartment for a home-cooked meal... hmm, yeah... this isn't any Lois I know.  As they are about to dine, in through the window swoops Luma Lynai, yet another of Superman's past loves.  The man certainly got around back then.  Luma and Kal were part of the first computer dating service for superheroes.  Superman wanted to marry "someone super" so he wouldn't have to worry about harm befalling her.  His cousin Supergirl made him a profile on supers-mingle.com, and found him the lovely Luma.

Luma was a super, however, it was only due to the orange sun of her home planet.  When Superman brought her to our solar system, he discovered that our yellow sun brought her great pain.  In the present, Luma tells Superman she's found an "antidote" and can now live on Earth with him.  She, as is the pattern, vanishes.  Superman gives chase in attempt to solve the mystery... or make-out some more.


Lois, now alone in her apartment, is ambushed by three Durlans... the Chameleon Girls, who have been impersonating the many loves of Superman.  They tie her up and leave.  She easily maneuvers out of her bindings, and notices that the Chameleon Girls are quite sloppy... they'd left their space radio behind.

At the Daily Planet, Superman notices his paramours have assembled atop the building.  Under a trance, Superman approaches the women... promising to go with them.


Lois arrives, and in a moment of hopeful insanity, throws herself from the top of the building.  Superman breaks free from the trance, and plunges down to save Lois.  As they return to the roof, the witness the Durlan Police arriving to arrest the 'Girls.  Lois contacted them with the space radio.  A satisfied Lois basks in the fact that she was able to break Superman free of the trance of his former loves, and knows she still has a chance of becoming Mrs. Superman.


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Our second story is reminiscent of several old black-and-white two-reel shorts I've seen.  It's something of a murder mystery that takes place at a spooky old mansion.  Perry has arranged it so Lois and Clark will work for horror-actor Carlos Floyd as his maid and butler respectively.

Floyd claims that his wife has fallen gravely ill and is bed-ridden, although we know better than that... clearly, the poor woman's dead.  Lois' intuition kicks in and she feels something is amiss.  Floyd uses everything from a dictaphone, to phony women's arms to keep up the rouse that his wife is still alive.  He even dons lipstick before drinking so as to give the impression that a woman had drank from the glass.

Lois truly takes the starring role during this one.  Clark is in the background for much of it, sneaking away to super-power his way through chores without being spotted.  Lois discovers a mannequin resembling Mrs. Floyd in a closet, and decides to set Mr. Floyd up.


Mr. Floyd would take his deathly ill bed-ridden wife out to... sunbathe each afternoon.  He would rub sun-tan lotion on her back, while she laid there... you see, she laid there because she's a mannequin.  Yeah...

Later, Lois empties the bottle of sun-tan lotion to see how Floyd would react.  Just as she suspected, he did not notice... he wasn't really smearing sun-tan lotion all over a mannequin, after all.

The next evening after sharing her suspicions with Clark, Lois sneaks upstairs and dons the mannequin's blonde wig.  This is the night of a grand ball and movie viewing at the Floyd estate.  A man approaches, threatening to kill her.  This is the man who actually killed Mrs. Floyd back in England... mistakenly believing she was still among the living, he's returned to finish the job.

Once more, Lois falls from a high place... and wouldn'tcha know it, Superman swoops (wooshes) in to save her.  It turns out that the mannequin was wired to a concealed camera that would snap an infrared picture when someone approached.

It turns out that it was Sidney Willis, the former lawyer of Mrs. Floyd who committed the murder.  He was somehow the beneficiary in  her will, and killed her to pay off his gambling debts.  The entire ball and movie viewing was set up to trap the killer into returning to the scene.

Job well done, Lois hugs Superman as he winks to the camera... and we are out.


--

Well, these were certainly stories.

It's issues like this that I have a special difficulty really "reviewing" (if anything I do here at the blog can truly be called a "review", that is).  It's a relic.  There's a certain amount of comics dissonance here... I did not enjoy it, but I had fun reading it... if that makes any sense at all.  Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane is an odd time-capsule of a book, and is interesting to behold if viewed that way.

This is Lois' title... yet it's still a super hero book.  I would figure that a Lois Lane book would focus more on her investigative journalism, or perhaps feature more personal stories... granted, I am viewing this through the prism of 2016 comics sensibilities.  The fact that this series had such staying power puzzles me as well.  This is the 97th issue of this title.  Flagship titles don't make it that far these days... and a book with Lois Lane in the title did.  Such different and fascinating times.

The stories featured in this issue were fairly shallow.  The writing was good, if not convenient (which is no indictment on quality... simply a sign of the times) and the art was very good.  This book comes from a time wherein creative teams did not receive credit for their work.  This issue has no "creator credits".  I did a bit of research, and the consensus is that these stories were written by Henry Boltinoff and drawn by Irv Novick.  I concede that this may not in actuality be the case, if I learn any different I will make the appropriate changes.

My biggest takeaways from this issue are that a) Lois Lane likes to fall off of high things, and b) Superman is a hopeless romantic who harbors a marriage fetish.  In this issue alone we observe three separate scenes in which Superman discusses or flat out proposes marriage to different women.

It's interesting that at a time wherein these books were overtly aimed at children, nobody was afraid of alienating their audience by having Superman consider marriage.  No one appeared worried that being of marrying age, and with marrying interest, Superman's relatability would be harmed.  Again, different times... guess this is before making excuses for market shrinkage was an industry requirement.

This issue is a solid C.  Not worth tracking down at a premium... if you come across it in the cheap-o's (like I did), I suppose you can do far worse.

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Interesting Ads:



This is a neat one... promoting the first ever episode of Sesame Street



These ads will never not be creepy...
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Goodies:



At first glance, I swore they were talking about "LANA" spelled backwards...
and thought things were about to get real...

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