A Tribute to the of

I suppose anyone with any interest in this site is already fully aware of this recent bit of news:


Not too long ago some proof pages for Detective #27 were stumbled across as well:


And naturally, where else would you find a copy of Batman #1 but in a dresser?  


When I come across stories like these, my thought process is remarkably similar.  It begins with some green-eyed jealousy, followed by the inevitable, "Why couldn't this happen to me?"  There was a discussion about the first news item at one of the web sites I haunt and a lively discussion ensued between the two camps of "I'd never sell it," and "Are you nuts?  It's been reprinted in high quality a dozen places.  Why wouldn't you sell it?"  For the record, in the highly unlikely event this should ever happen to yours truly, I'd likely enjoy the copy for a week or so and then I'd sell it so fast your head would swim.  

In all the years I've been interested in comics I have yet to stumble across anything even close to the above.  Some folks I'm acquainted with know of my interest in the medium and over the years I get the occasional, "Yeah, I've got some old comics in a box.  You wanna look at 'em?"  I'm always glad to, but it seems like they're typically old Archie's or Harvey's or what have you.  One nice lady had some that she wondered if I could move for her and this collection actually had a few interesting pieces in amongst the detritus, which included a lot of Charlton war comics and a box of Mad magazines.  There were some Atlas titles from the era when Goodman decided he was going to take a new run at things and even a few DC Silver Age titles (in "good" condition or less), so I bought those and found homes for most of the other stuff.  

Primarily out of curiosity and my loyalty to the era, I even scooped up a couple of Lois Lane books and decided to take a peek at one for this edition of the Sage. Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #65 has a publication date of May, 1966. Cover art is by Kurt Schaffenberger, who also does interior pencils and inks.  The script is by Jerry Siegel, who you may have heard something about and lettering is by Vivian Berg.  Mort Weisinger is editor along with E. Nelson Bridwell assisting and the "Imaginary Shocker," is "The Musical Murder of Superman!"

The splash page reminds us again that this is an imaginary tale, both in the caption box and in a circular caption as we learn a little about Lola, the wife of the arch foe of Superman (another "LL" you may remember) and the Queen of Crime.  The first page of the story has a caption stating that, "In this latest Lois Lane Imaginary Tale, which might have happened, but didn't…"  

Okay, we got it.  Imaginary Story.  On with it, already!

It takes only the first two panels for Lois to deduce that the famed pianist, Lex Luthor, is also Lexo, a costumed criminal who seems to follow the Robin Hood theory of theft.  He gives his spoils to charity.  

Next thing you know, Lois, wearing a costume just like Lexo's, ends up in his lair and accidentally activates a weird looking bust that beams rays from its eyes turning her evil.  It could happen… Of course this leads to her marrying Lex with the agenda of having him keep his loot from here on out while a heartbroken Superman sits in a pew thinking, "Too late…I realize I've lost the girl I'll always love…"  There is a second wedding celebration in the underworld as Lexo and Lola, in full garb to include matching red cowls are the toast of the gathering.  All this occurs on the first six-paneled page. Now it only takes until the next page when the hokey dialogue starts to get to me.  In the midst of a smooch, the thought balloons for Lola and Lexo, respectively, go like this:  "Man, can this cat kiss…crazy!  Thank goodness I didn't marry that super square, Superman!"  "When those lips touch mine, I dig what molten steel must feel like!  Voom!!!"

The pair waste no time in committing a crime, working in tandem to seize some valuable goodies intended for Superman and even ambushing him with some green kryptonite when he arrives at the celebration honoring him.  

The next day Lex and Lois are in attendance at an orphanage where the virtuoso pianist performs and the director remarks that they recently received a generous anonymous donation.  This puts Lois into a tizzy and she confronts Lex about giving away their ill-gotten gains again.  "Fink, Fink, Fink!!!  You promised to turn off that cornball jazz if I'd marry you!  Now drop the square bit or I'll fade out of your life forever!"  "Don't wig out, Lois!  I'll get with it…"  

Then it's another social event over the holidays when the evil Lois takes gleeful pleasure out of catching Superman under the mistletoe and kissing him.  The Man of Steel's thoughts are:  "Why did she have to marry Luthor instead of…me…?  *choke*"  Later he even dreams of her as Part I closes. Part II, "Lolas' Crime Rampage!," shows the happy couple reviewing slide shows of their infamous alter egos in action when Lana Lang arrives, asking to do some photo coverage of Lex for her television network.  Luthor obliges, posing in various costumes by his piano to coincide with music he performs, such as Mephistopheles from Faust, a clown costume for Pagliacci and finally Don Giovanni from Don Juan.  Unfortunately, Lana seems to be a little too enthusiastic for Lois' tastes and the jealous Mrs. Luthor hustles Lana out of there and then lights into Lex:  "Why did you encourage that hussy's advances, you conceited…ham?"  "Don't flip your lid, baby!  You must learn to live with the fact that I am irresistible to all women!  But I love only you, Lois, baby!"  

The next morning, Lex is missing from his twin bed and Lois finds he has sequestered himself into his sound-proof studio.  He's been "seized with inspiration" and won't emerge until his greatest composition is complete.  

As the days roll by, Lois is both jealous and restless, so she takes a flight to the Louvre where she steals the Mona Lisa and paints a red cowl on her that matches Lexo and Lola's and then mails it to Clark Kent for some publicity.  Heartened by her effort, she proceeds on a mini crime spree, using a gizmo to whip up an artificial hurricane, delivered on a distinctive parachute bearing the crime couple's "L" logo and then draping the Statue of Liberty in an enormous duplicate of their red cowl.  During the last caper, however, Superman catches her red-handed and unmasks Lola.  She tearfully repents, promising to return her stolen property in hopes that it will bode well for her penalty and the Man of Tomorrow grants her a one-week stay to accomplish it.  

When she returns, she discovers her hubby is finally finished.  Listening to a recording of the masterpiece, she is convinced it's been composed for Lana.  When she corners Lex about it, though, he convinces her it is no such thing and that "The Superman Sonata" was actually designed to rid her of her "unfortunate difficulty."

Next, it's a visit to the arctic Fortress of Solitude where Superman is visiting the bottle city of Kandor to borrow a kryptonian musical instrument called the Lythre at Luthor's behest.  He wants to use it for the first public performance of The Superman Sonata, which will be dedicated to the Metropolis Marvel.  Superman emerges with the instrument, which looks remarkably like a tubular version of a xylophone and thinks to himself that the unique nature of the instrument is that it affects not only the ear, but the mind of the listener, creating imagery to go with the sounds.

So it is later at the concert where a duet is beginning with Luthor on the piano keys and Lois on the Lythre and she grins devilishly as she observes Superman's distress while the notes begin to drive him mad, duplicating the cover scene and closing Part II.

Part III is entitled "Lexo's Last Caper!"  It opens with the stunning revelation that Superman has been put into a state of suspended animation.  He looks like a display window mannequin and the Luthor's are overjoyed at this unexpected effect.  

Later, garbed as Lexo and Lola, they celebrate with their underworld brethren when Lois abruptly screams and flees.  Lex pursues her, but she's locked herself into her room.  Attempting to relieve his tensions, the great pianist takes to the ivories, but finds he cannot wring out a sweet note.  Every piece he attempts turns out more dismally than the last and he concludes it's his conscience that won't allow his talent to surface.  

He finally breaks down Lois' door, only to find her apologizing to a real Superman mannequin, leading Lex to the conclusion that her conscience has driven her around the bend.  A helpful slap across the face seems to bring her out of it, but they decide they must now make things right and seek to reverse the effects of the music on Superman by playing the piece backward in front of him.  They play for hours, but apparently to no avail and go home in defeat.  

The glum pair finally decide to pull another job to try and snap themselves out of this guilt-ridden funk, but even snagging a billion dollar prize doesn't do the trick.  They vow to return the loot and give up their Lexo and Lola personas forever.  

Meanwhile, Supes has revived, thanks to a delayed reaction from the reversed musical performance.  When he finds Lois he brings her in as promised to face up to her crimes.  She's sentenced to 10 years at hard labor and Lex comes to the conclusion that he can't allow her to rot in prison and reclaims the mantle of Lexo to bust her out.

Lex's henchman offer to do the job, remarking that they're dying anyway from radiation poisoning and have nothing to lose, but Lex insists on going it alone.  

Inside the walls of the prison, Luthor is gunned down by a prison guard just as Superman arrives in order to prevent the criminal from using one of his weapons on the Man of Steel.  

The final pages of the story has Luthor expiring from his wounds, Superman discovering the lair with radiation-poisoned and dead henchmen lying about and a weird bust that seems to provide the answer of what caused Lois' change in personality.  The effect was, however, temporary and has worn off, so the parole board releases her. As she exits the prison, Superman is waiting, but she tells him that while she is ashamed of her crimes, she will always love Lex.  She then turns and walks away from a broken-hearted Superman.  The final caption reminds us yet again:  "Of course, this imaginary tale actually never happened!  Next issue, more real adventures of Lois Lane!"   

So…  What a pile of crap.  While I, along with every other red-blooded comic book lover will always owe a massive debt to Jerry Siegel for his indelible mark on the genre, this read like a Bob Haney script on one of his bad days with extra-hokey dialogue.  Why the constant referral to it being an imaginary story?  How did the henchmen get radiation poisoning and what did it have to do with anything?  Why was Superman such a powerless idiot?  Who saw fit to blow twelve cents on this thing?  I'll give it a 3 just on the merits of Kurt Shaffenberger's artwork and frankly, he's never been my favorite Superman artist. Kurt was absolutely a formidable talent, but I always thought his Superman looked too feminine.  His Lois and Lana were very well done and some of his covers, like that of Lois Lane #70, for example, were very good, but I think his style was better utilized in his other well-known work for the Shazam!/Captain Marvel franchise and I got a particular kick out of his cover for the Amazing World of DC Comics #2 where he even inserted a self-portrait behind Superman's shoulder in his bespectacled and mustachioed glory.  

Somehow, despite works like this, Lois Lane's title lasted a fairly impressive 137 issues from 1958 through 1974.  This, however, was just silly. I'm sure glad I don't have much of an investment in this copy.

Thanks for your time, readers and the webmaster and I will welcome you with open cyber arms to peruse the rest of the site and to join us again on the 15th of next month for a fresh installment here.  I am still on the trail for another interview or two, but the well has been dry for a bit. Maybe my luck will change. Until then, comments of all kinds are encouraged at: professor_the@hotmail.com.   

Until then…

Long live the Silver Age!

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