A Tribute to the of

For anyone out there who may have missed it, the competition's Big Kahuna, the one and only Stan Lee has decided to sue his former baby, Marvel Comics: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45886-2002Nov12.html His reasoning is up to you to decide, though of course it all boils down to the almighty dollar in the end.  I don't know that it's a fair comparison, but perhaps he was encouraged by the final, if too late, success of the Jerry Siegel family, who won back substantial rights to Superman over 60 years later:  http://superman.ws/fos/copyright/  More likely he's watched the 3 or 4 gazillion dollars that the Spider-Man movie has made and decided he's due for a piece of the action.  I guess, as with many things, you can't know what the future will hold and when you've created something truly immortal.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  I'm not sure how I feel about the court battles, but I suppose in a way it grants certain credibility to the medium of comic books and their heroes.  They endure, as does their following, which sometimes continues to grow decades after the fact.  Then commerce kicks in and sometimes it gets ugly.  Good luck, Stan.  This should be interesting.  By the way, this site generates no revenue, so I trust we won't be hearing from your lawyers, huh Stan?

For this edition of the Silver Age Sage I've decided to spotlight one of Jerry Siegel's other creations (along with co-creator Joe Shuster) that also debuted in Action Comics #1.  It's none other than Lois Lane, the intrepid reporter from the Daily Planet who has served the dual role of love interest and major annoyance to both Clark Kent and his alter ego, Superman.  Lois first appeared on page 6 of Action #1 when she reluctantly agrees to go out on a date with Clark.  For you trivia buffs out there, the name of the newspaper that employed them at the time was The Daily Star, rather than The Daily Planet.  That first date between Clark and Lois ended rather badly and it's been tension ever since, though in the Elseworlds tale of Kingdom Come, we learn that she did indeed marry the Man of Steel in that particular vision of Superman's future.

Lois' first "solo" appearance (like the Jimmy Olsen title, Superman is never far away) was in Showcase #9 + back cover, the July/August 1957 issue. Edited by Mort WeisingerRuben Moreira and Al Plastino provided the cover artwork.  The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide also provides this tidbit:  She was the first Showcase character to win her own series.  This issue is a collection of three separate short stories, as they often liked to do in the 50's.  Let's take a peek now at the first tale, "The Girl in Superman's Past!" Written by Jerry Coleman. Art: Moreira & Plastino.

Things start off with a bang as Lois enters the Daily Planet office only to see Clark being bussed by a redhead.  With some embarrassment at the public display of affection, Mr. Kent quickly stammers out an introduction:  Lois Lane, meet Lana Lang.  Ms. Lang has decided to follow her old Smallville buddy to the big city to seek her own fame and fortune.  Soon the ladies are having lunch and are discussing their mutual acquaintances, Clark Kent and Superboy who has since become Superman.  Lois has also assisted Lana with some contacts for work in television and further offers to put her up in her apartment until she gets established.  That evening, as she's unpacking, the chat soon gets a bit catty as the two women compare notes.  Lois shows off her framed and engraved photo of Superman.  Lana counters with an engraved photo of Superboy.  Other personal encounters are discussed and the women are each convinced that Superman is more interested in them.  A rivalry is born. 

The next day, Superman meets Lana for lunch, but moments later; Lois shows up to test the waters.  She arrives on the pretense that she's desperately late for an appointment, hoping Superman will drop Lana at her beck and call.  Well, our Man of Steel shows some creative ingenuity by creating an industrial strength kite to spirit Lois to her destination while continuing to catch up with life in Smallville via Lana.  As the women compare notes that evening, Lois insists that he only stayed with Lana to hear all the hometown gossip.

The following day it's déjà vu all over again as Lana interrupts lunch between Superman and Lois to ask her friend's help for her audition.  Lana tells Superman that the sight of him will help her overcome her nervousness.  Our hero's mind begins to catch onto all this and he flies off to a jungle to lash together a platform that he sets up outside the studio window where he and Lois finish their lunch, in full view of Lana Lang. 

Fade once again to Lois' apartment where the two realize they're still at a stalemate.  Neither has proved convincingly that they're the favorite of the Metropolis Marvel.  They then cook up the most ambitious plan of all.  After getting the loan of some remote-controlled equipment, they will attempt the old simultaneous damsels in distress trick.  Lana boards a glider that is seemingly out of control while Lois is apparently trapped in the path of a steamroller.  As our hero flies toward them he becomes suspicious of the coincidence and instead of rushing to either maid's aid, he instead deflects a meteor.  In the next moments a sudden updraft lifts the glider out of its dive and the meteor crashes into the ground in front of the steamroller, disabling it.  Both women wonder if the events were planned or fortuitous.  In the final panel, Superman thinks that will keep them guessing for a while.

The second story, written by Otto Binder, is entitled "The New Lois Lane!" Art is once again the work of Moreira & Plastino.  It begins with Superman turning the reporter down on an invitation to the Daily Planet dance.  Disappointed, she hops onto a scale that also dispenses fortunes to receive the following bit of wisdom:  "To win the man of your dreams, adopt a new strategy."  On the spot she vows to stop snooping for clues to Superman's secret identity.  It isn't long before her resolve is tested.  She happens upon an area where it's apparent that the Man of Steel has changed garb, but rather than follow the telltale footprints, she covers the evidence.  Little does she know that her actions are being observed through telescopic vision and that Superman is unhappy at his discovery.  His thoughts reveal that he deliberately left a trail for Lois to follow.  The next shock is that he's in a different civilian identity, that of Allen Todd, novelty salesman.  We soon discover why as he makes another change before arriving at his apartment where a couple of men are lying in wait with photography equipment, convinced they'll catch Clark changing into Superman.  It turns out the men have criminal histories and are looking to cash in on such a scoop.  Thus they keep watch outside Clark's apartment day and night, perplexing our hero.  He has decided that his best bet is to leave a trail to Allen Todd, but so far he can't get Lois to tumble to the clues he leaves, including a photo of his "secret identity" in the Daily Planet's Superman trophy room, which Lois quickly destroys and an "accidental" impression of his fingerprints on a doorknob.  This time Lois beats the knob with a hammer until it's not recognizable. 

Superman finally decides to get to the bottom of things and visits Lois when she announces that she's made a pledge to stop trying to learn his secret identity. 

Still desperate to throw "Con" Connors and his henchman off Clark's trail, Superman tries one last maneuver.   He sends bogus letters to Connors and Lois, tipping the former off that Lois knows Superman's other identity and informing the latter that she can learn it from a mysterious old man.  Before Lois can destroy the letter, maintaining her vow, Connors arrives with pistol in hand to relieve her of the information.  Together they go to an apartment whose address was on the reverse side of Lois' letter to find Allen Todd.  In order to see if it truly is the man of steel, he fires a few rounds into Todd's back.  They quickly ricochet off the invulnerable body of Superman and he takes the opportunity to arrest Connors for firing a deadly weapon.  He then informs the two hoodlums and Lois that he'll simply adopt a new secret identity and the story draws to a close.

The third and final tale, by the firm of Binder, Moreira & Plastino, is called "Mrs. Superman!"  The prelude text gives you an idea of the storyline:  "What is the greatest secret desire of Lois Lane, girl reporter of the Daily Planet?  Well, you can easily guess from the way she sighs when Superman is near!  But would the lucky girl who becomes the wife of the Man of Steel enjoy super bliss…or not?  The startling answer is revealed to the love-stricken girl in a dream where Lois Lane becomes…Mrs. Superman!"

A familiar scene opens the story.  Lois invites Clark to join her and Jimmy Olsen at the beach, but the mild-mannered reporter declines.  This sends up Lois' antenna, as she knows that Superman has an appointment that afternoon at an orphanage.  Clark then feigns weakness in moving a desk, allaying her suspicions again.  She muses that a weakling like Clark could never be Superman. 

Continuing to entertain thoughts of matrimony, Lois has a mishap at the beach later and manages to knock herself unconscious against a rock in some shallow water.  She's rushed to the hospital ward and we're invited to witness her dreams in delirium.  It is, of course, the picket fence and apron of Mrs. Superman, complete with a son.  In the real world, Superman keeps a vigil at her bedside and can hear the telltale murmurings of the dream.  The attending physician explains that she'll likely remain in the coma as long as her pleasant dreams continue.  The last son of Krypton begins trying to influence her dreams by whispering into her ear in order to make her fairy tale life sprout some thorns.  He tries implying that all will not be bliss, sharing her husband with the world, having him leave at a moment's notice and dealing with a baby with super powers, but she manages to find the silver lining to each situation, frustrating his plans to release her from the coma.  Finally, he strikes upon something that may work and suggests to the comatose form that her replacement at the Daily Planet, Lulu Lyons is forever getting into danger, requiring his repeated rescues.  This new "L.L." girl seems to be enthralled with the Kryptonian, too.  The jealousy is too much for her and Lois comes to, enraged at the encroachment of this new rival.  Superman soon explains the situation and then flies off while she contin ues to ponder what life would be like as his mate.  This ends the final story in this issue.

Was it the times (late 1950's), the intended audience (females?) or the repetitive nature of the themes in this set of stories?  I don't know, but they didn't do much for me.  I guess the notion of Superman, Earth's mightiest hero, having to spend inordinate amounts of time guarding his identity and trying to keep Lois at bay seem to be something of a waste of his great talents and abilities.  These stories read more like a pulp romance novel than the exploits of one of our finest action heroes.  Like Jimmy Olsen, though, the strength of Lois' character seemed to be sufficient to launch her own title and to enjoy a run for several years, so obviously someone was buying them and hopefully the stories became more sophisticated as time went by.  From where I sit, this was a mediocre effort that gets a 5 rating.  I don't see myself picking up many more tales of Lois Lane, at least from this particular part of the Silver Age.  Give me a good Superman or even Superboy story first.  I can get this sort of stuff from daytime soap operas.         

Do you have an opinion or question?  Perhaps a request for a future review?  If so, please share it.  My e-mail is at your disposal.  Just drop a line to:  silveragesage@thesilverlantern.com.  By all means come back in two weeks for our next trip into this immortal time in comicdom.

Long live the Silver Age!

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