Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Superman's Girl Friend

I'm afraid poor Lois didn't have half the fun Jimmy Olsen did during the Silver Age of Comics. She had her own comic as well. After a try-out in Showcase #9 (August 1957), the first issue of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane was cover dated March-April 1958. But too many of the stories involved her trying to convince Superman to marry her or cat-fighting with Lana Lang over who the Man of Steel liked better. (Lana, by the way, had moved to Metropolis to work in television broadcasting.) Or she'd be trying to prove that Clark Kent was really Superman. There was a cute series involving Lois' dreams of what life would be like if she married Superman and had kids.

Some of these stories were individually clever, but it didn't do much for showing
Lois off as a capable and professional woman. Actually, I respect and admire real-life women who choose to give up careers to be full-time moms (as Lois did in the imaginary Mrs. Superman stories), but Lois in "real life" was shamelessly throwing herself at a guy who just wasn't into her.

To be fair, mixed in with all that were occasional stories in which she's shown doing investigative reporting and helping to catch bad guys. But Lois' main saving grace throughout the Weisinger-era was her not-infrequent demonstration of ethics and downright nobility.

In fact, there's a great example of this in Showcase #9, her try-out issue. An Otto Binder-penned story titled "The New Lois Lane" involves Superman trying to let Lois discover his secret identity!

Well, not really. A crook named "Con" Conners stumbles over a clue that Clark Kent is Superman. So he's following Clark around with a movie camera, hoping to get proof.

Superman's plan is to adapt a fake secret identity, then let Lois discover it and thus take the heat off Clark. So he "accidentally" leaves various clues, only to have Lois eradicate those clues to help the Man of Steel preserve his secrets. Superman ends up thanking her for her loyalty while pretty much gritting his teeth in aggravation.

Superman finally manages to make the plan work--"Con" discovers his fake identity and he simply announces he'll give that one up and become someone else, thus foiling "Con's" plans to... um... well, actually the story never does explain exactly what "Con" was planning on doing with his information. Blackmail doesn't seem practical. And you can't endanger his co-workers any more than they are already endangered by being publicly known as Superman's best friends.

Oh, well, "Con" would have thought of something, I'm sure. The main point is that Lois gets to be noble AND Otto Binder was able to mine some nifty humor out of the whole thing. Of course, this is spoiled a little by Lois' motivation to be noble--it was her new strategy to get Superman to fall in love with her.

But there are other stories in which she's noble just because it's the right thing to do, so we'll cut her a break. In the end, though, Jimmy got to be pretty darn cool, while Lois often came across looking foolish. And when you look more foolish than a guy who's been turned into a Giant Turtle Man, you really should rethink your life.

That's it for our systematic look at the Weisinger-era Superman stories. Of course, we'll return to it from time to time when I review individual random stories from the Silver Age, but I think we've covered all the specific topics I wanted to touch upon. I'll end by saying that Superman during this time built up a mythology that would be my choice for the richest (in terms of story telling potential) than any other comic book mythology every managed. That's arguable, of course. But it's my opinion and... well... it's my blog. So there!

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