by Robert Gillis
What was so special about the silver age of comic books? Read about it HERE
(Click any image to enlarge)
While Silver Age comic book are always ripe for mocking, it’s rare that an entire story gets the detailed analysis (read: mocking) treatment. Welcome to July 1963, when Lois Lane #42 hit the stands. While most (if not all) of these early issues had Lois trying to get Superman to marry her (usually in some elaborate scheme), this particular epic, “The romance of Superbaby and Baby Lois” stretches even silver-age logic to the max, and as usual, snaps reality like a piece of taffy!
Speaking of reality, it should be noted that the lead story of the issue was Lois visiting Atlantis, and accidentally being sent back in time when a flashbulb scared some electric eels into activating a time belt (really) and Lois nearly destroys Atlantis (or at least had a hand in its sinking). The end story was Lois finding a real monkey’s paw that grants three wishes. But of course, 1960s comics were known for dealing with contemporary issues head on.
Um… Let’s start with page two of the story.
- Page 2. Superman has drilled a new reservoir pipeline thingy and switches to Clark, hears his picture get taken, switches back to Superman, and races out. Now, at this point, he KNOWS someone has just taken his picture, and for a guy that can travel at the speed of light, grab the camera and destroy the evidence, he lets Lois yammer on, and watches her place the camera in the lead box around her waist. Smooth.
- Last panel, Superman is so flummoxed that he’s become dyslexic and asks Lois not to reveal his, “Identity Secret.”
- Page 3. So <<RANDOM PLOT DEVICE>> occurs and Lois has a car accident and bumps her head. Guy she hits claims to be a doctor (suuureee he is, all the serial killers say that) and wants to X-RAY her head — because you know, in any insurance claim, you want the doctor YOU HIT evaluating your medical condition. Saves a bundle in legal fees and court time. For him.
- So the doctor — we now know he’s a doctor because he puts on his stereotypical head mirror thingy. Extensive research (Wikipedia) informs us that a head mirror is (or was) mostly used for examination of the ear, nose & throat — exactly what Lois ISN’T complaining about, but we have no other way of proving this guy is a doctor.
- Anyway, he takes the X-rays, and … wait for it … they show that Lois received a shock that, “… temporarily causes a personality change that’s bound to affect her in some abnormal way.” WOW, that’s damned impressive for 1963 and an X-RAY that pretty much looks like a cartoon skull. I mean, MRIs and detailed computer brain scans in 2011 don’t reveal the brain’s secrets, but Dr. Light here got that diagnosis from an X-Ray that looks like a Halloween decoration. He’s ahead of his time!
- Except of course, he missed the little things — like getting Lois’ name. What, they didn’t switch insurance cards or anything? The nurse didn’t ask?
- But the personality change has taken place, and Lois has become a “ruthless female.” Redundant, your honor. Move to strike.
- So, when confronted, does Superman: say, “Hey, Lois, I’ve saved your life about, oh, I dunno, seven trillion gazillion times, and my secret identity is the only way I can be myself and have a private life, so don’t develop the film, because if you do, the next time your helicopter crashes into the roof of the Daily Planet or your sitting on a hydrogen bomb in Paris, I’m going to choose that time to vacation on the moon, capiche?” Nope, he does, as Lieutenant Worf says, “beg like a human.”
- And Lois will destroy the picture only if Superman marries her the next day. Ah, true love, and a marriage based on trust. Nice.
- Page 4. Where’s superman’s body? This was a typical artistic choice in comics of This era — just show the disembodied head. Weird.
- So, Superman, the mightiest super-hero in the known galactic multiverse, accepts defeat. He’ll marry Lois tomorrow. But first, they have to find a place to live! And where does every girl dream of living? Why, at the Fortress of Solitude at the North Pole! (Or as the story calls it, Arctic wastes).
- Look at the romantic way Superman carries Lois to his fortress. That’s CAN’T be comfortable for Lois, Superman looks like he’s carrying her like a sack of laundry. Or a body.
- Hmmm, Superman muses, I could dump her body here — no one would ever find it…
- Lois sees the fortress is big and barny, but some drapes might help. Sheesh. And then she finds the McGuffin — the spray bottle of rejuvenation formula.
- “So this is why Superman always looks so young and handsome,” Lois muses. No, the reason he looks that way is that SUPERMAN IS A COMIC BOOK CHARACTER!
- And like every other Lois Lane story of this era, Lois tries the unknown thingy on herself. Doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know what the thing is — there isn’t an alien artifact, untested scientific device, ancient cursed object or completely unknown chemical that Lois won’t impulsively use on herself.
- Page 5, panel 2. So, the magic spray not only made Lois a teenager but its “aura” shrunk her clothes? It might be supernatural, but even magic sprays obey the comics code authority.
- Lois shouldn’t worry about this transformation — it’s actually pretty tame compared to other transformations. In 42 or so issues of “Lois Lane” she has transformed into an old hag and witch, a bald super-genius with a super-large head, a super-powered woman, a jungle woman, and also, a baby, and that’s just off the top of my head. Really — these were actual stories. So this is kind of an ordinary day for her.
- Panel 4: How I love the silver age. ONE panel to explain Superman’s meeting with an EXTRATERRESTRIAL little green guy whose SPACESHIP was out of order. Superman’s reward? A MAGIC POTION created by the SPELL of a SORCERER. In 2011, that one panel would fill six months worth of modern comics. Who was the sorcerer? Who was the alien? How did he get stranded? How did Superman meet him and help him? How is it they both speak English? But in 1963, it’s just one panel, a throwaway line, “Oh, yeah, I got that magic fountain of youth spray from the spaceman I helped, he says a sorcerer created it. ” Y’know, a typical Tuesday for Superman.
- Like all magic formulas and red Kryptonite and weird meteors, these effects last one day. Why does everything always last 24 hours?
- Panel 5: “I order you to fly me back to Metropolis at once!” Gee, they aren’t even married yet and Lois is already bossing Superman around.
- Panel 6, at least for the return flight he’s carrying her in both arms.
- So right away we’ve established that Lois looks like a high school freshman, which means at that age these two cannot get married in any state in the United States., then or now.
- Page 6. Superman, a grown man, takes jailbait, er, Lois, to the junior miss shop, where Miss Exposition says, “What a sweet child! I’ll bet Superman found her in an orphanage and intends to marry Lois Lane so they can adopt her.” Yep, lady, the ONLY possible answer.
- Panel 2: Does anyone say, “Tut-Tut” anymore? I mean, besides Andrea Thomas / Isis?
- Panel 3: The clerk chides Superman (who’s 29 years old in this continuity) that these “May-December” romances seldom work. Lois is more like “March” than “May” at the moment and let’s face it, even if you’re Superman, if you show up at the marriage license bureau with a 14 year old, the cops are going to want to have a chat with you.
- Panel 5, Lois Exposition reminds Superman he is vulnerable to magic and sprays him with the fountain of youth stuff, and presto, now we’re reading a Superboy story. Superman is vulnerable to the spell of a magician. So Superman should avoid Criss Angel and David Copperfield?
- And even if Superman, um, Superboy, is now the same age as Lois (14-15) who in the world is going to marry them legally? I mean, besides Larry Flynt?
- Page 7: Answer: A blind man, of course! Superman thinks that he just can’t run away because that would break his “solemn promise” to marry Lois. Um, Lois is blackmailing you, Superman. The promise was made under duress and threat, and Lois is also bat-shit crazy at the moment. It is OK to lie is this case, and break your solemn promise to crazy lady.
- So Superboy sees that the Justice of the Peace has a metal splinter in his skull, causing his blindness, so Superboy rewires the radio to um, um, magnetically rip the piece of metal out of the guy’s skull. Um, harmlessly. Um, yeah. Um, you know, this is why you don’t wear any metal in an MRI. The metal would kind-sorta explode out of your head exactly like a bullet. I saw that episode of “House.” It was gruesome.
- So the Justice of the Peace, winner of “Least dramatic response to getting your sight back, ever,” notes that he can see again, and then refuses to marry the kids, because he knows these “March and April” romances seldom work.
- And by the way, why was the blind guy surprised that Lois and Superman were kids? Certainly their voices changed as well? Sheesh.
- 12 year old Lois has another scheme! The young couple flies to the S.S. Andovia. She’ll get her old friend Captain Pushover, er, Hobson, to marry them. Captain Hobson probably understands this kid is really Superman, considering they flew in and all, but he accepts the absurdity of the situation pretty quickly. “Hmmm… This is very irregular…”
- YA THINK??!!!
- “…But for old time’s sake, I’ll perform the ceremony, Lois!” Doesn’t he know these marriages between 12 year olds seldom work?
- I love how the other crew members and officers are standing there, smiling like this wedding is a GOOD thing. Awww, two 12 year olds getting married by the captain. Isn’t this romantic.
- Er, no.
- Lois: “I’ve got to give myself credit for outwitting Superman for once.” Nice.
- Golly, how will Supeman get out of this one? By causing waves to crash into the ship and nearly kill everyone! Then, for good measure, he rocks the boat until everyone is sick! And for people who are sea-sick, these people sure talk a lot. I’ve been sea-sick, and you don’t talk much, except to say, “Get the hell out of the way!” as you race to the side of the boat.
- Page 9. Lois and Superman are now TODDLERS, but the honorable Dudley Diggs, Esquire, takes the case and convinces a COURT JUDGE to sign the marriage license for… wait for it… wait for it… Two FOUR YEAR OLDS. Doesn’t the judge know these “February and February” romances seldom work?
- Panel 5: How do you put a wedding like this together so quickly? Besides Perry, Lucy and Jimmy, who are all thee wedding guests? They’re all dressed up, tuxes and gowns, the church is full — WTF? And I LOVE Lucy’s comment, “It’s weird… But the marriage was ruled legal, and they’ll both be normal tomorrow, so we might as well just go ahead.” God, I love the Silver Age. These two are BABIES and people just shrug.
- For the record, the wedding couple is registered at Babies R Us, Baby Gap, and the Pampers aisle at your local market.
- And of course, the ultimate irony, Lois can’t say her vows, because she has regressed to a baby and cannot speak. I can’t believe there isn’t a lawyer in the church saying this sort of thing happens all the time and have someone get power of attorney to speak for Lois.
- So, the next day, the reset button has been pressed, and Dr. Light tracks Lois down and gives her some drug that cured her. Whatever.
- Of course she destroyed the picture. Of course she wants to marry Superman fair and square. Of course everything is back to normal. And as the newly adult Superman flies by, in what appears to be a massive hole in the wall, he muses he better get out of here.
- Thank God that’s the last time anything weird would happen in a Lois Lane comic! Um, except for the very next issue, when a short circuit in her electric typewriter sends Lois into a parallel universe. Really. First story in issue #43!
Ah, the Silver Age!