Despite my well-noted love of DC’s Silver Age and the Superman Family in particular, I haven’t really given Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane its fair share of attention here on the ISB. Sure, I’ve mentioned Lois now and again, but I tend to focus more on Jimmy Olsen, for the simple reason that for a long time, he’s the only one I had the blogging rights to.
Those of you who aren’t part of the secret comics blogger Illuminati might not be familiar with the concept, but it basically just boils down to us all getting together and deciding who gets to write about what so that we can avoid any embarrassing confusion, and at the ’06 ComBlogCon, I got Jimmy Olsen, Jake Bell got Lois Lane, and Dave Campbell got all the readers. Of course, now, Jake’s retired from comics blogging to devote his time to writing a fantastic book for kids, which means I’m free to discuss the Daily Planet’s star reporter to my heart’s content.
And that’s good, because I just read Lois Lane #65, and it is quite possibly the single greatest comic book I have ever read.*
Yes, it’s a daring, three-part novel of love gone wrong and xylophonic death from 1966 courtesy of Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger, and it is fantastic right from the opening page, which includes not only a suspiciously orange Statue of Liberty…
…but also has a caption that assures us that Lois is definitely in love with Superman… “in real life!” Yes, this one’s an Imaginary Story, taking place in a world where Luthor (as Lexo)is less a mad scientist arch-criminal and more a swashbuckling Robin Hood type, donating the proceeds from his crimes to charity and cheesing off Superman for kicks. Lois, relying on her keen skills as the finest investigative journalist the Silver Age had to offer, discovers completely by accident that Lexo is also the gifted concert pianist–yes, concert pianist–Luthor. The fact that nobody bothers to ask Luthor his first name is a pretty crucial piece of the story, to the point where I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to think his name is Luthor Luthor.
In any case, Lois decides it’d be a good idea to dress up as Lexo–because, you know, she’s insane–and that’s when things start to really pick up.
Now, I’ve had a few words to say on the idea of decompression in the past–heck, I even co-founded a writing studio based on the idea that comics should be about things happening–but even the tightest plot pales in comparison to just one of Siegel’s captions:
Seriously, that entire and increasingly complex series of events happens only in the caption, which only gets better once you see the panel it’s attached to:
“Wrong, Lois! They’ve turned you evil!” So evil, in fact, that she and Lexo can only speak in the style of jazz-loving hep cats…
…which makes me think that Jerry Siegel thought Bob Haney was roughly ten times worse than Hitler.
By the end of the first page, Luthor and Lois–who has adopted the nom de crime of Lola–are married and teaming up for even more daring crimes than ever. There is a change, however, as Lois–driven by her newfound statue-based evil–convinces Lexo to stop giving his profits to chairty through her time-honored technique of being a colossal bitch:
Although to be fair, when she starts talking shit to Superman even in her sleep, I do find it strangely adorable.
Sadly, Lois can’t stay asleep forever, and once she wakes up and the story moves into Part 2, things get a little rocky. Lana Lang makes a visit to do a report on Luthor’s crowd-pleasing pianistry, and Lois, as should be expected at this point–gets incredibly jealous and starts making increasingly angry faces until Lex decides it’d be a good idea to lock himself in a soundproof room until Chapter 3:
Lois, of course, assumes that he’s locked himself up to write a love song for Lana, and decides that she’ll make a go of things on her own. Thus, she launching a one-woman crime-wave that involves stealing the Mona Lisa and–conveniently omitting the fact that it’s painted on wood and not canvas–sneaking away with it hidden in a hollow umbrella, defacing it in her home studio to the Mona Lola, before shipping it off to Clark Kent to get some press. A masterful crime, to be sure, but one has to wonder if she’s doing this to tempt her lover, or if it’s her way to hide a broken heart.
Eventually, though, Luthor reveals that he hasn’t been working on a song for Lana… he’s been working on a song for Superman.
No, not like that! It’s actually a song to be played on the Lythre—the Kryptonian Xylophone on the cover–with the intent of driving Superman completely insane:
It doesn’t actually drive him crazy, but it does paralyze him, which, as far as Mr. and Mrs. Luthor are concerned, is just as good. But the thrill of victory doesn’t last long, and after a bit of celebratory frugging, Lois has her own total freakout…
…which leads to her locking herself in her bedroom with a Superman RealDoll™…
…which in turn leads to this:
Yes, the evil statue rays have finally worn off, which leads a pair of remorseful Luthors to play the Superman Sonata backwards–Satanic Messages being a well-known cure for full-body paralysis–reviving Superman, who promptly chucks Lois into the local women’s prison:
Of course, this being an Imaginary Story, it can’t have as happy an ending as Lois snapping wet towels at her buxom cellmates, so there’s a scene where a despondent Lexo tries to break her out and is shot dead in the process, which teaches us all a valuable lesson about… uh… why we shouldn’t look at strange statues. Or maybe it’s about the inherent dangers of xylophones. I honestly don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter, as this thing is awesome.
And that’s real.