The Larcenous Love of Lola Lexo!

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 RealDollâ„¢…



…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.


*: …that does not involve Jimmy Olsen, Metamorpho, or the Batman punching out a bear. But seriously, it’s still awesome.



BONUS FEATURE: Tonight’s Special Guest…



Why, it’s King Oblivion, PhD of The International Society of Super-Villains!

Romance Special: The Time-Travel Heartbreak of Lois Lane

Over the past few days, I’ve been doing my best to offer up tips on how you can find true ahhhhromance in today’s crazy world, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes, the Don’ts are just as important as the Dos. So tonight, I offer you the biggest Don’t of all:





Now, don’t get me wrong: There’s a lot to like about Lois, but in matters of the heart, she tends to cross the line from “charmingly persistent” to “stalker in a pillbox hat.” And there’s no better example of the lengths she’ll go to to try and fail to win Superman’s heart than in the pages of Ed Hamilton and Kurt Schaffenberger’s “Lois Lane’s Romance With Jor-El”:



I’ve mentioned this one briefly before in an article for Cracked, but now that it’s available in the recent Superman: Past and Future trade paperback–along with the story where Jimmy Olsen meets Hitler–I thought it might be a good idea to dust it off again. Why?

Because it is completely insane.

The whole thing starts off with Superman checking in on the Phantom Zone and noticing that Lois is hanging out out in there with a bunch of Kryptonian convicts. Even for Lois, that’s a little unusual, and when Superman asks how it happened, we find out that it all starts… with SCIENCE!



The Anti-Nuclear Ray is pure Macguffin–all you really need to know about it is that it gives Lois the shadow of an excuse that she needs to dick around with the Space-Time Continuum–but this panel’s worth noticing for the way Professor Gordon presents his findings. His device is going to stop the world from exploding, and we know that because he has drawn a picture of the Earth–labeled “Earth”–exploding, and then marked it out with an X.

Clearly, the research here is sound.

Anyway, Lois makes the connection that a device designed to stop planets from exploding might be useful in keeping the planet Krypton from exploding, so she gets a copy of the plans and grabs a time machine, a process that takes exactly one panel because, you know, the Silver Age. Thus, armed with a Kryptonian minidress borrowed from Jimmy Olsen–who collects Kryptonian minidresses, apparently, which is perfectly normal–she heads back in time to pre-explosion Krypton, finds Jor-El, and gives him the plans.

If this seems uncharacteristically altruistic of Lois, that’s because it is. Because as we soon find out, she’s not just attempting to save the lives of millions of Kryptonians, she’s really doing it because she wants to impress Superman:



That’s right: She’s going to go tell Superman that Krypton didn’t blow up. Superman, who was sent to Earth… when Krypton blew up. This is never addressed.

Before she can get back to tell the good news to a world that had been destroyed eighty thousand times because Superman wasn’t around to stop the meteor/giant laser-eyed gorilla/fifth-dimensional imp/giant fifth-dimensional meteorilla, Lois discovers that her time machine’s broken, which leaves her stranded on Krypton. Thus, she decides to make the best of a bad situation by totally trying to hook up with Superman’s dad.



What can I say? She has a type.

The obstacle in this little plan is, of course, Superman’s mom, who doesn’t take kindly some hussy in a borrowed minidress showing up to steal her man, and so takes the expected course of action of opening her home to Lois and giving her full access to her day planner, which has all of her dates with Jor-El carefully plotted out:



Krypton: Where they have the flying car, but have yet to move past the spiral notebook.

So, Lois is able to finally wrangle a date with her boyfriend’s dad, and once her clever ruse is found out, we learn two very important things about Superman’s parents:



1. Jor-El really needs to be on Tool Academy, and…

2. Forget the Jewel Mountains and the Fire Falls, Lara Lor-Van will take your ass to Fist City.

But alas, no amount of foxy boxing can save a relationship from the romantic a-bomb that is Lois Lane, and so Jor-El and Lois go on to complete building their Anti-Nuclear Ray. Unfortunately, they build it in Kandor, and it’s completed just in time for Brainiac to show up and steal the entire city with his shrink ray, leaving Lois stranded on a planet that she knows is going to explode some day.

So what does she do now? Does she tell her new boyfriend the truth, and work to save the lives of the millions of Kryptonians that she ostensibly came back to protect?

Of course not! Lois decides that it’s time to get the hell out of there, and returns to her broken time machine, which–in a scene that is quite possibly the Silver Agiest thing to happen in this entire story–is suddenly repaired by a magic snowflake:



Thus, she’s back off to the present, having completely failed in her mission. Or rather, she would be, if she didn’t stop on her way through time so that SHE CAN MAKE OUT WITH SUPERMAN WHEN HE WAS A BABY.



And that’s how she ended up in the Phantom Zone.

So seriously, folks: Don’t be like Lois. Girl is straight up nuts.

The Stomach-Churning Battle of the Insect Queens!

Who would’ve thought that a story that starts like this



…and ends like this



…could go so horribly wrong in the middle?

Yes, despite the fact that this E. Nelson Bridwell/Kurt Schaffenberger story from the pages of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #69 (tee hee) could’ve been the story that Silver-Age readers were demanding, “Beware the Bug-Belle” is quite possibly the most nauseating story I’ve ever read. I mean, just look at that title. “The Bug-Belle.” That’s promising.

So here’s how it all goes down: The story opens with a portrait of a rivalry that has turned into a bitter, all consuming hatred, held in check only by the strict rules of polite society circa 1966. Lana Lang’s apartment is being redecorated, and so Lois puts her up for a few weeks, shoving Lana’s face in memories of her romantic triumphs at every opportunity under the guise of altruism. As you might expect, Lana can only take so much before she snaps, and on the day that she no longer needs to crash at Casa Lane, she conveniently “leaves the water on” after doing the dishes.



And thus, Lois’s place is trashed, giving Lana the upper hand. She offers to let Lois stay at her place, inviting her in to see the new decorations. It’s a pretty nice apartment, too, and to her credit, Lana doesn’t say “This is what you could afford if you were pretty enough for television” or, when showing off her collection of Superboy memorabilia, “He loved me first, you crone. You are an afterthought, and will never know him like I did.

The tension is almost unbearable.

Once Lana’s off to the West Coast, however, Lois immediately pays her back for her apparent kindness by rifling through her stuff and looking for something to steal, and it’s at this point that this story starts to diverge from the normal, barely repressed hostility that drives comics second-most famous romantic rivals, as this is when Lois finds Lana’s Insect Queen costume and ring.

For those of you who don’t have a full set of Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, I’ll explain: Lana once saved the life of a weird pink alien who was trapped under a log (because, you know, Kansas) and was rewarded with a ring that would “temporarily change into any arthropod form.” In practice, this pretty much means that she was a teenage girl from the waist up and a horrifying giant insect from the waist down, and as far as super-powers go, it was better than Arm-Fall-Off Boy. But not by much.

Anyway, no sooner has Lois found the ring and costume than she hears that there’s a fire downtown, and since Superman and Supergirl are both off in space (which is what you’d tell Lois too if you had to deal with her every single day), she decides to take matters into her own horrible claws:



Now, I don’t know about you guys, but given the choice between a burning building and having a half-insect Lois Lane snag me with her thirty-foot tongue and clutch me to her segmented thorax in her hairy pincer arms, I’d take my chances with the fire. Fortunately for Lois, though, that just happens to be this kid’s exact fetish.

Public reaction is about what you’d expect.



Okay, okay: I may–may–have edited that picture slightly. The citizens of Metropolis had pretty much seen it all in those days, and so they welcome their newest and most disgusting savior with open arms, despite the fact that her stint as “a Mosquito Maid” is just… just awful.

And it gets worse.

Before long, Lois’s attempts to fill the aching void in her soul with publicity backfire, and a woman by the name of O’Mara shows up to steal the ring, and… and…



Oh God now there’s more than one of them.

Okay… Okay keep it together. Deep breaths. So Lana comes back and they realize that O’Mara’s also taken pages from a book on Kryptonian insects that Lana has laying around (?), and then…

Oh holy crap…



Oh no… Oh nonononono… no more…




Okay, that’s it. I’m done here. If anybody needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom doing my impression of the bad guys from River City Ransom.