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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #72 - Feb. 1967

sgComics Weekend Lois Lane channels Aquaman in this issue of Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane!

I first saw this comic cover back when Hembeck talked about it in Hembeck #5 (which we saw here on Friday), but had never read the story.

But I always wanted to get to it--I mean, how can I (or anyone, really) turn down a story called "Lois Lane's Aquaman Tricks"?? So a few eBay clicks later, and here we are.

Behind the very dynamic, totally insane cover by Kurt Schaffenberger is this equally crazy splash page, courtesy writer E. Nelson Bridwell and Schaffenberger:

"I sure hope Lois doesn't look too closely at 'Clark Kent' while I'm taking care of that emergency! This old pirate's skeleton and sponge head I brought up from the bottom won't stand too close an inspection!"

Oh, we're in for something wacky now...

On the campus of Pacific University, the young teens are having a discussion about the guest lecturer speaking that day, world famous reporter Lois Lane! Turns out Lois belonged to a chapter of the sorority on campus, so they invited her to talk.

They refer to her as "Superman's girl friend" but one of the girls, an arrogant girl named Artis, scoffs at that, showing off (for the 1000th time) her giant engagement ring and walking off. The others are not amused.

Later that day:
Some of the kids are impressed that Lois answered Artis' rude question at all, and one of them, Benny, decides to play Cupid. He calls Lois and tells her there's "something fishy" going down at McDowell Hall.

Lois arrives, only to find a fish laying outside its tank. Realizing its just a prank. she puts the fish back in the tank, but is met by a man who asks Lois what she's doing.

Lois explains, but the man points out that the fish in question was an Anabas fish, which can survive for long periods of time out of the water.
The man introduces himself as Professor Thorne, an Icthyologist.

Thorne invites Lois out to lunch, and she accepts. Thorne invites her to his apartment, and we see that Thorne is an unusual guy:
He then introduces Lois to a machine he has built, which enables him to communicate with fish and other sea creatures. Lois thinks he's cracked, but he shows her that it does work, as the octopus and swordfish perform tasks that he asks them do. "Shades of Aquaman!", Lois exclaims.

Lois realizes Thorne's inventions would help her with a story she's investigating on the weekend, since it requires her to go scuba-diving (what is Lois' beat, anyway?). She likes Thorne a lot, but is worried when she sees a picture of a beautiful woman on a table, just as she is leaving.

That weekend, Lois does indeed go scuba-diving, on the trail of some racketeers. She discovers an underwater armory(!), and then sees three armed goons come out of it and chase her. But luckily for Lois, she's not alone, even under water:
The goons begin to flee, but they then run into the Man of Steel, Superman! Superman rounds them up, tosses them back into their armory, then lifts up the entire thing and puts it on the beach.

Superman gets a JLA distress call, so Lois heads back to Thorne's apartment. He admits that he instructed the turtles to help her, and decides he can trust her with his secret!

He tells her that his invention must remain a secret, since we worries, in the wrong hands, it could be used against all the creatures in the sea. Lois is touched that he would share so much with her--more than Superman ever has, she notes.

Outside Thorne's building, two crooks, who followed Superman and watched him drop Lois off here, get ready to bust in:
One of the thugs kidnaps Lois and Thorne, while the other takes control of the machine. As the three are leaving they run into Clark Kent, who is taken along for the ride.

A few hours later, we see a nuclear sub being herded by a group of sea creatures, under the command of the machine. The sub is beached, and other members of the gang demand the Polaris Missiles on board.

Nearby, Clark, Lois, and Thorne are watching all this. Clark has Thorne create a distraction, giving Clark the time to tackle their kidnapper and knock him out.

Thorne tells them there's a second machine inside the nearby boathouse, and Lois and Clark take it and head out to sea to ward off the sea creatures:
"...Aquaman himself couldn't have done it better!" Oh really, Kal?

In just a few moments, Supes corrals the sea creatures, knocks out the thugs stealing the missiles, and then knocks out the guy back at Thorne's apartment, all in time to return to Lois before she notices the switcheroo.

They meet up with Thorne, and we learn who he really is:
I'm a little ashamed it took me so long to figure out that, often as not, these Lois Lane stories from the 50s and 60s were meant to be high comedy. I mean, Clark using a skeleton dressed in his clothes with a sponge wearing glasses to fool Lois? I hope Bridwell poured himself a drink after that plot turn came out of his typewriter.

Interesting, all the references to Aquaman, and...yet...

Hey! Aquaman isn't even in this story at all!!


Richard said...

I just want to point out that we have here a story in which Lois considers a man in a wheelchair as a potential romantic partner, which was not often the case in comic books of the Sixties. Also, their relationship seems to be pretty rational (especially by the frankly bizarre standards of a Mort Weisinger comic) and it ends on an atypically mature and touching note.

In a typical Superman book of that era, you'd expect that a) Thorne would be revealed as Aquaman in disguise, recruited by Superman to play an elaborate practical joke on Lois, or b) he would be an evil alien whose exposure by Superman would humiliate Lois. I've read hundreds of these things and that's how they work. This time, though, Nelson switched it up and we should keep that in mind.

But yeah, no Aquaman. I don't blame you if you feel ripped off!

rob! said...


that's a really good point, and one i should've pointed out in the post. its refreshing and surprising to see Lois consider a relationship with a wheelchair-bound man and have no mention of it be made.

for all the pre-ERA cliches Lois was saddled with in the 50s and 60s, this is a really nice touch.

and no, i didn't feel ripped off. i knew going in Aquaman isn't in this story (Hembeck mentions it in his write-up of the book), i just thought it was a funny way to end the post.

Plaidstallions said...

Aquaman is far too busy for this nonsense. He probably ignored all of Superman's text messages.

rob! said...

there's a story in there, somewhere, of all the JLA men sitting around the satellite talking about their women:

Barry is happy with Iris, with her sensible shoes, Bruce is having lots of dates but they never get through dessert before the damn Riddler shows up, Ray is happy with Jean but is unsure of her mood swings, all Ollie talks about is banging Dinah, Arthur talks of Mera the way Dante talked of Beatrice. and all of them goof on Clark, who can't quite seem to cut that nag Lois loose.

then all of them go back to talking about Kanjar Ro when Dinah and Diana show up.

Paul Kupperberg said...

"Lois Lane's Aquaman Tricks"

My first thought seeing that title was to wonder when Lois had been hooking down by the waterfront.

rob! said...

My first thought seeing that title was to wonder when Lois had been hooking down by the waterfront.

sounds like an unpublished story from Superman Family.