Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lois Lane, Murderess

As Clark sits around the office complaining that the news isn't coming to him (who hired this idiot?) Lois lectures him on proper reporting before setting out to find a story.

Okay, so no one is going to give a damn about some jeweler with a security system, at least it's better than the blank page soaked in his own tears and snot Clark submitted.  Unfortunately, before she can actually speak to the jeweler Lois is chroloroformed from behind by an unseen assailant.  Meanwhile Clark, inspired by Lois' own actions, goes to the police station to ask them if they have anything he can write about, and instead of telling him to do his own homework an officer brings him for a ride-along.

Sadly for Clark his arch-nemesis "Scoop" Carter of the Morning Pictorial finds his way in too!  At this point you don't even need to worry whether or not hijinx will ensue, because it's guaran-damn-teed.  The officer takes the two reporters to the house of a man named Norval, who happens to be the exact same person Lois was going to interview.  It seems there are reports of a disturbance of some kind and the three men are going to check it out.

Arriving at Norval's place they find that his much touted security system consists of having more rooms than might normally be found within a house.  Fool proof.  Not one to be defeated by a mere door, Clark uses his x-ray vision to find the room containing Norval, who is laying dead on the floor.

Scoop calls the story in to his paper, but rips the phone out of the wall before Clark can do the same.  Clark whines briefly before noticing, via super hearing, that Lois is locked in an adjoining room, unconscious.  It is left to the reader to imagine how Clark became familiar with the sound of Lois' breathing as she sleeps.

The officer, suspecting Lois of having gone on a coke-fueled stealing spree, immediately arrests her for the murder.  Also, her purse is full of stolen jewels.  Someone is setting Lois up to take the fall!  The idea is that the crazy door security system locked her in, which is why she didn't escape post-murder. 

Superman suspects she is innocent because she's his pal and so, having no respect for the law, busts her out of the squad car she's been placed in and runs off with her under a hail of bullets.

Lois tries to talk about girly things like feelings (gross!) and Superman tells her to shut her yap, he's got more important things to do like interfere in a police investigation.  God, when will women understand!? 

Causing every officer investigating the scene of the crime to run outside by knocking over an urn (!!) Superman uses his super memory to recognize that Lois' fingerprints are on the murder weapon.  Seems the odds are stacked against her!

So I remember exactly what her fingerprints look like?  That's not weird.
The police come back, presumably having returned the urn to an upright position, and Superman makes a deal with them: they let him prove who the real killer is, and, well, that's it.  They tell him the two people who would profit most from Norval's death are his nephews, John and Henry.  Superman sets out to grab them and the architect, Burkley, who designed the many-roomed house in the hopes the man will show them around the maze of rooms.

Breaking into John's apartment Superman learns that he's on a plane, possibly fleeing after having committed the murder.  Chasing the plane down on foot Superman leaps onto it in mid-air and rips the door off because how else are you going to get to a person on a passenger plane?  Wait for it to land?  God no.  Superman doesn't have that kind of time, are you nuts?   You must be thinking of Timeman.  And even he doesn't have that kind of time because that's just ridiculous.

So, John held under one arm, Superman leaps from the plane and runs to cousin Henry's house.  On the way there John reveals that his uncle sent him the plane tickets, which I guess is suspicious for some reason.  After knocking on Henry's door Superman uses his x-ray eyes to see the man hiding a mysterious package in a drawer.  Nosy as ever Superman busts into the house, shoves Henry aside, and tears the hidden package open revealing an expensive necklace.  Henry claims that his uncle sent him the necklace to sell, and that he didn't want anyone to know it was being sold.  Superman believes this may be a clue (it isn't!), and rushes off to Burkley the architect's home, one man under each arm.

Finding Burkley tired due to just having completed a rush job Superman tells him to suck it up because he's going with him whether he likes it or not.  Now three men under his arms Superman rushes back to the scene of the crime.

Throwing (!!) the men through the open window to the waiting officers, Superman hurries off to bring Lois to the scene.  Meanwhile, the officers bring another suspect in the form of a security guard Norval had fired the week before.  I have now given you every clue provided in this story, can you figure out who the killer is??  The answer may chill you to your soul.

But first Superman spins Scoop over his head because, well, why not?

Our story coming to a close Superman finds something hidden in a radio and brings an officer into the hallway to show him what it is.  Bursting back into the room the officer tells Burkley he's under arrest for the murder!  It seems what Superman found was another brilliant piece of security; a camera activated only by the sound of guns firing that captured the architect killing Norval.  It was next to the camera activated by the sound of a knife stabbing someone, and the one activated by the sound of poison being swallowed.

Norval admits to the crime, Superman reveals the camera was a lie meant to trick him into admitting his guilt (thank God something so stupid doesn't exist) and Lois is exonerated.  The end!  In case you're wondering how exactly Superman figured out who the murderer was he "prides [himself] on being a judge of character."  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to How to Write an Unsatisfying Mystery 101.

And I'll just assume Superman apologized to the innocent men he treated like criminals off camera.  A scene too awkward to draw.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Superman and the Miracle Drug

Hold onto your hats and batten down your hatches, because Morton EFFING Craig has been arrested for grand larceny!  I'm not even kidding, but I wish I was.  Morton Craig.  I mean, wow.  Since we've never actually heard of the guy before Clark informs us that he is the most honest man in the world and his sudden turn to crime is shocking, which clues us in to the fact that Something Is Up.  After being needlessly sassed by Lois Clark interviews Morton who refuses to speak.

As Clark goes to leave a man by the name of Dr. Bren enters to give Morton an injection.  Clark, who has super hearing this issue, listens in as the two men discuss the fact that Dr. Bren is somehow related to Morton's imprisonment.  Clark observes that Bren himself looks worried, but I would be too if he was flirting with me like that.

Dat ass looks attention worthy.
Changing into his alter ego, Superman now follows Bren as he leaves the police station.  Arriving at his destination Dr. Bren meets with a man named Carlin, who Morton has promised to squeal on if he is not let out of jail.  Hearing this, Carlin orders a hit on Morton and I find myself wishing there were less boring names to remember.

Obviously our hero isn't going to allow any murders that he doesn't commit himself, so he waits for the hitmen to enter a car, picks it up and throws it at a police officer.  It should be no surprise that this leads to them all being arrested, Metropolis having outlawed any and all accidents the year prior.

Yeah, drive there.  In your freshly crashed vehicle.

Spying Carlin walking somewhere Superman follows him on the sly, and is led to a mysterious building.  Stealthily breaking in by throwing a tree at the guard Superman finds Carlin congratulating a professor on his creation of a drug named Parabiolene, which does something nebulously positive.  The professor is not aware of Carlin's criminal background, and believes him simply to be a business investor, thus we know we are meant to sympathize with this brilliant man of science.  Actually this whole thing calls to mind a parable for the creation and use of the atomic bomb; brilliant scientist doing sciencey stuff for the love of science, their creation doing more damage than they had ever dreamed, except this story predates even the first testing so I guess it's meaningless.  So close.

Suddenly another crime boss comes and tries to kill Carlin and really, who cares?  Superman stops the guy, but allows himself to be caught, then fakes his own death when Carlin has his men shoot him.  And if you haven't had enough "Superman follows someone somewhere" action then you are in luck, because he follows his murderers to a factory!

Shocked to see Superman alive after having killed him the thugs shout to a random factory worker to stop Superman, and boy does he try!

Was that really necessary?  An intruder in the factory you are paid minimum wage to work in?  Better melt his features off.  Superman then tears the place to shreds because he figures it can't be doing anything good, except at this point we know it's producing the Parabiolene which cures...things, so how bad can it really be?

We next see our hero delivering a Macho Man Randy Savage elbow drop to the roof of the building he left both the drug's inventor and Carlin in.  At this point, having seen Carlin have Superman killed, the professor is realizing he's not the kindly business tycoon he once seemed to be.  Superman saves the professor from Carlin, though if he thought he was in peril why did he waste all that time with allowing himself to be captured and killed?  Expert story telling is the answer.

Finally the entire master plan is revealed, Carlin uses this miracle drug to save people's lives and make them steal for him in order to keep receiving their fix of life giving drugs, a plan bold in its flagrant stupidity.  Let's look at this for a moment, why would you ever force people to steal for you when others would do it willingly?  That's just adding an extra headache.  Why, if you had control of the world's entire supply of a miracle cure-all, would you waste it on this boneheaded plan instead of selling it?  Especially since it requires regular doses and could be sold eternally.  Could anything be more valuable than this??  But sure, use it to make people steal candy bars, whatever.

The professor feels terrible regret over having created the drug that allowed Carlin to commit crimes, and kills himself.  Superman has the hospital put the body in an artificial fever machine, "and keep the temperature high," which at this point couldn't possibly do anything but speed up decomposition and create a lovely smell, but Superman has a plan;  he rushes off to Dr. Bren (remember him!?) and gets him to inject the professor with Parabiolene which...cures his death.  Brilliant.  Bravo.  The existence of this drug invalidates all future tension in any possible storyline.

Finally, Superman goes and arrests Carlin, but not before he does whatever the hell this is:

Practicing for the X-Games.
And thus ends the story so dull it made me quit for over a year.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

In Which Superman Investigates a Strange Odour Part 2

Continuing from where we left off...

Superman had just destroyed the autogyro in which the villainous Mosely was escaping, sending the both of them hurtling towards the ground and certain death.  We pick up as Superman trails Mosely on foot post-crash.  What?  We know how Superman survived, but how did Mosely?  Sucka didn't even have a parachute!  And if he survived the fall why would he assume Superman of all people didn't?  Well if Siegel and Shuster don't care, neither do I.

Mosely eventually reaches a solid mountain wall, which he pushes upon to reveal a secret passage.  Following him into the mountain passage Superman quickly encounters a motorized door which requires a spoken password to enter.  Loudly musing to himself that he has no idea what the password is, Superman activates a trap door beneath his feet sending the Man of Tomorrow careening into a deadly spiked pit trap:

That is actually awesome.  Deciding this is no time to relax, Superman rises from the pit only to be met by a vat of acid being poured directly upon his head.  This, of course, does nothing and Superman tears the vat from its hinges before throwing it at the locked door, destroying both.  More importantly than that though we learn the first ever explanation for why Superman's costume never gets damaged when it really ought to be!  Are you ready for this?  Here it is!

Wow, that tells us a lot!  We learn that Superman's costume is invincible and that we were fools for ever viewing it as a plothole, that Superman is secretly a brilliant scientist despite this fact never having been hinted at before, and we even learn that he's kind of a dick for not sharing this miracle cloth with the rest of the world.

Behind the door Superman finds Mosely talking to Lex Luthor himself via television screen (WHY DID HE COME ALL THIS WAY THEN).  Mosely ask's Luthor for stock-market advice, which Luthor gladly gives, reminding Mosely that he gets 75% of his profits (!!) for this information.  Coulda done this by phone you guys, seriously.

Superman bursts onto the scene, shouting that Luthor's "evil career is ending NOW!"  This guy is smart enough to invent invincible cloth, but he can't tell a tv from a real person?  Superman's bullheadedness leads him into a trap: as two antenna zap him with powerful electricity the Man of Steel feels no ill effect and is instead charged as though he had spent the past year rubbing his feet on a carpet, a static charge he uses to destroy the vile television with a single light touch.

Protecting Mosely from the exploding tv's shrapnel, Superman then must rush from the cavern (Mosely cradled gently in his arms) as it does what evil caverns do best and collapses.  Once safely outside Superman asks Mosely just what the heck is up with that incense!  Remember that?  It's such a mystery!  You will be absolutely floored to learn that Luthor uses the incense to enslave prominent men across the nation.

Okay you probably figured that out quite a while ago, but don't get too cocky thinking you're better than Superman, I doubt any of us have invented invincible thread.

Superman asks Mosely for a list of the men Luthor has enslaved, which Mosely conveniently has in a giant walk-in safe back at his office.  As Superman enters the safe to retrieve the list, Mosely unsurprisingly locks him in.  Equally unsurprisingly Superman breaks out immediately!  As if it wasn't bad enough that Luthor used his own face to emit the mind-control gas, he also gives us underlings lists of everyone under his control? The guy wants to be stopped, it's all a cry for help.

Asking Mosely where Luthor's hideout is, the Man of Tomorrow learns that he will be meeting with his victims at the Garriston Tower. 

Fearful of what will become of him should his betrayal be found out, Mosely opts to kill himself by jumping from his office window.  Sadly for him, Superman leaps after him and tosses the man back inside before he can reach the ground.  Climbing back through the window himself, Superman then pinches a nerve in Mosely's neck, knocking the man unconscious.  I feel like I should that at the start of the story Mosely had black hair and was clean-shaven, while at this point he has white hair and a moustache.  This is obviously very inept continuity, but it's also important because...

By concentrating really hard Superman makes himself look exactly like Mosely, complete with gray hair and moustache.  Oh, cool!  We're just learning so much about Superman today.  I wonder how often he turns himself into Lois and stares at himself in the mirror before collapsing in a weeping heap on the floor. [edit: John Dyne of the Something Awful forums rightly notes that this power would be mighty useful in protecting a secret identity.  But why bother, eh?]

Superman, as Mosely, attends the Garriston Tower meeting but is quickly recognized by Luthor...who for some reason has gray hair.  But only for two panels, as his hair becomes brown for the next two.  Which is cool, except it's established that he's a flippin' ginger!

Having recognized Superman, Luthor orders his guards to attack which naturally does nothing.  Luthor, always one to plan ahead, makes escape in a plane built into the building's wall somehow.  God, I don't know.

Superman catches the plane in a single mighty leap, and sends it crashing into the ocean below.  Declaring this to be "The end of Luthor" Superman doesn't think to search for a body, and we end with Editor George Taylor congratulating Clark on finding the list of Luthor's victims and having restored the United States to its former prosperity.

Note the "moustache dissapearing" lines.  Classic.