Monday, May 11, 2009

Lois Lane, Wot a Gal

Continuing right where we left off...

The next day Clark checks the paper to see if he's been mentioned in relation to the whole Bea Carrol murder debacle, and is delighted to see he hasn't. In case you didn't pick up on it, a man in blue and red long underwear with a colossal billowing cape who runs around stopping crimes is actually attempting to keep a low profile.

No, really.

Unfortunately, Clark's expertly executed subtlety is wasted as the next panel shows the governor himself gushing to a boardroom full of people about just how dreamy that Superman fellow is. Boy, those governors and their gossip! Following this the governor and his board all play a rousing game of Girl Talk.

Cut to the Daily Star editor's office, where we se-hold on. Who the hell is that? That's not the editor! How fast is the turn over in this place when the editor in chief is replaced in the course of a single day? For his part Clark doesn't react to the change, all too aware of the fact that he's lucky to have this job in the first place so he'd better not make any waves. Or maybe it's just that all Earthlings look the same to him.

Anyhow, now that that wacky governor has let the cat out of the bag regarding Superman's existence the new editor decides to play the straightman in Clark's comedy routine, asking him to cover all Superman related material. This prompts Clark to quip "Listen, Chief, if I can't find out anything about this Superman, NO ONE CAN !" Zing! Haha, you go Clark! Woop, there it is!

Ahem. Now I recognize that this comic is aimed at children, but would even the dumbest kids of 1938 find this to be an entertaining or worthwhile joke? I just can't imagine any time period that this wasn't a tired cliche. I know you do a lot for us Superman, but could you try just a little harder? If not for the children, then for me?

Fortunately (for my splitting sides!) the story switches gears here when Clark is sent on assignment to cover a wife-beating and kicks the tar out of the abusive husband. Superman throws this guy at the wall so hard that his sleeves explode! That's awesome! You really gotta respect the abusive monster's gumption though, if someone were to lift me above their head with one arm I would probably stop making threats.
Following this Superman changes back to Clark, tells the cops Superman must have saved the day, and heads back to the office where he nervously asks a woman on a date.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Lois Lane. Judging by the dialogue exchanged here the two have already established the classic Lois & Clark relationship of him being a total doormat and her gladly wiping her feet. I am genuinely glad to see things started in the right place.

The two reporters head to a dance, where we are treated to the typical brute wants Lois, Clark must pretend to be weak, Lois slaps brute, brute totally pie-faces that nerd Clark, Lois storms out because GOD what a nerd scenario.

Following this the awful brutish man runs Lois' taxi off the road, and kidnaps her because it's what's expected of him and he can't fight the pressures of a society that has cast him aside. Driving...somwhere, the brute and his friends are shocked to see a rather colourful man standing in the middle of the road, arms akimbo. The brute continues to drive toward our hero in order to "scare him out of his wits" while his friends plead with him to swerve and avoid hitting the oddly-attired eccentric. Now honestly, once you've kidnapped the city's premiere reporter you're already in pretty deep, either you let her go and have her bring the police back to arrest you or you face the grisly task of murdering her to ensure your freedom.

Let's give these thugs the benefit of the doubt, clearly they are well-educated criminals who wouldn't enter into a pointless jealousy-based kidnapping unprepared. They knew the consequences before they grabbed her. So accepting that these men are aware they will have to kill Lois if they are to have any hope of avoiding jail, I simply cannot buy their reluctance to run over what they can only perceive to be an escapee from the loony-bin. You're going to kill this woman, why suddenly develop a conscience when it comes to idiots standing in the middle of the road? Maybe I just can't appreciate the deep characterizations in this comic.

Carrying on, Superman leaps the car and chases after it, giving the kidnappers the fright of a lifetime. This is ironic because they had intended to scare him. DO YOU SEE?

And happens. Superman lifts that fucking car over his Goddamn head and smashes the absolute shit out of it. This is a truly exhilarating series of panels, even today. You can practically see the motion happen before your eyes, and for this I applaud artist Joe Shuster.

Back in the story, Superman hangs the lead thug by his pants at the top of a telephone pole, before physically intimidating Lois while telling her not to be afraid. Look at him in the image below and try to tell me he isn't sending a very specific message. You're no better than that sleeveless drunk from earlier, Superman. Shameful.

Clearly enjoying the rush he gets from bullying someone smaller than him, Superman once again threatens Lois with violence while warning her not to write any stories about the night's events. Because, in case you've forgotten, that flashy costume is a clever attempt to remain under the radar.
Oh dear
But he needn't have worried, as while Lois does in fact report the story to the nameless editor, her claims are dismissed as the drunken halucinations of a foolish dame. Fortunately the panel where the editor calls her "Sugarlips" and she makes everyone in the office a sandwich was left on the cutting room floor.

So there we have it, the first appearance of Superman's one true love! Exciting, wasn't it? I've got to say though when I started reading this story I was impressed by the progressive treatment of Lois; she stood up for herself and treated that dork Clark like dirt. That's cool, I can totally respect that! She was, for the first few moments of the tale, the type of Lois Terry Hatcher portrayed on that awful television show that is probably best left forgotten. However by the end her typical 1938 role in society was re-established: needing men to protect her, being physically dominated even by her protectors, and having her claims ignored despite being an assumably respected reporter.

In its treatment of women this story disappoints, but when it comes to action it was truly a top notch affair. Overall, not bad. Next time? Superman hates crooked politicians. He just hates them so much.

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