Every time I get too concerned about the state of today’s comics industry, all I have to do to cleanse the palate is look at a random issue of SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE, and I can breathe easier. Things could always be much worse.
Let’s look for example, at LOIS LANE #131 (June 1973), written by Cary Bates and drawn by John Rosenberger, entitled “Superman — Marry Me” (and by the way, shouldn’t that be the title of every issue of LOIS LANE?):
Lots of things to love about this cover, not the least of which is Lois’ nonsensical imperative: “You’ve got to marry me! There’s my child!” Not “there’s your child,” which would at least make sense from a logic standpoint. And then there’s Superman’ classic Tex-Avery style surprised pose — he might as well have his eyes popping out of his head Roger Rabbit-style.
And then there’s this:
Meet Melba? Who’s Melba, you ask? We’ll get there. The story opens with an attempt on Lois’s life, with an explosion that she somehow vaults over.
Lois credits her rescue to her new invisible son, Mic:
Lois takes her new invisible son to work, where Clark Kent and Perry White are naturally a little alarmed:
While Lois is busy with her imaginary son, Superman heads to a meeting with Metropolis’ district attorney, where he swiftly swallows a donut-bomb, intended to snuff the D.A.
Yes, that’s right. A donut-bomb. A lesson here for all you hard-working law-enforcement types: pay special attention to the jelly-filled. It turns out the same gangster who tried to kill the D.A. is also after Lois, prompting Superman to keep a special eye on her. Guess the D.A. will have to bite his own donuts from now on.
Meanwhile, we meet as promised on he cover the aforementioned “Melba,” WGBS newscaster Melba Manton, whom Perry White enlists to follow Lois and find out just how crazy she is:
Melba feels like a somewhat hamfisted and deliberate attempt to add some diversity to the lily-white Superman cast by writer Bates. Melba appeared about a dozen more times in various DC books over the next decade, but vanished completely by 1986.
Meanwhile, the attempts on Lois’ life continue, this time while she’s at home, again talking to her invisible son:
By the way: three roommates? Lois is a Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist, and Perry doesn’t pay her enough to have her own place? Great Caesar’s Ghost, Perry, give that girl a raise!
Anyway, when gangsters in a helicopter try and shoot her through a window, Lois fends them off with a boiling pot of asparagus:
Not only is that gonna leave a mark on that gangster’s head, but his pee is gonna smell funny all day…
Sidenote: The head gangster seems to really hate bookends, based on his reprimanding of his assassins:
Credit where it’s due: that is a nice two-man slap he pulls off there.
So what’s the upshot of all this insanity? Well, after Lois proposes to Superman in a single line of dialogue intended to try to justify the story’s sensationalist title and cover, it turns out Lois’ invisible son does exist, as Superman discovers by, well, blowing some dirt on him.
It turns out he’s from the far-future 28th century, and suffers from — well, I’ll let Superman describe it:
“Cosmic allergy.” Wow. That’s some bogus non-science even by comic-book standards, Even by 1970s comic-book standards. Even stranger, neither Superman nor Lois seems to mind that Lois was mind-controlled into loving this kid. In fact, are they sure the mind-control thing isn’t still on? They seem awful calm about all this:
Superman takes Future Boy to live with his descendants back in the 28th century, who seem fine with having an invisible kid foisted on them. Go figure.
And meanwhile, somewhere the Metropolis D.A. stares longingly at a pink box of donuts, wondering if that maple bar has his name written on it…
Scott Tipton will think twice about jelly donuts for a while. If you have questions about Lois Lane or comics in general, send it here.