Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I dunno, maybe he doesn't suspect anything.

The vast majority of the stories in Lois Lane’s original solo title generally centered on Metropolis’ top newspaper reporter attempting to use all sorts of schemes and deception to capture Superman in reluctant marriage, expose his dual identity, sabotage her perceived rivals and just generally act in a manner which did little to celebrate the character and did more than a little to condemn the writers of the story as a buncha chauvinist twerps. With that in mind, very possibly the most rewarding – and simultaneously batshit – story in Lois Lane’s personal catalog (her very own Transilvane, if you will) happens in the pages of issues 64 and 65 of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane (April/May 1966), a two-issue “Imaginary Novel” wherein Lois turns evil, Luthor plays the piano, and Superman becomes erect at a peculiar piece of music.

Brace yourself for this brand of half-witted beatnik gab.
As an aside, what exactly constitutes an “imaginary novel?” Is it something like a childrens’ book called “Moby Dick Fucks the Moon” written by Haruki Murakami? Or is it more like “Imagine a book made out of hydrogen, and it’s typeset in dreams?”

Or, for that matter, is it a story where Lex Luthor is a daring Robin Hood-type villain by night and Liberace by day? In this world (which, if it doesn’t exist in Multiversity, I’m gonna personally punch Grant Morrison in the nose) Lex Luthor has retained his boyhood hatred of the Man of Steel for very much the same reason he maintained it in the mainstream Silver Age books. With a childhood accident robbing Lex of his curly locks, he blames the incident on Superboy, but rather than turning to a life of crime and shaming his family for generations, he just really commits himself to the piano.

In time, Luthor is “The Incomparable Luthor,” a popular six-foot pianist renowned as much for his sensitive renditions of ivory-tickling classics as he is for his sequined gold tuxedos and other colorful get-ups. While a dedicated performer, Lex maintains a secret alter-ego – the cleverly pseudonymous “LEXO,” a masked super-scientific criminal whose daring robberies and clever chest-mounted gadgets have captured the public imagination.

No less than Superman’s paramour Lois Lane, in fact, counts herself among Lexo’s admirers, as much for his flair and elan and for his tendency to give his ill-gotten gains exclusively to charity. Yes, the Luthor of this world “gets off” of giving away the money he steals, although he gets a kick out of embarrassing Superman in the interim.

Don't you know anything?
The story truly picks up when Lois, driven by curiosity, follows up on her suspicions as to Lexo’s true identity and stumbles into his lair. Little does she know that Lexo has a gargoyle-faced raybeam which turns people evil, possibly procured from Crate&Barrel.

Luckily, Lois is already running around dressed in a duplicate Lexo outfit, so it doesn’t take long for her to convince the crook to take her on as a sidekick – and, since she knows his dual identity, a wife!

Lexo already boasts a trio of assistants – Merko, Randozzi and Klavan (of the Connecticut Merkos, Randozzis and Klavans, I believe), but Lois doesn’t have what they have: radiation poisoning. Infected with green radiation during a heist which Superman had interrupted, the trio are a tragic lot whose bodies are slowly succumbing to the effects of the damage. “We’d been exposed to a virulent new type of radiations that turned our hands green” explains Marko, or maybe Randozzi, while Klavan (or possibly Marko) goes on to finish painting the picture. “Some day soon, our entire bodies will be green,” he explains, “Then we’ll die.” Won’t we all, buddy, won’t we all.

Now that Lois is evil and a sidekick to Luthor, the story can kick into high gear and the couple can start to use beatnik slang for no apparent reason. Apparently only villains ever call people “squares.”

Debuting in her secret villain identity of Lola (which is, I’m sure you figured out, just the first two letters of her first and maiden names, which combined with Lexo makes the worst costumed identities ever),  Lois proves to be a malicious type. As a married woman, she viciously cockteases the Man of Steel into a wretched torpor and finds the opportunity to go on a crime spree of her very own – stealing the Mona Lisa and repainting it to wear her distinctive mask, defacing the Statue of Liberty, kicking off a hurricane. Frankly, she’s really good at this.

How do you even test an hypothesis like that?

It all culminates in Luthor composing “The Superman Sonata,” a piece of music which – when accompanied by a specific piece of Kryptonian musical instruments known as a Lythre (it’s a xylophone with ramp jets), played expertly somehow by Lois – is meant to drive Superman insane. Instead it paralyzes the Man of Tomorrow, or possibly he’s trying to remember if he left the gas on in the Fortress of Solitude.

It’s a triumph for Lexo and Lola, which makes it a damn shame that the evil ray wears off right in the middle of their celebration and Lois ends up going monkey-fuck looney toons in a major way.

"And ... waitaminnit, did they inter me in a
frickin' museum?"
The story takes a grim turn at this point, with a heartbroken Luthor trying to accommodate his remorseful bride by curing Superman of his paralysis (They keep his frozen corpse on display at the Superman Museum, because buying real exhibits is expensive and this helps the curator save a few bucks). Superman eventually revives himself (the theme of this story may be “rays wearing off”) and takes Lois into custody. Luthor subsequently up-and-dies nobly while attempting to break his larcenous Lois out of the pen. It's all very Shakespearean.

Lois, meanwhile is freed, although – despite now being sane again – she cannot return Superman’s still-burning love. “Of course I’m deeply shocked by my villainous deeds” she confesses, “And very sorry! But there’s one thing I’ll never regret! My love for Lexo! He was a criminal, but he was my man! And I loved him! I still love him … I always will…”  Oh, and also Merko, Randozzi and Klavan all died of radiation poisoning off-panel.

The strange, forced structure of this story makes me imagine that it’s based on a then-popular movie, book or play of the era, however loosely – this would be a real good time for one of my readers to straight-up “actually” me in comments, if they’re so inclined. For my part, I think of it as the one time that Lois Lane got to genuinely be the star of her own story and put even Superman to shame, and it’s therefore the best Lois Lane story of all time.


BillyWitchDoctor said...

"...and takes Lois into custody, and Luthor attempting nobly while attempting a jailbreak. Lois, meanwhile is freed, although – despite now being sane again – she cannot return Superman’s still-burning love."

I'm not going to "actually" you this time, but I am going to gently criticize that atrocious passage.

Calamity Jon said...

Fixed. Better?

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