Friday, June 23, 2017


How can you possibly take her seriously with that hat on.

Here's a pair of Lana/Lois battles which center around some amazing mechanical invention of Lana's scientist uncle Professor Potter, and which play some role in their never-ending battle to nail Superman. Get nailed by. I don't know, they just want the guy.

In Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane vol.1 No.35 (August 1962, "The Amazing Brain Machine"), Lois and Lana are introduced to "M.A.N.I.A.C.", a brilliant thinking machine which is dancing like it never danced before. The Mathematical Analyzer Numerical Integrator and Automatic Computer is, to begin with, a machine in possession of a fucking stupid acronym. Even Potter laughs it off. "This plaque will explain my little jest" he says. It doesn't explain anything, Potter, try again.

"MANIAC, what's this bitch's problem? I'll wait."
Potter leaves MANIAC in Lois' apartment but warns her not to use it. Don't leave your shit lying around if you don't want someone to use it, Potter. This is like storing your bike at a friend's apartment while you're visiting your folks in Cleveland and you don't want to leave it at your dorm because you're afraid someone will steal it, BUT you tell the guy holding onto your bike not to ride it which maybe he didn't want to and jeez you're leaving your stuff at his place, have some class. I know that all sounded like I was reliving some past offense, but I literally don't know where any of that came from. I don't even own a bike.*

* Yes I do. I dubbed it "Titanic."

Potter does allow Lana and Lois to test the machine, which performs excellently. Lana asks it to help her find a pin she'd lost in that very room the previous week. Lois asks it to explain why the fuck Lana is even here. That is ... an amazing burn.

Despite Potter's warning, Lois uses MANIAC to pick up a scoop, lure Perry White into a raise, assassinate Castro and discern Superman's alternate identity. I made up that third one. When Lana gets her hands on MANIAC, though, this happens:

Why'd she bring the cape around? Is she Linus Lang?

Computers continue to give Lana a chance to mess with Lois' whole life in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane vol.1 No.44 (October 1963, "Superman's Surprise Choice") where, in order to quiet down a Lana/Lois catfight (and who asked him?*), he invents a Love Detector which will reveal Superman's romantic preference.**

*Honestly, I don't see the appeal of catfights, but masculinity is hell of toxic and I guess men need women to engage in unambiguously aggressive activities so as to mitigate their fear of embarrassment at feminine hands? I have no idea. Cat-hugs should be more popular, just two ladies getting all hugged on by each other, settling fights with these long-ass hugs. Put me in charge of society, thanks.

**Jimmy Olsen.

Also I hate catfights because I could never bring myself to pour water on people, like some kind of Harlem Globetrotter.

Lana and Lois take the friendly competition to a really gruesome level: they make a contract which requires the love-loser to leave town for-the-fuck-ever until the end of time. This is bad news for Lois because LANA WINS THE WORLD SERIES ! LANA WINS THE WORLD SERIES! Superman tipped the needle so hard for Lana Lang that I feel like the first half of this sentence is a vulgar euphemism.

Lois goes and builds a new life for herself, teaching English as a volunteer in "a remote land" (Mexico, it's Mexico, she's in Mexico, that's the remote land in question, it's Mexico), before Superman realizes that the love-detector machine was rigged. It was, he explains, set to register a woman's emotions of love, not a man's. Toxic masculinity, folks, I said it before.

Femininity isn't getting all that great a rap in this story, either.

It wouldn't be a Silver Age Superman story without an unnecessary complication, and here it is: Lois actually rigged the machine to select Lana so that she could quit her job and leave town until a promotional Daily Planet contest was over. See, it turns out that Lois' sister Lucy entered the contest, and won, but relatives of employees were banned from the contest, and Lois was afraid that everyone would think the contest was rigged and the Planet would be ruined. So she made sure she was unemployed when Lucy won the contest. I would have just told someone to invalidate that entry rather than stage my own humiliating departure from my high-prestige job, apartment and general life. This is what keeps me from being a daring girl reporter.


Tom said...

Hey wait a minute, MANIAC was a real old-school computer at Los Alamos, and it had almost exactly the same acronym. This is like if Carol Ferris used DARPANet to gain Sinestro's powers for the day.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

These stories are horrifying and your write-ups are fantastic. After the "unnecessary complication" was revealed, was there any apology from Lana for being such a complete K-9 b(CLANG!!)h about her false win?

You know, it's weird--as I'm sure you're already well aware from stuff like the superhero Blackhawks or Prez, one of the worst things in comics is when a middle-aged man tries to write "hip" to appeal to kids. And yet, here are two grown women* whose behavior would be more suited to Betty and Veronica, and only then because they're in high school. Joe Simon and whoever wrote this story--can't find the author; was it Mort?--should've switched jobs.

*Isn't it ALSO weird that Lois and Lana (and Supes) seem to be, like, pushing forty in the stories from this era? It must be the severe, Nixon-conservative dress and hairstyles.

neofishboy said...

Weird. This is the second reference to Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” that I’ve seen today (the first was that video with the gorilla). I was wondering if the universe was trying to tell me something. And then I got to thinking about the other big song from that movie. Man, remember when Irene Cara was, like, one of the biggest pop stars in the world? Yep, takes me back ……

I’m sorry, I’m not sure what my point was.

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