Friday, September 4, 2009

Tales From the Vault: LOIS LANE #137

Details: This is the final issue of Lois Lane, with a publication date of September, 1974. There are two stories, the first being credited to Cary Bates with pencils from John Rosenberger. Man, I love his work with Pixar. The second story has the same art team of Rosenberger and Vince Coletta, with writing from J. David Warner.

Synopsis One: First up is "The Stolen Subway!" I should say that Lois looks very cute in the vintage early 70's fashion; this was a good era for her. Anyway, Lois and Clark are leaving a diner when an old man staggers out of the subway with a look of terror on his face and drops dead, so apparently he’s been on the Q train. His girlfriend then rushes up and explains that he's only 21 even though he looks 60. Lois and Clark are like, "weird", then pretty much leave. Life in the heartless city.

Later on, at the Daily Planet, Perry gives them an assignment to go out and find a story. It's a competition and whoever finds the best one gets a bonus. Lois of course rushes out to search for a story while Clark… turns into Superman so he can use his powers to find a story faster. So, in other words, he's going to use his powers to cheat in order to get ahead of his coworkers. Wow, Supes, dick move.

Lois decides to investigate the subway thing, because now that she’s getting paid she suddenly cares. Stumbling around the subway, Lois suddenly comes across a dead shark and none other than the Old Soldier!!!. Wait, no. Wrong comic book, sorry. Actually, she finds an empty subway car, which in New York is probably less likely than the dead shark thing. Suddenly, though, it shoots out of the station and up into the sky, so fast that Lois blacks out from the G force. Dammit, I just knew they’d jack up the effects on the remake of Pelham 1 2 3.

Superman sees this and chases after it but even though he's supposedly as fast as Flash, he can't catch up to a flying subway train. Inexplicably he then decides that the train has taken her to an alternate dimension, so he beams himself into an alternate dimension to look for her. I'm not sure how he just goes dimension hopping whenever he feels like it, but I guess that's Superman in the 1970's. Also, I have to say I think his methodology is suspect here.

Meanwhile, Lois wakes up and discovers that she has, of course, been kidnapped by hyper intelligent dinosaurs. She seems strangely unfazed by this and asks them what they want. They tell her that the whole thing with the dead kid was an accident, he just got scared of telepathic dinosaurs form another dimension, which, yeah. Okay, I can buy that.

Then they launch into this weird story about how their dying planet had sent out arks millions of years ago and they are trying to track these survivors down now that the danger has passed. Lois is like, "well, the ones that landed on Earth ate each other and now we show their bones on the Discovery Channel". Their response is fairly benign, as they just warn her that the human race should shape up or else they too will follow the way of the dinosaur. Which apparently means... that they will become intergalactic, pan-dimensional superbeings. You know, I have to say that as far as warnings go, that one is pretty mild.

They then beam Lois back to town where she and Clark both tell Perry that they couldn't find anything.


Synopsis Two: Next up is another slice of classic 70’s Americana. It starts with Lois interrupting a gang of thugs (one of which seems to be wearing a zoot suit; I told you it was classic) who are trying to kill a couple old people. Wouldn’t think it would be that hard, but Lois intervenes and uses some jiu-jitsu to clobber one of the gunmen. Strangely, all the thugs recognize her instantly as Lois Lane, Girl Reporter, so I guess they are fans of her column? They don’t seem like it, though, instead deciding to plug her. Superman shows up just then, as he tends to do, and saves her.

Lois then learns that the old couple are being strong-armed because they refuse to leave their house. In gratitude for her do-gooding, they present her with, er, an extra houseplant they had lying around, which Lois accepts as though it’s not the dumbest thing she’s ever seen. Instead, Lois decides this would make a great story for her friend Melba’s TV show (the strong-arming, not the houseplant) so the next day they head back for an interview.

However, more thugs show up and blast the old lady right in the choppers! Whoops. Lois fights back, but a goon gets the drop on her. Luckily, Melba rescues her by lassoing the guy with her microphone cord, leading to this line from Lois:
“Thanks, Melba! You’re a groovy gaucho!”

Good one Lois. Sigh. Anyway, the mob boss behind the attacks has finally had it, so he personally heads into the basement of the apartment building and sets up some big bombs. Then, he detonates them. Lois and Melba and the old people are all killed.


No, actually, Superman shows up out of nowhere – after the bomb has gone off, mind you – and with his super speed he rebuilds the entire building around Lois and Melba in such a way that nobody is injured. Even more, he does it so fast and silently that the mob boss, who is standing in the street, doesn’t even notice it. He’s so busy gloating that he doesn’t realize the building has rebuilt itself ten feet behind him. Hm. That’s a lot of gloat.

Finally, he and his goons notice what happened and decide to get even by killing Superman, which, good luck. One goon shouts this:

“Superman! He’s human… blast him!”

Hey buddy, let me know how that worked out for you. Also, he’s totally not human. How widely known is Superman’s alien origin, exactly? I figured it was a matter of public record, but maybe not? Anyway, turns out the old woman is only injured and not dead since this isn’t a Geoff Johns comic. Not only that, but Superman decides to actually upgrade the apartment building while he’s fixing it, turning it into a bunch of high-end garden apartments. In other words, for the first time ever, Superman actually uses his powers to help improve people’s lives. About damn time.


Extras: Interestingly, the letter column at the end tells people to tune in for future issues to see upcoming changes. Which is a bit odd since this is the last issue, but on the other hand, that is a pretty big change. I wonder how many middle-aged women are still going down to the market every day looking for Lois Lane #138?

My grades: B+ for camp value, A+ for pan-dimensional dinosaurs, F- for Superman being an overpowered wanker.

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