Do you know who Mark Felt is?
The very first comic book I ever remember seeing was Lois Lane #1, the one with Lois as a witch on the cover! I glanced through it, way back in 1958 but had no interest in it. The First comic I ever read was World’s Finest #102, “The Caveman from Krypton.” But I fell in love with comics with Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown.
So I viewed with great interest the publishing of the beginning of my comic book history, the first Lois Lane stories. The first of the DC Archives, Superman and Action Comics, were 270 pages for $50. This was thirty pages less and ten dollars more.
The Forward by Tom Peyer, a comic book writer, was interesting and discussed the expansion of the Superman family of books. But there is little new information here. Roy Thomas, in particular, has a knack of painting the historical and timely background of a title and the time it appeared. That that is not done here. It is obvious that the comics code, acting as de facto censor and story editor has influenced these tales. Not done in any other preface, the author discusses every story in a small paragraph.
Sadly, the stories were not much fun for me to read. And the stereotypical display of not just Lois, but her relationship to Superman is silly and at time tedious. These stories were aimed for young teenagers, not the young adults of two decades previous when Superman was introduced.
There are generally 3 stories to the issues, Showcase #9-10 and Lois Lane #1-8. Usually there is a quick set-up to a plot, often one that seems good, middle and a quick sewing up of all the plot points at the end. And every time there is a change in character, Lois joins the military and becomes a mean person, we know it’s to fool someone or to get a story. The covers often display a slightly misleading view of the stories. A fat Lois, and imprisoned, Lois and Witch Lois, all of which we know will be easily explained and set back to normal by the end of the story.
Throughout the stories, Lois and Superman try to teach each other a “lesson” and do cruel and unusual things to each other, always using trickery and deceit. In fact, Lois reminds me of Lucy (I Love Lucy) with the amount of deceit she implores. And so many times Superman goes to incredible lengths, even using Batman and Robin, to teach her a lesson.
Now, we have to, I guess, accept the fact that disguise is easy in the comic book world. Just ask the Chameleon! But here, again, just a mask of Superman makes even Robin and Jimmy Olsen look like, sound like, and have the same build as the Man of Steel. That’s right; a lot of people are deceiving a lot of people.
What saddens me most is the demeaning attribute Superman has towards Lois. Reporters look for scoops, but Lois loved Superman and wanted to be part of his life. She wanted him to trust her and she wanted to spend more with him. He plays with these feelings in all issues. Woodward and Bernstein knew that Deep Throat was Mark Felt, Associate Director of the FBI but never betrayed that trust. Neither would Lois, but Superman teases her throughout these stories, but somehow, she is not trustworthy. Yet reporters have gone to jail for not releases their sources and their secrets.
It was the story of “The Forbidden Box from Krypton” in her second Showcase appearance that really bothered me. Lois gains super-powers from the contents of a box from Krypton, sent to earth by Jor-El. She used her powers for good, even in the end, risking everything to save Superman from a huge Kryptonite meteor. EXCEPT….. Superman thinks that her powers may add up to “Super-Trouble” although he never explains how or why and goes the entire story trying to have her lose her powers! He sets up a deceitful trap to expose her to kryptonite just to remove her powers. The Superman she saves turns out to be dummy, part of a trick.
I always emphasize the stories and the storytelling in my reviews, because that is what turned me on to comics. I really enjoyed Wayne Borings artwork here, but I am not a fan of Stan Kaye’s inks. Al Plastino does some of the tory and Curt Swan makes a few cameo appearances. But soon most of the art is taken over by Kurt Schaffenberger, who is the person I most associate with the title. While he falls right into the house look for Superman, there was always a funny, or comic, twist to his style over the years,
But frankly, by 1960, I was growing bored with this style and started looking for something else. That got me to the Challengers of the Unknown and a guy named Jack Kirby. But that is a story for another day.
Who should read this book: Certainly not women of today! It’s only for someone who would like a snapshot of that era. But, remember, you read one comic and you have read them all.