Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Action Comics #138 (Part 1): SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE

I'm baaa-aaack! And it's time for another Golden Age book! This one is Action Comics #138, published in November of 1949. Granted, some would argue that it's Atom Age but I'm using a very simple system of identification: each decade is a different age. That makes this Golden Age. After all, it's nearly 60 years old. Those are golden years in most people's minds.

My copy is coverless (Now with extra rat chews for that low grade luster!) but the wonderful Nearmint (that's his screen name on the CGC forums – and speaking of which, I now have a monthly column in the newsletter so take a trip over to CGC and read The Spinner Rack. My column starts in December of 2007) was kind enough to provide me with a cover scan. Three cheers for Nearmint! I've never been a high grade collector. As you can probably tell from this blog, to me it's all about the stories!

Enough of my rambling. Time to get to the good stuff. Let's dive into the Part 1 of SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE!

The splash page shows Superman standing on hill (or mountain or volcano or pile-o-something – it's not very clear) getting hit by lightening. Lois Lane and someone who looks vaguely like Jimmy Olsen yet isn't watch the spectacle.

The intro panel says, "Lois Lane has frequently scooped her rival reporters on stories for The Daily Planet! But could she win in a scoop-contest if Superman were helping the other reporter? Does it seem impossible? Don't be too sure, for surprises can happen, and there's a surprising climax to the – SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE"

Now this looks like fun! Superman is helping some other person instead of Lois? But she's one of The Planet's ace reporters! She's Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane! She's got a pad of paper and a pen (unlike that other guy who's got a camera. That's Jimmy of him)! Superman, come to your senses! No one deserves scoops more than Lois!

[On a completely tangential side note, the dog my family had when I was a teen loved to chase squirrels. If we said the word "squirrel" she would go nuts, thinking there was something worth chasing outside. One day, while watching the news, they mentioned an upcoming scoop about something that wasn't all that interesting. With false enthusiasm, I said to my mother, "Oh boy, a scoop!" The dog went nuts. Apparently, it was the "sc" sound that meant squirrel to her, not the entire word. From then on, we had her chasing scoops despite her lack of a press pass.]

Turning the page we find the intrepid Lois investigating a construction site. She'd gotten a tip and went to the half-built skyscraper at daybreak, to avoid running into the crew. She approaches a girder and hits it with a magic hammer. (Unlike any hammer I've ever owned, hers floats in midair. Sure, you could argue that she hit the girder and the hammer bounced out of her hand, the panel catching this action in mid-bounce, but I prefer to think of it as a magic hammer. Like Thor's hammer or that one in the song where having a hammer brings justice, freedom, and love and peace between brother and sister all over the world! That's a really magic hammer. And a pretty stupid song when you think about it. Fun to sing, though.)

The girder she hammered is really wrecked. Lois is obviously on to something with this story. Suddenly, she realizes that the cracked girder is causing a chain reaction among the other substandard (really, really, really substandard) girders. The entire skyscraper is about to collapse right on top of Lois!

"Then, strangely, something seems to hold up the collapsing building a moment! Let's look outside!" Oh yes, let's. Nothing outside of my apartment. All is quiet. But wait – outside the collapsing building is none other than Superman! As he holds up the really, really, really substandard girders, Superman smugly reflects on the fact that he knew Lois was off on a dangerous story and would need his help. Good thing he was stalking her, er, following her secretly. Not creepy at all since he saved her life. However, had she been heading somewhere a little more private or intimate... well, let's just say it was Supes' lucky day. Bet he wishes he had a magic hammer.

Lois escapes the no-longer-falling girders and races off to the office to write up her scoop (down, girl! I said scoop, not squirrel!). Superman decides he should also get back to the office or they'll be missing ole Clark Kent. How does Superman keep that job, anyway? He's forever racing into that supply closet and taking off to stop floods, deflect asteroids, save kittens, and other heroic deeds. He must be a heckuva writer.

Perry White is a happy guy when he gets Lois's story. "A swell scoop, Lois! Your fourth this month!" (okay, a new drinking game: everyone has to take a shot whenever the word "scoop" is mentioned. Only play if you're not going anywhere and don't mind alcohol poisoning.)

Clark, however, is concerned by Lois's "scoop mania" because he has to be around every time she goes after a scoop, to keep her safe. Enter one Herbert Binkle, a dweeby lil fellow who appears to be a cross between Jerry Lewis and Jimmy Olsen. Herb wants to work at the Planet. He's got a journalism degree from Northville College and everything! "I was also a reporter on our school newspaper, so I've had real experience!" (and he hasn't even said the word 'scoop' yet). Perry gives him the brushoff in a nice way, but Clark sees Herb as his way out of his dilemma with Lois.

Clark pulls Herb aside and tells him to promise Perry White a scoop a day for a whole week. Herb is unsure but after a pep talk from Clark, he'll give it a try. Perry agrees to the idea, but thinks it's impossible. Lois says, "He doesn't know how hard scoops are to find!" Clark then has a long internal thought wherein he self-refers as Superman and then says both "scoop" and "scoop-madness" (feeling tipsy yet?).

I foresee lots of trouble for Lois and an unfair advantage for Herbert. I also foresee Clark Kent getting fired because he won't be around the office, won't file any stories (scoops or otherwise) and what am I saying? Clark is a star reporter! He'll be safe. But will Lois? Keep that drinking arm in shape because there are more scoops and more Golden Age fun in Part 2 of SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE! Be here or be sober!


Jim Perreault said...

Yaahh! It's back! And a Golden Age story to boot! That will be a nice change after the Silver Age story.

Lois Lane has frequently scooped her rival reporters on stories for The Daily Planet! But could she win in a scoop-contest if Superman were helping the other reporter?

Like say Clark Kent? I thought Clark got as many scoops as Lois. (Who doesn't seem to be that great of a reporter if she can't get a story without Superman protecting her.)

Let's look outside!" Oh yes, let's.

Nothing out my apartment window either.

Welcome back, Joanna.


Ed Pahule said...

Atom Age? I honestly have never heard that term. I've heard Golden, Silver, and Bronze, and whatever we're in now. The Garbage Age? ;)

Joanna Sandsmark said...

People have named that age between the GA and the SA the Atom or Atomic Age because of the switch from superheroes to horror and sci fi. It ended when Showcase 4 came out. My decade designation isn't accurate (Showcase 4 came out in the 50s) but I figured it would easier for those who are less familiar with comics.

One of my goals with this blog is to show people who don't read comic books how much fun they can be.

cschack said...

Oh, my uncle had this issue. (Well, the Norwegian translation anyway - and in B/W, but still)

I just found this blog today and love it - when I saw the Curt Swan sketches, it was like going back in time to my childhood. :-)

Joanna Sandsmark said...

It's wonderful to have you here, cschack! My grandfather was from Norway, though not a comic collector. I was the only real comic fiend in the family despite my having two brothers. I'm glad you enjoyed the Swan sketch. It's one of my favorite things.