Monday, January 28, 2008

Slight delay

My apologies, but there will be a slight delay before starting the new story. Other projects need to be addressed but I'll be back as soon as I clear enough space to work up the next revisit. Meanwhile, if you have any favorite stories or characters, let me know. (If it's a Marvel character/story I can't do it because I don't have any Marvel comics.)

See you soon!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #29 (Part 5 - Finale): THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE

When last we read, Batman, Green Arrow and Aquaman brought their soiled hankies together so that Bats could fly the linens to the North Pole. This story is so wacky even the summary sounds like I'm on drugs! Be that as it may, that's what happened and you know darn well you can't resist reading the thrilling conclusion of THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE!

Near the fortress of solitude, Batman finds a stricken Superman, who is surrounded by green kryptonite and dancing aliens. He ties the three handkerchiefs to a bat-a-rang and tosses it to Supes. (Obviously, Superman has the sniffles from being in the arctic, but couldn't Batman find a fresh hankie or some Kleenex?)

"Gasp! Those lipstick stains! I-I must smear my face with them!" thinks Superman (I believe this is approximately when security was called on my roomies and I.), probably wishing they'd been Glamorous Garnet instead of Crimson Sunset because the latter clashed with his 'S'. Smear he does and instantly he shakes off the effects of the green K. He gets rid of the aliens and offers to fly Batman's plane back to Metropolis (I guess Batman was probably low on fuel after that long flight). And finally, we get the first hint of what was going on when Batman says, "Swell! As you see, Plan 'L' worked perfectly, thanks to Lois Lane! She was really ingenious!"

Plan L. Ah, but of course! Why didn't I see it? As Silver Age Superman aficionados know, the 'Plan' series were some of the craziest, silliest, most entertaining stories ever. The letters column of Lois Lane #31 (February 1962) said there would be similar stories about Plan J, with Jimmy Olsen, Plan P, with Perry White, Plan V, with Superman's Kandorian cousin Van-Zee, and Plan PR, with Pete Ross. Both Plan J (written by Jerry Siegel) and Plan P (written by Robert Bernstein) eventually appeared (plan P is in Action 295, and I can't remember which issue had Plan J), but Plan V and Plan PR were never written. Personally, I think it's nearly impossible to top Plan L.

And now, the convoluted explanation of everything that just happened. Ready? Here we go:

As all the players gather, Superman begins. "When I found myself in the Green Kryptonite death trap near my Fortress of Solitude, which... luckily, the aliens didn't spot... I used super-ventriloquism to Krypto to put plan 'L' into execution! That's why Krypto wrote the 'L' in the sky -- to alert Lois that I needed her help!"

Superman then mentioned Plan J and Plan P, but Lois points that "...Plan 'L' is to be carried out by me only when you're in dire peril from green kryptonite near the Fortress of Solitude." (Wow, that's really specific! Superman was really thinking when he came up with these Plan things).

Lois continues, "The idea was to rush to you some grains of red kryptonite I always carry in a lead capsule in my purse! Red kryptonite always has a different, unpredictable effect on you! But this particular type acts as an instant cure for green kryptonite! We know because it once saved Krypto from kryptonite poisoning! Therefore, these crystals could also be used to save you once... and once only... as an antidote for green kryptonite! However, I sensed trouble this morning when I received a mysterious vase of flowers!"

Apparently, there was a crystal eye on the bottom of the vase ("I see London, I see France. I see Lois with my plants."), and Lois instantly concluded that Superman's enemies were observing her. (That's what I always think when I see crystal eyes on household items. Good thing Lois didn't dismiss it as just another seeing-eye vase).

"I put two and two together!" continued Lois. "Whoever was monitoring me must also have Superman at his mercy! So I couldn't let the watchers see me give the red kryptonite to some Justice League of America heroes, who also knew what Plan 'L' was!" (Is there a reason Wonder Woman wasn't included in this Plan? A panel or two of Lois and Wondy making out would have probably sold twice as many copies.)

Lois is still talking. "Therefore I hit on a scheme to avoid their suspicions! I broke open the lead capsule inside my purse and used my lipstick to pick up the grains of red kryptonite... like dipping a celery stick in salt! ("Thank God I practiced dipping all those celery sticks or I'd never be able to manage this tricky maneuver.")

Having told Perry White I'd do a 'Heroes I've Kissed' article, I went about kissing as many heroes as I could, whispering my plan to each one as I hugged them..." (You know, that's a whole lot of talking she was doing while she was busy making out with all the superheroes. Quite the chatterbox. Aquaman seems upset about the whole thing, too. Maybe he wanted to be the only one who got kissed. He probably has a chip on his shoulder because swimming just isn't the superpower draw that, say, flying is.)

Because Batman knew the location of the Fortress of Solitude, he was assigned to fly the hankies to Superman.

Nothing convoluted about this plan. Nope. Granted, it explains everything that was a mystery in this story but it's not like one guess what it was about as it unfolded. Red kryptonite lipstick just in case Superman is ever trapped by aliens with green kryptonite near his Fortress of Solitude? Krypto skywriting a giant L? Plants with eyes? Kissing superheroes to pass the kryptonite (and it isn't like she carried the eye plant around with her so how did she know they were observing her when she was with the heroes?)?

Do you see why I adore this story? It's magnificently insane! It's weird, wacky and IRRESISTABLE! Just like Lois in her man-bait dress. Yeah, this is why I love comics.

But wait, there's one more panel – you won't need to guess what it is because you're staring at it, but tell me this wasn't predictable! Lois gets her reward from Superman -- a big, fat, kiss! Like she hadn't had enough of that already! ("Oops, forgot to take notes for the article. Okay, boys, line up and let's do it all again!")

And there it is. The infamous Plan L, put into action with flawless accuracy. Superman's Cheating Girlfriend Lois Lane, aka The Irresistible Lois Lane and her man-bait dress will have to come up with a new plan the next time Superman is in dire peril from green kryptonite near the Fortress of Solitude, I guess. Let's just hope it doesn't happen soon.

So, what did you think? Do you feel compelled to own your own copy? Did you read it or just look at the pictures? Let me know!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #29 (Part 4): THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE

When last we read: Aquaman swam into town to rescue people using scary sea creatures and Lois didn't hesitate to put her lips all over that seaman (Oops, I do believe I might've doubled that entendre). But Green Arrow and Aquaman just aren't enough to satisfy the girl reporter because she's got her eye on a certain man who likes to drive around disguised as a flying mammal. Please join me for Part 4 of THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE!

Lois begs a ride because Batman is in town and she wants more lovin'! "Really, Lois, you've got more crust than a pie!" Lana opines. (Although I like the sound of that hep talk, I'm not sure what crustiness has to do with kissing. Sounds a little... gross. Besides, aren't crusty people curmudgeons? Something to ponder).

Lois and Lana arrive at midtown in time to see Batman climbing a theatre marquee. (I wonder what major criminal event brought Batman from Gotham City to Metropolis? Hmm, can't wait to find out). While Batman thinks about moving "fast and quietly", Lois shouts out, "Look! There's Batman now! Climbing onto that movie marques!" (Rather than kiss Lois, I'm thinking Batman might slug her for shouting out his entire plan so that whomever he's chasing will hear. I mean, c'mon, Lois! He's a stealthy crimefighter! Don't narrate his moves! Then again, the crooks didn't notice the crowd, the TV van or Batman. They deserve to be caught.)

He spots some thugs trying to break into the theatre manager's office. Thinking fast, he unscrews some lightbulbs from the marques and tosses them onto the ground to simulate gunfire. The crooks give up instantly. ("We were just trying to buy some Raisonettes, Batman, we promise!"). Thank goodness there was no need to fight, or insert any superhero action into the scene. It might've distracted us from all the kissing. (Amazing that Batman solved the entire crime in 3 panels. He's a lot slower in Gotham City. Perhaps that's why he decided to come to Metropolis. Or is theatre crime tops on his list? "I'll go anywhere in the world if I hear crooks are trying to sneak into the movies!")

Lois is there to greet Bruce (we're tight) with a big hug. Lana is there to fume out a thought balloon. And Lana's camerman is there for the inevitable play-by-play. "He's kissing Lois Lane! He can't tear his lips away!" (Thanks, camerman. I never would've gotten that from the drawing of the two of them kissing, unable to tear their lips away).

Personally, I'm wondering if word got out that Lois was on a costume-loving kissing jag and that's why Metropolis is suddenly filled with superheroes.

"Later, outside Metropolis..." things start to heat up as Green Arrow and Aquaman join Batman on a cliff top. Always helpful, Batman makes sure to narrate the scene with his thought balloon. It's possible he's showing off his great detective skills, but personally, I wouldn't put that one on my resumé if I were him. (And in case you can't read Batman's thoughts or are obvious-impaired, Aquaman gets squirted up there by a whale spout and Green Arrow catapults himself out of his Arrow Car. Batman flew there in a plane. I'm thinking this is not your basic tourist cliff.) The three JLA members are obviously up to something. (See? I'm a detective, too!)

The plot thickens when Batman collects lipstick-smeared handkerchiefs from the other two, adding it to his own. Lipstick-smeared handkerchiefs from 3 heroes via Lois's lips -- what does it all mean? Whatever the answer, Bats hops in his Batplane and heads to the North Pole ("Tomorrow I'm taking old socks to the Himalayas!").

This scene has left me with so many questions! What are the hankies for? Why is Batman flying to the North Pole? Is Santa in on this? And for crying out loud, what was that opening scene with Krypto skywriting and secret admirers about? Looks like you're going to have to come back on Friday for the thrilling conclusion to THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #29 (Part 3): THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE

When last we read, Lois had conquered her first superhero for her kissing story. Green Arrow was more than willing to forego his blow-up doll arrow and indulge in a little lip on lip action with the Metropolis's most famous female reporter. And now, with an Aquaman sighting getting Lois all revved up, let's return to THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE:

"Gosh, Lana, I must cover that disaster! Aquaman will be there in person! Please give me a lift!" Despite the obvious hussy-ness of Lois's sudden interest in the story, Lana agrees to give her a ride.

Lana is worried about the passengers, but Lois has faith in the sea king. "He communicates with his sea creatures through fish telepathy!" she says. And there's Aquaman now -- standing on the back of a whale, directing a plethora of big fishies (And once again we can thank our lucky stars that fish think in English).


The rescue is Aquariffic! Octopi help people off the boat, while other passengers climb down ladders made of eels and swordfish (wouldn't eel ladders be rather slippery?).

So what happens once they're in the water? "...the dolphins, tarpins and sharks [are] waiting to transport you to the shore." (Sharks? SHARKS?? Oh gee, thanks, Aquaman! I'm so glad you're here, otherwise that octopus wouldn't have just handed me to a shark! You couldn't have sent a tuna or a dolphin?) But Arthur (again, first name basis) has ordered his toothy helpers not to dine on anyone, so all's well. However, the guy riding the shark looks a tad nervous.

Naturally, when all is well, Aquaman comes to shore and is accosted by Lois. "That cheap thing is at it again!" thinks Lana. "But she won't get anywhere with Aquaman! Heroes like him don't like to be rushed by girls!" (So... is she trying to say that Aquaman is gay? And if so, does she know about Batman and Robin or are those still rumors? Personally, I always thought Elongated Man had a certain "quality" -- and that Sue Dibney is a beard.)

Lana's cameraman is either a Canadian mind-reader, or he glanced at her thought balloon, because he says, "'Doesn’t like it", eh?' Listen to Aquaman! " Arty has turned off his fish telepathy, because he's begging for more like the randy he-man he is (so much for Lana's theory!), and he ain't kissing a flounder! The Irresistible Lois Lane is planting lipstick all over his big, blond head! (I believe his thought balloon would probably read, "The lips, Lois! Aim for the lips!")

Lana is jealous, Lois redoes her lipstick and Aquaman rides off on a whale -- just like so many dates end in high school.

Is Lois's kissing spree over? Is there anyone left? Perhaps we should check that cover once again – uh oh! Some guy dressed as a bat is last in line but looking very eager! This sounds like a job for THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE! (Come back on Wednesday to see if Lois can get rabies from kissing a Batman)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #29 (Part 2): THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE

When last we read, Lois received a mysterious bouquet of flowers from a secret admirer, Krypto skywrote a giant "L" using a flaming torch, and Lois pitched a story about kissing superheroes to Perry White. None of these gives her a moment's hesitation because her focus is honed in on one huge, gigantic, earth-shattering problem: What should she wear? And now, let's return to the story.

Lois goes home and by a stroke of luck, found some man-bait in her closet. [Man-bait, n., 1. Something used in luring, especially to hook or trap an adult male. 2. A dress that hugs the curves. 3. A dress so drenched in perfume, it can raise Superman's temperature. Etymology: "Man" Middle English, from Old English man, mon human being, male human; akin to Old High German man human being, Sanskrit manu. "Bait" Middle English, from Old Norse beit pasturage & beita food; akin to Old English bItan to bite]

She puts on her orange man-bait dress, and checks her look in the mirror. "My hair looks attractive, my make-up is right for a change, and my lips look inviting! All I need now is the man... or rather the men!" (Slut) If there are minors reading this, please avert your eyes from the man-bait dress for it may be too much for you to handle.

Lois obviously knows how to turn on the pheromones in that man-bait dress of hers because every man on the street is head-swiveling, whistling, and coming on to her. Lois has a superpower! With the simple donning of a dress, she becomes irresistible to the opposite sex! (How long do you think Lois walked around in that dress to make sure it was as man-baity as the saleslady had promised?) Surely she'll have no problems getting the green guy's arrows to quiver.

Green Arrow is putting on an archery exhibition at Metropolis stadium. (I swear, that's all that's on TV nowadays -- archery, archery, archery! ESPN, find another sport!) He asks the crowd of thousands for a volunteer to help him and low and behold, Miss Thang is right there giving a shout-out. Naturally, he chooses her. (After all, he is male, and she is "The Irresistible Lois Lane!")

Ollie (GA and I are on a first name basis) asks her to toss four aces into the air. (The perfect trick in a gigantic stadium before the days of the Jumbotron. I'm certain everyone in the upper deck can see those playing cards. Yup, a sure crowd-pleaser.) For some unknown reason, Lois sings her assent.

She tosses the cards up, Ollie twwanngs his bow and with 4 perfect 'PWWTs', his arrow spears all four aces right through the center. But oh! Lois's necklace has broken from the excitement of this trick! (I'm not sure how her necklace exploded because the arrow was nowhere near it. For now, let's just assume it was booby-trapped.) Her perfectly matched pearls will be lost! No problem, GA has a Vacuum Arrow!

GA's VA hovers over Lois using a helicopter rotor device and vacuums up her pearls. You heard me. I'm sure it's one of his favorite arrows -- after all, that's a lot of mechanics and balancing and stuff to get a helicopter rotor and a powerful vacuum on an arrow, so with all that work, it has to be extremely useful to Ollie. Constantly. Bet he uses it to clean up the Arrow Car, and do the carpets at home, and it's probably vacuumed up any number of crime scenes. Crooks would run screaming if they saw that helicopter vacuum arrow a'coming at'em. Wouldn’t you?

Well, Lois sure is impressed! "You wonderful man! I could hug the daylights out of you!" she says. But hugging isn't good enough for The Irresistible Lois Lane. Oh no! She godda kiss da boy!

But what's this? Someone in the crowd appears shocked at the liplock on the field. "Good Grief! She's kissing him!" (I'm guessing it's Charlie Brown.) Lana Lang is covering the event and is appalled at this sudden amorous turn of events. Lana's cameraman says, "Holy cats! Now he's kissing her! He must like it!" (Ya think? Why would a guy want to kiss a beautiful woman wearing a man-bait dress with sudden superpowers that make her irresistible? It makes less sense than Krypto's skywriting!) Lana is incensed. "Something's crazy here! Heroes like Green Arrow don't act like that in public! (Shocking! Shocking I tell you! This news is worth more than the front page! I'm thinking "Extree, extree, read all about it!" special editions and stuff!)

"A minute later..." (oookay, they just kissed in front of an entire stadium full of people for a full minute. 60 seconds. During the code years of Hollywood, screen kisses were only allowed to last for 3 seconds, tops. Any longer and the censor came down with his giant scissors. Yet this was 60 full seconds of kissing. Scandalous!!! Lois really is a slut! I also suspect Arrow will have to restring his bow after that display.)

"A minute later..." Green Arrow says, "Gosh, Miss Lane! That was terrific! May I kiss you again?" (Holy Face Sucking, Batman -- he wants more? Well, if that isn't the limit!) Lana says, "Well, if that isn't the limit!" (I hear ya, Lana!)

Lana asks if Lois's scheme is to make Superman jealous, but Lois isn't falling for it. "Oh, were you watching, Lana?" she says nonchalantly while re-applying her lipstick. Green Arrow discretely wipes off the lip imprints covering his face (he'll probably run home and create a lipstick-removing arrow in case this situation arises again in the future). After calling the display "disgusting", Lana is distracted by the speakers on her news van. Apparently an excursion boat in Metropolis harbor has caught fire! Lois doesn't appear to care until the announcer mentions that Aquaman is there.

Oh ho! The plot thickens! There's another hero in town and he has yet to be kissed by Lois! Does man-bait work on a guy more used to bait-bait? Should she wiggle like a worm or will Aquaguy let her swim right into his heart? The only way to find out (other than reading it yourself, and really, who would actually read a comic? It could ruin the condition!) is to come back on Monday for Part 3 of THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #29 (Part 1): THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE

Despite the fact that I sold off the bulk of my books, there's one Silver Age book I just couldn't part with. On the surface, it might seem a puzzling choice: Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #29. Not Action 29, which is the first cover appearance of Lois Lane. Way out of my league. Nope, just her regular silver age series, LL29. Why that book? Well, for starters, I looked for it a long time. It was always priced higher than I was willing to pay (my budget was $5 or less -- I'm a big spender), yet I wanted a copy desperately. Finally, while browsing books at the San Diego Comic Con, there it was – and for only $2.00!

I couldn't wait to read this baby, but had to hold off because there were more books to buy, more discussions of the appeal of Go-Go checks to have, and more really bad convention food to choke down. I carted my books back to the room I was sharing with 3 other women, and then went out for dinner and con-related hijinks. After a night of partying, my roommates wanted to go to the bar. I don’t drink, and was tired, so I bowed out. But instead of falling asleep, I knew I had to read that LL29. It was calling to me. The ladies returned as I was about to start, so I decided to read it out loud. We were nearly ejected from our room due to too much laughter, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Get comfy cuz I promise this is a good one. Zany, goofy, bizarre silver age fun at its finest. THIS is why I adore comics! You can keep the realistic storylines. I like'em silly.

The cover story is placed third in the book, and I didn't even glance at the other two stories on my first reading. I knew where the heart of 29 was. I wanted to read "The Irresistible Lois Lane!"

Oh man, right there on the splash panel Lois is kissing Batman in front of a gulping Lana Lang. Lana's thought bubble shows Lois kissing Green Arrow and Aquaman (Lana is very visual. She thinks in pictures). And if you look closely, there's even a guy filming all this kissing -- though his shot might be blocked by Lana's thoughts (I'll fill in his thought bubble for you: "Dangit, Lana, all I can see is the back of your thoughts! You naughty wench.").

How did all this kissing happen? And where is Superman? Lois never dreams about kissing other superheroes, just the Big S. Oooh, this is so intriguing, I simply must read on.

It begins at the Daily Planet, with Lois getting a bouquet of flowers from a secret admirer. For some reason, she is quite upset by this. She says things like "er", stutters, and speaks in ellipses. Always a sign that something is not quite right. Yet they look like ordinary flowers (Although I think someone buried an upside-down elf in those flowers. All you can see are his little pointy shoes). Er... hmmm... w-what's wrong, I'm wondering.

Suddenly, an office worker calls out to Lois. A crowd is gathering at the window and the woman explains that "Krypto, Superman's dog, is writing something in the sky with a smoke flare!" Obviously, this has great meaning for Lois because she's instantly on the case.

Time out for a minute, as we contemplate this. First, a little lesson in skywriting. Skywriting is done between 8,800 and 10,000 feet. Making sure that all the letters are at the same altitude, the pilot pumps the "smoke" (clear, liquid paraffin wax) into his plane's exhaust system. Smoke pours out the exhaust pipes in the front and rear of the plane. The letters are usually a quarter-mile tall, and the lines of smoke are 75 feet wide.

Let's pretend our skywriting pilot is drawing an "L". First, he has to draw his letters backward, so that people on the ground can read them. He would begin by drawing the upright of the L, counting aloud to around 16. That's how he knows when to turn off the smoke. The line he's made expands while he banks, turns, and circles around to lay down the lower leg of the L.

So how does Krypto manage this with a burning torch? There's no on/off switch on a torch, so Krypto would have to hover around 10,000 feet above Metropolis, light his torch (this is a talented dog!) then fly his 75 feet to make the upright of the 'L'. Since Krypto is a dog and not an airplane, we'll assume he can turn on a dime and get a perfectly perpendicular lower leg of the L without having to extinguish his torch. (Either Krypto has gotten huge, or that 'L' isn't a quarter mile tall and 75' wide.)

But wait -- now he's done! He can't just keep flying with a lit torch! Quickly, he has to blow it out -- which is tougher than it sounds since he's holding it in his mouth. Maybe he wags his tail real fast and that works.

Fantastic! Krypto has done his job. And everyone on the ground says, "Look! It's a boomerang!" "No, no, it's a right angle." "I think it's a V." Right? Nope, they all know instantly that it's a single, giant 'L' in the sky.

"Can you understand it, Lois? Why did Krypto write just one letter 'L' -- then fly away?" Cagey Lois notes that it's strange, but doesn't elaborate on any L-theories. (Personally, I'm too busy wondering how they knew it was Krypto up there at 10,000 feet to worry about the big L, so I also remain silent and keep reading.)

Perry White calls Lois over and notes that Superman has been away, Clark Kent is on vacation (what are the odds?), and it's been really slow news because of it. He wants something good from Lois.

Our intrepid girl reporter immediately comes up with a socko plan. "Well, I've been flirting with an idea for a feature! 'Heroes I've Kissed' -- By Lois Lane! You know... the different heroes I've kissed, not counting Superman." (Uh huh. That'll end that news slump. The world loves a good kissing story on page 1. And despite the hardship of having to go out and kiss a bunch of heroes, Lois is bucking up with a smile. You slut, Lois!)

So how does one go about getting a scoop of this magnitude? And what on earth was that Krypto skywriting thing? And is she just going to ignore that worrisome secret admirer? And for crying out loud -- WHAT IS SHE GOING TO WEAR??

These and many more questions will have to be answered in Part 2 of THE IRRESISTABLE LOIS LANE!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Action Comics #138 (Part 5 - Finale): SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE

When last we read: Superman turned a lump of coal into a diamond and this gave Herb his next scoop and saved Joe's coal mine. Now on to Part 5 of SUPERMAN'S SCOOP-PARADE!

Back at the Daily Planet, Lois comes racing in with a scoop she's certain will top all of Herb's. Police just captured the South River Bank Bandits! (Instantly, we know this scoop is meaningless. Not only didn't Superman have anything to do with it, but not once have these bandits been mentioned in the story. Without a build-up, they're meaningless. Poor Lois. Does she not read the comic? Shouldn't she realize that red herring bandits have no relative worth when a lump of coal has just disappeared? C'mon, Lois! An entire lump of coal! And in its place is a diamond that can be seen from great distances! Your bandits are nothing compared to that!)

Perry tells Lois her story is "tame" compared to the "lightning-diamond" scoop. It "tops it by a mile." Immediately, the other nameless reporters begin jeering, teasing Lois about becoming "Miss Lois Lovelorn".

Finally, we get a glimmer of savvy out of Lois as she voices her suspicions about Herbert's string of scoops. In her words, he's "too terrific." Perry tells her that every story has been affirmed but Lois is undaunted. She heads to the office of a "noted scientist" and asks him "What are the chances of a landslide, a meteor and lightning happening near the same person in three successive days?" The scientist replies, "The law of averages claims that it's almost impossible for all those phenomena to happen to one individual." Oh ho! Now she's got some ammo. As she walks down a Metropolis street wearing a large red hat (Ah, the days when everyone wore hats. It's all so 1940s), Lois concludes that there is something or someone behind Herb's scoops. "Hmmm... I've an idea now who's making those scoop-stories and I'm going to follow it up!" You go, Lois! Catch that scooper right now! (Gee, I wonder who she suspects? If only there were someone she knew who was capable of causing those things. One would almost have to be some sort of enhanced being to do them. Hmmm...)

Fast forward to Herbert's seventh and final day of his scooperama. Herb walks down by the ocean and says, "Maybe I can find a last scoop-story down along the coast!" Flying discretely behind Herb, Superman notices that a cape (not his red, flashy cape, the kind you find along the coast) is dangerous because ships have to go around it. While Herb's back is turned, Superman dredges out a canal through the cape, even as he tries to think up some way to get Herbert the Ace Reporter to notice a miraculously new passage through the land mass he was just staring at moments before. To Herb's credit, he finally sees the scoop for what it is. With his hat hovering above his head, he says, "The sea must have cut a canal across the cape – it's be safer for boats now! That's my final scoop!" Weird how the sea just happened to do that in the space of a few minutes, isn't it? Like any good reporter, Herbert doesn't question the story, he simply phones it in.

Superman is relieved that his scoop-parade is finally at an end. But wait! What's this? Lois Lane sneaks up behind Superman – caught in the act! Lois gloats as she tells Superman she's going to expose the Man of Steel's intervention. This is the "scoop of the year!" Eat that, Superman! "The scoop-story of how Superman arranged all those stories for [Herbert]!" Superman begs her not to print it, as it will ruin Herbert's career, but Lois takes off in her roadster leaving a chagrinned Superman behind. All that hard work for naught, eh Mr. Man? (Personally, I don't think Herbert deserves anything except a ticket home and a buh-bye, but then, I'm heartless that way. The lad simply hasn't got an iota of reporter's instincts in his body. He should take up some other profession and immediately, so as not to hurt the rep of a true reporter like Lois Lane!)

Superman heads back to the Planet as Clark Kent, resigned to what's about to happen. Back at the office, Perry White happily hires Herbert. The Journalism major is humble (you can tell cuz he's holding his hat in his hands in a most humble fashion) and says, "Gee, thanks, Mr. White! I know I only got those scoops by luck, for I'm just a beginner." We see a shot of Lois reacting to his humility as he continues, saying, "But I'll work hard – I want to be a real reporter like Clark Kent and Lois Lane!"

Suddenly, Lois realizes that Herbert had no idea that Superman was behind his string of scoops. It's not Herb's fault at all. If she submits her story, Herb won't get the job and Superman will look foolish. But if she doesn't, she'll have to edit the Lonely Hearts column. Oh, what to do? What to do?

Perry asks Lois for her scoop and she nobly takes the altruistic choice. "...I'm afraid I can't top Herbert's story!" The other reporters gloat, rubbing it in that Lois will be Miss Lonely Hearts. One of them even puts a little crown on Lois's head, just in case she wasn't humiliated enough. Silently, Clark recognizes what she has done. She's "a peach" and he wishes he had a way to tell her what he thinks of her self-sacrifice.

Days later, Clark stands before Lois's desk, now piled with letters. He notes that she doesn't look "so blue about it all now." With a dreamy smile, Lois hands him a a piece of paper. "Read this letter and you'll see why!"

On the note is written, "Dear Miss Lonely Hearts, Can you tell me of any girl half so wonderful as Lois Lane?" It's signed, "Superman".

Awwww. A very sweet ending to a rather crazy story. I hope you had fun learning about Superman's Scoop-Parade because I had a lot of fun telling you about it. Come back next time for a brand new story from days gone by. Which story? I haven't a clue. You'll have to wait to find out.

Don't forget to let me know what you thought of this story!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Action Comics #138 (Part 4): SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE

When last we read: Herb's newest scoop was a falling meteorite (once again engineered by Superman) and Lois makes a bet with Perry that she can outscoop Herb or she'll become the Lonely Hearts Editor. Up to speed? Good. Time for Part 4 of SUPERMAN'S SCOOP-PARADE!

Herb's next surefire scoop location is Joe's Coal Mine. Yeah, should be great things happening there. Much more promising than the swamp. Herb asks Joe if there are any scoops lying around. Joe tells him he's losing his coal mine tomorrow because he can't pay his bank notes. Even Herb seems to realize that's not Daily Planet Super-Scoop material. But stalker Superman overhears and decides he can help Joe and give Herb his scoop.

Superman herds some thunderclouds together, lands on a huge mountain of coal, and, under cover of lightning, squeezes a lump of coal into a diamond. (Ah, the coal into diamond trick. Always a pleasure to see that one. Clark wouldn't have to work a day in his life. He could fuel his altruistic saving of the world by selling off his home-made diamonds. But no, he never does that sort of thing. His diamond crushing is never for personal gain.)

Herb instantly calls in his story. "Mr. White, here's another scoop! Lightning just hit Joe Noakes' coal pile and destroyed a lump of coal!"

Let's take another step back, shall we? Lightning destroyed "a" lump of coal? From this entire mountain of coal in the distance Herb was able to discern that a single lump of coal was destroyed by the lightning? Did he count the lumps and deem one missing? This kid has superpowers! However, his journalistic instincts continue to be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Did he learn nothing in college? Did he have a class where the professor said, "War, famine, murder, disasters – yes, they all make okay articles, but if you really want to succeed, you need to find a good lump of coal destruction story! Find one of those and every editor on the planet will be eating out of your hand. And if that lump of coal is destroyed by lightning, as opposed to someone accidentally stepping on it, the world's your oyster!" Why does Superman continue to waste his time on this idjit? Sigh. Okay, rant over.

Needing to yet again point out the real story, Superman tilts a building with a metal roof so that the sun glances off the roof and illuminates the coal (wait, I thought he'd brought a huge storm in. Why is there sunlight glinting... never mind. Just tell the story, Joanna).

Herbert somehow decides that the only thing that could glint on a coal mountain is a diamond. Of course, if he noticed a single lump of coal being destroyed, I suppose it's not all that farfetched to believe that little shine is a diamond. Heck, it's downright logical, considering. Joe's mine is saved! Herbert has his scoop! I need to keep my eyes open for glints! It could be a diamond!

We've had dinosaurs, meteorites, and diamonds – what could be next? And how is Lois doing in her search for scoops (without Superman to help her)? Tune in Monday for Part 5 of SUPERMAN'S SCOOP-PARADE!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

small delay

I have a massive case of the flu so I won't be posting today. I'm hoping I'll be better on Friday.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Action Comics #138 (Part 3): SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE

When last we read: Superman helped Herbert find his first scoop by powerwashing a hillside into revealing the skeletons of two complete and fully-articulated Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons, which he then proceeded to "walk" down the street through waterjet propulsion. Time to find out how he's going to top that bad boy by reading Part 3 of SUPERMAN'S SCOOP-PARADE!

After Lois proclaims Herb's dinosaur scoop as "beginner's luck", Herbert heads back to Northville to look for more scoops. He walks along a swamp road bemoaning the lack of scoops (cuz swamp roads are usually full of breaking news events). Superman, unseen just in front of Herb (he is SO observant) realizes that Herb's next biggie is up to him.

The swamp being bereft of obvious scoops (why on Earth is Herbert walking in a deserted swamp, anyway? His reporter instincts are non-existent! Superman really needs to dump this dweeb as fast as he can), Superman shoots into outer space to snag a meteor. It's a rather large meteor, too. Perhaps I watch too much Discovery Channel, but I fear this particular large space rock could cause the planet a world of hurt.

Superman guides it to the Earth and lets go once he knows it's on target. It lands a couple of feet from Herbert, blowing him to smithereens. Wait a minute... nope, Herb is fine, the Earth is fine, the meteor just caused a wee bit of steam in the swamp. (Come back, Suspension of Disbelief! I need you! I need you now more than I ever have!)

Herbert quickly calls Perry White with the scoop. "Two inches of water just washed across the swamp road!" Surely Perry will see the value in Herb's wet shoes! But alas, newspaperman Perry insists on a scoop with more oomph. Meanwhile, Superman realizes that Herb has once again missed the story. And because the steam is hiding the meteor, he's not about to figure it out any time soon.

To keep the job prospects of the worst Journalism major ever to graduate from Northville College alive, Superman blows away the steam. This reveals the meteorite and Herbert adds that tidbit to his story. Perry is once again a happy man.

Back in the offices of the Planet, Perry crows to Lois about the great scoops, saying, "...Herbert is doing better than you could, Lois!" Them's fightin' words! Lois quickly replies, "Listen, I can turn in a bigger scoop than that beginning this week or – or I'll be Lonely Hearts Editor for a month! (Not sure that sentence reads correctly. I think it was meant to say "beginner" rather than "beginning" because it's not like she's turning in scoops "beginning this week" as in "I think I'll start now". She's a pro! She's the intrepid reporter! The Ace of the Daily Planet! This is Lois Lane, for gee gosh whillakers!) The bet is on!

Not exactly the way Superman was planning things, is it? His whole purpose in shoring up the least likely journalist ever was to keep Lois from going after huge scoops. Where is that super brain of Clark's? A 5 year old could see this one coming. Of course Lois is going to take Herb's efforts as a challenge. Of course there's trouble ahead. Of course Superman will continue his insane scoop challenges because he's always right and once he starts something he never quits. I think he was smarter in the Silver Age. Or maybe I'm wrong and a 5 year old really would think the story's twists and turns are logical. Remind me to find a 5 year old so I can ask.

One of those yellow text boxes lets the readers know that thar be trouble a'brewin' for Lois. "Careful, Lois! When you made that rash promise (about the Lonely Hearts Editing) you didn't realize that Superman is helping Herbert Binkle!" Actually, I think Lois should be able to figure it out from the walking skeletons alone, but that's just me. For the purposes of this story, it's all quite mysterious.

So mysterious, in fact, that I'm going to leave you hanging! Don't forget to come back for Part 4 of SUPERMAN'S SCOOP-PARADE!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Action Comics #138 (Part 2): SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE

When last we read: Lois Lane is forever getting herself into tight spots in her relentless pursuit of scoops. Superman, tired of saving her, decides to back young Journalism grad, Herbert Binkle, thinking that if a newbie like Herb can outscoop Lois, she'll quit trying so hard. Yeah, I don't really follow the logic of that, either, but who cares? It's time for Part 2 of SUPERMAN'S SCOOP-PARADE!

Herbert heads home to Northville (the location of his scoop-finding mission) and wanders around town not seeing anything worthwhile. Lucky for him, Superman is on the scene. Supes uses his x-ray vision and finds some dinosaur bones.

A moment while you look at the panel of the bones. Please note that it's not one, but two Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons. Then notice that both have all bones intact. Then discern that both are fully articulated. And finally, see that they appear to be in an attack posture, as if they died in the middle of a fight, never fell to the ground, somehow remained unscathed through millennia and happen to be in a small hill in Northville, wherever that is (I'm guessing it's not the badlands – the place where the bulk of Tyrannosaurus bones have been uncovered. None of which, I might add, came in fighting pairs, standing, and fully articulated).

Nothing odd about that, right? But oh, how does Superman plan to let Herbert know they're there? Get out a trowel and some brushes and carefully unearth the skeletons retaining all the surrounding earthen strata, marking each individual bone and citing its position, taking the next couple of years to do so, making sure the site is properly recorded for science?

Close. He takes an old pipeline, makes a funnel of one end, puts the funnel under a waterfall and then blasts the bones out of the hill via the force of the water. Miraculously, the bones emerge and they remain articulated even without the cohesion of the earth around them! It's a miracle! No muscles, sinew or connectors of any kind and yet the bones somehow remain in the exact position they held in life. Two giant Tyrannosaurus skeletons sticking out of a hill in a way seemingly impossible and Herbert is immediately struck by the scoopiness of the situation.

He phone Perry White and tells him that the "great scoop" he has is that Jenkins Hill just slid a little and now there's a new coasting hill in Northville. (I wonder if he's thought through how the coasters are going to get around those ginormous dinosaur skeletons bursting out of the hill? Perhaps Herbert missed the real scoop here and he should've told Perry that the slide ruined the local coasting hill by unearthing some pesky Tyrannosaurus Rex bones that are now in the way of a straight shot down).

At this point, Clark should realize that he's backing the wrong horse. Obviously, Herbert is completely lacking in journalistic savvy, observational skills, and wouldn't know a scoop if it bit like a fully articulated Tyrannosaurus Rex. Fly away, Superman, and leave Herbie to the local free shopping rag.

But no, Superman has made up his mind and is never, ever wrong. He grabs his water pipe (not the bong kind, the "I made a funnel out of this old oil pipe and will now make it shoot water" kind) and blasts the back of one of the skeletons. For reasons unknown to me, instead of causing the skeleton to explode in a shower of bones (due to there being absolutely nothing holding them together), the bones START WALKING DOWN MAINSTREET! (Pardon my shouting, but my suspension of disbelief was just shattered by a giant water jet and I didn't know if you could hear me over the laughter of every archaeologist and paleoanthropologist on Earth.)

Still on the phone, Herbert says, "And the slide uncovered dinosaur skeletons, Mr. White – huge ones!" (Huge bones that are walking down mainstreet with a bunch of water shooting off its fleshless back and Superman holding a giant waterpipe, but that's not news.) Perry decides to send a photographer and make it the feature story. Hope no one else needs any help that day because Superman is going to be too busy walking his bone puppets around town so the photographer can good pictures. After all, finding not one but two complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons isn't much to write about. It needs more pizzaz.

And now we pretty much know how this story is going to go for the next few pages. Herbert won't find a scoop. Superman will create one. Herb won't recognize it. Supes will emphasize it. Perry will love it. Hopefully, you've now had enough scoop-drinks that it will all seem unpredictable as I retell it. But before you get too cocky, the stakes are about to be raised, which should make this even more fun. Stay will me for Part 3 of SUPERMAN SCOOP-PARADE!

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!