Friday, March 3, 2017

Lois Lane's Bizarre Taste in Boyfriends

In the 1950s, superhero comics didn’t bother much with continuity.
Reasoning that their audience quickly outgrew their product, publishers reused plots and sometimes even arbitrarily altered the characters’ origins. A character seemed to be the only superhero on Earth in one adventure, but was aware of the publisher’s other heroes in the next.
But in the 1960s, the popularity of superhero teams like the Justice League and the Fantastic Four and the expanding families of characters in the Superman and Batman mythos gave rise to a crowd-pleasing attention to continuity detail that turned into something of a fetish. It’s been a fixture of superhero comics even since.
For example, take Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane 74 (May 1967). On the Kurt Schaffenberger cover, we see Superman trying to fend off yet another of the many costumed, super-powered gentleman callers who had the hots for the girl reporter. Superman’s fist plunges ineffectively through the character Hero’s incorporeal body.
The story by Leo Dorfman makes full use of DC’s already elaborate mythology. Awakening the mysterious, rather brutish Hero from a coma with a kiss, Lois finds he can snap metal bonds, melt objects with his hands, become untouchable and move at super speed.
Who is he? Why, a Bizarro duplicate of the Flash, of course.
Particularly astute and/or obsessed readers would have noted that the powers Hero demonstrated were all feats that the Flash had trained himself to do with super-speed vibration, and that his costume provided a strong clue — It was essentially the Flash’s with a new insignia and the colors reversed.
An enjoyable if convoluted story over all, made more so by Schaffenberger’s always handsome, clean-lined art. I liked his solid, stalwart depiction of Superman, which seemed slightly younger than the Wayne Boring and Curt Swan versions. And Schaffenberger’s Lois was definitive.
Poor Lois can’t escape this kind of weird déjà vu dizziness even while she’s unconscious. In the next story in the same issue, after being scratched by a poisoned arrow, Lois feverishly dreams she’s in medieval England, discovering the secret identity of Robin Hood and vying for his affections with a Maid Marian who looks just like that damn Lana Lang.

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