Sunday, November 08, 2009

Lois Lane #73

This cover attracted attention due to Craig Yoe's recent book on (Superman co-creator) Joe Shuster's rather R-rated cartoons, and so I thought I would go through the issue.

As the story begins, the US is sending out an unmanned probe outside the solar system. It lands on another world and gathers samples of the soil, atmosphere, and vegetation. But it encounters an alien life form, who hitches a ride on the vehicle as it heads back to Earth:

As the probe returns, Lois and Lana are battling for a scoop. Since Lana's a TV reporter, her story will go out over the airwaves before Lois can even file her copy But Lois decides to sneak closer to the craft to get a photo while it's being decontaminated, a process that will take a few hours, so that she can beat Lana to the story. Unfortunately for her, the alien being chooses this moment to exit the craft:

Using Lois' body, the alien steals a jeep and heads for a nearby lake, where he does some quick chemistry:

When poured into the lake, the chemicals provide fuel to strengthen the alien's force power. However at that moment, the police arrive in search of the stolen jeep, so the alien drives higher into the mountains to escape. But the altitude has an unexpected side effect, as it weakens the alien and he is forced to exit Lois' body. The police give Lois an alibi:

The alien follows Lois as she heads back to the Planet to develop her film. Realizing that she might have caught him in her photo, he takes control of a nearby reporter:

Clark quickly destroys the film, ruining Lois' scoop. Lois chalks this up to professional jealousy, but for some reason does not remain angry at him for long. Meanwhile, Jimmy is having trouble landing the flying newsroom, and attempts to summon Superman with his signal watch. While the alien can hear the signal, he doesn't know what to do, and so the helicopter collides with the building. Annoyed at the sound, he takes the watch from Jimmy's hand and shuts it off.

Perry assigns Clark to judge a beauty pageant for one of the Planet's advertisers, but the alien, not knowing what Earth standards of beauty are, makes a funny mistake:

Pretending to be in love with Clark, Lois kisses him, but surreptitiously picks his pocket and finds the signal watch. Say what? Why would she pick his pocket to find out why he's acting so strangely? The alien pretends to lose his footing and falls off a cliff into the sea, intending to kill Clark and take over another body. But when he crashes onto the rocks below he discovers that Clark's really invulnerable and has a different uniform underneath. Lois uses the signal watch to call Superman and the alien responds:

But while flying Lois back to the Planet, the alien goes too high and conks out again, releasing Superman from his control. Superman mentions to Lois that he blacked out and remembering her own experience, she deduces what has happened. Superman does some research on demonic possession and we get the explanation for the cover:

As the alien enters the Fortress, he sees that weird scene. The puppet apparently comes to life:

But it's all a trick to convince the alien to take over the puppet's body, where he can be trapped. Superman quickly beams the alien and the puppet into the Phantom Zone.

Comments: Sweet mother of mercy, this is a wacky story! It's pretty obvious that this was one of those issues where Weisinger came up with a cover idea, and then told Leo Dorfman to create a story based on it. As is quite common with these crazy puzzle covers, the answer to the riddle is "They did it to fool an alien."

The backup story is Lois Lane's Fairy Godmother. While volunteering at a local hospital, Lois encounters the title character (also known as Dody), who displays astonishing magical powers:

Magical powers? Why do I get the sneaking suspicion this is not a fairy godmother, but someone whose name begins with M and has no vowels?

After dinner at Lois' apartment, where the fairy godmother provides the food, we see that the girl reporter is on the same wavelength as she suggests a game of Scrabble. But the fairy godmother is having none of that, and suggests that Lois and Superman go out on the town. She changes Lois into an elegant gown and forces Superman to arrive at the door:

Superman heads back to his lecture, while Lois quarrels with Dody. Some very positive characterization here:

The next day, Superman has completed the new stadium for Metropolis, but when he uses his heat vision to inscribe a plaque dedicating the stadium to the local Olympic heroes, Dody forces him to write "Superman loves Lois Lane" instead. This infuriates the Man of Steel, who comes to the logical if erroneous conclusion that the girl reporter was behind it all.

The next day, Dody causes Superman and Lois to become manacled together, and because the effect is magical, Supes is unable to separate them. He is convinced she did this to learn his secrets so she could blackmail him into marrying her. But Lois comes up with a good solution; she drinks some of Jimmy Olsen's Elastic Lad serum in order to slip out of the handcuffs. Later, she finally convinces Dody to play some Scrabble:

Okay, so it wasn't Mxyzptlk himself, but his girlfriend. There is an overly long explanation as to why she did it, which essentially is that she hoped to get Mxy to marry her. Superman apologizes for doubting Lois:

And of course she gets her wish even without magic.

Comments: A cute, if predictable story, again written by Dorfman. As with the opening story, the artwork is by the always wonderful Kurt Schaffenberger, one of my favorite artists of the Silver Age.