Lois Lane is Missing a Tooth, OR, Rappin' About Reboots With Uncle Johnathan

The other day, I was reading some Silver Age comics (natch) and I came across this plot point in Lois Lane No.50, from July 1964.


At first I was going to merely point this out and mention that from my experience with people of the generation that Lois would have been sliding through at the time, she almost certainly didn't get any sort of replacement; that right up until the original Crisis Lois Lane was missing a molar. How very strange by today's standards! How uncomfortable that would make some people feel!

And then the next day I heard about the Great Upcoming DC Reboot and the surrounding kerfuffle and the two got a bit muddled together in my head, such that when I got distracted by the new puppy and such I kept mulling it over and turning it around, and I came to this conclusion: Lois Lane's missing tooth means that reboots don't matter.

Think about it: by the strict rules of the ContinuiNerd, that tooth was gone up until the Crisis, but realistically it was probably forgotten by the end of the issue. The extraction, after all, existed solely as a means for Lois to learn about laughing gas (so that when she went back in time later on she could use some to try to disrupt Superboy and Lana Lang's first kiss - SILVER AGE!). But it happened, right? Theoretically, it should occupy as valid a space in the canon as Brave and the Bold No. 54, which came out the same month and featured the first teamup of Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash in what would become the Teen Titans.

The obvious difference, of course, is that the tooth doesn't matter and that its absence isn't really interesting, whereas the concept of teen sidekicks getting together to fight crime does. If Lois had had her tooth replaced by a cunning fake that contained a Superman signal device or a piece of emergency kryptonite or something then it might have cropped up a few more times during the Silver Age, and had an appearance in All-Star Superman, and maybe Flashpoint Lois would have a secret spy tooth that shoots lasers or contains an emergency raft or has the Atom hiding inside.

Over time (and given good writing, of course), the fun, interesting, compelling stuff will keep coming back, while the drek and garbage and redundancies will fade away or be changed for the better: Krypto the Superdog will always come back, but Comet the Superhorse never will. Jimmy Olsen will never die but if we ever see the Blood Pack again it will be because someone has made something interesting of them.

Lois Lane is missing a tooth; Lois Lane is not missing a tooth.

It doesn't matter if Lois Lane is missing a tooth. Unless it makes for a good story, of course.

Hip-Happy Heroes Part 4

Hip-Happy Hero: Superman


Ah, Big Fat Superman. I had never read the story in which he appears before looking it up for this series of writings, but I was somehow positive that he existed, somewhere, in some extremely chubby form. Big Fat Superman is my new symbol for everything that is right about comics.

A little set-up for Big Fat Superman: one day, Lois Lane and Clark Kent are visiting some thinly-disguised analogue of NASA in order to cover the unveiling of their new surface-of-Mars simulator. By some crazy random chance, Clark is randomly chosen to be the random reporter to have a whirl in the simulator.

Suddenly, something crazy happens in the simulator, and Clark is forced to use his super-powers to flee the scene, fake Mars lander and all. But what could rattle so cool a customer? What could shake those nerves of steel?

BAWOOM! Explosive super-fattening, that’s what!

1. How Did He Get So Big?

It’s a bit of a complicated story, actually. Tell you what: I’ll let an alien with a moustache tell it:

So: Superman drank some bad juice, but because he’s Superman he didn’t die, he just got really fat. Makes perfect sense, really - the most remarkable part of the whole thing is that it’s one of the few times that something like this has happened to Superman and he hasn’t mentioned that there must have been kryptonite in the juice or the stopper or something. It was, like, a reflex action for him back in the day.

2. What Were the Social Ramifications?

As per the newscast, the affections of the people of Metropolis were extraordinarily fickle. Save the city form destruction five times before breakfast, sure, thanks, we love you. Show a little human frailty, though, and WHAMMO! They drop you like a hot potato.

And of course there was always the issue of Lois Lane to deal with, but for once her snooping was fairly easy to deal with: Clark - with the aid of some A/V Club knowhow - just pretended to be radioactive for a few days. Whether he eventually had to fake a long struggle with cancer in order to put her off the trail yet again is an issue left unaddressed.

3. Well, How Did He Lose the Weight?

Boring old exercise, AGAIN. Superman-style, of course, so it involved digging holes and smashing things and so on, but still… so conventional.

4. Could His Method be Used By the World at Large?

Better not risk it.

Hip-Happy Hero: Superboy

Yes, Superman must have been having flashbacks throughout the course of his journey through obesity, because pretty much the exact same thing happened to him when he was a kid.

Oh, some of the details were a little different, to be sure. Clark leaves Smallville for a few days and when he comes back finds the entire student population of the town fat as can be. He takes the opportunity to make fun of everyone for a bit, but then:

COMEUPPANCE! Soon Fat Superboy is soaring through the skies of Smallville. Since everybody else is already pretty tubby, there’s not too much made of his sudden loss of condition. The perennial “snoopy dame” problem does crop up, however:

It WAS some pretty sloppy cover-up work, really. Superboy allays her suspicions pretty rapidly, though - Lana Lang might be observant, but she’s also gullible as hell.

But what caused all of the fattening in the first place? Superboy is stumped until he gets help from a couple of giant hogs:

Yes, it’s another case of beverage malfunction. Seems the local agricultural college had been using rays to speed the growth of corn, and though the rays had no effect on animal tissue, the corn, when fed to cows and the converted into milk, did. And guess where Smallville High got all of its milk?

Like Superman, Superboy worked off his flab with a series of eXtreem eXercises. Once again: boring. However, and lucky for the junior citizens of Smallville, he also goes to the trouble of figuring out how to de-biggen them without resort to exertion (good thing, too, because most of them seemed content to just keep on being chunky).

Yes, it’s a wonderful example of why all inventors should make sure that their creations run in reverse: cows fed on shrunken corn produce people-shrinking milk! Hooray! I expect to see Shrinkilac on store shelves by Summer!

Keep the dream alive: always remember that Hip-Happy Means Plump!

Future Zoo: Review of the Parakat, By Johnathan

As I mentioned in the previous post, Superboy was hitting on a sweet piece of Xanthu named Zynthia in order to make Lana jealous as a lesson to her for trying to make him jealous. Meanwhile, Jughead was judging a hamburger-eating contest at Pop's Chok'lit Shoppe but was having a hard time paying attention to the contestants and not the food.

The writers of this comic have made an assumption that the one thing that teenage girls want is for their beaus to give them things, and especially things that require the use of superpowers. This may be true, which would explain my dating track record in high school. In any case, the girls keep asking Superboy and Star Boy to do things like making huge gemstones or glowing dresses. This is cool, but then Zynthia pulls out this request:

Dude! What? You want a tiger? Why the hell do you want a tiger? Is it just as proof that Superboy likes you enough to do things for you, like the time a girl got me to eat a worm? Because there are things that you can get him to do that won't screw up a tiger's life. You could get him to, say, eat a worm. C'mon, it'll be hilarious!

Since Zynthia isn't as cool as me (or that girl I mentioned), Superboy goes after the tiger. And then we learn why it's called a Parakat:

It's a terrible pun! Xanthu was settled by punsters! Or perhaps just punster zoologists. Stopping only to diss the poor creature a little, Superboy leaps into action!

Y'know, someday someone's going to try this in a Vertigo comic and there's going to be all kinds of severed tiger tail action. Seriously: I don't think that most animal tails are built to withstand that kind of stress. Okay, maybe monkey tails, but they're prehensile. This poor critter's going to need some sort of therapy after all of this is done. Hopefully it doesn't need the tail for balance or anything.

Stunning revelation! The beast is sentient!It totally formed a sentence all on its own! Seriously, if it just mimicked human speech like Superboy assumes, wouldn't it be saying something like "Argh! It got my leg! My god, the pecking! Sweet moons of Xanthu, it's mimicking human speech while it eviscerates Larry!" and so forth? I mean, when does a bird-faced tiger hear the word 'dizzy'? Stupid anthropocentric speciesist Superboy doesn't see things that way, though, and promptly enslaves what is clearly an oppressed species to begin with (you can be damn sure that they didn't think up the name 'Parakat', for one thing).

And so the noble Parakat, feared throughout the Jungle Mountains of Xanthu, is reduced by an uncaring Superboy to the status of greeting card. The poor beast, a great leader among his people, was later slaughtered in order that Zynthia might have a Parakat-skin bikini and seat-covers for her Sky Canoe. Plus her father used the skull for an ashtray. Parakat-skin clothing soon became the height of fashion, resulting in rampant poaching. Today (well, a thousand years from today) there are less that 47 Parakats remaining in the wild. Thanks, Superboy.

The Parakat is JOHN APPROVED. Zynthia? NOT APPROVED.

High-Tech Tomorrow: Review of the Super-Loom, By Johnathan

Time for more fantastic technology of the future! Today we turn to Adventure Comics No. 282, wherein Star Boy makes his first appearance. He's on Earth to track down an escaped criminal, and he needs Superboy's help! Exciting stuff, yes? Not as exciting as the real plot! See, Lana Lang manages to overhear Star Boy tell Superboy his secret identity, and blackmails him into taking her to his future-world of Xanthu, there to fawn over her and make Superboy jealous. Let no-one say that Lana Lang is not ambitious. Let's see Archie Andrews go to such lengths for a hot date. In fact, I dare him to.

Anyway, as a part of this jealousy-inspiration plot, Star Boy is supposed to shower Lana with gifts, the more fantastic the better. He gets her fantastic gems, show her a good time and show off his mastery of the Super-Loom.

Now, I'm not quite sure what makes this particular loom super. Is it really fast? Is there a computer inside? Is it super like the Atom is super, in that it's smaller than a regular loom (and presumably weighs the same)? Heck is it just super because it's being operated by a super-hero? If a PhD used it, would it be a doctor-loom? Could my grandfather weave me something on a grandpa-loom (or a septuageni-loom)? I certainly hope so. Basically, though, the Super-Loom is only remarkable for its name. Oh, and for this:

Star Boy puts it away afterward! Honestly, that's possibly the only time that I've ever seen someone put something away in a comic book. Everyone's like me, age 8 - just leave it where it is when you're done. Star Boy's so conscientious.


By the way, Superboy figured out Lana's plan right away (like he always did) and so not only didn't get jealous but turned things around by hitting on this chick named Zynthia and making Lana feel the sting of a great big backfire. What's notable for the purposes of this review, though, is Zynthia's prime mode of transportation:

The mighty Sky Canoe! Second-most popular form of transportation on Xanthu, behind the Sea Car but far, far ahead of the Land Helicopter! Fly through the air in a notoriously tippy vehicle, without seat belts! Know the joy of controlling your fate and course with a piece of bent pipe! Spew pollution like it was going out of style! The Sky Canoe - from the makers of Space Skateboard.


A Few Quick Reviews of Some Recurring Patterns That I've Noticed In the Comics of Yesteryear, By Johnathan

Rather than do four small reviews, I have decided to serve them all up in a single entry, like a delicious platter of tiny foodstuffs. I think that I might call them 'Reviewlets,' or maybe 'Opinion Mini Quiches.' No matter, on with the ridiculousness!

First up:

The Tendency of Male Versions of Female Superheros to Wear the Exact Same Costume as Their Originals (Opinion Mini Quiche):

Take a look at this:
Saturn Girl and Princess Projectra are being manhandled by their male counterparts. I do admit that 'Prince Projectur' doesn't look too bad (though I question his choice of pants), but let's take a closer look at Saturn... Boy? Lad? Male.

He's wearing a bathing suit, folks. The white modesty panels that he's installed on the sides do nothing to disguise the fact that he took this directly out of Saturn Girl's closet. And gender-flipped doppelgangers do this every time - it's like there's a union and they'll either cover dental or the cost of costume tailoring.



Over-Zealous Recapping (Opinion Mini Quiche):

Check this out:
In just two panels - two poorly, poorly-written panels - they've established the names of the whole Kent family, the names of their erstwhile visitors, how everyone relates to one another, and that Clark Kent (son of Jonathan and Martha [wife to Jonathan {Kent, Father to Clark} and mother to Clark {who is Superboy}, as well as girlhood friend to Lisa {mother to Kathy}] and secretly Superboy [Superboy is Clark {Superboy} Kent]) is actually Superboy. I'm surprised that they didn't squeeze in the origin of Beppo the Super-Monkey, honestly.

Now I understand that the average reader of Superboy comics circa 1970 probably needed this sort of thing - they weren't the media-savvy mental giants that we are today - but really: couldn't they have stretched it out a bit more?



Misogyny (Opinion Mini Quiche):

Simply put, Superboy kept the sisters down. Look at this:

So basically, Lana Lang got this alien belt, see, and she could wear it because she had such a slim waist, see, and it made her pretty much the equal of ol' Supes. Only drawback was that the belt functioned using advanced powers of magnetism, and so could only protect Lana from metallic projectiles such as bullets and not, say, rocks. Which is, I admit, a crappy weakness for someone to have. However: I do not see why this logically led to the destruction of the belt. Should someone whose only weakness (quick recap: Superboy's [Clark {Superboy} Kent] weakness is Kryptonite [Irradiated shards of the destroyed planet Krypton, home planet of Beppo the Super-Monkey]) seems to be about as common as sandstone, and who further seems to mention his susceptibility to it in every conversation that he ever has be allowed to take away someone's powers because they themselves have a weakness? Answer: no. Chauvinist pig.


Last one!

Text Boxes With Hands (Opinion Mini Quiche):

I don't know if this was the work of one artist over at DC, or if it was a fad for a while, but text boxes with arms and hands that pointed at each other and so forth were all the rage for a while.


Now these guys were totally awesome.