What Have I Wrought

In response to my recent post about Lois Lane's dentition and its implications for the larger DCU, extremely funny commenter damanoid had this to say:

Oh for god’s sake man, do you realize what you’ve done?! This could take YEARS to sort out!

First there’ll need to be a Dentistry Crisis, to explain that Lois Lane had her memories erased to cover up the fact that she was raped while under anesthesia.

Then you’ll have Infinite Caries, a massive crossover event in which an earlier version of Lois, with perfect teeth, attempts to ‘bite through history’ to ensure that her alternate self’s tooth decay never occurs– which alters the dental history of the entire DC universe!

That leads into “One Regularly Scheduled Appointment Later,” which reveals how everyone’s life has been changed by their gleaming new smiles, followed by “32,” a series that explores how each tooth in Lois’ mouth has been affected by these changes.

After that of course is “Blackest Teeth,” in which Lois’ missing tooth returns as a zombified fang bent on destroying all teeth everywhere, followed by “Brightest Smile,” in which all of Lois’ teeth change color and get superpowers, or something.

Not that it matters! Because right after that is “FlossPoint,” another massive crossover which explores the premise of what would have happened if Lois had lost a DIFFERENT tooth. This will result in another reboot, and an entirely new continuity that starts out before Lois had lost her tooth to begin with.

Once all that is out of the way, though, they’ll finally be able to move on to the good stories and solid writing we’ve been waiting for. It’ll be the perfect jumping-on point for new readers! Yes indeed, no doubt about it at all. Blue skies ahead, my friends; nothing but blue skies.

In addition to unleashing a much denser agglomeration of tooth/comic jokes than I'd ever imagined possible, damanoid is of course pointing out the fact that bad comics trends propagate just as readily as good ones. This is sadly true, though I hold hope in my heart that the continuity-heavy title-wide crossover will soon go the way of the foil-embossed cover.


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.

The Unfunnies: Cora the Car Hop, Above and Beyond

Cora the Car Hop is a true champion of the Unfunnies: not only do her comics frequently end on a completely impenetrable punchline, but they rely on knowledge of a profession that has basically disappeared but that at the time was fresh and new and worthy of some level of comment. Here's a taste:

Man, I wish I had a restaurant called 'EATS' that I could go to. 

Anyway, ho ho ho the motorcycle has no place to attach the tray. A wonderful example of an Unfunny from Lois Lane no 9. Sadly for it and its hopes for a place in history it is completely upstaged a mere 15 issues later by this little gem:

Because nothing trumps unfunny and outdated like unfunny, outdated and vaguely creepy.

Unprecedented Carnage

Lois Lane No. 27. 1961. "The Last Days of Lois Lane." There are three interesting things about this story, and one of them pretty remarkable.

The first of these things is the setup: Clark Kent and Lois Lane are on location covering a story.

Now, I'm not saying that there is no place in this world for atomic energy, and we definitely need to do research to ensure that what technology we do have is as safe as possible, but the experiment that Clark and Lois just observed was a nuclear explosion. A nuclear explosion has very few peacetime applications, and I can't imagine that any of them require a rigorous series of experiments. Wait a second, I've just worked up a little questionnaire that should render further research unnecessary:

1. Can the problem at hand conceivably be solved by a massive explosion?

2. Is the problem worse than a heavily-irradiated landscape?

If you've answered yes to both questions, then call the Atoms for Peacetime Project today! 

The second interesting thing about this story is fact that Superman has nothing to do with Lois' dilemma. Unlike the bulk of the "something bad is happening to Lois" stories that I've read, this isn't a prank or a lesson or a scheme to keep his secret identity a secret, it's just a plain old mistake - Lois believes that she is dying of radiation poisoning. She believes it so hard, in fact, that when she asks the doctor about it, well,

He tells her that she is fine and she takes that as proof that she is so bad off that he's lying to her. Frankly, I didn't realize that doctors were allowed to do that.

The third interesting thing, and this is the remarkable one, is not that she immediately starts taking crazy risks in order to become an even more renowned reporter whose memory will live on forever,

And it's not quite the fact that a lot of the stunts that she tries seem... unlikely to result in good stories, seeing as they'll probably cause her grisly death before she can get her byline.

Not that that's not odd - heroically writing a story only to have it consumed by flame or the ever-hungry sea seems less like the sort of thing that people will remember one fondly for and more like a Darwin Award in the offing.

No, the strangest thing about this story is its fairly high body count. This is a time in which almost nothing - man, monster, animal, whatever - died in the DCU. Stories would go out of the way to mention that Superman had only hit a rabid bear hard enough to knock it out, say.

First, you have Lois in an experimental moon rocket, one doomed never to return to Earth:

Note the brave animals. Even though Superman went and got this particular rocket, I'm certain that they were eventually jammed into another. Not far from the old JLA Watchtower lies a tiny skeleton in a miniature spacesuit. You can still see the look of betrayal on the wizened face.

More tiny martyrs, though as the former owner of an ungodly number of guinea pigs, I have to admit that I can sympathize with someone who might want to blast the occasional screaming poop-factory with radiation, if only to teach them a lesson.

This, however, was the biggie:

After all, the sacrifice of animals in the name of science was much less controversial back in the day than it is now, but this is a Superman comic and people have just fallen off of a mountain, and Superman doesn't show up for a couple of hours. A couple of hours! Not one second later! This might, in fact, be the only instance of a death by falling in any Superman comic, ever. I'm still flabbergasted. 

What Superman Does Not Like

I was originally going to write about this story (from Lois Lane No 20) for one of our recent theme weeks, but since the funniest in the story - as well as the reason that it was appropriate for the week in question - came at the very end and would have been telegraphed too much by the giant banner at the top of the post, I rejected it.

But I just couldn't stay away, so here comes "Superman's Flight From Lois Lane" - see if you can figure out if it was rejected from Hat, Fat or Cat Week before the shocking final panel!

We open with a typical Lois and Clark reporting assignment: 


Yes, back in the day being an intrepid reporter sometimes meant that you were like the guys in those reality shows where they try out extreme jobs and get stung by giant Japanese hornets and the like. I think I have a comic somewhere that has Perry force his staff to recreate a Donner Party-esque doomed trek through the desert - the man would go to any lengths to sell a paper.

And of course Clark's parachute malfunctions, but it looks like it happened about five seconds after he left the plane. The ol' super-speed should give him plenty of time to fix the problem before Lois notices that anything's wro-

You know, if legitimate skydiving mishaps resulted in perfect person-shaped holes in the ground I think that we'd all feel a little worse about enjoying old Looney Tunes. 

Clark manages to cover for himself with a speedy application of super-breath, of course (and boy, did he get a lot of use out of that power in the 60s. I demand more super-breath, DC!), and you'd think that this would be one situation in which he wouldn't have to fall over himself trying to allay Lois' suspicions. After all, her eyes were closed throughout the incident, right?

Nope! That lady would take literally anything as a potential sign that Clark was Superman. I guess that you have to give her credit: she had the right man. Trouble was, the right man didn't want to be found out, and this was the last straw. It's super-power time!

Yes, Superman decides to fly into the past, endangering, I'm sure, the very fabric of space and time and abandoning more than a decade's worth of friendships and hard work, in order to make sure that a cute girl will no longer want to be his girlfriend. That guy. Not shown: Superman murdering his past self in order to take his place.


So Clark Kent: reporter is no more. What's a youngish, unattached, nigh-omnipotent man from the near future to do? Become a stock speculator? Spend a lot of time preventing wars? Go to work for a different newspaper?


Use his super-powers to ace a job interview and become a disc jockey! Hooray! This is one of those times that I am wholeheartedly behind Clark, instead of slightly off to the side, scratching my head. Just check him out here:

Imagine with me now: a world in which this was a permanent change. We might have a goateed Beatnik Superman in our past, right next to Mullet Superman. At this point, who knows? Clark might have a fart-sound-riddled morning show with Jimmy Olsen and Ron Troupe as his foul-mouthed sidekicks and a rich legacy of radio station problems - Dabney Donovan makes a DNAlien that eats vinyl! Brainiac attacks just as Clark convinces a caller to put her phone somewhere inadvisable! Morgan Edge buys the station and gives the boys an ill-advised morning show! Oh where are Elseworlds when I really need them?

But it's not all great tunes and lovely melodies for the Sultan of Song. This being the Silver Age, Superman can only go for so long without at least one of his recurring themes surfacing.

In this case, it's the fact that he can't walk four steps without tripping over a cute girl with the initials "L.L." Of course, there's always more to the LL package than the initials and the hourglass figure:

Yes, in common with many of the Double-L girls, Liza is observant enough to suspect Clark of being Superman while simultaneously deluded enough not to consider that Superman might not be overjoyed to have his carefully-kept secret revealed on a whim.

Also note that DJ SUperman has traded in his old "cowardly Clark" cover for a new "sleepy Clark" version. 

"Clark, where were you when Luthor was attacking the station?" "Well, at first I was looking for help but one thing led to another and I ended up catching forty winks in a supply closet."

Liza tries out a few of the standard tricks, like the invulnerable hair-snip test, but the cheap perfume gag shown above is her master plan - I'm not sure if she's not quite as smart as Lois and Lana or if she just doesn't have the attention span to keep thinking up new little schemes, but after Superman solves the problem in a typically over-the-top manner:

... the resulting failure is potent enough to destroy her life.

Yes, Liza's dreams are crushed, she quits her job and presumably moves back to whatever small town she was originally from, there to marry the manager of the hardware store she works at part time to pay her parents rent. She never, ever listens to the radio, because it reminds her of what might have been.

Clark, meanwhile, couldn't be happier.

But all good things must come to an end, and for this story "the end" is synonymous with Lois Lane, who comes to WMET to interview the hot new disc jockey that everyone's talking about. And here's where I start scratching my head again, because rather than sit through one interview with Lois, he returns to the future - presumably going a few weeks into the past to murder his recent-past self before he could murder original Clark and begin this whole mess - to hang out with her every day.

Now here's the theme week stuff. Do you have a guess? Write it down before going any further.

Yes, it's Fat Week for the win! Liza Landis, in the original continuum, married the station manager and plumped up! Or maybe this is one of those weird Silver Age stories where time travel has effects on the present even when it's been undone, and this is what she did after resigning in shame. Either way, despite her evident contentedness and "Wife of the Year" status, Clark reacts exactly as one might expect:


Yes, Superman once again rigidly sticks to his "No Fat Chicks" policy. Intrepid careerwomen need only apply if their waistline has a smaller diameter than their head and they intend to keep it that way. 

Happy Free Comic Book Day! I'm off to... get free comic books!