Lois Lane #9 “Superman’s Mystery Song!”
In a previous post, I took a good hard look at an issue of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, but I would be remiss in not giving equal time to that other shameful Superman-related artifact of the Silver Age, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane.
The Lois Lane series was made primarily for girls. Nowadays, there are about thirty females in the entire continental United States who actually read comic books, but once upon a time, comics meant for girls sold just as well as comics meant for boys. In fact, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane was reportedly the third highest selling comic book of 1965, with a monthly circulation of over half a million copies. (Compare and contrast with the highest selling comic of November 2009, which moved a paltry 144,868 copies.)
As a girlie comic in pre-feminist times, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane was almost exclusively about Lois Lane’s romance with Superman, and every issue featured one of Lois’s wacky schemes to get Superman to marry her, or one of her many attempts to ferret out his secret identity. The rest of the time, Lois was shamelessly vying with that slut Lana Lang for Superman’s affections. At some point, it seems the writers just plum gave up, and wrote dozens of “imaginary stories” featuring Lois getting married to Superman and having his babies.
By the 1970s, there were attempts to turn Lois Lane into a more serious title focusing on social issues, like the particularly embarrassing issue #106 titled “I Am Curious (Black!)”, where Lois steps into a machine that transforms her into a black woman. (And it only took Sammy Sosa 40 years to figure out how to reverse the process.)
Alas, in 1974, both Lois Lane and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen were put out to pasture, and their shenanigans all folded into the Superman Family monthly title. Which was then canceled in 1982.
The following story comes from Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #9, cover dated May of 1959. It’s not an imaginary story, but by the end of this recap, you’ll wish it was.
In general, attempts to shoehorn real-life celebrities into comics are pretty disastrous (maybe someday I’ll talk about the time the Avengers appeared on Letterman), and have the unfortunate side effect of dating the issue before it even hits the presses. Doubly so when the famous person is already dated in and of himself. Such is the case with Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #9.
Here we find Lois Lane in the company of none other than famed crooner Pat Boone, imploring us to “come sing a song of Superman”. Admittedly, Pat Boone was a pretty popular singer at the time, mostly with sheltered white kids in desperate need of safe, sanitized versions of songs by black artists like Fats Domino, Ivory Joe Hunter, and Little Richard. Though, to be fair, there are large segments of the American population that still aren’t ready for Little Richard.
But at this point, Pat is at the top of his game, just a few years shy of the British Invasion introducing kids to actual good music. And unlike most covers of Silver Age Superman-related comics, Superman is not being a dick here, at least not at first, and he’s actually being extra-gracious, letting us now via his thoughts that this is a “great tune”. So, certainly, it must rank higher in his mind than that Five for Fighting dreck.
But then Superman completes his thought, which is that he “must use all my super-powers to prevent it from becoming a hit!” And, with that, he goes right back into being a dick. And he kept up the non-dickish behavior for almost two whole sentences, too.
I’m sure many questions are forming in your mind. Such as, why must Superman stop a song about him from becoming a hit? Also, where was he when Pat’s version of “Ain’t That a Shame” was climbing the charts? And what in the hell is Pat Boone doing hanging out with Lois Lane? And why is Lois’s hair purple? Is it possible that, along with her bizarre green and yellow check pants, this story takes place in a parallel universe where she’s the Joker? I promise you, all the answers to your many questions will be answered in this issue. Alright, not really.
The story within is titled “Superman’s Mystery Song”, and it’s actually the third of three stories featured in this issue. So you just know they were saving the good shit for last. As well as smoking the good shit for last. As with most Silver Age comics, we kick off with a splash panel showing an important moment from the story we’re about to read.
It’s a bit odd that Lois thinks she’s hearing thunderclaps, and can’t identify the source of the noise, given that Superman is standing directly behind her. And she wonders why she hasn’t figured out his secret identity in twenty years.
On with the actual story, which begins with Clark coming over to Lois’s apartment, to help her donate books to the Salvation Army. Wait, what? Donating books to the Salvation Army? It’s official: Lois Lane needs a man. Suddenly, Clark notices that there’s a “catchy tune” playing on Lois’s “Victrola”.
Personally, this is about the time I would be thinking this is the worst date I’ve ever been on, as I try to quietly and quickly excuse myself, so I could then go home and drink myself into a stupor. But Clark soldiers on, while creepy Lois takes him on a creepy tour of her collection of Pat Boone memorabilia.
Very astute, Clark. I knew there was a reason he scored a job as a reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell Lois that perhaps she has an unhealthy obsession here, given that she’s a grown woman, and Pat Boone has no other fans over the age of twelve. Also unfortunately, Clark doesn’t tell Lois that she should want to cook Pat Boone a simple meal, but she shouldn’t want to cut into Pat Boone, to tear the flesh, to wear the flesh, to be born unto new worlds where Pat Boone’s flesh becomes her key.
Next, Clark is driving Lois downtown, where they pass Metropolis’s Rialto theater, where, oh look, Pat Boone just happens to be appearing in person here today. As we all know, when Superman is Clark, he often likes to fuck with Lois’s mind by asking her questions about Superman. Like here, when he asks her if Superman is at all jealous of Lois worshipping Pat Boone. Lois declares that “Superman is above jealousy!” There’s at least one scene in Superman Returns that would indicate otherwise. She insists she only admires Pat Boone “as an artist!”
Back at the Daily Planet, Perry White—or, at the very least, Perry White’s disembodied head and right hand—have an assignment for Clark.
Um. “Feminine gush”? I’m pretty sure they have medications to treat that nowadays.
As part of his assignment, Clark attends Pat Boone’s show that afternoon at the Rialto. And somehow, even Clark gets hip to the jive that these kids are digging, and he’s a-toe-tapping and a-finger-popping to the watered-down sounds of the hits that made Little Richard famous. He finds himself so overcome by the music that he yells out, “Go, Pat, go!” And then he is born unto new worlds where Pat Boone’s flesh becomes his key.
Outside, after the concert, Pat is besieged by throngs of fans wanting autographs. In the crowd, Clark is panicked, realizing that if Pat actually takes the time to be kind and courteous to his fans, he’ll never get to the Daily Planet in time to “have his picture taken”. Obviously, this is a job for Superman.
Hey, you know which idol doesn’t have other important things to do? Yeah, I think you know where I’m going with this. Superman flies over to Pat Boone, and offers his assistance. A moment later, he has Pat Boone cradled in his arms, and is flying him directly to the Daily Planet offices.
Once there, Pat discovers he’s arrived in the middle of rehearsals for the Daily Planet’s “annual office party”. You might be wondering what kind of office party needs a rehearsal. A party with a crap-tastic talent show, that’s what kind. This talent show features Perry White with three cigars in his mouth, blowing a physically impossible number of smoke rings.
I’m getting lung cancer just by looking at this panel. No wonder they’ll have to amputate everything below the neck. Then Jimmy Olsen steps up to show off his secret talent of juggling, and he’s actually juggling, among other things, a slice of pie, a slice of cake, and a box of crackers. This ends in about the same way everything else in the life of Jimmy Olsen ends.
The whole office laughs at Jimmy, as they often do. Once your sides have stopped aching, please enjoy the smooth stylings of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, who step up to a piano (a piano? In a newspaper office?) to “engage in a bit of close harmony”.
An out-of-frame voice marvels at Lois’s singing abilities. So Lois tells Clark to “tell that kibitzer to quiet down!”, unaware that the voice actually belongs to her idol, Pat Boone. So, Pat Boone’s a kibitzer, is he? Somehow, Lois Lane doesn’t strike me as the type to use a lot of Yiddish in her everyday vocabulary.
Lois is completely overcome when she realizes who she’s casually dismissing. In fact, she has a spontaneous orgasm right there in front of him.
Trust me when I say you don’t want to know what she’s doing with her left hand. After she pulls herself together, Pat tells Lois she’s a great singer, and he invites her to come on his show. And Pat immediately figures out the best way to capitalize on his new discovery.
It’s a “tribute” to Superman, you see. It’s what the people want, you see. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that there’s nothing else Lois Lane could possibly sing about that anyone would ever want to hear.
And what about these great lyrical abilities that Clark Kent suddenly has? Well, okay, fine. Let’s go with it. But we soon learn he may not be as terrific at it as Lois thinks.
It’s like Clark Kent is the anti-Diddy. C’mon, Clark, a parallel version of you was able to come up with “Steel-Man” and “Lava-Man”, so just let those creative juices flow.
Eventually, to spur his creativity, Clark drinks a fifth of Jack, takes way too much Ambien, and in the early morning hours he wakes up “feverishly” and scribbles down lyrics “fresh from his subconscious”. Without proofreading them, he immediately hands them off to Pat Boone. So… Pat. Do a lot of newspaper reporters write song lyrics for you?
Can you figure out the top secret code buried in these lyrics? If you have an IQ higher than a mole rat, I’m pretty sure you can piece it together. In fact, I honestly thought I was supposed to be able to figure it out just from this panel, but at the end of the story, the secret is revealed as if it’s a big twist ending. Geez, kids in 1959 sure were dumb.
In other news, Governor Schwarzenegger would like everyone to know that these lyrics spelling out “Clark Kent” as an acrostic is a total coincidence.
By the way, don’t these lyrics just scream “light pop ditty” to you? I can totally see “Ne’er Does He Cease (To Fight Tyranny)” being the flip side of “Tutti Frutti”.
And one last thing, and it’s kind of a biggie. Even if the lyrics secretly spell out “Clark Kent”, so freaking what? As far as Pat Boone or anyone else knows, the person who wrote the lyrics is named Clark Kent. If I write a kooky song for school kids to perform praising the president, and the first letter of each line spells out my name, does that mean I am Barack Obama? For the record, I am not Barack Obama. I am also not Spock.
In fact, the story itself seems to forget that Clark is the one who wrote these lyrics. Later on, Superman actually takes credit for writing them, which makes this whole story even stupider.
A few days later, Lois is on Pat’s TV show. Just as they’re about to perform “The Superman Song”, Clark realizes his goof. He changes to Superman and stops the performance. And he does it the only way he knows how: By taking the entire network off the air.
Good job, Superman, except, you know, I think the network probably has more than one antenna. It would be a bit hard to broadcast to the entire country otherwise. Really, he’s only taken out the Metropolis affiliate, but I guess that’s enough, because he breathes a sigh of relief and returns home, safe in the knowledge that he’s prevented the song from being heard, at least for now.
But it seems the whole situation has taken Superman down a dark path, where he now “trails Pat’s personal appearance tour”, watching for any new attempt to perform the song.
Okay, so let’s see if I have this straight: The most powerful being on the planet is now consumed with stalking Pat Boone. This will not end well.
Clark sees this new attempt to perform “The Superman Song”, so he ignores that crashing airliner so he can fly over to the state fair and put a stop to it. But first, he needs supplies.
Thankfully, the writers have inserted a panel to let us know that Superman used his powers to manufacture “an invisible plastic dome”. Because if he just flew into the next panel carrying a plastic dome, we couldn’t have simply assumed he had one stashed away at his Fortress or something. All the dumb little kids in 1959 wouldn’t have known what the hell was going on.
“Who put it here so fast we couldn’t see it?” Pat’s a little slow, I think. But at least he’s a nice guy.
So Superman’s clever idea was to put Lois and Pat Boone inside an airtight dome to prevent them from singing the song about him. I can only assume he was hoping they would suffocate in there. I predict it won’t be long before cabin fever takes hold and Pat and Lois start making out.
The next time Pat and Lois attempt to sing “The Superman Song” is at a “concert-by-the-sea”. Superman decides to put a stop to it. Clearly, the only way to put a stop to it is by bombing the fuck out of that concert.
Superman is a real DIY type. Why buy anything when you can just hew it yourself with your bare hands? Also, I think the writers here were kind of hazy on just what x-ray vision is all about. Somehow, I don’t think x-rays can ignite the fuses of giant firecrackers, or fuse sand into plastic.
Now that he’s all done sabotaging TV networks and trapping Lois Lane in an airtight dome and scaring the bejeezus out of concertgoers who are probably cowering in fallout shelters at this very moment, Superman finally confesses the truth to Pat Boone.
I’d just like to remind everyone that, as far as Pat Boone knows, Clark Kent is the one who wrote those lyrics. Not Superman. I mean, at this point, he might as well just come out and tell Pat Boone his secret identity.
Also, I’m pretty sure that both Lois and Pat have already memorized the lyrics. It’s not like they’ll suddenly forget them. Well, Lois, I’m not too worried about, because again, she’s been trying to figure out Superman’s secret identity for decades. Pat, on the other hand, might just possess enough brain cells to have a real shot at putting two and two together.
Okay, I take that back.
So… What’s that, Pat? You’d like me to describe the envelope, Pat? Okay, it’s white. Made of paper. Probably folded in a few places.
How the fuck do you expect an envelope to look, Pat? Do you think Superman was carrying around a pink one all covered in Hello Kitty stickers or something?
Regardless, Pat gets on his TV show, and alerts his entire fanbase to be on the lookout for this envelope.
I cannot even put into words how terrifying the above panel is to me. Pat Boone has an entire squadron of children canvassing the countryside? Do they also report on their neighbors? Holy crap, Pat is already teaching them to sing songs in praise of the Aryan superman! I think we all know what’s going on here.
The Pat Boone Youth Squad eventually finds the envelope, and all is safe. Not that, you know, Superman couldn’t have just tried to rewrite the lyrics from memory or anything. I’m sure it was much easier to send thousands of schoolchildren roaming around in the wilderness. Oh, but guess what? Pat has a little emergency, and he needs Superman’s help.
What a coincidence. Pat Boone knows a big clue to Superman’s secret identity… and now Pat Boone needs a favor from Superman. What are the odds? Naturally, Superman snaps to, realizing he had better do everything he can to keep Pat Boone happy.
Yeah, I kind of thought Pat was making up that steamroller thing, too, just to see how high he could make Superman jump. But as it turns out, a messenger was walking across a city street with a Pat Boone master recording. Not in any kind of sleeve or case, just holding it in his hands like a Frisbee. That same messenger somehow dropped the recording in front of a steamroller. And somehow, even though steamrollers hit a top speed of maybe 5 MPH, there wasn’t enough time to save the recording before it got smashed. I realize this is a Pat Boone record we’re talking about, but I’m pretty sure recording studio employees are a bit more careful than this when handling masters.
I also dig how Pat’s just kind of kicking it there, lying around in the middle of a busy street. Maybe this panel is not showing us the thirty car pileup they just caused.
Thankfully, Superman is here to save the master recording.
Yes, yes. There’s another emergency. Imagine that. I think by the end of this story, we’ll see Pat Boone lounging around by his pool, telling Superman that if he doesn’t get his mojito refreshed right this very moment, the terrorists will have won.
Also, I love how Superman can etch grooves into a record from memory, and yet somehow he couldn’t remember the alternate lyrics he wrote to that song, and had to send Pat Boone’s entire fanbase out to scour the country.
Superman heads to the factory, using “his super-speed to stamp out a million discs…” A worker points out that none of the discs have holes in the center. Oh, psh. Details. Superman is obviously a forward thinker. Where he’s been, they don’t need holes.
Actually, Superman has just the cure for that, too.
Again, I really don’t think x-ray vision works that way. I know Superman might on occasion use his x-ray vision to look through a wall, but that doesn’t mean his x-ray vision actually creates a hole in the wall.
Regardless, that about wraps it up. We get one last panel which finally explains to the slow kids why Superman had to stop that song from being heard.
I don’t know how often Superman “subconsciously” betrays his own secret identity like this, but it doesn’t appear to be something he’s all that concerned about.
But things worked out okay for everyone involved. Superman kept his secret identity a secret. Lois finally got to perform with her idol, after which she never spoke of Pat Boone ever again. The record company got stuck with a million Pat Boone discs that they won’t be able to give away for free in a couple of years. And Pat Boone eventually got to poke fun at his own squeaky clean image with an album in which he covers “Enter Sandman”, “Holy Diver”, and “Crazy Train”. His version of “Crazy Train” became the theme song for The Osbournes, and just in case anyone ever asks you what Lois Lane has in common with Ozzy Osbourne, now you know.