Apr 23, 2018
When Lois Lane almost banged a horse: Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #92
You might recall that some time ago I wrote an article chronicling the Silver Age adventures of Supergirl and Comet the Super-Horse, who some might have previously assumed was just another wacky super-pet like Krypto the Super-Dog or Streaky the Super-Cat, but who instead turned out to be a telepathic horse containing the magically trapped consciousness of a former centaur from ancient Greece. And over the course of several years, one of the Silver Age-iest Silver Age stories ever unfolded in the back pages of Action Comics, as Comet occasionally transformed into a strapping blond human male who would then set about secretly seducing his underage owner, all culminating in a plot where Supergirl actually fantasized about marrying her pet horse.
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At the end of that article, I alluded to one final romance-oriented appearance by Comet the Super-Horse in the pages of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, and well, here it is, as promised. Why did it take me so long? I’m not saying I needed three years to recover from the last Comet story arc, but just look at this panel from the previous Super-Horse story I wrote about and ask yourself what sort of masochist would be willing to venture into this madness again of his own free will.
But I’ll grant that the Lois Lane story, while pretty crazy, isn’t nearly as insane as all those previous Comet adventures, primarily because it comes from the latter days of the Silver Age when comic creators were actually beginning to put some effort into their output, as opposed to their previous strategy of coming up with the cover drawings first and then throwing together random nonsense on the fly to explain it all later.
Regardless, somebody still thought it was a great idea to write a comic where Lois Lane hooks up with a horse. And guess what? That writer happens to be Leo Dorfman, the same guy responsible for the initial Supergirl/Comet arc in Action Comics, so I guess that answers the question of “who the hell was clamoring for another Comet story, anyway?”
But it’s worse than that. In fact, I briefly considered calling this article “That time Superman almost banged a horse”, because this issue finds Lois also magically transformed into both a centaur and a horse, and we can only imagine what Superman would have been forced to do if he were unable to reverse the process. This is Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #92, cover-dated May of 1969.
As you’ll notice, the cover doesn’t bother to so much as mention Comet the Super-Horse, so I guess at this juncture in comics history, cape-wearing horses weren’t quite the selling point they used to be. Instead, most of the cover is devoted to giving us some (very unsettling) cheesecake in the form of Centaur Lois wearing a strapless polka dot bikini top, as centaurs often do. And if you think about it, this might be the only issue of Lois Lane to feature a cover where she’s completely naked below the waist. The Summer of ’69 was surely a great time to be alive.
Next up, the splash page lets us know Lois will be also changed into a horse in this issue, whereupon she’ll have no other choice but to hook up with Super-Horse.
The first page of the story proper finds Lois driving through the desert on her way to “Satellite City” to cover a “rocket test”. We learn a Mars rocket is being tested, which will pass through an artificial comet created by Superman, to find out what will happen “in case our astronauts ever encounter a real comet!” You know how it is, when astronauts on a space mission just happen to accidentally run into a comet.
Unfortunately, Lois’ jeep overheats and stalls, and now she’s on foot looking for help, and soon she’s crawling through the desert, about to pass out from the heat, and thinking she’s going to die (“Lois, baby, this could be it!”). But then she sees a white horse in a Superman cape coming to her rescue, though she believes it to be a heat stroke-induced hallucination, and I can’t say I blame her. Honestly, about half of Comet’s appearances make me wonder if I too hallucinated them.
But the next panel lets us know this is no dream; Lois is being rescued by “Comet, the mighty Superhorse!” He happened to be hanging out in the area, and his telepathic powers picked up on Lois being in distress, and he came here to rescue her. Comet, of course, still has a one-track mind, and he’s already thinking about how “lovely” she is. Dude, can you go a single day without thinking with your giant horse dick?
Comet flies Lois to her motel and leaves her under a palm tree, meaning Lois has missed out on her assignment covering the launch of the rocket and the artificial comet. There’s a panel of the comet being launched, and Comet the Superhorse remotely reacts to this, recalling how he changes into a human whenever a comet passes through “Earth’s vicinity”, which somehow applies to artificial comets as well. Realizing he’s about to transform, he flies to a “ghost town”, and enters an “old theater”, where he once again transforms into the muscular, blond, and square-jawed Biron.
Biron is now (tastefully) nude, but he luckily finds some “cast-off costumes” in the theater, as well as an “abandoned chest of magician’s tricks”. This last thing is really going to help him out, because just as before, whenever he morphs into his human form, Biron immediately has to take on odd jobs to survive. And in this case, he finds Lois’ jeep and drives it to the same motel that Lois is staying at, which a caption identifies as “the swank Desert Palms Motel,” where he introduces himself to the cigar smoking proprietor as “Bill Biron”. I guess the jeep was on loan from the motel, and the owner is so grateful to get it back that he offers to give a random stranger who drove in out of the desert a chance to do his magic show tonight.
Lois is in attendance as Bill performs his show, which involves shooting glass balls while blindfolded, making coins magically appear in a bowl, and doing a levitation trick that has Lois immediately declaring him to be “a socko smash!” I’m not so hip to 1969 jive, so I’ll assume this is a good thing?
Later, Bill Biron joins Lois at her table, where her thought balloon informs us that “Biron is even handsomer close-up!” But Lois knows the secrets behind all his tricks, and is able to describe in detail how he pulled them off, because she “once covered a magicians’ convention!” What’s lamer, a “magicians’ convention”, or the Daily Planet sending their star reporter to cover it?
Then, because Biron is into magic and stuff, Lois asks if he believes there could ever be such a thing as a “flying horse”. And this triggers Bill to quietly reminisce about his history. And as always, I’m mostly stunned this character was used as frequently as he was, because every time he appears, they have to devote at least four pages to explaining his nutso backstory. Come to think of it, that’s probably why Superhorse shows up so often; Dorfman could just type “INSERT COMET’S ORIGIN STORY HERE” and then head out for an early supper.
So here’s the recap of the origin of Comet the Superhorse AKA Bill Biron, once again: In ancient Greece, Biron was a centaur in love with a sorceress named Circe. One day, he saved her from being poisoned by the evil wizard Maldor (or “Malador”, depending on which story you’re reading). To show her gratitude, Circe decided to grant Biron’s wish to become a human. This involved her whipping up a potion to turn him into a man, and for no apparent reason also making another concoction that could turn him into a horse.
Predictably, the potions got mixed up and Biron ended up drinking the one that turned him into a horse, and later stories (including this one) retconned this moronic turn of events as being the result of Maldor switching the potions at the last minute, rather than just sheer incompetence on Circe’s part.
And so, to make up for this colossal fuck-up, Circe gave Biron/Comet another potion that granted him all the powers of the Greek gods, along with telepathy that he would later use to coerce a teenage girl into loving him.
And then (yeah, for real, this origin story is only halfway done, and I’m already exhausted), Maldor used a magic spell to exile Biron the Horse to a remote asteroid, where he remained trapped for millennia until he was freed by the passing rocketship of Kara Zor-El on her way from Argo City to Earth, after which he stalked, er, I mean, followed the girl to Earth, and “began my career as Superhorse!”
Back in the present, and it’s been so long I nearly forgot this was a flashback, Biron is snapped out of his memories by another telepathic vision (was he was just staring into space for five solid minutes, like the guy on Scrubs?). He senses that a couple at a nearby table are full of hate for Lois and are planning to kill her. And in fact, as he informs Lois now, her jeep didn’t break down earlier; this couple sabotaged it, and he intends to prove it.
Biron presents flowers to the couple which lets him spray them with “sneezing powder”. And then Biron’s hair inexplicably turns white for one panel as the couple sneezes off their wigs, revealing that they are in fact “Dr. Tolin and his wife”. Oh yeah, the Tolins. Of course. Wait, who?
Apparently, they’re a couple who Lois and Clark Kent recently exposed for “stealing military secrets”. They were convicted and are now out on parole, but Biron finds a gun on the man, violating said parole, and they get taken away by the cops.
The point of all this is that Biron came to Lois’ rescue, and has thus endeared himself to her, and that night by the motel pool, Lois wants to know how he was able to intuit that dastardly criminal plot. Biron quickly reveals that he’s actually Superhorse, and tells her the whole story. Well… I’ll be damned, Biron. You’ve come a long way from hiding your identity to get high school girls to make out with you.
Lois gets all hot and bothered upon learning a secret that “not even Superman or Supergirl knows!” Biron says he’s telling her all this because (even though they’ve only known each for, I think, two or three hours?), “I’ve learned to love you!” Way to play it, my dude. They start kissing, and this is a whole new ballgame for Biron/Comet, because Lois’ thought bubble acknowledges that even though Biron might really be a horse, he still “turns [her] on.” Wow.
Biron is despondent, however, because he knows that when the artificial comet leaves Earth’s vicinity, he’ll go back to being a horse. But he thinks there’s a chance he can contact Circe through time and get her to make the spell permanent, and he runs to a “desert spring” so he can gaze into the water and call out to the sorceress, asking her to “change me to a human, so I can marry Lois, the girl I love.” Damn, this guy still works fast.
But hey, here’s an idea: since the comet is artificial in the first place, why doesn’t he just convince Superman to leave the thing in orbit so he can stay Biron all the time? Sorry, there I go again, trying to apply logic to a comic book story from the Silver Age. It’s a bad habit.
There’s no response, so they had back to the motel, but as they walk away, it turns out that none other than Maldor himself heard the call and has transported himself here into the future.
And let’s contemplate the notion of a man who can travel thousands of years into the future and witness all the wondrous technological advances and societal changes in store for mankind, but decides to devote his entire visit to getting revenge on a horse, shall we?
In “Part II” of this story, Maldor immediately takes an interest in Lois, declaring her to be “too beautiful” for Biron/Superhorse. He decides to disguise himself as Biron, according to his thought balloon, “Just for kicks!” Fake Biron then finds Lois and shows her some “new magic tricks”, which include a fountain of fireworks, turning a palm tree into “a living jewel”, and making cactus plants turn into flowers, I think. Lois is taken by all this, and then he immediately changes back into Maldor, so I guess he really did do it for kicks.
He then hits on Lois, but Lois already knows from hearing Biron’s lengthy origin story that he’s not a good guy.
Maldor responds to this rejection in a perfectly healthy way: by waving his magic wand and turning Lois into a centaur, and then into a horse.
Lois tries to attack Maldor and gets deflected, revealing she has super-strength that lets her knock over a palm tree. Yep, Maldor’s evil spell also gave Lois all of Comet’s super-powers, including super-strength, telepathy, and the power of flight. That’ll learn her!
Maldor escapes back to his own time while a distraught Biron searches for Lois, but Lois can’t work up the nerve to “send him a telepathic message”. And inside her thought balloon is Biron’s thought balloon of Lois bound and gagged. This is quite the thought-ception.
But then Lois sees a wolf pack following Biron, so she has no choice but to launch into action. She flies to the rescue and takes out the wolves, weirdly making sure to let us know she’s being extra-careful not to kill them, because just like Superman, “I’ll never use my powers to kill!”
Biron then senses that Superman’s artificial comet is leaving “Earth’s vicinity”, which means he’s now changing back into Superhorse. But he’s very accepting of the change this time around, because at least he can now use his powers to track down Lois.
Lois-Horse falls in with a herd of “wild mustangs”, and by sheer coincidence, so does Superhorse, and both soon become the target of wranglers. And going by these Comet stories, the DC world sure is full of guys looking to wrangle wild horses.
They get their lassos around both horses, only to find out that these horses have super-powers, and they both take flight, flinging their would-be captors to the ground. Having rid themselves of this annoyance, the two horses land and try to communicate telepathically, but can’t because reasons. Regardless, the two then fly around together, and climb a waterfall, and have a “super-snowball fight”. Yeah, it’s just horses frolicking now, so clearly they’ve run out of ideas and are just doing whatever it takes to get to 32 pages. And in a Superman-related story, that can only mean one thing: It’s time to bust out the Kryptonite.
Cut to Superman bringing his artificial comet back to Earth as a “souvenir”, just as a hunk of Kryptonite streaks past. In a series of panels so confusing that they actually had to add arrows and label them A, B, C, and D, Superman plummets to Earth while both Superhorse and Lois-Horse save him by sending the Kryptonite-irradiated “comet” back out into space. Superman thinks he must be delirious at the sight of “two superhorses”.
Conveniently, Superman just happens to have landed near a stream, and he looks in the water and gets a message across time from Circe herself, alerting him that “the chestnut super-steed is Lois Lane!” And it seems Circe also has a way to turn Lois back into a human.
Lois-Horse feels weak and must land, and soon starts to transform back into a woman. Humorously, when she’s in her “centaur” phase she’s somehow wearing a bikini top again, and then when she’s fully human, the top has morphed into a full sundress, though I really can’t gripe too much about this kind of stuff in a story where two people magically change into super-powered horses. Lois is now human again, and she takes in a rainbow that’s “like a glorious symbol of joy!”
But it would appear there’s more to the rainbow than she thinks, because she suddenly feels dizzy, and as she stumbles back to the motel, she now decides she was simply daydreaming what just happened to her. Superman, spying on her from behind a rock, explains to us via thought bubble that Circe told him that “the radiance of a rainbow” was the only thing that could change Lois back to human, so he created one by using his super-breath on some water, and also somehow wiped out all her memories of being a horse. Um, why? To save her the trauma? It’s not like Lois hasn’t experienced things a hundred times more disturbing in the previous 30 years of her publication history, so why the memory wipe?
As Lois goes back to the swank motel, Comet the Superhorse watches her from afar, and wonders if he’ll “ever meet her again in my human identity?” No, you won’t. This is pretty much your last pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths appearance before you get mercifully erased from DC continuity.
We wrap up with Lois checking out of the motel while thinking about Biron and promising to never forget him.
And then in a few years, she and the entire DC universe would proceed to entirely forget him.
So just how much of her memories of the events of this story did Lois retain, anyway? Obviously, she still remembers meeting Biron, and learning that he’s Superhorse, and then what? Is there just a total blackout between meeting Maldor and waking up out in the desert looking at a rainbow? Because Lois doesn’t seem the least bit perturbed by experiencing (at least) half a day’s worth of missing time.
Well, this wasn’t anywhere near as nuts as Comet’s previous appearances in Supergirl stories, because like I said, comics were starting to grow up a bit, and this story was published just four short years before the death of Gwen Stacy and the end of the Silver Age. It’s still a pretty silly story that makes you wonder just what they were smoking in the DC offices, but in the greater context of our ongoing Bizarre Silver Age Comics series, I’m sorry to say a story where Lois Lane turns into a horse barely even registers.