Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Classics: Lois Lane #106

Today's classic comic demonstrates that the right cover can sell even the silliest comic book.

I've purchased all kinds of comics in my life, but I have to admit I never bought many comics that were aimed at girls.

(When you're young, you have to guard against cooties, of course.)

So it is that I never purchased very many issues of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane (the full official title of this comic).

I picked up about 10 issues when The Rose and the Thorn was included as a backup feature - as much for her skimpy costume as for her action-packed stories. This issue features a fine example of such a story with art by the team supreme of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

But what made me pick up this issue was the cover. Lois steps into a machine and becomes a black woman! Admit it, you're dying to read that story.

Written by Robert Kanigher, the story has Lois trying to cover a story in Little Africa, the black community in Metropolis - but no one will talk to her because she's "Whitey."

Luckily, Lois' boy friend Superman just happens to have a Plastimold machine that changes her features for 24 hours. She then learns some valuable life lessons.

Oh, the story is thin and moves in obvious directions and is a bit silly - but it's also rather touching despite all that. Lois and the reader learn some important lessons, and it's a surprising story, especially since DC was still as mainstream as can be when this was published in 1970.

The art is by the terrific Werner Roth with inks by Vince Colletta, and it's quite good, with expressive characters and clean, clear storytelling. The only thing that doesn't work is Superman, who seems awkward, but he's not in the story much at all.

If this was the last appearance by the Plastimold, it's a terrible shame - Lois could have used it to explore all kinds of different cultures and lifestyles.

Just imagine: "I Am Curious (Geek)!"

Grade: B+



Dwayne said...

Here's what's curious: The title is a play on the Swedish film "I am Curious (Yellow)" which was a controversial film here in the US for nudity and sex. I don't believe it was explicit, but for the time it was considered pornographic in some communities.

Anyways, for DC to take the title from a film clearly NOT meant for children and use it on a comic clearly meant for kids was curious, to say the least. These days it would probably be controversial.

Chuck said...

Dwayne, excellent point! I wonder if it was used because the title was in the news (with the writer not knowing the pornographic connotation) or if he just tried to slip it past the editors - and succeeded!

Kyle said...

I admit it... I am dying to read that story. Great review as always Chuck!

Anonymous said...

I think that Bob Kanigher liked
to try outrageous stuff and get
away with it! He was prolific and
a lot of his stories followed a
certain formula so that, even if
it wasn't credited, you learned to
know the "Kanigher touch."
He also did that Sgt. Rock story
based on the My Li massacre in
Vietnam that garnered publicity in
The New York Times.
He could attract the attention of
both the fans and the civilians!

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Thanks, Kyle. As I think about it, I'm pretty sure I picked this issue up several years back at a convention after a friend told me about it. I apparently paid the princely sum of 70 cents for that issue. Worth it for the cover alone!