In thinking about the Lois Lane stories from the last two posts, I've come to realize that Lois Lane tends to get a bad rap. Sure, she spent decades trying to find ways to trick Superman into marrying her, and her non-Superman romantic relationships have been disastrous, but a lot of blame should be targeted at Superman himself, who, as we've seen, can be a bit overprotective and suffocating.
And stalkery in a way that really raises ethical questions about his abuse of his powers.
Speaking of which, I was reminded of this Lois Lane story, also written by the great Cary Bates (who returns to comics this week in Marvel's True Believers!).
(I'm aware that devoting three posts in a row to Lois Lane stories is going to remind many veterans of the comic blogosphere of 2005. All I ask is that you bear with me: I wasn't blogging back then, and I need to work the ubiquitous Lois Lane phase out of my system.)
The story begins with the type of shocking scene common in Lois Lane comics: Lois kills Superman and reveals his secret identity.
And, to top the deed off, she drops him down a long elevator shaft.
The initiated know that the most likely scenario is that this is a dream: the culmination of all of Lois's anxieties about discovering Superman's secret and inadvertantly causing his death.
And such a prediction would be accurate, as, on the next page, we see Lois confiding her dream with a pretty stereotypical, bearded and bespectacled psychiatrist named "Dr. Thadius Thadwick": a therapist, it turns out, who was recommended to Lois by Superman himself.
Just to be clear here: Lois has a dream where she shoots Clark Kent with a gun, revealing that he's Superman, and then she drops his lifeless body down a long shaft. Holy crap! It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Psychiatry to decode that symbolism. However, Dr. Thadwick totally misses the boat on this:
The rest of the story involves Boss-Lady Larue, the "female crime czar of Metropolis" attempting to drive Lois crazy in order to extract Superman's secret from her dream. But in the end, Boss-Lady has to resort to kidnapping Lois and her therapist.
In an eerily familiar scene, Boss-Lady Larue disposes of the doctor by shooting him and then dropping his body down the elevator shaft.
If, in fact, you weren't paying attention at all to the comic you were reading, the caption on this panel makes sure you know exactly what's going on.
And then we get what is a pretty stunning revelation: Superman was disguised as Dr. Thadius Thadwick all along.
His motive: to protect his secret identity.
Lingering on this point a moment, Lois Lane went to Superman asking for help because she was suffering from traumatic nightmares about killing Clark Kent. Superman, worried more about protecting his secret identity, recommends a nonexistant therapist and proceeds to disguise himself as said doctor and rent out an entire office in that doctor's name. Rather than actually treating her or helping her arrive at an understanding of what this dream and all its obvious symbolism might mean (and one might question Superman's credentials as a therapist in the first place), he mainly quizzes Lois on her suspicions of his dual identity. Then, he allows Lois to think that her therapist was, indeed, killed by Boss-Lady Larue, thus furthering her trauma and sense of guilt.
WOW! This is one effed-up relationship.