Monday, July 21, 2008

Lois Lane in "The Murdering Arm of Metropolis!"

Despite the fact that school is out and I've been on a "staycation" for the past two weeks, blogging has been pretty light here at the Spec. I even missed my 1-year blogiversary last week, which is a real blogging travesty. I really have no excuse for it, though I did spend much of the time taking over the world as the Russian Empire in a massive Civilization IV campaign. It's nice, at the end of the campaign, that Civilization IV lets me know how long I've been playing, as I wipe off the Doritos dust and check out my three-day beard growth that wasn't there when the game started.

But after that successful accomplishment, it's back to business. As has been a tradition on this blog, I like to celebrate special events by going to my collection of comics from which this site takes it's name: DC's 100-Page Super-Spectaculars. As a form of penance, then, I'm going to cover not one, but two 100-pagers in the next few posts.

Specifically, the Lois Lane features in Superman Family 166 and 169 form two parts of a single story, written by Cary Bates and drawn by John Rosenberger. In this story, my personal hero, Cary Bates, seems to be establishing a new status quo for Lois Lane as a secret agent for the SIA, or Secret Intelligence Agency, which is the single most boring acronym in the DC Universe. And yet Lois still maintains her position as a journalist, oblivious to the ethical problems these two roles create.

As the story opens, Lois is covering the Metropolis Botanists' Convention, hoping for an interview with renowned scientist, Dr. Foxley, who is surprisingly not a female character in a James Bond film. Before Lois can get any closer to the famous botanist, however, she is molested by the worst upskirt photographer in the business:

There are three things wrong with his form on that tackle. And that camera position is totally wrong.

The bad tackler turns out to be Simon Cross, agent of the SIA assigned to protect Dr. Foxley. But while Lois and Simon are arguing, a cyborgian assassin uses a silent air gun to fire a tamerid seed into Dr. Foxley's ear in a plot point that could only have been written by Cary Bates. The seed immediately sprouted inside the botanists head, destroying his brain and preventing him from revealing the secret of the mysterious wonder plant he had discovered.

Lois then talks Simon into allowing her to partner with him in the investigation. But first, Simon has to take care of some business:

Man, if I had a dime for every time I was asked those two questions.

And then:

Did anyone ever doubt that Lois Lane would ultimately end up dead, stuffed in a bag, and thrown in the back of a garbage truck?

The garbage truck, however, is secretly the mobile headquarters of the SIA--I guess all the good barber shops and phone booths were taken. Lois then lays out her CV to show why she should be allowed to join the SIA, and the director buys her pitch. Seriously, which missions are those? The ones where she tries to trick Superman into marrying her, or the ones where she ends up in life-threatening peril while Superman has to rescue her, and thus neglect some other emergency?

In order to complete the mission, Lois has to undergo some training, which apparently involves laying Agent Cross flat on his back repeatedly:Here, Lois demonstrates to Agent Cross why she loves The Dukes of Hazzard.

The mission involves capturing "Spangle," the leader of a "poppy-growing gang." But as Lois and Simon track Spangle, they're attacked by the mechanically armed assassin. He throws Lois off the roof of a parking garage, and while Superman swoops in to rescue her, he does not have time to stop the assassin from breaking Simon Cross's neck. I think we all know how Batman would have handled that choice.

Lois and another agent of the SIA trail Spangle into his secret lair: an underground garden filled with poppy plants.

However, these aren't ordinary poppies--they're "anti-poppies" created by Spangle and Dr. Foxley that will make people immune to drug addiction. This is yet again one of those scientific discoveries in Superman stories that should have a profound effect on society yet never get mentioned again.

Spangle, apparently, is not the leader of the poppy-growing gang; instead, the SIA agent has that secret role, and he kills Spangle to keep the discovery a secret. He tries to do the same to Lois, but she has other plans:
And now I know where Georgia O'Keefe got all her ideas.

The agent also reveals himself to be the mechanically armed assassin, and he's about to use his metal arm on Lois, when Superman, as expected, saves the day. This time, however, Superman had some help:
Who left the mysterious message? And why doesn't he understand basic sentence structure and subject-verb agreement?

That answer comes in the second part of the story, featured in Superman Family 169. More on that tomorrow!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no posts for a week?
and a Lois Lane mystery in the balance.
[i loved those 100 pages spectaculars. I wish they would reprint them...say like 5 or 6 at once...but In Color! ]