On this episode for the week of Valentine's Day I wanted to feature another of the L. L. women in Clark Kent's / Superman's life, Lori Lemaris. She first appeared in the story The Girl In Superman's Past, which was the third story in Superman #12p, the May 1959 issue (published on approximately March 19, 1959). If you would like to read and enjoy this story for yourself before listening to this podcast, because I will be reviewing the entire plot, there are several reprint editions that contain this story, at a price to fit your budget:
The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told TPB (1987)
The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told HC
Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I
Superman: the Man of Tomorrow Archives vol. II HC
The editor during this era was Mort Weisinger. Curt Swan pencilled the cover, which was inked by Stan Kaye. It featured the first story, about Lois Lane as a ghost. Bill Finger wrote the story The Girl In Superman's Past, which was subtitled An Untold Story Of Superman. Wayne Boring pencilled the art, which was inked by Stan Kaye. The story opens with Clark and Lois in the grandstands of the home stadium of the Metropolis University football team, on a winter day. Lois has a blanket on her lap, which reminds Clark about a girl he first met in college, Lori Lemaris (yet another L. L. woman in his life). Clark first met her when her wheelchair was rolling out of control down a hill and she couldn't stop it. Clark secretly used his heat vision to slightly melt the wheelchair's tires enough to make them tacky enough to stick to the ground and slow it down. When the wheelchair comes to an abrupt stop and throws her out of the chair, Clark by this time is close enough to catch her. Their eyes meet and Clark is in love.
In the days ahead Clark can't get her face out of his mind. Several days later he toured the Ark, a floating aquarium. An onboard explosion shattered some of the tanks, allowing the fish to escape off the Ark and into Metropolis harbor. Clark jumped overboard, changing into Superman, and rounded up the escaped fish. He was shocked to find Lori also underwater, her blanket tightly wrapped around her legs. She was caught in a tentacle of a giant octopus. Superman noticed her lips moving, as if she was communicating wtih the creature. He carries her to shore. Clark and Lori begin dating, and he fantasized about how he would show Lori his devotion to her, as only Superman could do. Some time later Lori suddenly broke off the relationship, telling Clark she needed to return to her family, who lived overseas. He was heartbroken, and decided he couldn't live without her. He was willing to give up his life as Superman to marry Lori. That evening Clark took Lori for a walk and proposed to her. As he was about to tell her his secret identity Lori tells Clark she knows he is Superman, but wouldn't reveal how she knew. Nevertheless she rejected his proposal.
Superman used his x-ray vision to spy on Lori at her small trailer (ala Superman Returns) and saw her radio some unknown person to tell them that she would return that night. That made Superman wonder if Lori was actually a spy. After she left her trailer Superman went in (superman breaking and entering?) and in place of a bed saw a salt water tank. Only one conclusion made sense, so he flew away to find Lori. Superman found Lori, who already knew that he had discovered her secret. At that moment Superman notices a neaby dam bursting. Lori asks to help and the both of them rescue victims and save their houses, and Lori revealed herself as a mermaid.
After their rescue effort was finished Lori told Superman about her life in Atlantis, and how she was sent to the surface world to study huan devleopment, as Atlanteans did every hundred years.Superman reluctantly let her return to Atlanis without him , but not without one final underwater kiss. Back at the football game Lois noticed Clark's far away gaze. When she asked him what he was thinking about Clark replied that he was thinking about an old friend and why he never married. Lois said that Superman would never marry her because he would never give up his career. Clark thought to himself that Lois would never know that once Superman almost did.
Lori would make about 74 appearances in DC Comics, according to dcindexes.com. In another appearance, in Superman #135, February 1960, Jerry Siegel wrote the story Superman's Mermaid Sweetheart. It was pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. Clark investigates reports of mermaid sightings, hoping the source of the sightings was Lori Lemaris herself. It was, and after some discussion and the permission of the leaders of Atlantis, Lori agreed to marry Superman, who had promised to leave the surface world and live at Atlantis. But Lori was injured by a deranged fisherman. She was paralyzed in the attack. Superman searched the galaxy for someone with the knowledge to cure her. He found such a genius on another world of merpeople. He agreed to return to Earth. When Superman returned to Atlantis he was overjoyed to find Lori cured, but was heartbroken to find that Lori and her savior had fallen in love. A dejected Superman returned to his life on the surface.
When John Byrne revamped Superman in the mid-1980's he adapted both of these stories into his own tale, Lost Love, which appeared in Superman vol. II #12, the December 1987 issue (published on September 8, 1987). One difference was that the merman who cured her paralysis, Ronal, was an Earth merman, not from another planet. Another difference was that she came to the surface world to search for other lost cities of Atlantian descendants.
According to dcindexes.com, Lori made about 74 appearances in DC Comics. The pre-Crisis version of the character died in the final issue of Crisis On Infinite Earths, #12, defending Atlantis from an attack by shadow demons. In Action Comics #583 (Sept. 1986), part two of the story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? a statue of Lori Lemaris is shown in Superman's Fortress of Solitude.
The post-Crisis Lori Lemaris has also continued to make appearances in DC Comics. During the 1990's Lori magically gained the ability to have legs when she was dry and transform into a mermaid when wet, like the Daryl Hannah movie Splash, in a Superman storyline. She briefly stayed with Lois Lane, and Lori's status as an old flame of Clark's temproarily put a strain on Clark and Lois' relationship. Later, the Spectre destroyed Atlantis during the Infinite Crisis mini-series. Lori survived the attack and has made appearances since in DC comics.
Back in DC Comics Presents #5, the January 1979 issue, in the story The War Of The Undersea Cities, it is noted that Lori Lemaris was a citizen of Tritonis, and Aquaman was a citizen of Poseidonis.
Note for Episode #61: In honor of Curt Swan's birthday I will share the story I Flew With Superman from Superman Annual #9, where Curt drew himself co-starring with Superman.
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