Thursday, August 26, 2010

Episode #141: An Imaginary Summer 2010. Part IV: The Death Of Lois Lane!

The final story of this year's imaginary story series is The Death Of Lois Lane, from Superman #194, February 1967, published on December 15, 1966. The issue contained 32 pages and had the cover price of twelve cents. Mort Weisinger was the editor. The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. It showed Superman and his son Superboy gazing at a bust of the deceased Lois Lane carved into the side of a mountain.

I bought this issue from my local comic store, at the time. My friend Sydney had moved his store to his second location, for cheaper rent. I had never read this story before, and I can't resist an imaginary Superman story.

On the title page, Clark and his son, Perry White, Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane were gathered at the gravesite as Lois' casket was being lowered into her grave.

The story began with Superman saving a geologist who had fallen off a cliff. In his hand was an unusual mineral he had found, which contained green, red and gold kryptonite. This unusual combination of kryptonite had an unusual effect on Superman. His costume became radioactive, so that he had to take it off and store it in a lead shielded box. And not only did he lose his super powers, but Superman also lost any memory of being a superhero. So he resumed his life as Clark Kent, as if he had never been Superman. He even wrote a story Superman Missing. Where Is He?

With his super rival gone, Clark was able to win Lois Lane's heart, and they got married. Clark would later go to Tibet on assignment, only to be lost for several years. He returned to Metropolis to find that he was the father of a young, super powered son. Lois guessed that their son gained his powers from drinking a failed super serum that was among her Superman memorabilia. She surmised that it had somehow been activated by a radioactive gem among her collection. (I can only guess that the radioactive gem was not harmful to humans.) But a caption at the bottom of the panel said that of course Lois was wrong about her guess.

Later, Clark watched a documentary about Superman on TV. It replayed a clip which showed the Man of Steel summoning his robot #3. The same robot flew into Clark's living room, activated by the recorded voice of Superman. The robot had been hidden in a now forgotten secret closet filled with other Superman robots. Superrobot #3 took Clark to a closet where the lead shielded box was stored. When Clark opened the box and saw the readioactive Superman uniform inside, his memory returned.

The next morning, Clark had planned to tell his family about his secret during breakfast. He was interrupted by his son, who was dressed for his little league game.

Later that day, Clark and Lois were on a drive together in the countryside. He was about to tell his wife his secret when their car veered toward a cliff wall beside the road. Before the vehicle could crash into the cliff, an opening appeared in the rock face and the car was pulled inside. It was the secret hideout of Lex Luthor, who had used a giant magnet to trap the Kent's automobile. He used truth serum on the Kents to discover Superman's secret identity. Of course Lois didn't know, but Clark confessed to being Superman. He even told Luthor how he lost his super powers. After a moment's disbelief, Luthor was convinced that Clark told the truth, and briefly considered killing Kent himself.

Instead, Luthor planted hypnotic suggestions in both of the Kents' minds, and used his giant magnet to repel their car out of his hideout.

Clark and Lois had no memory of their capture and continued down the road. Clark picked up his conversation where he had left off and told his wife Lois that he had been Superman. Acting on Luthor's hypnotic suggestion, Lois pulled a handgun out of her purse and shot at her husband. Clark opened the car door and jumped out, the bullet barely going over his head. The car was now out of control and went off the edge of a cliff.

In his mountain hideout, Luthor witnessed the scene of Clark climbing down the cliff to hold the now lifeless body of his wife on a monitor. His plan had backfired with Lois dying instead of Clark, but Luthor had another plan.

Luthor attended Lois Kent's funeral, hidden from the mourners. A few days later Clark received a phone call from Perry White, but Clark did not recognize the voice as Perry's. The voice said that he had a bad cold, and had received a tip that Luthor's hideout was near the Metropolis turnpike. Clark left right away to act on the tip.

After Clark left his apartment, Luthor broke in and reprogrammed one of the Superman robots to obey his remote controlled comands. The Superman robot obeyed Luthor's command to put on one of Clark's suits. Robot Clark, as I'll call him, sat in the living room and pretended to talk in his sleep. He awoke Clark's son, who heard Robot Clark mumble about killing Lois out of jealousy. The boy awoke his father and told him what he had said in his sleep. Robot Clark said it was only a bad dream. Luthor watched on a monitor in his hideout.

Robot Clark then went into Lois' old room and pulled out a chest that Luthor had planted under her bed. When Robot Clark opened it, he found keepsakes that Luthor had given Lois, including an autograph picture which was signed, "To Lois, Love Lex." In a jealous rage Robot Clark threw them out the window. Then Clark's son was convinced that his father really did kill Lois. Robot Clark slapped the boy, who was not hurt because of his invulnerability. Then the robot exposed Clark's son to a small piece of kryptonite, to keep him from going to the police. Robot Clark then said he would take care of Luthor. Instead of going to the ground floor of the building and driving to Luthor's lair, Robot Clark went to the roof and flew there. Luthor comanded Robot Clark to hide in closet A-2.

Luthor then went to the Kent apartment and saved the boy from the kryptonite. They flew to Luthor's hideout in a rocket jet that Luthor parked on the building's roof. Luthor told Clark's son to go into closet 2-A. Lex then smeared some soot on his face and lay next to a machine that had blown up the day before. He planned to trick Clark into confessing to Lois' murder. At that time the real Clark Kent walked into Luthor's hideout. Lex pretended to be wounded from the machine explosion, and revealed to Clark that he knew his secret identity as Superman. He then showed Clark some pictures he had faked, showing Lex and Lois in romantic poses together in public. Luthor claimed that they had been secretly sweethearts before she married Clark.

Kent didn't believe Luthor, but was hypnotized by a hypnotizing machine. Luthor commanded Clark to go into a jealous rage. Clark began smashing Luthor's equipment and confessed to murdering Lois out of jealousy. His son watched from the closet he was hiding in.

Luthor's plan backfired when Clark grabbed a vaporizing rifle and aimed it at Lex. Clark's son saved Luthor from the blast and threw his father down a deep crevasse. Luthor laughed victoriously and confessed to the entire scheme. To finish it off he exposed Clark's son to the kryptonite from the Kent apartment. But Luthor was stopped by Robot Clark, who removed the kryptonite, and then killed Luthor with the vaporizing rifle. The Kent son brought his father, still alive, out of the crevasse. He had used his super breath to slow his father's fall, so that Clark would be safe while the boy dealt with Luthor. The Robot Clark self destructed because of the evil deeds it had been involved with.

On a mountainside Superman and his son looked at a bust of Lois Kent her son had carved into the mountain. The boy would soon begin his career as the second Superboy. There was no explanation why Superman was now able to wear his costume, which had been rendered radioactove at the beginning of the story. Sometimes, such are silver age comic book stories. This tale had more plot twists than a soap opera.

The back story was a reprint of The Super Luck Of Badge 77, originally published in Superman #133.

Also in the back of the issue was a Direct Current, which was a checklist of some of the titles that were published that month. The only Superman title listed wa Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #72, which also carried a February 1967 cover date, and was scheduled to be published on December 20. The title of the featured story was Lois Lane's Aquaman Tricks.

There was an ad for some mini-Batman posters. I remember having two of them, one of the 1960's comic book Batmobile zooming out of the Batcave, and another of the Penguin, holding an open umbrella as he floated above Gotham City.

There was another ad which featured covers of the latest issues of several titles. One was Action Comics #346, featuring the story The Case Of The Superman Imposter. Another title was The Doomed Legionnaire in Adventure Comics #353.

Next Episode: Revenge Is Life - Death To Superman in Superman #414!

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