BHOC: LOIS LANE #136

Here’s another comic that I can’t explain owning, another issue of LOIS LANE. I didn’t get this one in a 3-Bag, so I’m somewhat befuddled. The only thing I can think of is that, on occasion, my Dad or my Grandparents would just bring me a comic after they’d been out somewhere, and that this book might have been one of those. But it could just as easily have been the most super hero-looking thing on whatever small rack I had been in front of on whatever shopping trip saw me buy it. The truth is lost to the mists of time.

This is another issue of LOIS LANE edited by Robert Kanigher, but the story in this instance was written by Cary Bates, which means that it’s slightly more sensible and hangs together better than the previous entry. John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta handle the art in a serviceable and unspectacular manner.

By the 1970s, LOIS LANE was a series in crisis. The changes in women’s awareness and the rise of Women’s Lib at the end of the 1960s brought about an end to the daffy Lucille Ball-esque escapades that had filled the series since its inception. In its place, a bevy of writers and artists tried to produce stories that would be relevant to the changing audience. Unfortunately, most everybody involved seemed to be pretty clueless about just how to go about this, which resulted in stories in which Lois and her cast talked a lot about being modern, liberated women, but evidenced all of the same jealousies and domesticity and man-hunger as ever.

This particular story is marginally better than most of this era, but that’s not saying all that much. While out getting an interview with daredevil race driver Stacy Mason, Lois is stunned when Superman and Wonder Woman appear to rescue Mason when his car is about to crash–and Superman announces to her that he and Wonder Woman are now an item.

It’s only after going through a bout of depression and dating Stacy Mason (who turns out to be “handsy”) that Lois thinks things through enough to remember all the other times in the past that Superman has pretended to be with somebody else as a ploy to accomplish some mission. She tells her roommate Melba that she’s sure that this must be the case here–and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the ruse.

So Lois proceeds to stalk Superman and Wonder Woman, using lip reading to hone in on their private conversations at a distance. But all of the evidence that she gathers, much to her dismay, shows that the romance between Superman and Wonder Woman is genuine. To make matters worse, as fellow super heroes, Superman and Wonder Woman are also a good match physically.

None of this makes Lois back off, however, and she obsessively follows the duo for days–until suddenly, she herself is attacked and abducted by a mysterious figure calling herself The Revenger. As the name implies, thsi cowled villain intends to get revenge on Superman by killing his girlfriend. But now, that means Wonder Woman rather than Lois. The Revenger does leave Lois wired up in an electric chair, but a pursuing Melba helps to get her free.

There’s a great, ridiculous moment that follows here, as the Revenger, disguised as Lois, tricks Wonder Woman into donning a charm that will kill her. Somehow, the Revenger hides a hood and cowl under her Lois Lane face mask.

The Revenger turns out to be an escaped mental patient who was obsessed with Superman (but not in a healthy, stalkery way, like Lois) She intends to wipe out both Wonder Woman and Lois–but Lois and Melba arrive to tackle her and take her down.

And yes, as Lois had surmised ten pages earlier, Superman’s whole relationship with Wonder Woman was just a ruse to save her life, when he became aware that the mental patient would be targeting the woman he was with. So everybody parts as friend and the status quo is maintained. This is very much a story in the mode of a 1960s vintage Lois tale, but with the melodrama and faux-female empowerment of the 70s ladled onto it.

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