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“Honey, I saw a whale today that reminded me so much of you…” – Superman #278

July 19, 2011

Let’s be frank. If any man uttered anything like the above title to their significant other, they’d get chased around the house with the nearest wieldable object. Maybe a rolling pin.

This issue is chock-full of reprint goodness in addition to the new tale advertised on the front featuring Terra-Man and some nifty Old West art from the great Curt Swan. I’m was sorely tempted to yack about that portion of the comic, but the one advertised by this little image proved too much to resist:

Must. Know. The Story. Behind it.

Originally published in Superman #138, this Jerry Siegel/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye effort opens with a reprise of the cover blurb:

As we can see from the tease, it’s Lori Lemaris that’s behind this undersea chicanery. She’s decided that Clark Kent and Lois Lane need — NEED — to be together, and by gum she’s going to play surreptitious matchmaker using every scaly trick she knows.

Things are made easier for her when Clark and Lois are sent on assignment to the deep blue sea to photograph marine life (nothing sells papers like pictures of fish). Lori first tries a direct method, using telepathy to get Lois into a dangerous situation, having Superman rescue her and planting an idea in his Kryptonian head to lay a wet one right on her lips:

Nice aim, Supes.

Lori’s next gambit is nothing short of astonishing (in a bad way) and would indicate that she’s less mermaid than merbitch. She finds a dying man floating at sea and has the last reaction a warm-blooded creature would have:

Yeah. Don’t worry about getting him food or fresh water or shelter. Just make sure he lives long enough to figure into your romantic plots. Oh, and I’m quite sure the “may not have seen a woman in weeks” angle is the last thing on the mind of someone who’s begun drinking his own urine.

Lori tows the poor man to the ship and he’s rescued. I realize that in so doing she saved his life, but that seems to be a collateral benefit to his place in her scheme (I’m still angry at this). At any rate, he and Lois hit it off, but Clark is less jealous than concerned about the real identity of this lost amnesiac. He puts things right in short order:

Prince Whatever should be thankful that he didn’t get the Wonderman romantic rival treatment.

Next comes the fish/faces ploy, with Lori using a device to project Lois’ visage and make Superman think he’s so in love with her he can’t get her lovely face out of his mind:

This dumb idea works as well as you’d think, which is not at all. Then Lori goes to the most direct of direct approaches, i.e. exposing Clark’s identity and forcing the issue with Lois. She gets him swallowed Jonah-style by a whale, but a fishman ex machina arrives to apply the final monkeywrench to her meddling:

Superman is left wondering who’ll be next to try to set him up. He suggests Krypto. I’d bet one of his robot helpers in the Fortress of Solitude.

While this one didn’t really deliver much on the preposterous possibilities of the Lois-whale (the panel presented is one of two that dealt with that bit), the unthinkably callow attitude of Ms. Lemaris is a wowser and is definitely what I’ll take away from it. I used to have a somewhat positive view of her, or as positive a view as a man can have of a woman with fish nether regions. No longer. The word I’d apply to her is the one word that I’m hesitant to utter aloud or type. It rhymes with “runt.” When she was dragging that poor castaway prince along to be a pawn in her game of matchmaking chess, I wanted to stick her with a whaling harpoon. We’ll leave it at that.

A word about Wayne Boring’s art. It’s from another time and it has its charm — I like it, and he certainly deserves his place in the pantheon of great Superman artists — but my one complaint is that his Man of Steel’s expressions seem to always be the same. Maybe not always, but close enough. I’ll refrain from being the umpteenth person to make the obvious play on Boring’s last name, but the juxtaposition of his work against Swan’s under the single roof of this issue really highlights the evolution from one to the other. Once again, no offense to Boring and his classic barrel-chested Superman. It’s just that he makes me appreciate Swan all the more.

So, if we’re scoring this issue: Swan up, Boring level, and Lemaris down, down, down.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2011 1:36 am

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  2. July 21, 2011 8:03 pm

    It’s interesting that Superman wonders if Krypto will be next to try to push forward the relationship between him and Lois, because that’s exactly what happened a few issues later (in Superman #142). It’s a very silly story, mostly because Superman falls for all of Krypto’s tricks to get him in the mood, and then immediately loses interest when something unpredictable ruins the moment.

    Boring was a great artist in the 1940s and 1950s, but by this point he was just a shadow of his former self.

    BTW, Lori got even worse characterization in Adventure #280, where it’s revealed that as a teenager, Lori was a pathological liar.

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