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Can Lois save Superman from, horror of horrors, marrying a fat woman? – Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #61

August 6, 2013

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The Silver Age was a Golden Age of sorts for shrewy women, and the significant others of male superheroes were some of the frostiest ladies in the annals of ladydom. The unquestioned queen bee of the super-girlfriends club was Iris West, whose belittling comments to Barry Allen made her the Secretariat of bitchiness, with 12 furlongs between her and her nearest competition. (To extend the sports analogizing: she was like Larry Bird showing up for the three-point contest, looking around the locker room and declaring “I’m just seeing who’s going to come in second.”) Others, like Jean Loring, got their time in, but never quite measured up.

And then there’s Lois Lane, the most famous of them all, the lady who could emasculate Clark Kent while simultaneously getting all gooey over the hunky Superman, rocketing from cold to hot and back again like a bad shower. And God help any fat chick who gets between her and her Kryptonian quarry — Bridezilla comes to Metropolis.  

That’s what this comic appeared to promise. “Superman’s Marriage Money!” was written by Otto Binder with art by Kurt Schaffenberger, and the story doesn’t quite match what was advertised on the cover — not unlike pretty much every comic book story every written. (It truly is an industry where you can’t judge a book by its cover.) It isn’t a pages long rivalry for Superman’s heart between Lois and a hefty broad in a yellow floral print tent/dress. But fret not, Lois gets her chances to witch it up. The story opens with her and Clark at the movies, and she gives him the cold shoulder while fantasizing about Superman. (Clark took her to see a movie about Superman, which wasn’t exactly a perfect choice to keep her wandering mind focused. Incidentally, have there ever been scholarly articles written on the psychological issues Clark/Kal/Superman must have to so merrily be his own romantic rival? Is there a name for such a complex?)

There’s a gimmick tied into the movie: as a promotion, coupons called “Super-Money” are handed out that promise the bearer a complimentary super-deed from Superman himself. Have you ever given anyone a homemade coupon booklet that promises certain things to be done (sweeping the floors, cleaning the gutters, getting the groceries, etc.) for the bearer free of charge and without complaint? Same thing. Lois laughs hers off, that is, until Superman actually starts letting people cash them in — like desperate ice cream truck owners:

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Next up is a hobo. And not just any hobo, but one straight out of derelict central casting, complete with patched pants, a distressed hat, and a polka-dotted sack tied to the end of a pole — and all he wants is for Superman to make a diamond out of a lump of coal (years before Superman 3):

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Lest the more left-wing among us launch a boycott of the apparently screw-the-poor Man of Steel (#OccupySuperman), let it be known that he does indeed make a diamond for the poor man — at the urging of the bearded gentleman you see behind the counter of this coupon redemption booth. More on him in a moment, because we’re not done with the stereotypes — and the next one is a doozy. If you’re offended by things like the Washington Redskins’ team name, then you might want to avert your eyes:

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Again, Superman has to comply with the ticket-holder’s wishes. So time travel it is, butterfly effects and temporal chaos be damned. But this doesn’t mean that Superman can’t still put the screws to the guy:

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Super-Paleface indeed.

Lois, with her ace investigative instincts, soon figures out who’s behind all this super-coupon tomfoolery: Mr. Mxyzptlk, that old nuisance from the 5th dimension, is the old man in the booth. He tricked Superman into the coupon scheme by faking a second disaster while Superman was already dealing with one, and then “helping” with the second in exchange for Superman’s cooperation. (Mxyzptlk really needs to sit down with a good therapist some day and figure out what the hell it is that he gets out of these shenanigans.) Lois takes it upon herself to set things right, and for that she calls in her co-worker, fellow Superman friend and master of disguise, Jimmy Olsen. Their plan: take Mxyzptlk to lunch and use alphabet soup to trick him into spelling his name backwards. Does the puerile ruse work?:

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YES! YES! Mr. Mxyzptlk speaks for all of us!

Now we finally come to our cover image. You see, Lois has this entire time had a coupon that promises her one free super-marriage. Yes, the culmination of all her domestic dreams has been right there in her hands. But, like a true ascetic, she’s denied herself this, as she doesn’t want to give Mxyzptlk the satisfaction. Or something. But all her compunctions magically disappear when the cover’s plump rival arrives on the scene, bearing her very own Super-Money:

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Good to see she got a couple fat digs in there. That’s our Lois!

How does she get them out of this mess? You’ll have to read the comic to find out. Hint: it’s another coupon. And is Lois satisfied with saving the day and returning Mxyzptlk to his dimensional plane? Or is she back to her miserable self? Take a guess:

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She’s just so effervescent, you know?

And so closes another low water mark of Silver Age womanhood. Even when the lady saves the hero, she’s still not happy. Men, take note.

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