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Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (email@example.com).
Writer: Bill Finger
Penciller: Wayne Boring
Inker: Stan Kaye
Cover: Curt Swan and Stan Kaye
"The Girl in Superman's Past"
One fall day, Clark Kent takes Lois Lane to see a football game at Metropolis University, the college Kent attended. Shivering, Lois huddles under a blanket to shield her from the cold, but the sight triggers on old memory in Clark reminding him of Lori....
A young Clark Kent was walking down along the edge of campus when he saw a wheel chair careening down a hill. Thinking quickly, Kent used his X-ray vision to melt the tires of the chair and slow it down. However, the heat melted the wheels too quickly and the sudden stop threw the girl into the air. Racing to her, Kent caught the girl easily, and when he looked at her, a pair of blue and mysterious eyes greeted him. She spoke with just a hint of an accent, and explained that even though she was unable to walk, she was not going to let that stop her from getting an education.
After Kent has placed her back into her chair, Lori notices the tires. Frantically, Kent tries to think of a way to explain the melted rubber tires, when she smiled. "The speed of the wheels must have created so much friction heat that the tires melted," she said.
The next day, Kent is still thinking about the mysterious woman when his Biology class takes a field trip to "the ARK," a floating aquarium anchored near the seashore. "Her name is Lori Lemaris," he thinks, "a lovely name for a lovely girl." Lost in thought, Kent is shocked back to reality when a boiler explodes, ripping the floating aquarium in two. Kent dives off the boat and changes to Superman, then corrals all of the escaped specimens. Looking around he sees a giant octopus grab Lori. Speeding to her rescue, he is amazed to see Lori "talking" to the octopus which then releases its grip on the girl and swims away. Superman grabs Lori and flies her to the surface. "You're lucky you weren't hurt," says Superman. "He probably saw you streaking near and was frightened away" explains Lori.
Days pass quickly, and Lori and Kent begin a whirlwind romance dating steadily through the semester. Curiously, Lori always has to be home by eight each night. Still, Clark has fallen madly in love with the intriguing woman, and searches for super-ways to express his love, finding the best way is to just be himself.
Out of the blue, Lori tells Clark that she must return to her parents that very night, and that their next date will be their last. Frantic, Kent decides that he cannot stand the thought of losing her, and makes a drastic decision. He will tell Lori his secret, then ask her to marry him.
Unfortunately, that night Kent is restricted to quarters as part of a freshman initiation. Looking for a way to sneak out unobserved, Kent creates a downdraft filling the room with chimney smoke. In the confusion, he slips out and finds Lori sitting by the beach.
Bending on one knee, Clark says, "Lori, I love you. Will you marry me? Before you give me your answer, I must tell you the truth about myself." "You don't have to tell em Clark, I've known from the beginning that you're Superman." Kent is completely shocked. "That's not important," says Lori. "What is important is that although I love you, I can never marry you." Frantically wanting to change her mind, Superman offers to help her walk, but she turns away. "I must be home by eight," she says moving away.
Kent again changes to Superman and follows Lori to her trailer, watching her contact someone with a secret radio. Thinking that she might be a spy, Superman sneaks into her trailer after she leaves for dinner. When he slips into her bedroom, he is amazed to find that there is no bed, just a huge tank filled with seawater. "Of course! That's the only possible explanation."
Again Superman flies to Lori to confront her. But before either can speak, a thunderous roar fills the air. Using his telescopic vision, Superman sees that the State Dam has burst. "Wait Superman! I can be of some help, screams Lori. Grabbing her wheel chair, Superman lifts Lori into the air and speeds to the dam site. Above the water, Lori leaps out of the chair, diving into the water. "Just as I suspected," thinks Superman. "Lori is a mermaid!"
The two work heroically saving life and property, then shoring up the dam to stop the raging waters. Returning to her trailer, Lori explains to Superman that she is from the sunken island known as Atlantis. Originally, Atlanteans were human and constructed a huge dome to protect themselves from the sea. But scientists found a way to convert the race to mer-people who could live in the open oceans, but to remain in perfect health, they needed to be immersed in sea water for at least ten hours a day. They were also able to master the art of telepathy.
Once every hundred years, an Atlantean is chosen by his people to visit the surface world to learn of the surface people's progress during the preceding century. Lori had been chosen for that task, but now must return to her people. "And," recalls Clark Kent years later, "soon, under the sea, we kissed - and there never was, or ever will be, such a strange kiss again - the farewell kiss between a Superman and a mermaid!"
Lois interrupts Clark's thoughts. "Clark, you were staring at me in the strangest way. Whatever were you thinking?" "I was thinking of a friend of mine and why he never married," says Kent thoughtfully. Of course, that makes Lois think of Superman. "I suppose he'll never ask me to marry him because it would mean giving up his Superman career. I guess he'd never do that for a woman." How wrong, Lois. How wrong.
Story - 4: One of the many recurring themes in Superman stories has been the shear number of characters whose names begin with the initials "L.L." This story introduces Lori Lemaris, and adds her to the list of such notables as Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Lucy Lane, Lana Lang, Linda Lee, Lita Laverne, Lester Link, and soon to be followed by Lyla Lerrol and Lydia Long. The story, while definitely more in the romance genre than adventure, paints a very different picture of Clark Kent's emotional life. Where he is unwilling to allow himself to love Lois Lane completely, this story shows us that he was able to feel free enough to love at one point in his life. It also shows that even Superman is not invulnerable to the pain love can provide.
Art - 4: This story was another very solid effort by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. Perhaps most apparent in this story was the "stretch" Boring made by moving away from the more routine adventure art, and emphasizing the brooding, frantic love of Clark Kent. It provided a whole new dimension to the Clark Kent persona.
Cover Art - 3: Superman #129, like many of the issues of Superman from this time period, contained three stories. The cover to this issue illustrated the first story of the issue, The Ghost of Lois Lane. The art was by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye, early in his run of nearly 70 consecutive covers for Superman (which began with Superman #123). The art was certainly adequate, depicting Superman recoilling from an apparition of Lois, which Jimmy and Perry could not see. However, the cover was nothing special, and contained a rather gharish color scheme which, to my mind, detracted from the whole image.
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