What The Hell Is This: Why, it's Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane, issue number 106.
Why We Have A Copy Of This: Tom Spurgeon occasionally posts links to people who sell comics, usually because said people are in need of the kind of emergency funding only 70's comics can provide. This came from one of those times, and the idea behind the purchase was that TFO's own Nina Stone (who was actually Nina Miller during the hatching of the aforementioned idea) would read the comic and respond to it in some kind of pithy, I'm-a-woman observational fashion. (This was during the second major wave of female-front-and-center-super-hero-comics-blogging, a six week period that began approximately right after Valerie D'Orozio's fourth public retirement wherein one could earn thousands in Internet Dollars merely by adding the word "patriarchy" or "refrigerator" as keywords in banal recaps of Joe Kelly comics.) Having never gotten around to doing anything with it, July of 2011 seems like the time to shit or get off the pot. (And February 2013 seemed like the time to finish that...I don't like this metaphor.)
Hence: Ignoring for a second that this is a comic where Lois Lane submits to a Laurence Fishburne style Deep Cover for the purposes of ratting out the black experience in the Metropolis of 1970, the thing that most grabs me about this comic today is that issue number: 106. According to that Comic Book DB site, the series got started back in 1958, and it didn't finish up until 1974. While I'm sure that, like most Superman/Lois Lane stories, that means there were a lot of comics that feature Lois doing boneheaded shit that neccissitated a Super-save (saves that all but guarantee a healthy amount of shit-giving), I can't think of one non super-powered female character who has seen such a lenghty run of comics.
That Being Said: If all those 137 issues of Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane were as boneheadedly off-base as this turkey, it doesn't really mean a thing that they existed at all. This fucker ain't helping nobody.
How So: Tasked with writing "the inside story of Metropolis Little Africa", an admittedly Pulitzer-hungry Lois checks her make-up and heads over to the "black community". And there, she finds nothing but rudeness! Black children walk away from her and her questions with a silent contempt that Werner Roth and Vince Colleta depict as fear, adults slam doors in her face...one woman even wheels her baby away from Lois "as if [she] were the plague!" See, look.
After being rejected by the black community in the form of white fiction's most sterotypically accepting black member (that would be a kindly old blind woman, who silently walks away from Lois the second she hears that braying white voice), Lois finds herself on the receiving end of some serious hate speech: she's "whitey", the biological wall of hate that keeps the black community entrenched in "rat-infested slums", the capitalist fatcat who employs them only in service positions. She's the enemy, and she'll never understand. That is, unless Superman happens to have a plastimold and transformoflux pack.
At this point, the comic becomes a sort of no-self-awareness parody of that Eddie Murphy sketch where he painted his face white and found out that the black people were missing out on all kinds of free shit. Lois immediately heads home to change into "beautiful afro attire", gets ignored by her white cabdriver friend (she refers to this as her "first lesson in the meaning of black", hops onto the subway (where all of the white people stare at her as if she is a "freak"), and then she walks into the first apartment building she can find. Which is on fire, of course, because the landlord decided not to have anyone take out the garbage anymore. Helping put out the fire, Lois finds herself invited into the same apartment by the same woman who, a scant few white pages ago, had slammed the door in her face. There, she finds out that black women are constantly on guard for invading rats, fending them off of the succulent eyes of their infant children with brooms and rage.
After a tearful goodbye, Lois finds herself in a meet-cute with the now-introduced Dave Stevens, the man who was previously seen wearing skin tight green jeans and calling Lois "whitey". Joining him in a poorly thought out attempt to reprimand a couple of drug dealers, Lois is there to catch him when he gets shot in the chest. That's "catch" in the literal sense, too. Take a look at what Lois is doing in this classic Superman-melts-some-guns-panel:
Now, if you were to guess that Lois Lane ends up in the hsopital, donating blood to a bullet ridden Dave Stevens, and that this led to a scene where Dave realized that white people and black people can help each other, because they're both just plain old people down at the circulatory level, well: you'd be a cynical S.O.B., but you'd pretty much be right. It's a silent scene of shock, realization, and then good old hands-across-America stuff that closes this issue, and considering the way anything racial usually gets handled in comic books...well, this method is pretty much not that horrifying, even though you probably assumed it was going to be.
And The Moral Of This Story: is that there isn't a neat and tidy one, and if there was, it most likely is going to show up some place other than a Lois Lane comic book with a title based around my least favorite installment in the Criterion Collection. And yes, I'm aware of the film Armageddon.
-Tucker Stone, 2013