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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Lois Lane Hypnotized a Baby to Make Superman Marry Her

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Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today (based on a suggestion from Rob Hansen), we take a look at the time that Lois Lane tried to hypnotize Superman while he was trapped in a baby form. Be sure to check out the story, if only for one of the greatest (in other words, messed up) twist endings of the Silver Age!

Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #57 came out in 1965. The story “Lois Lane – Super Babysitter!” was written by Leo Dorfman with artwork by John Forte and Sheldon Moldoff.

The issue opens with Lois Lane and Lana Lang arriving at a fancy hotel, while Superman has to head off to do some youth-restoring experiments (I love how casually Superman mentions the notion of him experiment with youth-restoring machines, because that’s OBVIOUSLY something you think of when you think of Superman, right?)…

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Well, soon after, a seemingly de-aged Superbaby shows up!

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Lois naturally tries to manipulate Superbaby into being interested in her when he grows back to Superman…

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After this does not work, she then SPANKS him…

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After Lois and Lana watch a program on hypnosis, the women each come up with the idea of hypnotizing Superbaby…

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By the way, lost in the messed up nature of their plans in general is the unprofessional way that they’re getting their supplies.

So anyhow, each of the women hypnotize Superbaby into proposing to her later that night. Superbaby then disappears, presumably since he has returned to becoming Superman. Later that night, though, Superman doesn’t propose. When the women confront him on the issue, he explains that he never DID become Superbaby, it was an alternate reality Superman who had become Superbaby!

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This is already an out there ending. But you haven’t seen anything yet!

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Yes, the resolution is, as it almost always is, bigamy.

I love how non-chalant Superman is with the women trying to brainwash him. “Oh well, I AM quite the catch, so I can’t blame you two for trying to brainwash me! Anything you can do to get me, right?” I presume that in the Multiverse, that world was Earth-BL (for Big Love).

This story sort of reminded me of a recent I Love Ya But You’re Strange that ALSO involved a Superbaby!

Thanks again to Rob for suggesting this one!

26 Comments

No matter how goofy these Silver Age stories get…I will always hate, hate, hate the way they made toddlers talk. “This be fun”? Seriously, my daughter didn’t talk like a pirate when she was that age.

“Why that’s bigamy!”
“Yes, it’s big of me, too. It’s big of all of us. so whattaya say, girls, shall we go and get married?”

These stories have such a schizophrenic attitude towards relationships. Half of the story is catering to the young kids who think girls are icky and mushy stuff is gross, and then the end of the story does a wild swing into “hey, threesome!” territory. Plus, no one seems to care that the Superman of Earth-BL has been brainwashed because polygamy! Oh and there’s Mort Weisinger’s weird obsession with adults turning into babies who talk like Bizarro in there as well. It’s like the worst parts of the Internet arrived several decades early.

Or, in less provocative terms, it’s one of those Tenchi fanfics where the resolution is “And he just marries all the women.”

I sure hope Zack Snyder adapts this story in order to make sense of Superman’s otherwise unexplained opposition to mind control and harems.

That ending is one of the most insane things ever in a Silver Age comic.

When people complain that Superman is too dated a concept because he’s too noble or too square or too outdated or whatever for modern audiences and that he can’t be updated for today without being grim or gritty, I just point them to the massive worldwide success of the Dragonball Z property as proof Superman can be successful with modern audiences. And like Superman, the protagonist doesn’t kill.

Superman’s problem is 20-plus years or Weisinberg and his weird psychological issues and fixations trickling onto the page. It’s amazing to believe that Superman stories were like this for 20 years. Sure it’s fun to laugh at the goofiness today and chuckle in nostalgia, but I’m convinced whatever short term sales dominance and prominence Weisinger gained for Superman was at the expense of the character’s long-term viability.

” I’m convinced whatever short term sales dominance and prominence Weisinger gained for Superman was at the expense of the character’s long-term viability.”

Yeah, if only Superman hadn’t lost his long-term viability.

Part of the problem is that Superman didn’t have a grand redefinition in the 1980s as did Batman. Batman’s decade of silly stories under Jack Schiff (ands the forgotten decade of silly stories under Whitney Ellsworth before it) are written off “not real Batman stories” because of Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller.

But because Byrne was not as experimental a creator, because Alan Moore — like him or not — didn’t do any Post-Crisis Superman, and because Miller used Silly Ol’ Superman to prop up Grim Dark Batman, comics fans aren’t really willing to write off the silliness and love the core concept instead.

Superman’s problem is not 20 years of goofy stories, most of which stayed truer to the core concept of the character than do the sillier Batman stories where he fights aliens and rainbow monsters and tenth-rate “theme” villains. Superman’s problem is that everyone assumes the problem *is* the core concept for some reason and tries to replace it with another one. Batman stories revolve around how cool Batman is, and even the ones that tell us he’s mentally screwed up eventually just lean back and revel in the darkness. Superman stories are always about what’s wrong with previous Superman stories.

Maybe superhero comics readers just prefer a dose of pessimistic fascism — and I’m not talking about Miller’s politics, but about Batman’s popular interpretation as a violent elite without whom civilization collapses into degenerate anarchy — to a dose of optimistic idealism.

Did women actually exclaim “Ye Gods” in 1965? In freaking, hippie-loving, 1-9-6-5????

I don’t think so.

I love how both women are cool with going the threesome route after years of bickering and outfoxing each other. Such characterization there. You just know that Grant Morrison would’ve had a field day with this little nugget.

It sticks out like a sore thumb that these stories were written by a bunch of chauvinistic, middle-aged men and their seriously mentally twisted editor, none of which had a freaking clue about how to write realistic women.

@Omar,

Wait, Byrne didn’t do a grand redefinition of Superman Post-Crisis? Did we read the same comics? Off the top of my head:

- The Clark Kent identity went from being a bumbling alter-ego to Superman’s “true” identity.
- Lex Luthor went from being a mad scientist to an overweight businessman.
- Krypton was changed from a Silver Age paradise to a sterile world that emphasized isolation.
- Multicolored Kryptonite was gone.
- Krypto, Supergirl, the Phantom Zone, and all other Kryptonians were gone–Superman was emphasized as the “last son.”
- His Kryptonian heritage was gone–Clark really disregarded his origins and focused on being an American.
- Ma and Pa were still alive.
- Clark was never Superboy.
- Lana became a childhood friend instead of Lois’ rival.
- Superman was generally weaker than his Silver Age self, and lost a lot of his goofy powers like time-travel and super-hypnosis. Byrne also tried to do a “grand unified theory” of Superman’s powers by explaining them as telekinetic.

I realize that after Byrne’s departure, a lot of the Kryptonian stuff was reintroduced over time. However, even then, it only reflected Superman’s Silver Age continuity rather than reintroduced it. (I.e., Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly brought back Silver Age Krypton and Krypto the dog, but it was all a simulation created by Brainiac–Byrne’s origin still stood.) It wasn’t until Waid’s Birthright that Byrne’s origin was finally disregarded, and the soft-reboot of Infinite Crisis that finally turned him back into a close approximation of the Silver Age version.

” I sure hope Zack Snyder adapts this story in order to make sense of Superman’s otherwise unexplained opposition to mind control and harems. ”

Does that mean that Blue from Sucker Punch is an alternate universe Clark Kent? Ugh.

Lana uses ice cream in addition to a hypnotic device to rob Superbaby of his free will, while Lois uses only a hypnotic device. “How crooked can you get?”

Did women actually exclaim “Ye Gods” in 1965? In freaking, hippie-loving, 1-9-6-5????

It is definitely a bit out of a place, but it is not insanely so. Lois was not exactly the type of woman to embrace the hippie lifestyle right away, and “Ye Gods” was a popular enough turn of phrase just a few years earlier (heck, The Music Man was in 1962, after all, you have to imagine that some people began using “Ye Gods” after that movie became a hit).

heck, The Music Man was in 1962, after all, you have to imagine that some people began using “Ye Gods” after that movie became a hit

That would also explain the resurgence in 1912 fashions that swept the nation in the 1960s.

Then too, 1965 wasn’t quite as hippie-loving as a couple years later.

True, as Mad Men shows us, the 1960s did not all of a sudden start looking like Woodstock.

Wait, Byrne didn’t do a grand redefinition of Superman Post-Crisis?

Having read all of Byrne’s run, I’d argue that he did what he’s always said he was trying to do: streamline the material while keeping the core concept. You’re right that a *lot* of plot stuff changed, but much of the core of the character did not. Clark stopped being just a disguise, yes, but he did it by becoming a more assertive, positive sort; Byrne’s Clark was more like his Superman, and his Superman was still very much an adherent to the same morality and used the same sorts of methods as his late Bronze Age incarnation did Pre-Crisis.

The much-vaunted limits of Superman’s powers are also less in evidence than you might suppose. Byrne’s Superman doesn’t get KOed by much, he never strains to lift stuff, and so on. He’s not zipping between planets or through time, I’ll grant you, but mostly Byrne made Superman more Earth-bound than anything. His Superman is still pretty much the strongest guy in any given story.

It wasn’t the silliness of the 1960s, granted, but it also wasn’t as much a break with the way Superman had been portrayed only a few years prior, either. Indeed, Marv Wolfman was oneof the last writers of the Pre-Crisis Superman and one of the writers of the Post-Crisis Superman; he’d even used Vandal; Savage much as the redesigned Lex was used Post-Crisis!

For that matter, while Luthor was now a rich businessman, but was still involved in super-science plots against Superman. Notice that the Luthor stories under Byrne are not about Lex using business acumen against Superman, they’re about Lex using super-robots like Klaash or creating clones or wielding Kryptonite. He’s not building them himself and he’s keeping out of jail, but he’s basically still the evil guy who attacks Superman with mad science gadgets. Compare the nonlethal, not particularly insane Joker of the 1950s and 1960s, and you’ll see a villain who radically changed in concept and style during Batman’s revision periods in the 1970s and mid-1980s.

Byrne also took great pains to slip in lots of retellings of classic stories and nods to what he’d revised. The Luthor battlesuit turns up in an issue of Man of Steel. The Bizarro story is almost note-for-note the original Bizarro Superboy story, right down to the ending where the creature sacrifices itself against Superman to restore a blind woman’s sight. Jimmy Olsen still has his signal watch. Metallo is still the man with the Kryptonite heart, created by mad old Professor Vale from the body of scumbag John Corben.

The spirit of most of the characters is almost identical. Only Lois Lane gets revamped, now much improved by restoring her basic intelligence and savvy from the very first stories. Byrne’s Superman is aesthetically different, but tonally and conceptually pretty consistent with what went before.

In fact, if you compare Batman, very little in the plot of Batman’s old stories actually got retconned out. The Miller relaunch was about a drastic revision in the tone, style, and concept of the character, emphasizing the corruption of Gotham and the darkness of the demons driving Bruce Wayne. But pointing to a story after the Year One sequence that was actually revised is fruitless, because almost none were changed. They just stopped mentioning the sillier or wackier stuff. Similarly, Mike Grell’s Green Arrow reinvention didn’t much revise Ollie’s past; he just totally changed his present.

Comparatively, Byrne’s reboot wasn’t a concept reboot in most regards; the Class of ’86 reboots were almost purely conceptual reboots, and it shows in the lasting ways they changed fan perceptions of the characters. As I said, Byrne didn’t make anyone forget the 1960s Superman; his character was largely contiguous, albeit not identical, with the core concepts of that era’s Superman character.

Yeah, Byrne was adamant at the time that his reboot was more about keeping as much of it the same as he could.

The major difference between the Mort Weisinger Superman and the Jack Schiff Batman was that the Weisinger Superman was a massive success.

The repeated refrain whenever Superman gets discussed is that he is impossible to write for because he is too powerful and lacks character flaws. I always chuckle a little when I read old Superman comics like these because they present a pretty clearly flawed man. They address his flaws pretty clearly within the confines of the G-Rated world of the Silver Age. Lois and Lana are similarly flawed in their ethics None of them seem even slightly concerned with mutual deceit, abusing positions of trust, or unconventional sexual relationships as long as they are getting what they individually want.

For whatever reason, that subtext works for Superman.

Honestly, it worked too well. Superman sold and sold until its light comedy tone and gentle euphemisms were brutally dated. Plus, the left-wing politics of the early Superman adventures made a back-to-basics approach, like the O’Neil-Adams Batman nearly impossible.

I like how he laughs at them in the end. Ha.

While “When you start to spank me, Auntie Lois” is a great line, and one I hope to use myself one day, I do not have much affection for the scheming Lois and Lana, or the love triangle (or square, hexagon whatever…).

I remember reading that when Waid and Morrison were asked to pitch their Superman take over, they wanted to end Lois and Clark’s marriage and bring back the love triangle. It made me feel okay that they did not get the job. I still hated the Loeb-Berganza era, so loose loose for me…

I’d totally buy a Superman series set in bigamy-world. Hell, if Archie can do parallel reality series…?

and once again both lois and lana scheming winds up back firing on them way back win and superman comes off mostly like a jerk again saying that its okay bigamy in super babies world is legal. the silver age super man stories back then always had me wonder what the writers were smoking to do these type of stories.

You know, for all Byrne kept as far as Superman’s “core” concept, the execution is really what turned me around and made me a fan of Big Blue. Despite the writing of the early to mid-80s titles, all the baggage and just plain silliness of the Silver Age Superman had really left me unable to relate to the character in any meaningful way. In my eyes Superman went from a slightly distant, mostly infallible alien who admired humanity and masqueraded as one of us, to a man just like us but gifted with awesome powers. Emphasizing Clark’s Midwestern roots and values as well as his basic humanity made the character relatable.

Now, that being said, I have rediscovered a love for these kind of Silver Age stories as I have gotten older. They are just so damn out there that I can’t help but laugh and smile. I think part of that goes back to Alan Moore’s take on Supreme as a Superman expy, and then to Grant Morrison’s take on Superman in the DCU proper.

And this one was just great. I mean, if Superman can’t handle being married to two women, who can? ;)

Bigamy…not to mention a “three way” on honeymoon night!

Do I smell a new XXX parody on the horizon?

I am 60 years old and read these stories when I was a kid, and even so it still freaks me out that back then these stories didn’t strike me as absurd and twisted.

It never ceases to delight me that silver age Superman stories are so fucked up. This one is extra funny since I always joke that Superman should just marry all the women who lust after him, and just claim it’s Kryptonian tradition or something. I’ve never come across this one before, so I had no idea they’d actually done a story where that happened!

heh, got this issue in my collection!

The Pre-Crisis Superman stories were actually healthier and saner than what came after. They were products of the Greatest Generation’s optimistic Post War Baby Boom that saw growth and diversity as beneficial rather than a threat to corporate monopolies . Whatever sort of fantasy or fetish anybody had from Jimmy Olsen wearing dresses and becoming Superman’s babysitter back on Krypton to Lois marrying Lex Luther or spanking some Supergirl robot in an alternate universe nothing was essentially off limits but gore, nudity and swearing and at the end of the story everybody went safely home to the comforting predictability of normality. An infinite set of parallel universes peacefully coexisted to visit in crossovers without any suggestion that any of them needed to destroy all the other ones, Every since the Crisis comics have been trapped in this monopolistic culture of death where all the other Kryptonians but Superman have to die for him to be valued and he can never have any kids.

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