Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Momentarily Lion-Headed

Hi guys! Today we look at a two-part tale featured in Superman 165, “Beauty and the Super-Beast!”

Don’t be misled by your memory. The tale wherein a descendant of the witch Circe gives Superman a lion’s head was in Action 243 from 1958, with Wayne Boring art. It might have influenced this story, cover-dated November 1963.

But this one was written by Robert Bernstein, and has more Swanderful art, as seen here and there in today’s post. It supposedly features the “real” Circe, reawakened by … well, read on!

There are all sorts of socio-sexual aspects that might be read into this tale. I am woman, I’ll make YOU roar, perhaps. After all, Lois is a test-astronaut here, and Lana appears in her usual job, a TV investigative reporter.

At least one DC-commentary website makes a big comment about how with this story, DC was lobbying strongly for women astronauts. You could also say that tales like these also “empowered” women by these roles for Lois or Lana. Me, reading this as a kid, just didn’t see the big deal. Or now, either.

Why shouldn’t women, or men, be astronauts or cooks or TV people? Why make it a big deal WHO does it? I guess I’m too stupid to be sexist, because I just don’t see that it’s a notable thing, because a person’s sex, or color, shouldn’t matter! Even today, I think that people make too big a deal of such stuff. OK, so what that ST: Voyager had a woman captain. Maybe it’s earth-shattering to you (like the female shuttle commander and female space-station commanders on duty at the same time “for the first time in history”). To me, it’s just something that should happen, and so when it does, it should be commonplace (like a black or female president – why, oh why, won’t Condi run?).

Anyway, the focus of this tale isn’t on nice powerful ladies, but on a naughty one. Lana Lang gets a scoop via an ancient papyrus on where to find the Sorceress Circe. She (Lana) leads an expedition to the Mediterranean island, and lawzee, there’s a glass coffin with a knockout babe inside!

Not only that, the gal wakes up and flames into “woman scorned” mode when she hears about Superman, raving that he turned her down her advances when journeying into the past, and now she won’t take “no” for an answer! Whereupon she zaps Superman into having a lion’s head (for a fraction of a second, only long enough to get a cover out of it) and then a mouse’s noggin, before restoring him to his normal chiseled visage.

Part II of the tale continues, with Circe making Superman dive to the center of the Earth, and then juggle upside down. Still, the Action Ace manages to turn these humiliating demands into Super-deeds.

Finally Circe repents of her cruel treatment of the hero and, using her magic, disappears into the past. Whereupon Superman flies to a secret rendezvous with the siren, who takes off her head, and … (big reveal) – she’s REALLY (the now grown-up) Saturn Woman, from the 30th Century!

This was all a convoluted plot to thwart a couple of members of the Superman Revenge Squad. You see, they flew in on their flying saucer, and zapped Big Blue with a power-sapping ray, thinking to render the Man of Steel powerless. But Superman discovered that he still had his powers when UPSIDE-DOWN. Because, you see, when he is topsy-turvy, his magnetic poles are reversed, you see, and therefore the ray’s effects wane.

So clearly he had to have an excuse to REMAIN upside-down, and it was only logical to come up against a witch whose powers could force him to be upside-down, when he would (again) be Super.

Of course, after 24 hours exactly, the ray’s effects would wear off.

Of course. Sure. Makes perfect sense. Like Spock’s cross-circuiting from “A” to “B” in “The Enemy Within.” Well, thank pitchforks and pointed ears!

What about those lion’s and mouse’s heads? Well, that was produced by Saturn Woman’s shape-changing pet, Proty II, sitting on Superman’s head. Proty II changed shape ON TOP OF Superman’s head, making it LOOK like he face-changed, got it?

But I thought Protys One AND Two were Chameleon Boy’s pets, not Saturn Girl/Woman’s!
I’m so confused.

Somebody explain this Weirdo Wednesday to me!

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