Thursday, September 8, 2011

That Certain Wistful Quality

Some days I despair.

And some days I neglect to update the blog. But, here I am!

As promised, my class read some Peanuts comics and then "The Girl From Superman's Past." That's the story about Superman's college sweetheart Lori Lemaris, remember? I mentioned it the other day, but I didn't say what made Lori different from Superman's other love interests like Lois Lane and Lana Lang (notice a pattern?) because I didn't want to spoil the surprise revelation at the end of the story. The story is from 1958, though, and it has been followed up on many times, and if you do a Google image search for Lori Lemaris, you'll see her shocking secret immediately. Probably everyone who cares already knows. But, on the off chance you'd like to find out for yourself, this is your 1958 Spoiler Warning. Secrets below!

(You already saw the picture anyway, didn't you?)

That's right, Lori is a mermaid. After the Comics Code Authority came into being in the fifties, comics could no longer fall back on sex or violence as selling points. And since superhero stories are basically about heroes beating up on criminals, what do you do when you have to cut back on the violence? You have to get creative. Superman stories from this period are like fairytales. Mermaids, square planets, flying dogs . . . anything was possible.

In this story Clark Kent goes to a football game at his alma mater, becomes nostalgic, and thinks back to his college days. He remembers the day he met Lori and how he fell in love with her. They dated for awhile, and finally he decided to give up on being Superman so he could marry her. He was shocked, then, when she turned him down. Ultimately it turned out that she couldn't marry him because she was, you know, a mermaid, and she had to go back home to her people under the sea. At the end of the story, sitting next to Lois on the bleachers, Clark is still wistful and nostalgic. Many of the best Superman stories from this time have a sad quality to them, a sense of Superman feeling alone in the world.

Don't we all feel that way, sometimes?

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