Monday, February 06, 2006

I am Curious (Black) Week, 2: It's Alive!

"It's alive! Alive! Muwhahahahahaaa!"
Good-bye, Lois Lane; hello, Loeesha LaRue.

Okay, so Lois did not, in fact, use a false name when she became black. More's the pity. If she had, there'd be a drag queen named "Loeesha LaRue" in every town in the country.

We learn so much from this panel. First of all, Metropolis has a unique weather phenomenon, the "sun shower", where sudden streams of palpably "heavy light" drench the city in color-bleaching solar power. No wonder Superman lives there.

Second, we learn that Lois's famously poor taste in clothes is not race-dependent. She can compose an eye-stabbing outfit in any ethnic style. Already Lois is breaking down barriers! If you read the whole story, you'd probably note that all the other black women dress normally; only Lois dresses like Kid Psycho's Cameroonian cousin.

Third, we learn that Lois is still vain.

But sometimes, the punishment of the gods is swift and clear..."I'm the goddamn Lois Lane! I could have your cab melted by heat vision and banish you to the Phantom Zone to live with the evil Kryptonian ghost cats!"

DISSED! Now, my personal theory is that this cabbie, "Benny the Beret", whom we met earlier, is in fact the lover of "Blueberry Beret", the gay mind-slave of purple-shirted rabblerouser Dave Stevens, and adores black people. I think he was blinded by Lois's outfit or simply terrified of her blood-red post-operative Mojo Jojo headgear.

Unable to hail a cab, Lois is doomed to a horror her previous 104 issues of bizarre adventures have not prepared her for: the subway.

Lois's transportation woes are awakening her to the fact that blacks do get shunned by cabbies and stared at in public some times. But it's so much more delicious than that...

No one is looking at you, Lois, you self-centered twit. The sitting Metropolitans, their minds numbed from years of seeing ant-headed Supermen and giant turtle boys daily, can barely keep from nodding off in the absence of any marauding monsters. Of the three pole-leaners headed back to Metropolis's Little Gayborhood, only the orange-jacketed hairdresser Kyan is staring at you with deep concern, "Girl, you really need to let that scalp breathe!" Meanwhile, his caped boyfriend is taking the advantage of the distraction you present to check out Mr. Sexy Sideburns, who's reading in the Daily Monkey about the Committment Ceremony of Mr. and Mr. Benny and Blueberry Beret. Metropolis is a big city, but a small world.

This panel is more about Lois's own racial self-consciousness, I think. "I feel so conspicuous!" Yeah, um, so would I, if I were wearing that outfit, sweetie. In fact, the ambiguity of that panel, and Lois's doubts, make it sheer genius. Kanigher doesn't want us to see what it's like to be black. He wants us to experience what it feels like.


Axel M. Gruner said...

People in the Subway: Probably the best synopsis of Metropolitan day-to-day life.
Bring us another copy of the "Daily Monkey" soon, Scip.

David said...

I'm with you on everything but the "sun shower" - out west, at least, that means sudden light rain from the one cloud in the sky (i.e. it's still sunny, but raining right where you are). Makes for great rainbows.

Kind of like Lois's outfit.

Anonymous said...

In Texas, when we experience that phenomenon, we say it's "The Devil Spanking His Wife."

halben said...

I've lived in Texas 41 years now, and that's the first time I've ever heard that phrase, Anonymous.