Lois Lane #118 (January, 1972)

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With this post, we continue our coverage of Lois Lane‘s forays into Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, courtesy of editor E. Nelson Bridwell, scripter Robert Kanigher, penciller Werner Roth, (primary) inker Vince Colletta, and uncredited Superman/Clark Kent head-finisher Murphy Anderson.  As you may recall, the intermittent usage of Kirby’s concepts and characters in the title had begun in #111, then resumed in #115 before continuing into #116

Before we jump right on into the pages of November, 1971’s Lois Lane #118, however, we’re going to back up a few months to take another quick look at a comic that came out that June, Superman #241.  If you’re a regular reader, you may renumber that that issue featured the penultimate chapter of the multi-part “Sand Superman saga”, written by Denny O’Neil, illustrated by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, and edited by Julius Schwartz.  Tucked inside that story was the enigmatic panel shown below, which appeared in the middle of a scene that found Superman, along with guest star Wonder Woman and her mentor I-Ching, meeting together in the penthouse apartment of Metropolis media mogul Morgan Edge — Supes’ boss in his guise of Clark Kent, as well as a secret servant of Darkseid, lord of Apokolips (although that last fact wasn’t particularly relevant to the Superman storyline):

O’Neil’s script made it clear that Edge himself wasn’t home at the time Superman and company were using his place — so who, indeed, was this silhouetted figure watching from behind a two-way mirror?

Readers’ next glimpse of #241’s “mystery man” would come three issues later, in Superman #244, which was published in September.  In this story (produced by the same creative team as had crafted the earlier tale), Superman came to Edge to ask for help in a crisis — allowing for yet another scene set in the private home of the Galaxy Broadcasting System’s bossman:

Incidentally, your humble blogger wasn’t one of the readers who caught this appearance of the Man Behind the Mirror, as #242 turned out to be the last issue of Superman that I would buy for a while; in fact, I didn’t even know this scene existed prior to beginning my research for this blog post.  On the other hand, I did buy “the November issue of Lois Lane” which the editorial note in the last panel above promised would provide “a better look at this mystery man“;  I even blogged about it here a couple of months ago.  Perhaps you’ll remember this scene, from the comic’s opening pages:

So here’s Morgan Edge himself, looking into what we can assume is the same two-way mirror behind which is imprisoned our “mystery man”.  He turns at the sound of the doorbell, but his reflection doesn’t… say, you don’t think…?

Superman editor Schwartz having evidently now turned this subplot over to his cohort Bridwell (whose idea it may have been in the first place), the next clue appeared in the very next issue of Lois Lane, #117.  In the following scene, the irascible Edge has just ordered reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane to get out into the city and find him some news worth printing/broadcasting:

This was another hint I missed, as I was only picking up issues of Lois Lane that clearly had something to do with the goings-on in Kirby’s Fourth World titles, and this one didn’t register to me as such.  But, luckily, when LL #118 came out a month later, I must have flipped through enough pages at the spinner rack to ascertain that that one met my criteria, and thus put down my twenty-five cents to take it home.

And so I was present for the ultimate solution to the months-spanning mystery — the first piece of which was revealed on the comic’s very first page:

The Flying Jesters turn out to be members of the criminal cartel called the 100; they attempt to abduct Lois right there in the park, but, just as you’d expect, her big blue boyfriend shows up in time to foil their plans:

The preceding sequence has literally nothing to do with the rest of the story — but it’s given scripter Kanigher the opportunity to show Superman in action early on, and also eaten up about a third of the tale’s page count, so it’s likely accomplished its aims.

Let’s take a pause here to note, for anyone who’s come in late, that Morgan Edge was a creation of writer/artist Jack Kirby, who introduced the GBS prez as the new owner of the Daily Planet in his first new DC comic book published following his exit from Marvel, Jimmy Olsen #133 (Oct., 1970).  That same issue revealed that Edge wasn’t just a “smiling cobra” of the corporate world, but was in fact associated with the ruthless criminal organization Inter-Gang; then, a couple of months later, JO #134 concluded with a scene of Edge reporting in to his and Inter-Gang’s ultimate master, Darkseid (the first appearance of that character).

Unlike most of the new characters and concepts that came pouring out of Kirby in his first few issues of Jimmy Olsen, Morgan Edge was adopted almost immediately by Kirby’s fellow editors of DC’s “Superman family” comics, quickly becoming a regular fixture in Superman, Action, and so on.  This may have been due in part to expedience — if Edge was the boss of Clark Kent and company in one title, he logically had to be their boss in all of them — but the editors and writers of those books also seemed to recognize the usefulness of the abrasive and conniving Edge as a dramatic foil, allowing for the injection of conflict into the previously super-sunny workplace environment of the Planet.

Over time, however, someone at DC seems to have realized that whatever Kirby had planned for Edge in Jimmy Olsen might ultimately take him off the board as a viable supporting character for the other Superman comics; thus, the idea of two “Morgan Edges” was born.  Though it’s unlikely that Kirby came up with the idea himself, or even felt particularly invested in it — it’s never alluded to in any way in his Jimmy Olsen stories — he does appear to have at least participated in working out the details.  As Lois Lane editor Bridwell would later explain in the letters column of LL #122: “Kirby was in on the double-Edge bit from the first.  In fact, he’s the one who suggested that the fake Edge came from the Evil Factory.”

Superman and Lois’ separate search efforts soon bring them together (naturally), as the reporter narrowly avoids a head-on collision with a recklessly speeding car supposedly driven by “poor Mr. Edge”.  A little later, Supes puts out a fire in “an abandoned slum street”, then saves Lois from being crushed by falling red-hot bricks from the burning building.  The only connection this latter incident seems to have to the Edge plotline is that Lois and Superman find another “Help me” message scrawled on a nearby wall; but, once again, we’ve had an action scene where the Man of Steel rescues his beloved, plus we’ve used up another page or two, so I guess it’s all good.

from Ultimate Comic Blog
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