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Wonder Wedding

What's Aisle-ing Him?: The Man of Steel talkes a long walk down a short aisle in "Superman: The Wedding Album."

The de-energized Man of Steel finally ties the knot with Lois

By Richard von Busack

FROM A RECENT Superman comic: "He has been both the hammer of justice ... and the savior of worlds. He has soared the heavens--and survived the fiery pits of Hell." All very fine and good, but what's he done for us lately?

Indeed, Superman is grounded right now. The Man of Tomorrow's most recent major malfunction (as reported in Superman, Action Comics, Superman: The Man of Steel and Adventures of Superman) is that he has lost his powers after the sun temporarily went out. Naturally, the liberal press covered this incident up. Now, the sun shines again, but the rays no longer invigorate the Man of Steel as they did in the old days.

This powerlessness would seem to be the reason why Lois Lane decided to marry him, for, in Superman: The Wedding Album (DC; $4.95), they finally do get hitched. The issue isn't a tease, like so much else in mainstream comics. Lois has truly yielded, after 50 years of bizarre resistance, to marrying the one perfect man in the world.

And since Superman is powerless, the objections to their marriage spelled out in Larry Niven's memorable essay "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" aren't crucial anymore. Minus his superstrength, Superman (admittedly in Clark Kent drag) ankles it to the altar to be sacrificed, without endangering his bride with peritonitis caused by superspermatozoa, or risking un(super) manning himself with Niven's proposed Kryptonite condom.

THE SOAP OPERA before the wedding itself is low-key enough, epitomized by joshing about the inevitable crockpot turning up as a present at the surprise bridal shower. The very clean bachelor party is free of the rites that have marked bachelor parties since the pyramids were built.

What really makes a wedding is the grousers, and the Kent/Lane marriage proves no exception. Some talking goes on behind the freckled back of Jimmy Olsen, who is a TV reporter now and is presumed (mistakenly) not to mix with print journalist rabble. Perry White, once a sure source of carping, has had his notorious temper cooled by chemotherapy. (White has developed lung cancer, courtesy of an antismoking faction on the editorial board at DC Comics.)

Sam Lane, Lois' military-lifer father, takes up White's umbrage, livening up the wedding by pretty much stating that he thinks Clark Kent is gay. "My little girl coulda had anyone, even Lex Luthor," grumbles the old soldier, who threatens to boycott the wedding when Lois feministically refuses to be "given away" at the altar--and good for her, by the way.

There are serious efforts here, as in other recent Superman comics, to assure us that Lois is the modern feminist woman who "has it all" (namely, all the responsibilities of men with two-thirds the money). I would encourage those attempts at enlightenment, and discourage turning Lois into Ramba--see Superman: Man of Steel #64, where Lois saves her hide and explains that her father taught her how to throw a knife with her toes.

Superman: The Wedding Album is limned with really run-of-the-mill art by noted cartoonists like John Byrne, Terry Austin and Gil Kane. It's a given that these gritty comics of urban life shall be written by middle-aged gents living in Connecticut (five are listed here, including the non-gent Louise Simonson), and thus the writing has a distinct out-of-it flavor.

For example, the phrase "young toughs" is used to describe some criminal kids in The Wedding Album. "Young toughs" is a term so archaic that you can't even get a laugh out of it. There ought to be a law that writers concocting vigilante comics should ride public transportation once a week to overhear how young people and poor people speak.

What Superman: The Wedding Album demonstrates is how in movies and in comics, without a strong artistic or directorial sensibility, a popular entertainment goes bland. Superman (or Lois for that matter) is a character that much can be done with, as has been seen in Alex Ross' art or Frank Miller's writing.

When you consider how fresh Batman is as a subject (particularly in the very highly recommended four-issue series Batman: Black and White), it's surprising that Superman hasn't been provided with some first-rate writers and artists. Why isn't there a Vertigo Superman miniseries? It's dismaying enough to see Superman earthbound because of some unknown scientific phenomenon; it's worse to see him kept there by mundane editing.

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From the December 5-11, 1996 issue of Metro

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