This is the Great Comic Book Detectives, where readers send in requests for the names of comic books that they remembered reading years ago and I try to find them for them! Send any future requests to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Today, our request comes from reader Matt P. He writes:
Can you help me track down a comic I had as a child about which my recollection is vague?
I think it was Superman Family, or some other large multi-story series of the early 70s. Lois Lane got engaged to another man than Superman, possibly a soldier, who was killed. The man came back as a ghost and got involved in Superman’s adventures for one or two issues.
I have had Superman readers of the same era claim there was no such story, but while I may not remember what I had for lunch last week, I do feel sure I read a story like this one circa 1974 or 1975.
The story you’re thinking of, Matt, appeared in “The Superman Family” #169. First, though, to set things up, we see the first part of the story (“Superman Family” would have different characters have new stories in each issue, so a Lois Lane arc would take four issues to complete, since she would take two issues off in between the new stories – the rest of the book would then have reprints of stories featuring the characters who didn’t have new stories that issue. So it’d be a new Lois Lane story, then a Jimmy Olsen reprint and a Supergirl reprint. Then a new Jimmy Olsen story and a Lois lane reprint and a Supergirl reprint. Then a new Supergirl story and a Jimmy Olsen reprint and a Lois Lane reprint), from “The Superman Family” #166, by Cary Bates and John Rosenberger. Titled “The Murdering Arm of Metropolis,” Lois Lane is drawn into a case by S.I.A operative Simon Cross…
They become partners and Lois begins to have romantic feelings for him, but Cross is then murdered by a man with a cybernetic arm.
In the end, Lois ends up discovering the villain, but is almost killed herself before Superman shows up to save her…but who told Superman that she was in danger?!
The answer is discovered in “The Superman Family” #169, in a story by Cary Bates, John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta titled “Target of the Tarantula”!
In the issue, Lois is now working for the S.I.A., and she has an invisible guardian angel – the ghost of Simon!!
She’s on the track of a killer of criminals who is disguising himself as a famous TV superhero, the Tarantula. Superman, though, wants to find out who has been helping Lois. He discovers that she is working for the S.I.A. and that her former partner was named Simon Cross, and Superman (being a nosy nelly) heard her speak to a “Simon” before, so he figures out that Simon must be a ghost. Luckily, Superman is prepared to deal with ghosts…
Lois tracked the killer down, but was about to be killed for her trouble when Simon and Superman show up and save her and then Simon makes his departure, as he can tell Lois doesn’t love him like she does Superman (although you have to wonder how things would have gone had she actually loved him – would he just stick around being a ghost around her all the time and never touching her?)
So there you go, Matt!
If anyone else has a comic book that they’re trying to find, drop me a line at email@example.com!
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