“The Strange Experiment Of Dr. Erdel”
Detective Comics #225
Plot: Joe Samachson
Script: Jack Miller
Art: Joe Certa
DC Comics, 1955
by Ed Natcher
LOIS: Testing…1…2…3. Testing. It’s December 24th, 1959. Excuse me, Mr. J’onzz, but this is the first time that I’ve used Perry’s new tape recorder! There, it seems to be working. This must seem extremely primitive to you!
JJ: Take your time, Miss Lane. My exile on your beautiful planet has taught me nothing if not patience. And, please call me J’onn.
LOIS: Thank you, J’onn! You can call me Lois. You can’t imagine how honored I am that you chose me to be the first to interview you since your existence was revealed to the world! Now let’s begin. J’onn, how did you come to Earth from your home planet of Mars?
JJ: It was entirely by chance. It was in your year 1955. Dr. Mark Erdel, a lonely scientist, accidentally brought me here using a “robot brain” he had constructed.
LOIS: So, he was trying to communicate with alien
JJ: No, it was Saturday night and he was stuck in his observatory-lab without a date for the thousandth time.
LOIS: I see. So, he channeled his frustration into his work?
JJ: Something like that.
LOIS: Was he shocked when he saw you?
JJ: At first, yes. But I used my chameleon power to transform my appearance into the kind of man he had in mind.
LOIS: So, it’s true! You can change your appearance at will?
JJ: Yes. And it certainly saves a lot of money on clothes, let me tell you!
LOIS: You said “the kind of man he had in mind”. He was attempting to bring a particular type to help him in his experiments? How did you know?
JJ: Well, I read his mind.
LOIS: Gasp! You have that power as well? That must be a great asset to you in your “man hunting”.
JJ: It definitely prevents misunderstandings!
LOIS: Of course, I suppose there are limits to it. For example, I’ll bet you can’t read Superman’s mind!
JJ: Like a book!
LOIS: Really! So you know all about him? His like and dislikes? His future plans?
JJ: Pretty much.
LOIS: Do you think he’ll ever get married? Er…I mean…I get letters from readers all the time asking about that!
JJ: If it were possible, Superman would marry his true love today.
LOIS: Oh my! You mean, he can’t because of his devotion to his work?
JJ: He is very devoted. But, about Dr. Erdel…
LOIS: Er… yes! What happened after you changed your appearance?
JJ: The excitement of our interaction proved too much for him to handle. He suffered a fatal heart attack. I’m glad that I was able to make his last few hours pleasant ones.
LOIS: He died?
JJ: Yes, but with a smile on his face.
LOIS: I’m so sorry! So, he was the only one who could have sent you back home?
JJ: Yes. Even my Martian scientific knowledge couldn’t fathom the workings of the “robot brain”. Mark was ahead of his time in more ways than one.
LOIS: So, there you were, alone, a “stranger in a strange land”. What happened next?
JJ: I decided to “blend in” while I studied humanity and its ways. I kept the form that I had taken, then used my “mind over matter” power to extract gold from sea water. This gave me the financial means to create a new life.
LOIS: “Mind over matter”! Is there any power you don’t have?
JJ: I always seem to have what I need. It’s almost like a writer was coming up with “deus ex machina” ways to solve tough plot problems.
LOIS: Extracting gold from sea water! You know, Superman can press coals into diamonds. What a ring he could make for some lucky girl! I don’t suppose you’ve read any of his thoughts on that, have you?
JJ: Superman isn’t one to give jewelry. Unless you count watches.
LOIS: Eh? Oh yes, he’s very practical! Diamonds would look fabulous on a watch!
JJ: But, about my creating a new life…
LOIS: Sorry! It’s just that my readers are so obsessed with The Man of Steel!
JJ: He is very appealing.
LOIS: Sigh! Well…what kind of life did you create for yourself?
JJ: I decided to help humanity by fighting crime. Thus, I obtained a job as a police detective.
LOIS: I’ve always thought that Superman might be a policeman in his secret identity! It would make sense that he’d have a job that would give him early access to information about crimes and disasters. Of course, a reporter’s position would work just about as well. I was talking to Clark about this yesterday. Do you know Clark Kent?
JJ: I have met him, yes.
LOIS: Er…Have you ever read his mind?
JJ: I didn’t have to. You can get everything you need to know just by looking at him.
JIMMY: Knock, knock!
LOIS: Jimmy! Can’t you see I’m busy? This is J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter. J’onn, this is Jimmy Olsen, one of our cub reporters.
JIMMY: Hey J’onn! How’s tricks? Are you coming to my Christmas party tonight? I didn’t get an RSVP.
JJ: Good evening, Jimmy. Yes, I’ll be there.
LOIS: You two know each other?!
JIMMY: Sure! He and I go way back. J’onny, if you run into Superman, ask him to get the ice from the grocery this time. That stuff from around the Fortress tasted funny!
LOIS: Superman’s going too?! And he didn’t invite me as his date! Sob! Er…I mean…Is he taking a girl?
JIMMY: Nah! This is strictly “stag”.
JJ: Well, Lois, I must be on my way. I hope you got enough information for a story.
LOIS: Oh yes! My readers will love hearing that Superman has a “true love”!
JJ: I meant a story about me.
LOIS: Of course! How silly of me.
JJ: Can I give you a lift home Jimmy?
JIMMY: Sure! We need to stop at the drugstore on the way. I’m all out of KY.
LOIS: KY? What’s that?
JJ: A social lubricant.
LOIS: You drink?
JIMMY: Yeah! And he swallows too! Tee hee! So long Lois!
JJ: Happy Holidays!
JIMMY: Ditto! Off we go, Miss Thang!
JJ: Now, Jimmy, stop that! You know I’m allergic to flame!
LOIS: All alone on Christmas Eve again! I just don’t get it! And why did he call me “Miss Lang”?
After years of being obsessed with Superman, Ed Natcher eventually accepted the fact that he would never add “El” to his name or be flown to pajama parties in the Batcave.
Article copyright of Ed Natcher. Characters and story copyright of DC Comics, Inc.
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