When the Punisher and Lois Lane were black

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When it comes to this comic and its strange stranglehold on online comics discourse, I think Mike Sterling, who’s been writing about comics for 15 years and selling them even longer, put it best. As he says, back in the old days of comics blogging  — we’re talking the mid-to-late 2000s here, so, you know, the ancient times — it seemed like every three weeks, someone would find this comic while digging through a back issue bin and have their mind blown. That makes a lot of sense, too: if there was one thing DC was good at in the ’60s and ’70s, it was making a cover that made readers need to know what was going on inside that comic.

So let’s go ahead and get that out of the way now. The story follows Lois Lane as she accepts an assignment to “get the inside story” of a Metropolis neighborhood called “Little Africa.” When she finds that none of the black residents will talk to her — and that one even points to her as an example of “Whitey” — she decides to do the sensible thing and get her bulletproof alien boyfriend to use a science machine that he keeps at the North Pole to temporarily alter her appearance so she can go undercover. Perfectly logical.

She does, and after exploring some of the surface-level, stereotypical problems of life as a black person — including being unable to hail a taxi and spending a page in a rat-infested tenement apartment — she runs across Dave Stevens, who is not to be confused with the guy who created the Rocketeer. He’s a sort of community activist, and also the same guy who called her whitey before while lecturing neighborhood children about inequality. This time, of course, he’s far more open, and they become friends. Unfortunately, they also stumble across a gang of (white) gangsters pushing drugs in an alley, and Dave is shot.

Superman shows up to take him to the hospital, but Dave desperately needs a transfusion, and the underfunded inner-city hospital is critically short on O-negative … which just happens to be Lois Lane’s blood type. She gives him a transfusion, which causes the Transformoflux machine’s effect to wear off early. Dave asks to see her, and even though she enters as a white woman, he smiles, they shake hands, and, presumably, racism is ended forever.

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