Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The existential horror of Insect Queen: Superboy #124

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa finds himself living a nightmare, as he is inexplicably transformed into a giant cockroach. His sister and parents grudgingly try to accommodate him, but eventually cast him out to die alone in an empty room. Luckily, Franz Kafka didn’t write Superboy #124, or Lana Lang, a.k.a the Insect Queen would have had a much gloomier debut.

Poor insect Queen. Lana Lang Finally gets her own super powers, and she gets the ability to undergo horrific disgusting transformations into abominable human/insect hybrids. And no one seems especially disturbed by this.

She got her magic ring from a benevolent alien that she rescued while on a nature walk. Alien ships, magic artifacts, multiple hues of Kryptonite, robots…You name it, it showered from the sky back in the silver age. Here's the little fellow now:

Aw, what a cute l’il pink pal! He’s all like: “Here ya go kid, enjoy the freakish disfigurement!” Run Lana! He’s about to saddle you with crap powers! Superboy will be repulsed! Stupid Aliens.

As Insect Queen, Lana has the power to take on the attributes of any insect. Unfortunately, this also involves a great deal of time spent with a bee thorax where your legs should be. For someone who’s so concerned with Superboy’s opinion of her, she seems unconcerned about him seeing her. It was only by virtue of his powers of Super Politeness, that he avoided vomiting at the sight:

It’s a well-documented scientific fact that insects are icky. It only stands to reason that giant insects are that much ickier. Poor Lana has the worst powers in all the Superman Family. Most of Superman’s friends gained superpowers at one time or another. Jimmy Olsen was Elastic Lad, Perry White got powers about once a year, Lois Lane never had a steady super-heroic alter ego, but she got to be a succession of “Power Girls” and “Might Maids” – with superpowers equivalent to but weaker than Superman’s. Playing by the rules at the time, Lana got screwed. Lana could turn into bugs. Shades of Charlie “I got a rock.” Brown.

Insect Queen returned a few times, but eventually drifted out of continuity. Lana seems blasé throughout this story, happy enough with a pretty crappy power set. Unlike our friend, Mister Samsa, Lana Lang endured her personal Metamorphosis.

"Professor Papp’s trembling became violent. His bladder went slack, and a dark stain spread across the front of his trousers. He was beyond caring. The sight of the sinuous, clicking, multi-limbed horror before him had shattered his mind. He began to scream..."

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