Cover of Issue #30:
Superman, burning up a smoking jacket
he's just received as a gift from Jimmy: "Jimmy, this gift you got me for Father's Day
makes me sorry I ever adopted you as my son. I'll have to destroy it to teach you a lesson!"
Jimmy: "But... Superman... I mean Dad... What did I do wrong?"
series, published by DC Comics
from 1954 to 1974. It focused on the often-comedic
adventures of Daily Planet photographer
and cub reporter Jimmy Olsen
The big problem
with Jimmy Olsen was always that he wasn't a very good character. Sure, you could say that the red-haired, bow-tied
, freckle-faced kid was there to appeal to the little kids reading the Superman
comics -- but they already had a character that appealed to them, and unlike Jimmy, he could drop-kick a truck
and catch bullet
s with his bare hands. So honestly, giving Jimmy a series of his own was just plain stupid. Who the hell wants to read about the adventures of the cub reporter sidekick
, when you could be reading the adventures of a guy who can juggle planets? Well, obviously, you gotta have Superman show up from time to time to help out. But then there's still the problem that no one wants to read a comic where Superman is a bit player
. So how do you get people to read this comic book about a powerless dork
wearing a bow tie?
Well, if you were the creators of this comic, you made sure every issue was jam-packed with the most absolutely crazy-ass
stuff you could get away with. Jimmy traveling back in time and accidentally becoming Adolf Hitler
's right-hand man? It's in there! Jimmy dressing in drag
to capture mobsters? It's in there! Jimmy becoming the world's angriest hippie
and denouncing the Man of Steel? It's in there! Brainiac
replacing Jimmy's brain
with a computer? It's in there! Jimmy playing babysitter to a regressed-to-infancy Superman
? It's in there! Jimmy turning into a giant monster called the Giant Turtle Boy
? My God, is it ever in there!
Cover of Issue #109:
Superman, strapped to some heinous Pain Machine: "Stop the pain, Jimmy. I'll reveal my TRUE IDENTITY!"
: "Incredible, Olsen. How did you make Superman helpless... without using Kryptonite
Jimmy, smiling evilly: "That's my secret, Luthor!"
Caption: "A SHOCKUMENTARY -- 'Luthor's Pal, Jimmy Olsen!'"
The comic continued in that manner for most of a couple of decades, Jimmy alternately endangering Superman and getting pulled out of danger by the Man of Steel, dating Lois Lane
's sister, Lucy
, and generally getting into both serious trouble
hijinks. That changed around 1970 when the King of Comics, Jack Kirby
his own damn self, moved from Marvel to DC. He asked to be put in charge of "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen," mostly because it was one of DC's lowest-selling titles, and DC would let him do anything he wanted to boost sales. Besides drawing the holy-cow-coolest Jimmy Olsen in history, Kirby used the book to add many new concepts and characters to his Fourth World
series -- thus a previously lightweight comic book saw the debut of DC's ultimate scary badass supervillain, Darkseid
, Lord of Apokolips
. Kirby also made Project Cadmus
, a secret government genetic engineering
lab, into an important part of the comic, along with the re-introduced Guardian
and the Newsboy Legion
But time was too short for the goofy
little series. The Silver Age
, when all that madness
was tolerated, was long over, and a more realistic
era of comics storytelling was in progress. The comic book was cancelled after 163 issues in 1974. In its place was a comic called "Superman Family
," which included stories about Jimmy as a serious investigative reporter
who rarely had to rely on Superman. More recent years, however, have been kinder to the memory of "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen," partly out of affection for the Silver Age and partly because of how unrelentingly bizarre the entire series was.
Cover of Issue #98:
Jimmy, dressed in Tarzan
costume, being menaced by a female gorilla
wearing a bridal veil: "Superman... This joke has gone far enough. I don't want to marry a female King Kong
Superman, wearing a feathered headdress and stirring some potion in a pot: "Sorry, Jimmy, but as local witch doctor
, I now pronounce you MAN and WIFE!"
The Superman Database (http://supermandatabase.com/)
Wikipedia, curse my worthless hide