Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #73 (1963)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #73 (December, 1963)
"The Kid with the Golden Touch!"
"The Five Fantastic Feats of Jimmy Olsen!"
Jimmy's Inter-Dimensional Romance!"
Writer - ???
Pencillers - John Forte & Al Plastino
Inkers - George Klein & Al Plastino
Letterer - Ira Schnapp
Cover Price: $0.12

Hey we're going to talk about a book from 1963 today.  Such a thing would have been unthinkable for a younger Chris.  Ya see, 1963 is one of those important years to me.  Growing up an X-Men fan, I think I assigned their debut year some near-mythical status.  I'm looking at this issue of Jimmy Olsen... and I know that it very likely shared rack space with some of the very first issues of X-Men.  It's probably silly... but, I think that's really cool.


Our first story opens with Jimmy Olsen hanging out at a Metropolis cove just waiting for something to happen.  Ya see, his "nose for news" tells him something's about to go down... and whattaya know, a spaceship lands in the water!  They greet young Olsen, and regale him with stories of how he is idolized on their home planet.  Jimmy, being a doofus, buys it hook, line, and sinker.  One of the aliens then produces a strange device... which, Jimmy reaches out to touch.  Turns out, this machine gives our boy the Midas touch!

To control his powers, the alien gives him a pair of protective gloves.  Jimmy, being an annoying little so-and-so, decides to have a little fun with his new powers, at Editor Perry White's expense.  After turning the Chief's cigar into gold, Jimmy returns to his desk to gild s'more.  This is when Clark Kent happens by.  He tries to inquire about Jimmy's new power, but he ain't getting anywhere... and so, he decides young Olsen might be more willing to speak with Superman... buuuut, no dice.  As a matter of fact, after gilding his cape, Jimmy looks positively bored by Superman... so bored, he excuses himself to transform the Jimmy Olsen Fan Clubhouse into gold.

From here, Jimmy just starts turning everything to gold.  He's really making a menace of himself... an annoying menace.  He changes a whole wheelbarrow full of bricks to gold, which causes a police officer to investigate... Jimmy shuts him up by changing his badge and cuffs to gold.  Elsewhere, the aliens watch on... and it becomes pretty clear that their intentions with young Olsen were malicious.  They contact him...

... and ask him to bring them his piece of white Kryptonite, because it can be used to fight off a "terrible plant scourge" which is threatening their home planet.  Jimmy, being a goof... thinks nothing of it, and fetches his White-K.  One of the aliens uses their own Midas touch to turn it to gold... just as Supergirl is summoned to help launch the aliens back into orbit.  When she arrives, it appears as though her powers have been cancelled out.  Uh-oh!  These weren't friendly aliens at all... this is Vostar, the criminal scientist from Atlantis!

As Vostar celebrates his victory... and Jimmy get all "aw shucks", Supergirl's powers appear to return... and so does her cousin!  Ya see, when Superman saw Jimmy's new powers, he used his telescopic vision to scan for threats... and wouldn'tcha know it, he found the Atlanteans!  He listened in to their recent transmission... and replaced Jimmy's White-K with just a regular rock!  The story ends with Superman's gilded cape returning to its normal red.

The second story begins with Jimmy Olsen... undercover!  He's posing as an equestrian so he can keep an eye on the notorious gambler, Mr. Fix.  He follows the baddie into the stall of Mudhole the horse... and witnesses him sliding some PED's into the ol' horse's drinking water.  He's going to bet on the long shot, and win big!  Before Jimmy can do anything to stop him, a man called Shagg arrives and shoots Jimmy... with, er, a gas-gun.  The two bad dudes lay Jimmy out in the hay... and a little later, their horse wins the big race!

Perry White shows up and begins reading Jimmy the riot act for being a screw up.  Olsen pleads his case, and informs the Chief that he's got a plan to catch Mr. Fix... but he's going to need Perry's cooperation for it to work.  His plan is... get this... he's going to pose as an "oriental Rajah" and Perry will pose as his hand-servant Perree.  That's an awfully detailed plan for something just off the top of your head, Jim.  Perry agrees, and he and Jimmy get into disguise.  Mr. Fix and Shagg see the Rajah, and see him as a way they might make a "fast buck".  After seeing the Rajah hit a bullseye in archery, they bet him a thousand bucks that he can't do it again... and he does!

Fix then tries to go double-or-nothing with a basketball exhibition.  They bet the Rajah can't sink a basket with his eyes closed... and whattayaknow, not only does he do it... the ball travels to the other basket before hitting the ground as well!

A bit later, the Rajah runs into on-again, off-again squeeze, Lucy Lane.  She ain't buying that Jimmy is doing these feats on his lonesome, and suggests Superman is nearby.  Jimmy assures her this isn't the case... in fact, Superman is off in a far-away galaxy.  A *zeee!zeee!* of the signal watch confirms this to be true... causing poor Lucy's head to spin.

The next feat is... striking out Mickey Mantle!  Hey, how 'bout that.  The Rajah manages to strike the Mick out with a single pitch.  Yup.

The next feat is sinking a hole in one on the golf course... and, c'mon, we already know he does it.  It's kinda funny though, Jimmy claims that it's through his mastery of the psychic forces of yoga that allows him to golf so well.

We rejoin the Rajah back in his suite where everything becomes a bit clearer.  Jimmy wasn't being aided by Superman... but by the Superman Emergency Squad of Kandor!

And then... things get stupid.  The Kandorians (Kandorans?) leave, and the next day Jimmy hits the links again.  When he is frightened by a snake, Mr. Fix figures out that the Rajah is in fact... Jimmy Olsen.  And so, he offers him another opportunity to putt.  If he misses... they'll, get this, throw a grenade at him.  Wow.  Well, with his life in the balance, Jimmy is frightened by some thunder!  Mr. Fix and Shagg decide it's time to kill Jimmy once and for all, and hurl the grenade!  When the smoke clears, Jimmy still stands!  He grabs the baddies and... flies off with them?  Okay... it's not really Jimmy, but Zol-Lar from Kandor... who belongs to a club where they all look like Superman and his pals.  Yikes.

Our final story begins with Jimmy preparing to chisel a statue from a block of marble in the likeness of his on-again, off-again squeeze... Lucy Lane.  She comes over and models for him, however, when he's done... the statue looks nothing like her!  Go figure... I'm surprised Jimmy can even tie his shoes, we really think he's a sculptor?  Anyhoo, an insulted Lucy leaves... and that night, wouldn'tcha know it, the statue comes to life!

She introduces herself as Rona... from the Seventh Dimension, no less!  She claims to have wound up in the rock due to an experimental transportation mission... and it's thanks to Earths "Three-Dimension" Sun that she's returned to life.  As thanks, she produces a vial of fluid... not like that... for Jimmy to drink, after which he will have the physique of his hero... Superman!

Just as they embrace, Lucy Lane barges in.  Seeing her sometimes beau in the arms of another bothers her as she believes this brunette beauty to be an actress or model... not the transdimensional space creature Jimmy is trying to pass her off as.  She invites Rona to the beach for some fun in the (3D) Sun.  While there, they run into the famous movie producer, Von Pipp (sounds like he could be a Legionnaire)... and he doesn't recognize Rona!  Then, to further punctuate her alien nature, our gal makes a basket of strange rainbow fruit appear.

As they dine on rainbow melon (with one hundred flavors!), the new hero of the beach, Jimmy Olsen, arrives on the scene!  He really looks strange with his baby face on a hulking body.  It's actually quite disturbing.  Anyhoo, as Jim and Rona make out, a swimmer begins to drown... Jimmy jumps in for the rescue.

Time passes, and the Rona-romance continues to blossom.  It is soon announced (on the front page of the newspaper!) that Jimmy has fallen in love with an alien... and is now engaged!  Lucy is now full of regret.

Though, she not only continues to hang out with Olsen... she even agrees to model wedding gowns for Rona!  I mean, who does that?  It seems as though Jimmy is going through with this wedding just to spite Lucy... it's really pretty sad.  Didn't realize he was such a jerk.

Anyway, before long, it's the day of the big wedding.  Superman is present as Jimmy's best man.  Before taking their vows, Rona insists that Jimmy drink another vial of liquid.  He does, because he's an idiot... and he begins to, ya know... die.  The Interdimensional Space Police arrive just moments too late to arrest the Seventh Dimensional criminal.  They ask her to stick out her tongue... and it turns out, she's been "marked".  Ya see, all baddies on their world have the bottom of their tongues dyed blue.  Yikes.

Superman uses his Super-Brain to calculate the antidote, which the space cops produce.  Jimmy drinks it, and begins to (for better or worse) return to normal.  We learn that Rona has a collection of dead (red-headed) husbands... can someone point her in the direction of Terry Long?

We also learn that her concrete prison is sorta-kinda their dimension's answer to the Phantom Zone.  Jimmy's just mortified... and begs Superman (and the Priest/Judge) not to tell Lucy.  We wrap up with Lucy asking Jimmy out, because she'd heard he dumped Rona.  Jimmy plays coy and says he'll try and "fit" her into his social calendar.  What an ass.


Wow, Jimmy Olsen's an annoying little so-and-so, ain't he?

Ya know, I try not to curse on the humble blog... though, I'll admit that I've been tempted a time or two.  This issue however, I'm lookin' at Jimmy, furrowing my brow, and stifling the urge to type "This sonuva..."

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the heck out of this issue... because I did.  It's definitely the right kind of silly, it's just that Jimmy is such a.......... jerk.  He's just so unlikable... while at the same time, almost charming in his obliviousness to it all.  And, really... who could blame him?  The geek's got an actual fan club!

Let's chat about the opening story because, scary as it sounds, it was the most straight-forward.  Jimmy briefly gets the Midas touch... and proceeds to abuse his powers like the strange little manchild that he is.  Fair enough.  Superman was able to save the day... which is fine.  I'm kinda surprised that Jimmy's just got a piece of white Kryptonite sitting on a shelf in his office.  I had to actually do a bit of research on the White-K... seems it's only harmful to plant-life, which is probably why Superman was able to handle it, right?

The second story was... maybe a bit too goofy, especially toward the end.  I thought it was pretty cool that Jimmy would use the Kandorians to edge out Mr. Fix... but that ending with the grenade might have went a bit too far.  Totally unnecessary in my opinion, could've ended the story with the Kandor-suprise reveal.  Would have improved it quite a bit.

The final story was... weird.  Weirder than I expected.  Not so much for the seventh dimensional would-be bride, but for just how much of a jerk Jimmy was to Lucy.  He really seemed to enjoy seeing how heartbroken she was becoming... to the point where he actually felt bad about enjoying it so much!  Even after Rona gets outed as a serial-ginger-killer, he's more afraid of looking foolish than getting back with his squeeze.  In fact, he doesn't even go to her... she comes to him... and then... then, this geek plays hard-to-get!  It's a good thing he's friends with Superman, otherwise he'd have been put in a ditch ages ago!

Overall... despite Jimmy grinding on my nerves, I had a blast reading this.  The stories are the right kind of silly, you can't take them too seriously.  Well worth your time if you come across it.  Sadly, the SHOWCASE Presents series of Superman Family petered out before this issue could be collected... so, as far as I can tell, this is single-issue only.


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  1. Wonderfully bizarre! You can see how Marvel's '60s output would have stood out from DC's at the time. 50+ years later, I can enjoy both for different reasons, but I bet if i was a kid at the time, Marvel would have seemed at lot cooler.
    Not that this will surprise you, but the idea of Rona taking out Terry Long is fantastic!

    1. Totally agree! Marvel and DC were very different animals back then. I'm sure I would have gravitated to Marvel had I grown up in this era... much like I did growing up in the 1980's.

      Today, while I still have a great fondness for early-Marvel I have trouble revisiting the days of Lee/Kirby/Ditko/etc, though I'm not sure why. Might just be my familiarity with the material. DC's Silver-Age is just wacky as all get out, and even if I don't necessarily dig the story, I gotta admit that I'm sitting there with a goofy smile on my face as I read it!

  2. I've had a similar reaction to '60s comics and I wonder if it might be because '60s Marvel was so influential on superhero comics and therefore what we grew up reading and so it feels predictable whereas '60s DC now feels unpredictable and crazy and therefore enetertaining because no way would they write comics like that even by the '70s!

    1. I think that's definitely the case. By comparison, Marvel was tightly-knit, and it seemed as though every individual issue contributed to the overall line. Like you said, DC was just way-out and wild. I mean, these Jimmy stories certainly couldn't happen across the street at Marvel!


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