Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So the economy is falling apart while we all watch on TV, and the major presidential candidates, Congress, and the White House all seem powerless to do anything. What to do? What to do?

Think about comic books!

From retroCRUSH:

Okay, but my favorite thing about Jimmy Olsen was that he existed as one of those characters that the publishers, writers, and editors felt comfortable doing anything with. Jimmy could take a secret serum and turn into “Elastic Lad” and actually become a real superhero. He also turned into a giant turtle and all sorts of crazy monsters along the way, but the coolest thing existed in the form of a secret signal watch to call on Superman whenever he got into a jam. Talk about fulfilling the sidekick dream, Jimmy had direct access to the ultimate big brother who could kick anybody’s ass.


Enter Jack Kirby. When he moved from Marvel to DC to usher in a whole new adventurous world for the 1970s Kirby insisted on taking over the book with the lowest sales so someone with a steady job wouldn’t lose work.

That book,
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, is where and when the Jimmy Olsen series truly became a vitally interesting comic book, containing a continuity of stories that every serious reader of comic literature should own.

Jack Kirby made Jimmy Olsen modern, relevant, and totally far out. Jimmy throws away his bowtie and basically becomes an action-packed superstar that isn’t afraid to tell the authoritative Superman where to fly.

Jimmy’s far out “Fourth World” trip lasted about four years until his book hit cancellation, no doubt because it has gone too far into the “wild.”

Click here for more.

Being born in 1968, the Jimmy Olson I first got to know was the revamped guy from the early 70s. I mean, I understood that Jimmy had long played a totally secondary role for Superman, being someone else besides Lois to fall out of windows for the Man of Tomorrow to rescue, but Jimmy's "Mr. Action" phase in the 70s, the twentysomething suave and competent crusading photojournalist who hung out with superheroes and aliens, and only used his signal watch to contact his Kryptonian mentor under the most dire of circumstances, captured my imagination, often as much as DC's actual costumed characters.

And the Jack Kirby stuff is as good as anything he did at Marvel, maybe even better. Kirby took the weirdness of what was at that point thirty years of accumulated Superman storyline into the realm of sublime art. If you ever get the chance, you should try to check out some of the Jimmy Olson clone stories Kirby did: I have never experienced a comic book moment as compelling as when Jimmy has to fight hundreds of evil clones of himself, with his fists, at the same time.

You know, Lois Lane had her own title, too, and by the time I was reading her stuff in the late 70s, there were lots of cool underwear shots. I guess DC's editors knew what nine year old boys wanted to see. Don't believe me? Check this out:

Hubba hubba! But this is about Superman's Pal not Superman's Girlfriend, so I'll end this post with this fabulous cover courtesy of retroCRUSH: