Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Bronze Beauties #10: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
Inside the Superman Fanboy Dilemma Part 4 is up on mtv.com, focusing on collectibles. I wanted to title the piece “To MOC or Not to MOC,” but they thought it was too obscure and went with “Cum On Feel the Toyz.” Sigh.
Anyway, beginning in 1954, SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN was the first comic book to star a non-super powered sidekick (Batman’s butler Alfred did have some solo adventures, but never got his own book). Although Jimmy did sometimes gain elasticity ala Plastic Man and fight crime as Elastic Lad (in a dull costume that actually spelled out his name on the chest), and sometimes teamed with Superman in the Batman and Robin-esque duo of Nightwing and Flamebirdin the bottle city of Kandor. Oh, and he was once Giant Turtle Boy.
...You know what? Never mind.
Here are two swell Jimmy covers from very different interpretations in the 1970s. JIMMY OLSEN #141 (Sept., 1971) came during Jack Kirby’s run on the book, a time when the King was bringing some mind-blowing psychedelic concepts to traditionally stodgy DC. Jimmy’s adventures were integrated into Kirby’s so-called “Fourth World,” series surrounding the battle between Darkseid’s Apokolips and the New Gods’ world of New Genesis. Kirby’s twisted imagination was given mostly free reign (even if DC had more traditional house-styled artists like Curt Swan “fix” his Superman faces and S-shields), which included using Don Rickles as a guest star. The cover features pencils by Kirby and inks by Neal Adams, the comic book equivalent of a collaboration between Van Gogh and Gauguin.
When Kirby left the book, it reverted to more standard fare, transforming Jimmy into “Mr. Action,” a hip, scrappy investigative reporter who still usually needed Supes to haul his butt out of the fire. JO #160 (Oct., 1973) sports a cover by Nick Cardy, an artist I didn’t fully appreciate as a child, but have grown to worship.