In this week's issue of "Action Comics," Nick Spencer and RB Silva have returned Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen
to a starring role in a series of back-up stories that have already earned the ComicsAlliance Seal of Approval
. Not only is it sharply written and beautifully drawn, but considering that it features Jimmy infiltrating an underground techno-bottle to stop a Genie revolution and
an alien invasion that can only be countered by partying, but it seems like it's fully embracing the fact that most Jimmy Olsen stories are completely insane
With 163 issues of outright madness, "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" somehow managed to out-crazy every other DC comic in the Silver Age, and considering that there were issues of "Legion of Super-Heroes" that were actually written by a 13 year-old, that's saying something. So today, I've gone through the archives to find the ten craziest moments in the entire series!
The thing you need to know about these stories is that there's crazy, ther's legitimately insane, and then somewhere way past that is Jimmy Olsen, and this story is a pretty perfect example of why. After all, while other stories would have been happy just showing the main character listening to the Beatles or maybe even meeting the Fab Four in Person, Leo Dorfman and George Papp figured the best way to tie into Beatlemania would be to send Jimmy back in time so that he could rock out with Samson.
Because if you like "I Want To Hold Your Hand," you'll love the exciting adventures of the Old Testament!
Like 90% of all Silver Age stories, this one starts out with a space crook, and it's important to note that while he's excited, Jimmy Olsen is completely unsurprised
by a guy from the 31st century showing up on his doorstep in a Time Bubble. That's pretty much just a Tuesday at the Olsen household.
Either way, Kasmir ends up stranding Jimmy in the past, and after making friends with a young Samson (who fights crime under the sobriquet of "Mighty Youth"), and Jimmy, of course, decides to make the best of a bad situation.
You may have heard "Love Me Do," but you've never heard it as it was meant
to be played: On sheep-horn and drum, with lyrics translated into ancient Hebrew.
Despite the fact that this was the cover story for "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" #79, that's all there is to it as far as Beatle-related content, with the rest of the issue taken up with a pretty standard Jimmy Olsen story. Of course, "standard" in this case means "Samson punches out a crook from the future after Jimmy tricks him into cutting a wig instead of his actual hair," but at this point, that's to be expected. Dofrman and Papp do, however, make time for one more scene...
...in which Superman could not possibly
sound more like someone's dad trying to be "hip" around "the kids."
Back in the Silver Age, pretty much everyone even remotely connected with Superman got temporary powers at one time or another. Superman's childhood girlfriend Lana Lang, for instance, had a super-scientific ring given to her by an alien that would transform her into the frequently disgusting Insect Queen
Jimmy, however, got off pretty light with the Elastic Lad
serum, which gave him the ability to... well, you can probably figure that one out. He used his stretching powers to help out Superman a few times and even managed to earn himself a spot in the Legion of Super-Heroes, but in "Jimmy Olsen" #62, he straight up uses it to impress the ladies
Yep. That happened.
I have to say, though, my favorite part of the issue has nothing to do with Jimmy stretching, or even Lucy Lane's fascinated look. Instead, I am all about
The Dagger Gang!
Three former circus knife-throwers in black turtlenecks, berets, and day-glo orange vests with custom knife pockets, all of whom look like they're at least sixty years old! Those guys are awesome!
Check the guy on the left, he loves knives so much that he has put one in his mouth despite the fact that he's clearly
not carrying anything.
Seriously, forget Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, when are those
dudes coming back?
When the legendary Jack Kirby
-- co-creator of the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, the Avengers, the Hulk and most of the rest of the Marvel Universe -- took over "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" in the early '70s, it marked a pretty huge departure from the stories the title had seen before. To be honest, they didn't really have all that much to do with Jimmy at all, instead focusing on an expanded cast that included Darkseid and the rest of the New Gods.
Of course, that doesn't mean that they were any less crazy -- just that they were crazy in an entirely different way. Case in point: Planet Transilvane
...a miniaturized world so evil that the planet itself
has Devil Horns. As you might expect, it's the home to wolfmen and vampires, who shoot vampire rays out of their eyes and into young ladies' necks:
And yet, that's arguably not the craziest thing that happened during Kirby's run on the book, thanks to one character: Goody Rickels
By the time it hit print, what had originally been pitched as a cameo by insult comedian Don Rickles had inexplicably ballooned into a two-issue arc featuring Don's "evil twin," Goody Rickels, who unwittingly lured Jimmy and the Guardian into an Intergang trap, spending two issues in a super-hero uniform, dosed with chemicals that would cause him to explode if he got excited.
Nothing quite sums it up quite as well as the blurb that ran across the top of the cover: "Kirby Says: Don't Ask! Just Buy it!"
Despite the fact that his stories weren't really about fighting super-villains, Jimmy fought his fair share of bad guys back in the day, including so many fake Swamis that it was downright improbable, even if the stories did
take place at the height of the Swami Industry. Lord L, for instance, shows up after Jimmy starts time traveling after judging a Lois Lane Fan Club Cake Baking Contest (yes, really), and Jimmy immediately assumes he's an ancestor of Lex Luthor -- which, given the number of times he actually did
run into historical doppelgangers of Superman & Co., was a pretty good assumption.
This time, however, he is very, very wrong:
Yup: Jimmy's chillin' out with Satan
I have to say, though, considering he's the Author of All Lies and the eternal enemy of man, the Devil actually doesn't seem like that bad a guy. He's just kind of a bad roommate.
Unfortunately for the Devil, eating Jimmy's dinner is his undoing, as Jimmy feeds him a dessert that manages to exile him back to the pits of Hell. The whole thing turns out to be a dream (of course
it does) brought on by a helicopter crash that merely knocked Jimmy unconscious rather than sending him back to the 16th century, and by dream logic standards...
...Angel Food Cake having actual holy powers with which one can battle Satan almost
sort of makes sense. Except that Jimmy thought he was making Devil's Food Cake, which is why he had the dream about the Devil in the first place, and -- you know what? Let's just move on.
If you liked the last story's plot of dream-induced time travel and a villain that looks just like Lex Luthor but would've preferred to read something that made you way more uncomfortable, then I'd definitely recommend "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" #66, which includes this little gem. And really, there's no getting around it: This thing is straight up racist
I'm a fan of Silver Age comics in general and Jimmy Olsen stories in particular, but holy crap
To be fair, though, you can't really blame Jimmy for it. When he had this dream...
...he was on some pretty strong stuff.
Fun Fact about Jimmy Olsen: Not only is he the reincarnation of Marco Polo and
Spartacus, but when he's exposed to the Star of Cathay, a magic gem brought to earth by an alien with two hearts named Enorr, he regresses through time to live out his past lives.
Which, of course, means that he doe all the stuff that Marco Polo was famous for. You know, traveling to China, learning kung fu so that he could stop a leopard from assassinating Kublai Khan...
....flying around with his his sidekick, a magic genie named Korul...
You know. All the stuff you read about in your history books.
Jimmy and his girlfriend, Lucy Lane (Lois's sister) haven't exactly had the most romantic relationship to ever hit the page, mostly because she's what you might call a hateful shrew. Either way, rarely did things get as bizarre as they did when they both decided to assume false identities to cheat on each other.
It's essentially the Silver Age version of "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" -- and congratulations, you now have that stuck in your head -- except that instead of taking out personal ads, Jimmy uses a complex set of prosthetics including lifts and a false chest to become Magi
, a crime-fighting magician, while Lucy transformed herself into the glamorous Sandra Rogers
by... uh... putting on a wig. That's it.
Either way, the two fell hard for each other's alter-egos, and for good reason: "Torrid Tomato" is unquestionably the sensational pickup line of 1965. They even got engaged, until Jimmy felt bad about lying to his future wife and decided to go ahead and do the right thing by faking his death
and marrying Lucy.
Then she found out, and so they threw cake at each other.
Shortly after their food-fight, though, it's revealed that the Justice of the Peace that married them had allowed his license to lapse, meaning that they were never actually married, and they decided that was probably for the best, although they remained a couple.
Dating in the sixties was weird as hell
, you guys.
And speaking of weird dates, we have the strange saga of Jimmy's relationship with Holga
, who appeared in "Superman'Ss Pal Jimmy Olsen" #69. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that for other comics, having the main character strike up a relationship with a viking princess that was thawed out after being stuck in a fjord for a thousand years probably
would've been all the crazy they needed to get the job done. But not Jimmy.
That's right, everybody: Holga isn't an unfrozen viking princess at all, she's a robot created by the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club for the sole purpose of Making Lucy Lane jealous. We can learn two things from this:
1. Jimmy Olsen's fans are frighteningly
devoted to him.
2. Lucy Lane is so awful
to Jimmy that when a gang of teenage boys end up with an extremely lifelike sexy ladybot that will do anything they want, they elect to use it to teach her a lesson.
I mentioned before that Jimmy and Lucy's relationship didn't get much stranger than the whole Magi/Sandra affair, but the absolute (and, I'm not gonna lie, absolutely hilarious) low point of the relationship comes in a story that is literally titled "Olsen the Roughneck" from "Jimmy Olsen" #61. The whole thing gets started when Jimmy takes Lucy to see an Apache dance
and she, predictably, starts shrewing at him about how only a real
man would be able to get rough with a girl and have her like it.
I am not kidding. That is what happens in this comic book.
Just wait. It gets better.
From that point on, this is a comic that is essentially about Jimmy Olsen accidentally slapping the living hell
out of his girlfriend in a series of increasingly convoluted ways involving a spider...
...a jack-in-the-box that looks just like Jimmy himself...
...and my personal favorite a kangaroo:
Lucy, of course, refuses to believe that these are all unfortunate accidents, and honestly? I'm right there with her. Even in the Silver Age, "it wasn't me, it was a kangaroo that ran away from the circus and was hiding in my closet while we played Pin the Tail on the Super-Dog" is a pretty flimsy excuse.
Eventually, though, it gets even crazier
, as a deadly snake that will attack Lucy if she shows any signs of hysteria shows up, meaning that Jimmy has
to slap her, or she will literally die
I gotta say, though: Even under the circumstances, that's a bit
extreme. Chill out, E. Honda. Fortunately for Jimmy, Superman shows up and, in quite possibly the creepiest, most ridiculous thing I've ever seen that guy do, he winks at Jimmy and tells him good job on all that life-saving slappery. And then they make out
In all the Jimmy Olsen stories I've ever read, there is only one that matches that level of crazy. And belive me, this one goes all out:
Yes, Jimmy. Yes, they would.
I'm not sure if there's anything I could add to that splash page to make it seem any more or less crazy than it actually is, but yes: in "Jimmy Olsen" #86, Superman's Pal becomes Hitler's Pal
after going in back in time to find out why there's footage of him accepting an award from der Fuhrer
. And really, considering how much time travel is on this very list, he should've known better.
Admittedly, he initially goes back in disguise as an American war correspondent and only starts pretending to be a Nazi to save a platoon of allied troops from being executed, but there's also that whole thing where he pretends to be clairvoyant and uses his knowledge of history to alert the Germans to upcoming defeats:
Although again, I really should stress that he only does so after it's too late to avoid defeat, and he also doesn't bother to warn Hitler about his own men trying to assassinate him. Even so, this is still a story about Jimmy Olsen: Psychic Nazi General
And you thought it was weird when he was Marco Polo.