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Author Topic: Jimmy & Kara - 1959-61  (Read 27609 times)
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Osgood Peabody
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« on: July 12, 2003, 04:13:31 AM »

Jimmy Olsen & Supergirl - the pairing of Superman's pal and his cousin may seem offbeat now but for a couple of years they shared 4 memorable tales, and a couple of strange interludes as well.

For some reason, I have a great affection for these stories that I can't fully explain.  There is the theme of mistaken identity in each one, an old Weisinger stand-by.  But whereas this device was often used (especially in Lois Lane) rather maliciously (i.e. to "teach Lois a lesson"), the examples here are rather innocuous misunderstandings, and the reader is in on it from the beginning, while poor Jimmy is always out of the loop.  


So let's begin at the beginning:


Part 1 "Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal"



from Jimmy Olsen #40 (Oct. 1959) by Mort Weisinger, Otto Binder, Curt Swan & John Forte [reprinted in Action #343 - Nov. 1966]

(Note: this tale wasn't cover-featured, being buried in the "middle 8", usually reserved for the filler story - but it was at least granted a top-side blurb)

We begin with Jimmy threatening to expose a small-time huckster named Colonel Colby.  As Jimmy puts the finishing touches on his article, he suddenly gets paranoid that Colby will break into his apartment.  While trying to rig a tear-gas trap, he accidently drops it, temporarily blinding himself.  Unbeknownst to Jimmy, Colby observes this, and as Jimmy staggers into the street to hail a cab, he's all too obliging to direct him to his car and spirit away with our freckled friend.

Jimmy immediately punches the old signal-watch, but unfortunately the Man of Steel is on a mission taking photos of the earth's core and doesn't hear it - but someone else does!  Linda Lee, pinch-hitting for her cousin, alertly hears the signal from her room at the Midvale orphanage and snaps into action.  As Colby drops Jimmy from a bridge, he loses consciousness just as Supergirl swoops to his rescue, unseen by Colby.

After Jimmy revives, he tells Supergirl his story, and she then decides that she must reveal her existence to Jimmy to help him get Colby - he's Superman's pal, after all, so he can be trusted.  She proceeds to recap her origin story for the benefit of Jimmy and the reader (her first appearance on earth only being 5 months old at the time!), but Jimmy isn't buying it.  He's convinced that she's in league with Colby, who's trying to hoax him to discredit Jimmy and prevent him from running his story.

So now Supergirl goes through a series of demonstrations for the blind reporter to believe her.  X-ray vision, super-strength, flight are all tried, but Jimmy stubbornly comes up with a convoluted explanation for each.  The Maid of Steel even takes the trouble of flying him to the Sahara Desert (!) and the North Pole (!), but even then the intrepid reporter is convinced that the extreme heat and cold must be generated by heat lamps (!!) and a butcher's refrigerator (!!).

Finally, after getting completely exasperated, Supergirl hears her cousin tunneling up from the earth's core, and with a discreet puff of super-breath, re-activates Jimmy's signal-watch.  Superman & Jimmy promptly round up Colby, and days later, with his sight back, Jimmy jokes with his pal about that ludicrous Supergirl hoax.  Supergirl looks on with her telescopic vision from Midvale, and notes with a grin, that "as far as Jimmy's concerned, I guess I don't exist".


This tale is a landmark for at least one reason - it's Supergirl's "coming out" party.  Just a few months removed from her introduction in Action #252, this is her first appearance outside of her own feature.  In the next few months, she would begin popping up all over the Superman family universe, even taking a trip back in time to visit Superboy!  But her integration into the Weisingerverse began here, and at least initially, Jimmy Olsen was her most frequent guest-stop.

I'll continue this little journey as time allows.  

Next up: Strange Interlude #1 - "My, Jimmy, what big teeth you have!"
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Aldous
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2003, 05:56:03 AM »

Quote
"as far as Jimmy's concerned, I guess I don't exist".


What a wonderful, literal take on the usual lovesick girl's lament!

Hey, Osgood. I enjoyed your review.

I seem to have a slowly-developing liking for Supergirl... (yes, at this late stage of the game) ...I look forward to more reviews of this "integration" period.

Quote
For some reason, I have a great affection for these stories that I can't fully explain.


Sometimes explanations are overrated.  :wink:
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Osgood Peabody
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2003, 03:23:50 AM »

One important thing I left out of my last post was that Curt Swan drew a more beautiful, mature Supergirl than Jim Mooney ever did in her own strip in Action Comics.  Kara was ostensibly around 16 years old at the time of these tales (the story in Action #270 (Nov. 1960) shows her celebrating her “sweet 16”), but, at least to my eyes, Curt drew her as a very attractive young woman of about 20.  Whether this was deliberate, to make her more of a match for young Olsen, we can only speculate.

Now, on to our next installment…


Part 2 "The Wolf-Man of Metropolis"



from Jimmy Olsen #44 (Apr. 1960) by Mort Weisinger, Otto Binder, Curt Swan & Stan Kaye [reprinted in giant Jimmy Olsen #104 – Aug-Sep. 1967]

Supergirl has a small, but significant role in this tale in which we find the first of her strange interludes with Jimmy in between her main guest-starring appearances during this period.

In this tale, Superman shows Jimmy a discovery he made in an ancient crypt – a chest full of potions supposedly concocted by the wizard Merlin.  Due to the extreme age, all but one of the vials has dried up – the one labeled “Ye Wolfman potion”.  Jimmy is sure that this is nonsense, and just to prove it, he takes a swig.  Naturally, that evening there’s a full moon, and, you guessed it – Jimmy is transformed into a werewolf, as shown on the cover.

 However, this being DC comics, not EC, he retains his personality and does not go on a murderous rampage.   Conveniently enough, he just happens to have a date with Lucy Lane for a costume party – so, no need for last minute costume shopping, young Olsen shows up at her door, and with Lucy dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, they beat out other party-goers dressed as Batman, Robin, Green Arrow, and Speedy for best costume.  As they’re leaving, Jimmy remembers the bottle’s inscription said only a beautiful maiden’s kiss could break the spell, but he runs into a hitch – Lucy won’t kiss him until he removes his mask!  After stammering out an excuse about it being stuck, he slips away, leaving Lucy very confused.  After telling Lois what happened, her sister tells her about the wolfman potion, and they begin to get suspicious.

Over the next couple of days, Jimmy plays “cat and mouse” with Lucy and Lois, as they shadow him during the evening, but each time he comes up with an excuse for wearing his werewolf costume again.  Jimmy finally appeals to Superman to bail him out, and the next night, he tells Jimmy he’s got the antidote – a pretty girl, known only as “Miss X”,  is waiting in his apartment, but the lights are out, so Jimmy’s appearance won’t scare her away.   The kiss does the trick, and Superman quickly flies away with Miss X – who is now revealed to the reader to be Supergirl!  Superman wanted the lights out, not for her benefit, but for Jimmy’s, as Supergirl’s existence on earth was still a secret at this time.  At the end of the story, Jimmy is left wondering who “Miss X” really was, and whether he’ll ever see her again.


There you have it – a kiss in the dark shared with a beautiful unknown girl – can you blame Mr. Olsen for being tantalized?  Many readers at the time must have been too, because Uncle Mort had further plans for “Miss X” as we shall see!

Next up: L’il Orphan Jimmy!
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Aldous
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2003, 01:12:01 AM »

Quote
Osgood Peabody:

One important thing I left out of my last post was that Curt Swan drew a more beautiful, mature Supergirl than Jim Mooney ever did in her own strip in Action Comics. Kara was ostensibly around 16 years old at the time of these tales (the story in Action #270 (Nov. 1960) shows her celebrating her “sweet 16”), but, at least to my eyes, Curt drew her as a very attractive young woman of about 20. Whether this was deliberate, to make her more of a match for young Olsen, we can only speculate.


Are you able to post examples of this art, or is there anywhere online we can see/read the comic?
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Osgood Peabody
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2003, 02:17:42 PM »

Aldous - I came across this image taken from an early Swan Legion story from 1963 - a couple of years later but a reasonable facsimile of what I'm talking about.  I can provide the link -for some reason I can't get the image to show up here:

http://mirrorsmirror.tripod.com/supergirl.html

You'll also see Swan's Supergirl on the cover of Jimmy Olsen when I get around to doing the next installment (hopefully later in the week).
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Aldous
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2003, 01:05:35 AM »

Quote from: "Osgood Peabody"
Aldous - I came across this image taken from an early Swan Legion story from 1963 - a couple of years later but a reasonable facsimile of what I'm talking about.  I can provide the link -for some reason I can't get the image to show up here:

http://mirrorsmirror.tripod.com/supergirl.html

You'll also see Swan's Supergirl on the cover of Jimmy Olsen when I get around to doing the next installment (hopefully later in the week).


It's amazing what Curt Swan could do with a few simple lines!

I don't know how he was able to put so much personality into a character's face.

On the page at that link, I'm looking at the picture in the middle column, top row... The picture of Supergirl I'm looking at (from ADVENTURE 313) seems to be inked by George Klein. You'll correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure!



The third picture down that column is another pic of Supergirl, and this doesn't look like Klein to me... but it's also attributed to ADVENTURE 313 (?). It's hard to be sure with a little mug shot like that.



Quote
Osgood Peabody:

-for some reason I can't get the image to show up here:


I seem to be able to coax the images to make an appearance here, so I'll drop them amongst my text, above. Maybe there was a bug in the system before.
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Osgood Peabody
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2003, 01:55:19 PM »

Good eye, Aldous!

The first thumbnail is indeed Swan/Klein.  The second is Swan/Forte - for some reason Forte inked the second part of that Legion tale.  I was able to match those images up to my copy of the story in Legion Archives vol. 2.

The Swan/Klein version is the one that most closely resembles her appearance in these Jimmy Olsen stories.
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Osgood Peabody
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2003, 03:46:05 AM »

So far, we’ve seen Jimmy encounter the Girl of Steel on his turf – but the tables get turned this time around.

Part 3 "Jimmy Olsen, Orphan"



from Jimmy Olsen #46 (Jul. 1960) by Mort Weisinger, Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan & John Forte [never reprinted to my knowledge!]
You can see on the cover by Swan & Kaye the image of Supergirl referenced earlier.  There is something about the way Curt depicts her – the face, the stature? – that belies her 16 years IMO.

The story begins where many Olsen tales do – Jimmy getting chewed out by good ol’Perry, who tells his reporter to get out to cover a flood in a nearby town, and stay out of trouble, as Superman is on a mission in space, and won’t be around to save his sorry hinder (or some words to that effect).  However, once on the scene, he can’t resist the urge to dive in to the floodwaters to save a stray cat, and in doing so, gets knocked in the noggin by a floating piece of timber.  Luckily, he’s fished out of the waters by some townspeople, but awakens in the hospital with no memory, and no ID!

Jimmy is given the name Tom Davis, and assigned to the care of the Midvale orphanage, coincidentally the home of young Linda Lee, a.k.a. Supergirl.  On seeing Jimmy, Linda decides to keep mum as to his real identity, so as not to jeopardize her own secret identity, trusting that Superman will set things right on his return.  Linda befriends the despondent “Tom”, and tries to keep his spirits up.  

The next day, Linda is reading the story of Little Red Riding Hood to the younger orphans, and Jimmy’s memory is stirred.  The mention of the wolf in the story brings back vague recollections of his “wolfman” caper in our previous episode, but the feeling quickly passes.  Later, a couple tries to adopt young Olsen (!), but Linda quickly intervenes, trapping Jimmy in his room via heat vision to the lock, and preventing him from being interviewed.  

Upon awakening the next morning, Jimmy’s memory suddenly returns.  But instead of returning to Metropolis, he decides to play out the experience in order to write an article “I Lived in an Orphanage”, confiding in Linda only.  Then, while searching for a baseball out in the woods, Linda is horrified to see Jimmy reaching into the hollow tree where she keeps her Supergirl robot hidden.  Quickly, she contrives to set off Jimmy’s signal-watch without his notice, and Superman (who at long last is returning from that mission), arrives to find out how his pal came to be in Midvale.  After getting filled in, Superman squelches Jimmy’s Pulitzer Prize aspirations by telling him that his telescopic vision reveals Perry is about to give his job away (such a heartless monster that Perry – his cub reporter goes missing and his seat’s not even cold before he’s giving him the ax!).

Jimmy departs, giving Linda a heartfelt handshake, and hoping they’ll meet again someday.  Linda, for her part, thinks “I’d kiss Jimmy good-bye, except it might stir his memory of the Wolf-man episode once more, and give away my secret!”


I know – this story is rife with holes – I mean the idea of a 20-year old being assigned to an orphanage, let alone being adopted, may seem rather silly.  But in the context of Jimmy Olsen stories of this era, silly is a relative term, to say the least Wink.   I’ll even overlook the inconsistency of Supergirl’s behavior with her previous appearance, when she was more than ready to disclose her secret to Jimmy.  I kind of liked the way they tied in the earlier Wolf-man encounter, too.  And Linda’s parting thoughts continue the tantalizing prospect of a budding romance.

Well – enough babbling for now…

Next up: “Who was that alien I saw you with last night?”
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