Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Jimmy Olsen #137

Jimmy Olsen #137

Cover date: April 1971

"The Four-Armed Terror!"

Writer/Artist: Jack Kirby
Superman and Jimmy Heads: Murphy Anderson
Cover Artist: Jack Kirby and Neal Adams

Reviewed by: Charlie Niemeyer

Click to enlarge

We begin our tale with a large yellow creature with four arms and red eyes (this would be the 4-Armed Terror, henceforth known as the Terror) ripping its way through the wild area to find food, when it comes upon two members of the Outsiders, Yango and Gandy. They give a valliant effort, but are soundly defeated. So they retreat to Habitat to warn the other Outsiders.

Meanwhile, back at Project Cadmus, Jimmy, Superman, the Newsboys and the Hairies try out the Hairies' latest invention, the Solar-Phone, which "gathers in the radio-signals from the stars and coverts them into mental musical images!" Their fun is abruptly stopped by tremors that rock the entire Project. Superman tells everyone to stay put while he goes to be briefed by security. The Newsboys, however, decide that they want to go too, so they elect Jimmy as their new leader.

While the Newsboys wait for Jimmy to decide if they should go with Superman or stay behind, we learn that the source of the tremors is the Terror, who has been boring its way underground to the Project's Central Atomic Pile. Upon its arrival, the Terror rips out the power unit, causing an even greater blast that causes Habitat to begin to collapse. In all the confusion, Yango takes a leadership role and coordinates the evacuation of Habitat.

In the Zoomway, the Whiz Wagon catches up to Superman as he makes his way to deal with the Terror, so Superman pours on the speed with the intention of taking down the Terror quickly before Jimmy and the Newsboys can be in any danger. That plan immediately goes out the window though when he catches up to the Terror. With two arms holding the Man of Steel down, the Terror uses its other two hands to pummel Superman.

Superman is finally able to repel the Terror as Jimmy and the Newsboys show up and try to take it down with one of the Hairies' weapons. Unfortunately, it just upsets the Terror who traps all of our heroes in an energy net that eventually hardens into a shell around them. The Terror then throws the shell, injuring those inside. Then the Terror bores its way down to the main conduit to the giant atomic pile.

Back at the Evil Factory, Simyan and Mokkari gloat over what looks to be certain victory as the rest of the "eggs" in the incubation chamber begin hatching more Four-Armed Terrors.

To be continued...

3Story - 3: Wow. Parts of this story reminded me of the Doomsday story. A powerful, unstoppable monster making a beeline toward a single objective and bowling over anyone and anything that gets in his way. Oh, and Habitat is seemingly destroyed, or at least badly damaged.

This issue was pretty good, but it had a couple of problems going for it. First of all, Flippa-Dippa kept referring to himself in the third person. It's like he's feeling left out and doesn't want anyone to forget his name. Also, this is not Jimmy at his finest. After all these years of being Superman's pal, then pointing out that he's 21, he should not be allowing the Newsboys anywhere near the showdown with the Terror, especially after Superman tells everyone to stay put. The Hairies don't seem to have a problem listening to Superman. Beyond all that, I liked the story. I like how, after having Kryptonite taken away (see Superman #233), Kirby is actually creating villains that are a match for Superman, something that didn't happen too often in Pre-Crisis time.

4Art - 4: The first thing I want to do is give major props to Jerry Ordway and Dennis Janke. In the Post-Crisis debut of the Terror, Ordway and Janke perfectly emulated Kirby's take on the character. If I didn't know better, I'd swear the images of the Terror were lifted from this issue.

Back to the issue at hand. The opening splash page alone is worth the price of admission. I really did enjoy the art this issue, a major step up from last issue. Especially while everyone was experiencing the Solar-Phone. Kirby apparently used some photo manipulations in the background that look very psychedelic. As cool as it was, it really makes the hand-drawn art really stick out (like in Superman: The Movie after Lois dies and Superman takes off and is flying in the clouds. It is super obvious that it is his image pasted on the background).

I would also like to know what Murphy Anderson's guidelines were when inking the heads. Every time you can see Superman's face, it is an Anderson face. Literally, every time. But with Jimmy, sometimes it's Anderson's version and sometimes it's Kirby's version. Maybe there is another Jimmy clone with a face that looks like Kirby drew him, and Anderson is only inking the real Jimmy. I don't know.

5Cover Art - 5: This is a great cover. Adams' inks really enhance Kirby's pencils. Also, the look of the Terror isn't revealed, continuing the tease from the end of last issue. Of course he's revealed on the first page, but you'd have to pick up the book and open it up to see it, which means that the cover works.

Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews



  • Superman #76 (May/June 1952) - “The Mightiest Team in the World”
  • Superman #80 (January/February 1953) - “Superman's Lost Brother”
  • Superman 3D (1953) - “The Man Who Stole the Sun”, “Origin of Superman” and “The Man Who Bossed Superman”
  • Superman #87 (February 1954) - “The Prankster's Greatest Role”
  • Superman #88 (March 1954) - “The Terrible Trio”
  • Superman #89 (May 1954) - “Captain Kent the Terrible”, “Superman of Skid Row”, and “One Hour to Doom!”
  • Superman #91 (August 1954) - “The Superman Stamp” and “Great Caesar's Ghost”
  • World's Finest #88 (May/June 1957) - “Superman and Batman's Greatest Foes”
  • Superman #115 (August 1957) - “The Midget Superman!”
  • Superboy #65 (May/June 1958) - “The Amazing Adventures of Krypto Mouse”
  • Action Comics #242 (July 1958) - “The Super-Duel in Space”
  • Superman #123 (August 1958) - “The Girl of Steel”
  • Superman #127 (February 1959) - “Titano the Super Ape”
  • Action Comics #252 (May 1959) - “The Menace of Metallo” and “The Supergirl From Krypton”
  • Superman #129 (May 1959) - “The Girl in Superman's Past”
  • Superman #130 (July 1959) - “The Curse of Kryptonite!”, “The Super-Servant of Crime!”, and “The Town that Hated Superman!”
  • Jimmy Olsen #40 (October 1959) - “Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal”




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