August 1, 2021

Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Jimmy Olsen #138

Jimmy Olsen #138

Cover date: June 1971

"The Big Boom!!"

Writer/Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Vince Colletta
Superman, Perry and Jimmy Heads: Murphy Anderson
Cover Artist: Jack Kirby and Neal Adams

Reviewed by: Charlie Niemeyer

Click to enlarge



There are only 15 minutes left before the atomic power plant that powers The Project detonates. The Guardian, the adult Newsboys and hundreds of Project Security troops form a convoy and head out to the atomic plant, since the Terror is somehow jamming radio transmissions between there and rest of the Project.

Meanwhile, Superman, Jimmy and the "junior" Newsboys are still trying to figure out how to break out of the shell that the Terror trapped them in. It absorbs Superman's blows, so the Newsboys try to push their way out. Unfortunately, this plan backfires and causes them to get thrown back when the shell recoils like a rubber band.

At the Atomic Power Plant, the Terror finds that it can't get through the thick lead wall on the outside, so it just burrows underneath. Back at the shell, Superman and crew realize that the Terror was able to harden the shell using its body electricity. Superman simulates this by rubbing his hands together at super-speed, causing enough static electricity to harden the shell so he can break out. With only 7 minutes left, Superman flies at super-speed to the Atomic Power Plant.

At the GBS building, Perry meets with Terry Dean and we basically learn that he has no idea where Jimmy is and is not a fan of Morgan Edge. At the Evil Factory, Simyan and Mokkari send the rest of the hatched Terrors to the Project. Again, at the WGBS building, Edge receives a message informing him of the imminent atomic explosion and learns that Darkseid has a helicopter waiting on the WGBS roof for him to escape in. We see him leave the building with a big smile on his face, knowing that all of the employees he talks to on the way out are just a few minutes from death.

Back at the Power Plant, Superman makes his way inside to see that the Terror is already there. He attacks the DNAlien, but is merely thrown back. The Terror then removes the dampening rods from the reactor and throws them at our hero, which shatter on his steel hard body. This, of course, causes the reactor to begin running wild. With only one minute left, Superman knocks the Terror away from the reactor, just as the other Terrors arrive, followed closely behind by Guardian and the security troops.

Suddenly, Superman has an idea. Remembering the test tunnels being used to set tapping into the power of Earth's core, Superman has the troops keep the Terrors busy while he disconnects the reactor. Then, telling the troops to stand down, Superman runs off with the reactor with the Terrors following close behind. When he reaches his destination, he tosses the reactor down into the tunnel. The Terrors blindly follow the reactor into the tunnel just as the reactor explodes.

The story ends with Jimmy and the "junior" Newsboys sulking because they were kept out of the action.

4Story - 4: Well, I don't think I did a very good job of conveying the intensity of the issue, but Kirby did a great job of keeping you on the edge of your seat. The constant reminders of how much time is left before the explosion, the intensity continues to build as it looks like there is no way to save the day.

I do have a couple of gripes though. For one thing, the scene in Perry White's office serves no purpose but to allow Kirby to draw Perry White (more on that in the art section) and somewhat hurts the narrative by bringing the exciting story to a halt (like taking a pause in the first Luke/Vader lightsaber battle to cut away to Luke's uncle's farm on Tattooine to show that the burnt skeletons are still there). Also, how is it that Superman can catch bullets flying at him from a machine gun (you know, when he wants to), but he cannot prevent 4 dampening rods from smashing into his chest. He just stands there. And, of course, there is basically one of my favorite "classic comics moment," where Superman is not only able to simply pick up and carry an atomic reactor around without it falling apart, but the Project's pathways are also large enough for him to run around with it to the "I just remembered the thing that has never been mentioned before but is basically the only way to save the day" test tunnels. Also, the cool thing about the explosion is that none of the force of the explosion comes back up into the Project, presumably due to the large number of Terrors blocking the blast. Good thing the giant explosion didn't cause a large enough earthquake to cause any substantial damage or cause the city to sink into the ground. Whew!

5Art - 5: The art was great this issue. The energy of Kirby's pencils added to the frantic pace of the story. Again, we have a page where Kirby uses his experimental photo-art to add more dimension to the image. I just wish the print quality was better back in 1971, so that we could see it better.

Also, I've decided that I shouldn't knock the art for having Anderson ink some of the faces, even if it doesn't blend in at all. This time, we have the added attraction of having all of the Perry White heads inked by Anderson as well, so if that scene in Perry's office was, indeed, so that Kirby could draw our favorite editor, then Anderson made it an even more pointless scene. White does look good though. Also, Anderson only inks Jimmy's head on the last page, but not anywhere else.

3Cover Art - 3: Yes, we have Kirby pencils with Adams inks, and what is there is great. But there isn't much there. There is white border over more than half of the cover, the background that is there is photo-art, the only "drawn" parts are Superman and Jimmy's head. Also, the words on the cover are threatening to squeeze what little art is there off the cover. Great depiction of Superman though. And he's interacting with the photo-art, so props there.


Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews

1938-1949

1950-1959

  • 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”

1960-1969

1970-1979

1980-1986

Compilation Volumes

Miscellaneous

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