Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Jimmy Olsen #40Cover date: October 1959
"Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal"
[reprinted in Action #343 - Nov. 1966]
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: John Forte
Editor: Mort Weisinger
Reviewed by: Osgood Peabody
As the splash-page caption notes, "readers of Action Comics know, Supergirl has recently come to Earth possessing all the super-powers of her cousin Superman! For certain reasons, the very existence of the Girl of Steel is being kept secret from the world! But one day, Supergirl decides to reveal herself to Superman's trusted pal, Jimmy Olsen!"
We begin with Jimmy reviewing "Colonel Colby's Show of Wonders" for the Daily Planet. At the circus sideshow, Jimmy watches the Colonel (who could double for chicken entrepreneur Colonel Sanders!) introduce Thora, the world's strongest girl. But as the young girl lifts a one-ton weight, our intrepid reporter makes the astute observation that the Colonel's show might not be on the up-and-up. When the final act, a stone age caveman frozen in a block of ice, is unveiled, Jimmy has seen enough. He brazenly accosts the huckster and tells him he'll expose his sham of a show in the next issue of the Daily Planet. Colby threatens the reporter that "he'll be sorry", but Jimmy returns home to type his expose.
As Jimmy puts the finishing touches on his article, he suddenly gets paranoid that Colby will break into his apartment to make good on his threat. While trying to rig a tear-gas trap, he accidently drops the canister, temporarily blinding himself in the process. Meanwhile, the Colonel has trailed Olsen to his home. Jimmy opens his window to air out his place, and Colby listens in as the young reporter calls in to Perry White that he's been blinded, but that he'll hail a cab to deliver his story (gotta admire his dedication, that Jimmy!) Consequently, as Jimmy staggers into the street to hail a cab, the Colonel's all too obliging to direct him to his own car (while disguising his voice, naturally) and spirit away with our freckled friend.
Once out of town, Colby reveals himself, and menacingly tells Olsen he's taking him for a "ride". So Jimmy immediately punches the old signal-watch to summon his pal, 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 Supergirl! As the con-man pushes Jimmy from a bridge (not being one to beat around the bush, Mr. Colby), Jimmy loses consciousness as his head bangs against a girder (*ouch*) but Supergirl swoops to his rescue, unseen by Colby.
After Jimmy revives, he tells his unknown rescuer his story, and, in turn, she 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 his reputation and prevent him from running his story. After all, who'd believe such a cockamamie tale about a chunk of Krypton surviving, a lead shield to protect the city from its Kryptonite base, a meteor storm destroying the shield, (well come to think of it, maybe Jimmy has a point, huh?) ;)
However, the Maid of Steel is determined to win Jimmy's trust "I must get Jimmy to believe I have super-powers or he won't signal me later to protect his life!" But, in an ironic twist on the classic Superman story "The Girl Who Didn't Believe in Superman", she finds that convincing a blind person of the existence of a super-being is not so easy. She begins by examining the reporter's pocket via x-ray vision, and telling him he's got exactly 75 cents. But Jimmy easily rebuts this, as he exclaims, "you must be Thora, that 'strong girl' who works for Colby! You simply saw me get change of a dollar at the sideshow when I bought my ticket!" Next, Supergirl tries to demonstrate her super-strength as Jimmy holds onto a huge tree trunk while she slices through it, but once again, Jimmy's not buying it. He's still convinced it's a set up, and that Colby and Thora had the tree sawed through in advance.
Even as she carries him through the air in mid-flight, Olsen stubbornly insists the rush of air he feels is being produced by a wind machine! The Girl of Steel even takes the trouble of flying him to the Sahara Desert (!) and the North Pole (!), but even then our intrepid reporter is convinced that the extreme heat and cold is generated by heat lamps (!!) and a butcher's refrigerator (!!). Jimmy next comes up with his own idea, as he pulls out a transistor radio, and listening to the Metropolis Rodeo Show, challenges the supposed Girl from Krypton to tell him what act is on at that moment. But when she comes up with the right answer, Jimmy attributes it this time to an "ear-trumpet" she's using to overhear his radio!
Supergirl next flies off and retrieves a pair of scissors, and let's Jimmy try to cut her hair. Surely, he won't be able to deny this proof of her invulnerability? And sure enough, at first Jimmy appears to be dumbfounded. However, Supergirl overhears trouble at the aforementioned rodeo, as Jimmy has left his radio on, and the Girl of Steel observes via telescopic vision one of the cow-punchers being dragged by an ornery bull. Inexplicably, she decides the best course of action would be to hurl the scissors she's holding long-distance to sever the rope(!!). Naturally, Jimmy then becomes suspicious when he asks to examine the scissors, and Supergirl is too flustered to respond.
Finally, after getting completely exasperated, the Maid of Steel is relieved to see Superman tunneling up from the earth's core after completing his mission, and with a discreet puff of super-breath, re-activates Jimmy's signal-watch. Superman bursts out of the ground just as Supergirl jets away, and Superman & Jimmy promptly round up Colby, who Superman unmasks and reveals to be "Big Con" Colby, a career con artist wanted for murder. Days later, with his sight back, Jimmy jokes with his pal, "Can you imagine Colby trying to hoodwink me with that ridiculous Supergirl hoax?" Supergirl looks on via telescopic vision from Midvale, and notes to her chagrin, that "as far as Jimmy's concerned, I guess I don't er... exist".
Story - 4: 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 Comics #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!
Art - 4: In my eyes, Curt Swan & John Forte drew a beautiful Supergirl, and one who looked like a rather mature and engaging young woman. I'd like to think that this was done deliberately to make her more of a match for young Olsen than the wide-eyed innocent version being drawn by Jim Mooney in her regular feature in Action Comics, but perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.
Cover Art - 4: This tale wasn't cover-featured, being buried in the "middle 8", usually reserved for a filler story - but it was granted a top-side blurb on the cover that reads "Extra! Jimmy Olsen teams up with Supergirl!" The cover features a nice Curt Swan & Stan Kaye rendering of "The Invisible Life of Jimmy Olsen".
So Supergirl's integration into the Silver Age "Superman family" began in the unlikely pages of Jimmy Olsen, and at least initially, it was her most frequent guest-stop. In fact, we soon find that she develops a bit of a fascination with our red-headed reporter! Could her closing remarks in this story really be interpreted as a forlorn lament?
I've made it a habit of exploring what has come to be known as "Silver Age" Superman, or more specifically, the heyday of editor Mort Weisinger's tenure on the Superman books. In that exploration, I've found some of the more intriguing and amusing stories to be those involving the Man of Steel's supporting cast.
Take, for example, Jimmy Olsen & Supergirl - you'd think adventures pairing Superman's pal and his cousin would be infrequent, but over a span of just 2 years (1959-61) they shared 4 memorable tales, as well as a couple of, shall we say, strange interludes.
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 while the reader is in on it from the beginning, poor Jimmy is always out of the loop.
I also get the sense that during this period, as Weisinger was still forging the elements that would come to define Superman's Silver Age greatness, that he was experimenting a bit with the relationship between these 2 characters and maybe not sure himself where he would take it.
Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews
- Action Comics #1 (June 1938)
- Action Comics #2 (July 1938)
- Action Comics #3 (August 1938)
- Action Comics #4 (September 1938)
- Action Comics #5 (October 1938)
- Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
- Action Comics #7 (December 1938)
- Superman Archives: Volume 1 (1939)
- Superman #1 (Summer 1939)
- Action Comics #8 (January 1939)
- Action Comics #9 (February 1939)
- Action Comics #10 (March 1939)
- Superman #13 (November/December 1941) - The Archer
- Superman #19 (November/December 1942) - Case of the Funny Paper Crimes
- Action Comics #60 (May 1943) - Lois Lane - Superwoman
- Superman #30 (September/October 1944) - The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk
- Action Comics #80 (January 1945) - Mr. Mxyztplk Returns
- Superman #38 (January/February 1946) - The Battle of the Atoms
- Superman #42 (September/October 1946) - The Death of Clark Kent
- Superman #45 (March/April 1947) - Lois Lane, Superwoman
- Superman #53 (July 1948) - The Origin of Superman
- Action Comics #124 (September 1948) - A Superman of Doom
- Superman #60 (December 1949/January 1950) - The Two Identities of Superman & Superman Fights the Super-Brain
- 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
- Superman #134 (January 1960) - The Super-Menace of Metropolis
- Jimmy Olsen #42 (January 1960) - The Big Superman Movie!, Perry White, Cub Reporter!, and Jimmy the Genie!
- Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960) - The Wolf-Man of Metropolis
- Adventure Comics #271 (April 1960) - How Luthor Met Superboy
- Jimmy Olsen #46 (July 1960) - Jimmy Olsen, Orphan
- Superman #141 (November 1960) - Superman's Return To Krypton
- Superboy #85 (December 1960) - The Impossible Mission
- Jimmy Olsen #51 (March 1961) - The Girl with Green Hair
- Jimmy Olsen #52 (April 1961) - Jimmy Olsen, Wolf-Man
- Superboy #89 (June 1961) - Superboy's Big Brother!
- Action Comics #279 (August 1961) - The Super-Rivals
- Superman #147 (August 1961) - The Legion of Super Villains
- Superman #149 (November 1961) - The Death of Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #57 (December 1961) - Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl
- Superman #155 (August 1962) - Superman Under the Green Sun and The Downfall of Superman
- Justice League of America #13 (August 1962) - Riddle of the Robot Justice League
- World's Finest #129 (November 1962) - Joker-Luthor, Incorporated
- Superman #158 (January 1963) - Superman in Kandor
- Superman #160 (April 1963) - The Mortal Superman
- Superman #161 (May 1963) - The Last Days of Ma and Pa Kent
- Superman #162 (July 1963) - The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue
- Superman #163 (August 1963) - Wonder-Man, the New Hero of Metropolis and The Goofy Superman
- Justice League of America #21 & #22 (August/September 1963) - Crisis on Earth-One! and Crisis on Earth-Two!
- Superman #164 (October 1963) - The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman
- Superman #165 (November 1963) - The Sweetheart Superman Forgot
- Superman #166 (January 1964) - The Fantastic Story of Superman's Sons
- Superman #167 (February 1964) - The Team of Luthor and Brainiac
- Superman #168 (April 1964) - Luthor - Super Hero and Lex Luthor, Daily Planet Editor
- Superman #169 (May 1964) - The Man Who Stole Superman's Secret Life
- Action Comics #314 (July 1964) - The Day Superman Became The Flash
- Justice League of America #29 & #30 (August/September 1964) - Crisis on Earth-Three! and The Most Dangerous Earth of All!
- Superman #173 (November 1964) - The Triumph of Luthor and Brainiac
- Action Comics #318 (November 1964) - The Death of Luthor
- Action Comics #319 (December 1964) - The Condemned Superman
- Superman #175 (February 1965) - Clark Kent's Brother
- Superman #181 (November 1965) - The Superman of 2965
- The Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives Volume 4 (1965)
- Superman #184 (February 1966) - The Demon Under the Red Sun
- Action Comics #338 (June 1966) - Muto - Monarch of Menace
- Action Comics #339 (July 1966) - Muto versus The Man of Tomorrow
- Superman #189 (August 1966) - Krypton Lives Again
- Action Comics #346 (February 1967) - The Man Who Sold Insurance to Superman and The Case of the Superman Imposter
- Superman #194 (February 1967) - The Death of Lois Lane
- Superman #196 (May 1967) - The Star of Steel
- Superman #199 (January 1967) - Superman's Race With The Flash
- Superman #200 (October 1967) - Super-Brother Against Super-Brother
- The Flash #175 (December 1967) - Race to the End of the Universe
- Justice League of America #63 (June 1968) - Time Signs a Death Warrant for the Justice League
- Superman #211 (November 1968) - The Name of the Game is Superman!
- Superman #215 (April 1969) - Lois LaneŠ DeadŠ Yet Alive
- Superman #224 (February 1970) - Beware the Super-Genius Baby
- Action Comics #393 (October 1970) - Superman Meets Super-Houdini! and The Day Superboy Became Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970) - The Newsboy Legion
- Action Comics #394 (November 1970) - Midas of Metropolis and Requiem for a Hot Rod!
- World's Finest #198 (November 1970) - Race to Save the Universe!
- Action Comics #395 (December 1970) - The Secrets of Superman's Fortress and The Credit Card of Catastrophe
- Jimmy Olsen #134 (December 1970) - The Mountain of Judgement!
- World's Finest #199 (December 1970) - A Race to Save Time!
- Superman #233 (January 1971) - Superman Breaks Loose!
- Jimmy Olsen #135 (January 1971) - The Evil Factory!
- Superman #234 (February 1971) - How to Tame a Wild Volcano
- Jimmy Olsen #136 (February 1971) - The Saga of the D.N.Aliens
- Superman #235 (March 1971) - The Sinister Scream of the Devil's Harp
- Superman #236 (April 1971) - Planet of the Angels and The Doomsayer
- Jimmy Olsen #137 (April 1971) - The Four-Armed Terror!
- Superman #237 (May 1971) - The Enemy of Earth
- Superman #238 (June 1971) - Menace at 1000 Degrees
- Jimmy Olsen #138 (June 1971) - The Big Boom!!
- Superman #240 (July 1971) - To Save a Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #139 (July 1971) - The Guardian Fights Again!!!
- Superman #241 (August 1971) - The Shape of Fear
- Superman #242 (September 1971) - The Ultimate Battle
- Jimmy Olsen #141 (September 1971) - Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?!?
- Jimmy Olsen #142 (October 1971) - The Man from Transilvane!
- Jimmy Olsen #143 (November 1971) - Genocide Spray
- Jimmy Olsen #144 (December 1971) - A Big Thing in a Deep Scottish Lake!
- Superman #247 (January 1972) - Must There Be A Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #145 (January 1972) - Brigadoom!
- Jimmy Olsen #146 (February 1972) - Homo-Disastrous!
- Jimmy Olsen #147 (March 1972) - A Superman in Super-Town!
- Jimmy Olsen #148 (April 1972) - Monarch of All He Subdues!
- Superman #292 (October 1975) - The Luthor Nobody Knows!
- Action Comics #458 (April 1976) - Make Me a Super-Hero! and Masquerade of the Nutty Kid!
- Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (Spring 1978)
- Action Comics #484 (June 1978) - Superman Takes a Wife!
- Superman #328 (October 1978) - Attack of the Kryptonoid
- Action Comics #489 (November 1978) - Krypton Dies Again and Where There's a Will... There's a Fray
- Superman #329 (November 1978) - I Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Me! and The Secret of the Talking Car
- Superman #330 (December 1978) - The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis!
- Action Comics #490 (December 1978) - No Tomorrow For Superman
- Action Comics #491 (January 1979) - A Matter of Light and Death
- Superman #331 (January 1979) - Lockup at 20,000 Feet
- Action Comics #492 (February 1979) - Superman's Secret Afterlife
- Superman #332 (February 1979) - The Eternity Cage
- Action Comics #493 (March 1979) - The Metropolis UFO Connection
- Action Comics #494 (April 1979) - The Secret of the Super S
- Action Comics #495 (May 1979) - Attack of the Ultimate Warrior
- DC Comics Presents #14 (October 1979) - Judge, Jury... and No Justice!
- The Superman Story (1979) - The Life Story of Superman
- DC Comics Presents #57 (May 1983) - Days of Future Past
- DC Comics Presents #67 (March 1984) - 'Twas the Fright Before Christmas
- DC Comics Presents Annual #3 (1984) - With One Magic Word
- Superman: The Secret Years #1 (February 1985) - Dreams and Schemes and Feeling Proud!
- Superman: The Secret Years #2 (March 1985) - Reach Out and Touch
- Superman: The Secret Years #3 (April 1985) - Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #80 (April 1985) - A World Full of Supermen!
- Superman: The Secret Years #4 (May 1985) - Beyond Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #85 (September 1985) - The Jungle Line
- Superman Annual #11 (1985) - For The Man Who Has Everything
- World's Finest #323 (January 1986) - Afraid of the Dark
- DC Comics Presents #97 (September 1986) - Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter
- Superman #423 & Action Comics #583 (September 1986) - Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?
- Showcase Presents: Superman Family - Volume 1 (October 2005)
- Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons (December 2007)
- Not Brand ECHH #7 (April 1967) - The Origin of Stuporman
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