Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #75

After a deluge of publicity for the Superman titles in the days surrounding NYCC, news about those books has dried up a bit. And as this is a 5 Wednesday month, my usual reviews have been spread out a bit.

As a result, I have been going to the back issue box a bit more than usual. That means a lot of Silver Age wackiness has been reviewed here. And the train isn't slowing down. There is a Halloween review on track for tomorrow.

I recently looked at Supergirl quitting the news business as a reflection of Clark quitting the Daily Planet. Now I thought I would review sort of the opposite situation, the time Supergirl joined the Daily Planet.

"When Supergirl Replaced Jimmy Olsen!" was written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel and drawn by Curt Swan. That is some serious comic history joining up to write this story. As was typical of the Jimmy Olsen book, the Supergirl/Jimmy Olsen story is only one of three in the book.

I have to say the story isn't reflected on the cover which hints at a sort of romance story. I think the Linda/Jimmy romance was always only hinted at in a vague way.

As happened more often in the Silver Age than you might expect, red Kryptonite plays a big part in the story.

In the far future, Supergirl is helping Superman equip the Fortress of Solitude with a future alarm system. Unfortunately, she comes out of the time stream right next to a massive chunk of Red K.

Realizing that Red K might make anything happen, Supergirl decides to return back to the present.

So two important things required for this story to progress has happened in the earliest panels. One, Supergirl is affected by Red K. And Superman is not in the picture. He can't help in the present.

Now who knows what zaniness might happen!

As she zips to the present, Supergirl peeks through the time stream and sees that in 2 days from her 'present' Jimmy Olsen dies in a Daily Planet helicopter crash.

Despite learning time after time that history cannot be changed, Supergirl decides she needs to warn Jimmy. If he never gets in that helicopter, he won't die.

However, when she walks up to Jimmy and warns him, she realizes she has lost her powers. The Red K has taken them away. And Jimmy thinks that this person warning him about his death isn't Supergirl but a 'crazy girl' in a suit. He ignores her warning.

And then, to make things even goofier, the Red K has a different wrinkle. She has no powers when in her Supergirl costume. But she does have her powers when dressed as Linda.

So now she has to be extra careful with her powers so as not to reveal her secret identity.

Now that is too fantastic! Classic Silver Age!

One thing I love about the Silver Age is that the characters simply roll with the craziness and often devise even crazier schemes to remedy the problem.

If Jimmy dies in a Daily Planet helicopter crash then the best way to save him is to get him fired as Planet employee.

Really? That's the best plan?

Maybe you can take him out of the city in 2 days? Or move at superspeed to catch the helicopter? Maybe pull the fire alarm in the Planet before the crash?

And so the conniving and devious Linda Danvers gets to work.

She gets hired by the Planet. And then she gets to work sabotaging Jimmy.

Linda throws herself into Jimmy's arms because she is 'afraid' of a toy mouse and then kisses him for 'protecting' her. Lucy thinks he is two-timing her and so dumps him. And this broken hearted Jimmy begins writing drivel, whining about his lost love.

Check out the evil smirk on Linda's face. But this lousy writing doesn't get Jimmy fired.

Figuring that Jimmy earned too much respect at the Planet to get easily fired, Linda decides to go a different route. If Jimmy can fly on his own, why would he ever get into a helicopter.

So she plants a "real flying carpet" at Jimmy's feet. And with a little Linda assist, the carpet does follow his commands and flies him around.

So flying under a carpet in her Linda guise somehow doesn't endanger her secret identity? And I think this might be a more bizarre plan than getting Jimmy fired.

Unfortunately, Jimmy brags about the carpet to Perry White and White, being a solid newsman, wants proof. Perry wants Linda there as well so she can see how real news is made.

Since Linda can't carry the carpet, it won't fly.

In a strange twist, it actually helps Linda achieve her goal. Perry is irate that Jimmy would lie to him and fires him on the spot.

If Jimmy isn't a Planet employee, he can't get into the copter. He is safe.

And yet, while listening to the radio, Linda hears that Jimmy has died in a helicopter crash.

When she goes to investigate, both she and a very much alive Jimmy discover that a lookalike thief tried to rob the Planet and frame Jimmy. When he couldn't get the flying carpet to work, he got into a broken helicopter and crashed it.

So Linda's vision did indeed come true. She just didn't understand the details. This was an imposter.

Perry happens by and re-hires Jimmy on the spot even giving him a ten dollar raise!!!

With Jimmy safe and the effects of the Red K worn off, Linda quits the Planet and heads home.

And Jimmy, he basks in the adoration of Lucy Lane.

So I guess Linda has quit the Planet too!

I don't have much to say here. It is a great example of what the Silver Age was all about and you either love it or hate it. I love the Swan art here, clean and crisp. Supergirl appearances in the Jimmy Olsen book are pretty rare, numbering (I think) three. I think Supergirl interacting with the greater Superman supporting cast is always a good thing. So while I would say this is of low importance to a Supergirl collection, I am thrilled to have it in my collection. For some reasons, I don't see these issues too often, so if you see it and are interested you should buy it. Because who know if you will see it again.

Overall grade: B+


Gene said...

This story was collected in color in the Superman: Daily Planet trade paperback in 2006.

I agree with you Anj that Curt Swan drew Kara very well. But the important element of this story to me is that her heart is always in the right place. I also like how the issue shows her laboratory to showcase her super-intelligence.

Anonymous said...

One of the enduring gifts of the silver age is any time any where when Curt Swan draws Supergirl...she always looks well put together and decidedly grown-up.
And even though this story is perishingly convoluted, it points out Supergirl's enduring powers of empathy, she cared she was prepared to go to great lengths to preserve the lives and dignity of her friends and colleagues...even a comedy relief scapgrace like Jimmy Olson.


Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

You are both right ... Swan drew a great Supergirl.

And Supergirl's heart is always in the right place. She is always trying to help and always learning.