The next trade on “the shelf” makes a departure from the plethora of Green Lantern and Flash stories I’ve been reading, focusing instead on the Superman universe, specifically Superman’s friend and Clark Kent’s Daily Planet co-worker, Jimmy Olsen. In this trade, a number of stories about Jimmy Olsen are collected, focusing on the various shenanigans Jimmy gets into upon being spontaneously transformed in some way.
My posts generally take an analytical approach, noting themes and motifs that are telling of the time period the stories were written in, or addressing how the storylines in question affect the overall universe in which they exist.
This post will be a little different, because there are just way too many crazy scenes in this trade to discuss and laugh at.
The stories compiled in this collection are random to say the least. Each is a fairly self-contained tale with the same basic plotline: Jimmy Olsen goes through some sort of physical transformation, antics ensue, usually he runs away to join the circus as some point, eventually he’s returned to normal, and all is well.
This entire collection could have been prevented had Jimmy used just a little common sense. For example, in on issue Superman brings a box of ancient artifacts to The Daily Planet for cataloging:
Based on the very nature of these stories, this doesn’t bode well for Jimmy. I assumed one of the bottles would accidentally spill and its contents would get on him somehow, causing some sort of transformation.
Nope, instead Jimmy thinks it’s a brilliant idea to drink whatever’s in one of the bottles, just to prove it won’t have any affect on him:
Seriously, given Jimmy’s complete lack of self-preservational instinct, it’s amazing he’s still standing.
I will concede that I can see the appeal to these types of stories. They’re funny and they’re certainly visually entertaining.
How often do you see a guy lighting another man’s cigar with his fire-breathing powers? That’s not something I’ve come across before, even in reading comics. For their originality, I give the stories a 10.
For their humor, I’d rate them even higher. This trade has some of the weirdest lines I’ve come across by far. A few of my favorites:
There is so much going on in that one picture that I can’t even comprehend it. Why is Jimmy a giant crazed turtle-man? Why is he literally stuffing submarines into the mouth of an active volcano? Why are these even questions that have to be asked when reading a comic book??
On the plus side, usually Superman’s speech bubbles are filled with random jibber jabber meant to inform the reader of what’s going on in the scene. In this instance though, he’s posing some pretty valid questions.
Just to prove that the above wasn’t an isolated incident in this trade, I present exhibit B:
Who wrote this and what were they smoking?
I will say, it was fun to see progression within the Superman universe. There were a number of references to characters and events (that I assume occurred in Action Comics and Superman) that luckily I was previously familiar with. We see the introduction of Supergirl, the bottle city of Kandor, and even the world of Bizarro. I was happy to see that the Superman stories had evolved beyond the typical “Superman captures a bank robber” trope.
Perhaps the strangest occurrence in this trade was when Superman and Jimmy Olsen journey into the bottle city of Kandor and within the story it is revealed that the two characters sometimes moonlight as Batman and Robin-esque characters:
There wasn’t enough backstory given to explain why Superman and Jimmy serve as masked superheroes in Kandor, but my curiosity is piqued. I’d be curious to go find older issues of comics and read up on the origins of Nightwing and Flamebird.
Overall this trade was an odd mix of stories, all with a unifying theme but all uniquely absurd in their own way. Although I’m not sure how these issues will tie into the DC multiverse as a whole, I’m sure they will in some weird way.
When they do, I’m secretly hoping giant mindless turtles stuffing subs into volcanoes plays into the story in some way.