Monday, February 10, 2014


For the week leading up to Valentine's Day, Your Humble Editor will be presenting a selection of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's romantic gal pals. Today, we meet ...

Sight, smell, a sense of shame or proportion...

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen No.21 (June 1957) – The Wedding of Jimmy Olsen
No less a school of philosophy than that which produced The Spin Doctors once held forth that the romantic pitfalls inherent in being Superman’s closest pal must be manifold and profound. Take, for instance, Jimmy’s terrible dread the day he comes to (mistakenly) realize that Lois Lane, Superman’s inamorata, has fallen for the speckled youth.

Or so it seems, actually, as one of the multitude of overheard, misunderstood conversations which propelled the vast majority of Superman’s buddies’ Silver Age adventures leads Jimmy to think that his steel-bending, locomotive-racing pal’s broad has taken a liking to him. Lois is, in fact, collecting quotes about Jimmy Olsen – and then reading them aloud, because I think this was before television was invented and it gave her something to pass the time with – for an article celebrating his skills as a reporter. Ironically.

In order to spare both the feelings of Lois and his broken-hearted buddy, Jimmy proceeds to embark on a bunch of schemes designed to make him look like a cad – that’s his word, “cad”, I didn’t coin it, I just think he comes off like a dick – such as leaving Lois to die in a helicopter crash. “This’ll let her down easy” he thinks, as the burning helicopter fuel ignites her fatty midsection, causing her charred corpse to leap about as if seized by terror. “I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

Jimmy gets SO into driving Lois away that he ultimately proposes to her, which signifies the part of the Silver Age mating ritual where it’s Lois’ turn to act like a moron and accept, for fear of hurting Jimmy’s feelings. The people of Metropolis are really dedicated to avoiding conflict. Were they all raised in dysfunctional households? Did mommy drink?

In the end, Lois and Superman arrange schemes to allow Lois to pretend to be angry enough to actually break off the pretend engagement she actually agreed to, and Jimmy wanders off content never thinking that Superman’s x-ray vision has given him cancer in retaliation for trying to snag his chick, which is what I assume happened.

"And then perhaps I might belittle you for
how poorly you helped me?"
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen No.36 (April 1959) – Lois Lane’s Sister 
To understand Jimmy Olsen – and the many romances of Jimmy Olsen – you have to understand Lucy Lane.

Ostensibly Jimmy’s one-true-love and recurring inamorata, Lucy Lane is less what you might call “girlfriend material” and what you might call “fissionable material”. Although sharing much in common with humanity – limbs, respiration, forward-positioned eyes allowing for binocular vision, most of the liquids frequently found in the human body, teeth – she’s actually a spite machine which generates fourteen thousand fickle actions an hour. Science should be proud.

To be fair to Lucy, Jimmy is never not at least partially to blame for their constant fights, break-ups, conditional reconciliations and occasional usurpations. On the other hand, Lucy Lane is the living worst. She’s Jimmy’s Brainiac.

Introduced in this issue as Lois Lane’s younger and very pretty sister, Jimmy falls for Lucy immediately when she disembarks at Metropolis airport, and within two pages has blown his week’s salary to impress her, suffered a few yawn-launched barbs, and arranged a date only to be immediately shuffled to the back of Lucy’s to-do list in favor of some possible throwdowns with famous rodeo stars. (We know this because Superman spies on Lucy while she sleeps. What the living fuck, Superman?)

Lucy and Jimmy are a terrible match, if only because Jimmy fell head-over-heels instantly and Lucy is still clearly playing the field. THEY WANT DIFFERENT THINGS! Jimmy wants a glamorous wife and Lucy wants Jimmy to be slowly eaten by ants. In this first appearance, she’s already prepared to throw Jimmy over for (in this issue alone, in order) any one of a plane full of cowboy celebrities, any one of a number of famous inventors and A ROBOT.

A thousand leering cowpokes.
I know, rewind that part, right? Lucy is so impressed with a “human robot” (actually Jimmy in a tin tuxedo) which she meets on the plane that she offers to take IT out on Saturday night. She’s a legit freak, she’ll date anything she can hector and belittle.

But seriously, think about the plan which Jimmy has unlatched; disguised as a robot, he’s going to make a date with the girl he likes, then when date night rolls around he, as the robot, will stand her up allowing Jimmy, not as a robot, to step right in and take his place. THE PLAN IS LUCY LANE WILL BE STOOD UP BY A ROBOT. I take it back, Jimmy deserves her.

SPECIAL NERD BONUS: The inventor with which Lucy flirts on the plane and which Jimmy manages to robo-cockblock in his molybdenum monkey suit is, according to an introductory word balloon, named “Genius Jones” – which was the name of a preteen super-genius who used to populate the landscape of National Periodical Publications back in the Forties. Some Silver Age revamp, eh? Green Lantern becomes a sleek space cop, Atom becomes a shrinking scientist, and when the Earth-1 Genius Jones makes his debut, he’s the guy who can’t pull when a total nerd is fuckin’ around inside a cardboard robot costume.

Second-degree slut-shaming, involves breaking and entering.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen No.51 (March 1961) – The Girl With The Green Hair
Jimmy’s hard up enough for a date with Lucy Lane - the worst human being known to medical science since the inventor of the wet handshake launched a charity dedicated to giving syphilis to war orphans - that he actually greets her at her disembarking plane on the tarmac to breathlessly remind her of their scheduled date. There was a time when you could do that, you could just desperately lurk at planeside in front of God and everybody, no ticket or identification or nothin’, just gadding about by the landing gear and futzing around with the fuel line and begging stewardesses not to forget you. Used to be people just camped on the runways for fun. Bring the whole family! Dad’s gonna grill and we can watch the jumbo jets blow Jimmy Olsen through a hangar. Also you used to disembark a plane via a stairwell which is insane, why not just dive into a mobile swimming pool or slalom down a mobile alp?

ANYWAY, Lucy can sense desperation and her spite-engines run on the power of unfiltered blueballing, so of course she’s managed to get picked up by self-absorbed pop star Ricky Avalon and is blowing off her date with Jimmy.

Enter, by way of a spaceship crashing to the streets of Metropolis,  Ka-Ra, The Girl With The Green Hair, an alien visitor to Earth who’s here on a one-week space-warp furlough and finds Jimmy absolutely fascinating. She’s so compelled by Superman’s Pal that she bogarts his time exclusively for the remainder of the week and, deprived of her bow-tied fuel source, joy-vampire Lucy Lane suddenly becomes interested in young Olsen again. This is a super-healthy relationship. They make a nice couple.

"Not to mention the way you sucked
the chrome right off that bumper!"
Of cuss, the super-powered young white girl cleverly calling herself Ka-Ra – just like a person who is smart at making up fake names might! – is, natch, Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin and his “secret weapon against crime”, Supergirl. Fun fact: Did you know that many law enforcement agencies use fourteen year old girls as secret weapons against crime? I mean, I don’t know if they still do, a lot of fourteen year old girls died in the line of duty. Ah well, progress.

Speaking of which, though, how old IS Supergirl, anyway? Since she ends up in an orphanage and almost every other kid in the ding-dang place is a baby (or so you would imagine from the nitwitted baby speak endemic to DC’s zwieback crowd), I’d always assumed she was awful young – fourteen, fifteen , maybe sixteen at the outside. Whatever the reality, she spends an inordinate amount of time wooing Jimmy with intimate flights around town, homecooked meals (scratch that – spaceship cooked meals) and generally billing and cooing her way up to a marriage proposal, which is why I got wondering about the age thing. But I get enough hate mail about that Sue Storm/Reed Richards article, so never mind.

What drives Supergirl to these undercover shenanigans? Well, she’d been spying on Jimmy with her X-Ray vision and noticed Lucy Lane being horrible to him, so she decided to become green-haired “Ka-Ra” in order to spark Lucy’s jealousy and strengthen her love for Jimmy. Haha, silly girl, Lucy Lane doesn’t feel the emotion you humans call love, only contempt – and trying to change her only makes her stronger!

The entire Superman Family seems to get their rocks off spying on Jimmy Olsen with their X-Ray vision. Superman did it every time he flew by Jimmy’s apartment, Supergirl’s doing it here, I recall even Krypto one time doing it. What the fuck, Superman Family, what are you up to? Imagine if they all did this, everyone in Kandor all at once spying on Jimmy, like some sort of reverse Truman Show. How about Steel spying on Jimmy – just hovering outside Jimmy’s apartment on his bootjets, using science to peer through the walls, watching him dress. Just picture that.

Weird fact about this story – did you know the role of Ka-Ra was played by a young Dean Stockwell?

This lasts about a second.

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