Friday, 3 September 2010

Jimmy Olsen #160. Harpies Bizarre.

Jimmy Olsen #160 harpies and SupermanTo be honest, I don't know that much about Jimmy Olsen. I was never a regular reader of his mag, and the only two issues I ever had were given to me by my dad's then-girlfriend but, on the strength of this issue, Jimmy Olsen seems to be someone you'd happily punch in the mouth.

How much is anyone ever going to warm to a man who keeps telling everyone to call him Mr Action? "Hi, I'm Steve from Steve Does Comics but you can call me Mr Action." It's never going to get you more than funny looks and your head shoved down the nearest toilet.

This issue's first tale starts off like an episode of Scooby Doo, when Olsen shows up at a castle that, like all castles in American comics, has been imported stone-by-stone from England -- only to find it's haunted by harpies. Unlike Scooby Doo, the harpies are real and soon causing all kinds of trouble for Mr Action.

Happily, he soon sorts them out but then decides he's not worthy of being called Mr Action unless he helps them, and so has Superman fly their castle, intact, back to England where they can haunt it forever in peace. Clearly it's the rule in Jimmy Olsen tales that Superman has to show up at some point in order to justify the comic's title of Superman's Pal.

In our second tale, Mr Action - who we're told every hot chick on the planet digs - is being stalked by an old woman called Lena Lawrence who turns out to Lucy Lane after a particularly bothersome bout of native medicine. Lucy's delighted to be reunited with the man she adores but can Jimmy possibly love her now she's not fit any more? Highlight of the tale has to be a bizarre rally in which competitors die with alarming regularity, including one poor biker who somewhat hilariously rides his bike straight off the side of a cliff.

Both tales are appealingly drawn by the mighty Kurt Schaffenberger but you can't ignore the fact they're a bit bubblegum, the first in particular feeling like it could've been published a good ten years earlier. The second tale's stronger, having a mystery and a bit of internal emotional conflict at the heart of it but neither story can get round the unsympathetic nature of its star. In the second tale, Olsen even tries to rough up an old woman who's just saved his life. He might be Mr Action but no way would you ever label him Mr Social Skills.

6 comments:

cerebus660 said...

Jimmy was always a bit of a prat, wasn't he? The only issues of JO I ever bothered with were Jack Kirby's early 70's run, which featured the usual Krazy Kirby Koncepts and are well worth tracking down. I don't know if DC has ever put out a collected version of these or not...

Anonymous said...

There are 4 volumes of Jack Kirby's New Gods in hardcover, which includes the Olsen issues. There are also 2 trade paperbacks which just collect the Kirby Olsen stories.

Simon

Steve said...

I have to admit I won't be rushing out to buy them but I will have to get some Lois Lane comics at some point to see how "Superman's Girlfriend" compares with "Superman's Pal." From what I can remember of them from childhood - and what I've seen on the Gay For Lois Lane site - they might be more to my tastes.

Anonymous said...

Kirby's Olsen is completely different and includes a new version of the Newsboy Legion and is basically an excuse for Kirby's imagination to run wild. It has to be seen to believed. A large part of the ongoing plot is concerned with DNA and cloning.

Dandy Forsdyke said...

I was fascinated by those Lena Laurence issues where she turned out to be Lucy Lane.

Steve said...

Was it a long-lasting storyline? Apart from this issue, I really don't know anything about it.

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