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Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Mind-Shattering Madness of Jimmy Olsen #86, Part One

Between me, Jake Bell, Mike Sterling, and, well, the rest of the comics internet, I'm pretty certain that by this point, every single issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen has been smashed with the famously subtle sledgehammer that is web-based comedy and displayed for your reading pleasure. Even so, as strip-mined as that series has to be at this point, there comes a time in my life where I find a comic so mind-blowingly fantastic that I feel it is my duty--nay, my calling to share it with you.

Jimmy Olsen #86 is that comic.

That's right, folks: My personal feelings about Jimmy Olsen are already well-documented, but for the next three days, the ISB goes all-action--All-Mister-Action, that is--to rip the lid off this thing.

"But Chris," you may be saying to yourself, considering that most of my readers have gotten to the point where they speak out loud to their computers when reading reviews of forty-two year-old comics, "What makes this issue any different from the other Jimmy Olsen stories you've put up over the years?"

Well, Hypothetical Sam, to answer that, I can only offer you the splash page from tonight's selection:


And here's the best part: This is nowhere near the craziest thing that happens in this issue.

Of course, at this point, that's all relative. This particular adventure--a Leo Dorfman/George Papp classic--gets started with Jimmy presiding over a meeting of his own fan club, and really, that's about as egotistical as you can get. The point of this particular meeting seems to be that Jimmy's popularity has reached international status, to the point where a branch has just opened up in "The Heart of Africa."

Not coincidentally, said Heart of Africa also happens to be playing host to a couple of ne'er-do-wells involved in a shady scheme called "Project Kryptonite," which prompts Juma, the president of the local Olsen club, to contact Jimmy in a scene where he looks for all the world like a young Louis Farrakhan. Must be the bowtie.

Needless to say, Jimmy hops the next flight to Africa--which was apparently as specific a destination as you needed back in 1965--and meets Juma, who inexplicably presents him with a costume once worn by a life-sized Superman statue they used to have. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and will therefore be the plot point that the entire story hinges on. Sadly, the meet-n-greet can't last forever, and before long, Jimmy ends up running into our ol' pal Congo Bill!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the character--which is a perfectly acceptable hole to have in your knowldedge of DC's simian-based third-stringers--I'll sum up. Congo Bill is, essentially, your standard-issue Great White Hunter type, except that one day he acquired a magic ring that allowed him to switch minds with a golden ape to become Congorilla! The fact that there wasn't an in-depth discussion of the gorilla hanging out in Bill's body and picking bugs off of his highly uncomfortable coworkers until Rick Veitch's 1987 Swamp Thing annual was a tragedy.

Anyway, Bill's got a broken arm, presumably from an incident where his other half went on a rampage looking for his wire mother, and really doesn't feel like going on an adventure today, so he loans the Congorilla ring to Jimmy to help him with his mission to stop the mysterious "Project Kryptonite." So Jimmy tracks down the gorilla, doses himself with a sleeping pill, switches bodies with the ape, and then ties his own drugged, ape-brained body to a tree, which, conincidentally, is the same recurring nightmare I've been having since I saw Every Which Way But Loose when I was eight. After that's done, it's a simple matter for Congorilla Jimmy to hike fifteen thousand feet up Mount Kilamanjaro, conquering Africa's tallest mountain in the span of an afternoon:

Because a super-strong gorilla with a human brain might need an axe. That's why.

As it turns out, Project Kryptonite is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Taking advantage of the apparent fact that every single piece of the planet Krypton was shot directly at Earth when it exploded, two science minded thugs have invented a "Hyper-Magnetron," which can attract nearby chunks of Kryptonite from space and cause them to land nearby.

I'll go through that one more time: Two guys have invented a machine that can attract radioactive minerals from space, and they can't think of anything better to do with it than try to kill someone who saves the entire planet on a weekly basis. Silver-Age Villainy, folks.

Jimmy, of course, will not let this aggression stand, and so along with a tenuous resolution involving Jimmy building a snowman and dressing it up in the costume he got from Juma back on page three for some reason, the reader is blessed with a scene where a gorilla-man flies a helicopter through a deadly radioactive meteor swarm, or as I like to call it, the reason this comic exists:

Thus, the day is saved and everything pretty much works out okay. And yet, that is not the end of the story.

Comics in the sixties had a weird sort of fixation on explaining how legends and superstitions got started, like the story from Fantastic Four #5, where Dr. Doom's master plan is to use his time machine--his time machine!--to send the Thing back to Old Timey Pirate Days, where he ends up inspiring the "legend" of Blackbeard, completely ignoring the fact that Blackbeard actually did exist, and was not, by all accounts, an orange rock monster. That's pretty much what happens here, with Jimmy plagued by the sub-freezing temperatures of the summit of Mt. Kilamanjaro and the abject lack of pants that comes from inhabiting a gorilla body for an afternoon, and finding himself fending off a case of the sniffles by wrapping himself in a discarded tent while he breaks all the bad guys' equipment, thus giving them the idea that he is, in fact, the Abominable Snowman:

Because that whole sequence of events makes way more sense than, y'know, Yetis.

You've Seen Him In His Odd Purple Shorts!
You've Seen Him As An Ape-Man!
But Can Anything Prepare You For The Shock And Horror Of...


Well, yeah, it probably can. But be here tomorrow on the ISB anyway for Part Two of our death-defying diatribe!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. just. WOW.

4/08/2007 3:28 AM

Blogger Siskoid said...

Suddenly, they can't churn out Showcase Presents Superman Family fast enough.

4/08/2007 8:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner? A Ben Folds reference? Also, isn't it sad that Jimmy, with a computer brain for about 1 minute, has made a plan to kill Superman when Brainiac, even with years and years, can't do the same thing?

4/08/2007 11:39 AM

Blogger SallyP said...

This bit of lunacy only confirms my original theory. Jimmy Olsen, as insane an he may be, is STILL much cooler than Snapper Carr.

4/08/2007 2:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. Stuff like this is the reason I started reading comic blogs in the first place.

4/08/2007 2:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

considering that most of my readers have gotten to the point where they speak out loud to their computers when reading reviewf of forty-two year-old comics,

Thank God. I thought it was just me.

And isn't odd to consider that there actually was a time in living memory when ham radio wasn't predominately populated by nervous-acting gentleman who tend to see aluminum foil as a fashion accessory.

4/08/2007 2:59 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner? A Ben Folds reference?

The great thing about that reference is that it's two for the price of one!

4/09/2007 12:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Harry Harlow reference in a post about Jimmy Olsen? This is the best blog evar.

4/11/2007 9:31 PM


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