For our Semi-Annual Around-Halloween Count Floyd’s “Scary Stuff, Kids!” Retro Review, I decided to go back to the first appearance of one of the most frightening characters in comic book history…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 awaits!

SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #134

Writer: Jack Kirby
Penciler: Jack Kirby/Al Plastino
Inker: Vince Colletta/Al Plastino
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Murray Boltinoff
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 15 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $600.00

Previously in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen: A primary architect of the resurgence of Marvel Comics and what is now known as the Marvel Universe, Jack Kirby was respected as a giant in the field circa 1970.  Due to dissatisfaction with Marvel (be it a lack of creative control, his partner Stan taking all the credit, or a combination of these and other factors is unclear), Jack left the House Of Ideas for the Distinguished Competition, negotiating a deal to create The Fourth World, an interconnected series of titles that would allow his creative urges to run rampant.  In order to anchor these new concepts to the DCU, Jack was also given creative duties on ‘Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen’, reputedly because that book’s lack of a regular creative team meant no one lost their job because of his new gig.  Then again, when an issue starts like this, it might be worth losing an existing team…

Last issue, Jimmy’s new boss, Morgan Edge (who would become a key part of a larger reworking of the Superman stable of titles taking place at the same time, including the now-legendary ‘Kryptonite No More’ issue) sent him out into the field, accompanied by a new version of the Newsboy Legion (whose Golden Age forebears were a Kirby creation back in the Golden Age) to investigate a strange settlement outside Metropolis known as The Wild Area. Jimmy has won the leadership of a group of motorcyclists called The Outsiders, and is now in search of the big scoop…

Also along for the ride, one Clark Kent, whose participation caused Morgan Edge to send Inter-Gang to murder him, as whatever he has planned for Jimmy and The Newsboys might be discovered.  But where goes Clark, there goes Superman, and the plan to find the legendary Mountain Of Judgment strikes the Man Of Steel as too dangerous for Jimmy and his entourage…

If you look closely at the second panel, you will find that, while DC was excited to have Jack Kirby in their stable of creators, they weren’t without reservations about their flagship hero.  That panel, and many of the Superman and Jimmy heads in this issue were re-drawn by classic Superman artist Al Plastino before this issue went to print, in order to keep the DC’s house style intact.  Meanwhile, back in the story, The Outsiders motor club is not legendary for their patience, and move to overcome Superman with sheer brute force.  This goes badly for them, until they start breaking out advanced hardware that they got from “The Hairies,” a detail that Superman would want to follow up on, were he not being blasted unconscious with Kryptonite radiation…

Scrapper’s camera does more than just record the battle for posterity, it transmits the footage back to Morgan Edge and his mysterious boss in Metropolis.  With Superman out of action, Jimmy orders his gang to mount up and ride, racing off in search of The Zoomway, the entrance to the mythical Mountain.  It’s an egress that requires not only brains, but courage, something that Jimmy Olsen (after years of being transformed into giant turtles and such) has in spades!

Jimmy’s gutsy move gets the through one obstacle, but The Outsiders know what’s up next, and things are about to get water-slidey!

The underwater hatchway is blocked, but Newsboy Legionnaire Flipper-Dipper makes the scene, as one of Kirby’s characters might say, scuba-diving forth and blasting it open with a mine, allowing the motley crew of reporters and easy riders on to their next obstacle, seemingly designed by Willy Wonka…

Kirby was known for experimenting with form, color and design, but I love his photocollage work the most, as it really stretches the boundaries of what you expect from comic book art.  I wouldn’t mind entire issues of such imagery, and it’s a shame we never got them.  Back at the Outsiders’ base, where Superman is being kept comfortable….

…the Man Of Tomorrow awakens, and races off in search of his lost pal and JIm’s new friends.  With his super-speed and resistance to injury, Superman quickly catches up with The Outsiders, just in time for everyone to discover (in a massive, beautiful double-page spread) the secret of The Mountain Of Judgment!

(Clickety To Embiggen.)

Both Superman and Whiz Wagon are taken in by the massive oncoming freight train/dragon/mountain thing, where they are greeted by The Hairies, all the while being monitored by the enigmatic and clearly malevolent Morgan Edge…

Ignoring their guests, the Hairies quickly sweep over the Whiz Wagon with scanning devices, shouting that “it” must be somewhere onboard, knowing that Edge’s plan was to destroy them in the first place…

The bomb is removed quickly, but Superman realizes that it still has the capability to pack a punch.  Grabbing the Alpha Bomb, Superman reminds them all exactly what ‘More Powerful Than A Locomotive, Even Your Big Ol’ Green One With Godzilla On It’ really means…

With the threat negated, The Hairies welcome their guests, cautioning Jimmy that they can’t tell a reporter ALL their secrets, but that they can tell him that they’re a technologically advanced, mobile society who just want to explore science in peace…

And here’s where we bump into the vagaries of 70s comic book serialized storytelling.  That one-panel headshot, my friends, is the first appearance of the Lord Of Apokalips, the master of the anti-life equation, the rock-faced skirt-wearer soon to be seen in the major motion picture “Justice League’, Darkseid!  In the parlance of the industry, it’s a “Cameo Appearance”, but for my money, it’s the real , albeit disappointing, deal.  The Fourth World titles (Mr. Miracles, The New Gods and The Forever People) were still a couple of months away as of this writing, but Jimmy’s sudden turn from milquetoast reporter to two-fisted gang-leader and action specialist is the foreshadowing of that massive change.  This issue also has the one thing that I love most of all in old comic books…

…mailaway ads!  You can learn Judo, draw like a professional or something something X-ray specs, my friends, just you wait!  What may be difficult to accept for modern audiences, used to having the Fourth World books as a cornerstone of the DCU, is that Kirby’s work was not well-received at the time.  The Fourth World titles were literally decades ahead of their time in 1970, throwing readers for a loop, but Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 (aside from not really being much of a first appearance of the character that it’s the first appearance of) is well-drawn, exciting, and packed full of plot and incident, earning a well-deserved 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  There’s a reason why these characters and concepts keep coming back, and it’s because they’re all brilliant, even if audiences in the Nixon administration weren’t feeling them…

For our Semi-Annual Around-Halloween Count Floyd's "Scary Stuff, Kids!" Retro Review, I decided to go back to the first appearance of one of the most frightening characters in comic book history...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 awaits! SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #134 Writer: Jack Kirby Penciler: Jack Kirby/Al Plastino Inker: Vince Colletta/Al Plastino Colorist: Uncredited Letterer: John Costanza Editor: Murray Boltinoff Publisher: DC Comics Cover Price: 15 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $600.00 Previously in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen: A primary architect of the resurgence of Marvel Comics and what is now known as the…
Wild, weird, engaging and ahead of its time...

SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #134

Writing
Art
Coloring

Wild, weird, engaging and ahead of its time...

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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