Back in 2016 I was a regular contributor to Fandom.com where I wrote a series of articles titled "Jimmy Olsen, Life Wrecking Idiot". (uncensored versions are available here) It was a fun look back at some old comics that have not aged very well. Well, I decided to revisit an old theme with a new series of articles on the subject, without all the editorial interferences. You know, not being able to make jokes about cancer babies and other things that were deemed "offensive" by the folks at Fandom.
I'm going to focus on specific issues of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. You may notice me going over stories I've already covered in the Fandom articles. That's because I'm not being censored or restricted to a word count, so I can get into greater detail. So with further ado, let's kick things off with Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #1 published October 1954.
This fuckin' guy....
The Boy of 100 Faces
In this first story, Jimmy Olsen is trying to figure out where Duce Dorgan and his men have stashed some stolen diamonds. To do so, he tries to find out what they are up to by wearing various disguises. First, he dresses up as an ice cream man and tries to listen in on their conversation by riding directly behind them.
Hiding in plain sight is not one of Jimmy's strong suits.
Sadly, instead of getting hit by a car, Jimmy is saved at the last minute by Superman the first of many instances that the Man of Steel has to go out of his way to save Jimmy Olsen from impending doom. If it were up to me, I'd let the annoying dork become street pizza.
After finding some clues, Jimmy Olsen decides to follow up on them by going to Deuce Dorgan's fishing shack. To get there he needs to fly in a helicopter. Enter Jumbo Jones...
Back in the early days, DC Comics always paired their title characters with a boy sidekick. Superman had Jimmy Olsen, Batman had Robin, the Green Lantern had a racial stereotype, and Space Ranger had a pink alien in bondage gear. I suppose the writers of Superman's Pal decided that Jimmy needed a sidekick of his own. Instead of pairing him up with a boy they set him up with a fat man. Jumbo Jones flew the Daily Planet's "Flying Newsroom" helicopter for about five issues of this series. After that, everyone at the Planet suddenly became skilled chopper pilots and Jumbo, I guess, was out of a job.
They don't really develop the character either, so other than the fact that he sits around the roof of the Daily Planet and eats food, there's not much known about him. If he wasn't flying the helicopter or comically throwing his girth around, I'd like to think he spent his downtime crying into his thermos while cramming donuts into his loser face.
If they were to reboot Jumbo Jones today, Warren Ellis would probably make him a cheese fucker who drowns kittens for fun.
Anyway, when they arrive at the fishing shack, Jimmy disguises himself as "Barton the Brush Man".
Pretending to sell dishwashing brushes door-to-door backfires when the crooks force Jimmy to wash their dirty dishes.
"...And after you're done in there, you can dress like my ex-wife and eat my ass."
However, Jimmy's gets caught snooping and the crooks soon capture him and Jumbo and tie them to the dock until they are finished getting the diamonds. Jimmy is able to get help by freeing his hand and activating his signal watch to get Superman to rescue him and Jumbo. After the crooks are rounded up, Jimmy uses a fishing rod to pull the bag of stolen diamonds out of the lake. Superman helps in secret so Jimmy can take the credit for the discovery.
For a story that is called "The Boy of 100 Faces", Jimmy Olsen is fucking terrible at disguises. First, he dresses up as an ice cream man and gets caught by riding right behind them. Not only do the crooks get a good look at him, but they also cram ice cream in his loser face.
Later, disguises himself as a brush salesman. His disguise? A different hat and coat. He doesn't do anything to change his features. I'd like to think the crooks saw through Jimmy's disguise and knew the moron would commit to the part in order to force him to clean their dishes.
Case of the Lumberjack Jinx
After a series of accidents at the Meredith Lumber Camp, the lumberjacks start thinking the site is jinxed. As it turns out, the Meredith camp provides the pulp the Daily Planet uses to print their newspaper. Deciding that there is an interesting story there, publisher Perry White sends Jimmy Olsen undercover to investigate the claims.
"A dangerous job I am unqualified to do? Sign me up, chief!"
Once on the job, Jimmy is almost crushed to death when the chain keeping logs on a lumber truck snaps. Jimmy becomes suspicious when Otis Burton, the owner of a rival lumber camp, is spotted nearby fixing a flat tire. As Jimmy begins investigating for clues a shady lumberjack tries to kill him with dynamite, then tries to drown him, then tries to set a forest fire. Surprisingly, Jimmy is able to survive all of these things without Superman's help.
Ultimately, Jimmy uncovers the truth: The Meredith camp was suffering from a beetle blight infestation. Paul Meredith was trying to cover it up by staging the jinxes and putting attention on his competition. He was then going to burn down the forest and claim the insurance.
You really have to question Perry White's logic here, sending a young cub reporter to pretend to be a qualified lumberjack. What's even more surprising is that Paul Meredith fell for it. You're trying to commit insurance fraud and you agree to hire on somebody suggested by a newspaper?
Still, despite the fact that Jimmy conducts himself quite well, there is a point in our story where we find out that this idiot can't tell the difference between bees buzzing and the sound of a burning fuse.
"Gosh! Where did those bees get explosives?"
The Man of Steel's Substitute!
This story starts off with Jimmy Olsen fielding phone calls from people who want Superman to help them with various tasks. Jimmy, oblivious to the irony, thinks all of these people are wasting Superman's time.
A real problem comes up when Superman can't make it to a bridge construction site to examine the quality of the steel girders with his x-ray vision. Since Superman helped them hire a bunch of homeless men to do the job, they threaten to walk off the job -- and stay unemployed -- for good.
When Jimmy hears this, he decides to use his collection of Superman memorabilia to make it look like Superman is there. Although he comes up with a sophisticated means of creating the illusion it quickly falls apart. Realizing they have been had, the workers are about to walk off the job when girders begin falling off the bridge. Superman -- who was in disguise the whole time -- fixes the bridge, convincing the workers to stay on the job.
Because he flubbed his plan, Jimmy runs back to his apartment to cry like a fucking baby until Superman comes over and assures Olsen that he is the best pal ever, sending the most unhealthy relationship in comics down its dark path.
Remember, this story takes place in 1954, so one would really need to go out of their way in order to have candid film and audio recordings of Superman. Not only that, since none of his equipment operates on batteries, he has to come up with an alternate means of powering these devices out in the middle of nowhere.
I'm quite sure tampering with a public utility is against the law.
Worse, Jimmy dresses up as Superman and is convinced that he looks like the Man of Steel. More incredibly, people are able to mistake Jimmy for Superman from a distance.
Everyone knows that Superman looks just like an unlovable idiot.
The most problematic part in this story is when Jimmy's plan fails. He runs home to cry and thinks that Superman is going to end their friendship. That level of instability should be raising a lot of warning signals to the Man of Steel.
Superman, you're only encouraging this kind of behavior.
Instead, he just reinforces that they are pals despite all of this problematic behavior. This is a guy who collects an unhealthy amount of Superman memorabilia and cries when he thinks his best friend is mad at him. This is not the sort of thing you should be encouraging.
As you keep on reading these stories, the relationship between Superman and Jimmy Olsen becomes pretty unhealthy. However, that's a subject for another time because that's all we have today. Join us next time as Jimmy ingests illicit substances, uses Jumbo as a human shield, and loses his shit when Superman snubs him. Join me, won't you?