Silver Age Comics: Jimmy Olsen the Roughneck (and I still hate Lucy Lane)

by Robert Gillis 5/2010
What was so special about the silver age of comic books? Read about it HERE

The amazing Adam at Comics make No Sense beat me to running this silver-age gem, but it’s been on my to do list for a year. The story is from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #61, published in June, 1962, and while I agree with Adam that it is indeed, “…the most bitch-slap-centric, and therefore perhaps one of the most awesome, stories in the history of the medium,” there is SOOOOO much more to make fun of in this story, that it reads as almost a PARODY of silver age stories (and that my friends, takes work). So click on the panels to read them  and then let’s get right to the comments.

 

  • For the eight hundred and ninth time, Lucy is standing up Jimmy.  And she’s not even gentle about it.  Why?  Because she is evil.
  • Jimmy’s freckles seem to grow in panel three.  Suddenly… along came a spider to sit down beside her.  Jimmy, Lucy just dumped you.  It’s a freaking spider.  Let it scare her.  Servers her right.
  • “But as Jimmy lunges forward…” yes, LUNGES to get the big bad horribly scary spider…
  • Panel 5: Lucy doesn’t say, “How dare you hit a woman!  How dare you hit me!”  Nope, she says, “What makes you think you’re the kind of He-Man who can push a girl around and get away with it?”  Again, Lucy is condoning the violence if the guy is a He-Man.  Man, what a bad message for kids and adults.
  • I think the use of “Apache” is probably racist (or at least, offensive) these days.
  • “A likely story!” they said that a lot in the Silver Age!
  • One more thing –all the other people in the club are looking, but that’s about it.  I mean, Jimmy just HIT her, and they’re just looking.  Jerks.

  • The next day, Jimmy is wearing the same clothes but certainly  not due to any walk of shame.  Now, before Jimmy goes to the party, he had to do a story on “Goofy’s Ark,” yet another example of the kind of hard-hitting journalism the Daily Planet was famous for back in the Silver Age.
  • Notice the huge and obviously heavy anchor of death which hangs like a sword of Damocles over the ticket booth and the poor guy with the hat.  Smart to place a HUGE ANCHOR on a ship that doesn’t need one because it’s not really a ship.
  • Lawsuit waiting to happen.
  • “Shy Shelia” the ostrich  has her head in the sand for 48 hours because she’s ashamed of being associated with Jimmy Olsen.
  • Keep an eye on “Slap Pappy” the kangaroo.  Hi-Jinks will ensue, you betcha!
  • There are so many dirty jokes possible about the anteater with the five foot tongue that we’ll just move on.  But you know you thought it and you should be ashamed.

  • And now we’re into the fun part of the story!  The kangaroo is loose!  The Goofy’s Ark manager and no one else seems to notice, except for the doofus who points it out to his kid that Bappy is now following Jimmy but doesn’t bother to tell Jimmy.
  • Panel 2: Classic Silver Age.  Jimmy doesn’t notice that a %$#@^&! KANGAROO jumped into the back of his convertible?  How do you not notice that?!!!
  • So the kangaroo follows Jimmy — who is so  clueless he doesn’t realize that a KANGAROO is shadowing him – all the way to Lois’ apartment building.  But it’s understandable Jimmy doesn’t notice, because he has such deep thoughts on his brain: “Why is she always attracted to good-looking guys with money?”  Jeepers, woman sure are mysterious.
  • Also notice that Jimmy climbs the STAIRS, because if Jimmy got into an elevator — nah, he STILL wouldn’t notice the kangaroo.
  • So we enter Lois’ apartment and the kangaroo has somehow managed to mingle through the crowd (stopping only for some hors doeuvres and a Doctor Pepper)  and make its way to Lois’ bedroom, where he watches the party…
  • Panel 4:  A rare occurrence of realism in a Silver Age comic book: An accurate depiction of EXACTLY  how hard twenty and thirty something’s partied in the era of drugs and free love: By playing children’s birthday party games like pin the tail on the donkey.  Man, those were wild times.
  • Panel 5: Again, will keep things family friendly and ignore that Lucy is heading into a bedroom blindfolded.  This was a different time, kids, and people thought differently back then.
  • LOVE the kangaroo still hiding behind the door.
  • Why in the name of God does Lois have 8×10 head shots of her boss and co-workers in her BEDROOM?  And they’re signed, for crying out loud.  The picture of Superman, I understand, but Perry White?  And on the night stand… Jimmy?  Could it be that it was the other Lane sister carrying a torch for  certain bow-tied cub reporter?  Er, no.
  • Then again, we all keep 8×10 glossies of our boss and co-workers in our bedroom, right?
  • LOVE the kangaroo, still hiding behind the door.
  • Oh—notice that Lois follow Lucy into the room and is watching.  So she should see what happens next, right?  WRONG!

  • “Listen!  Lucy’s calling!  Something must have happened!” someone says.  Gee, ya think??!!! Where the hell is Lois, who said she was watching?  Did she lose interest in the game?
  • “To Lois, from her pal, Jimmy Olsen.”  Geez.
  • And the kangaroo quickly bounds out the window before anyone can see him!  See also: Mr. Snuffleupagus.
  • I’m not surprised no one noticed Jimmy eating a sandwich in the kitchen – after all, this is the same group of reliable witnesses who failed to notice that a KANGAROO had followed Jimmy into the apartment.
  • You… you… bully!  No need to swear, Lucy.
  • Lois has known Jimmy for years – does she stick up for him?  Nope.  Is she mad because her sister accused him of hitting her?  Nope.  Does Jimmy REALLY try to explain and defend himself?  Nope.   Useless.
  • So the falsely accused girlfriend-batterer does what all girlfriend-batterer’s do the next day – he travels to see one of his fan clubs, where all his admirers also wear bow-ties just like he does.
  • Mark Waid once pondered, how bad does a kid’s self-esteem have to be that his hero is Jimmy Olsen?
  • So wearing the same clothes for a third day, Jimmy cleverly shows us that he has masks of his co-workers – just like all normal people do.
  • Anyway, I think it’s interesting that Jimmy has a Perry White mask that has a cigar sticking out of the mouth, a Superman mask, and strangest of all, what appears to be a… wait for it… Jimmy Olsen mask.  Because there are so many situations where you might have to disguise yourself… as yourself.

  • Ha, Ha!  A Jimmy in the box!  Who would have thought of that?  Answer: EXACTLY NO ONE.
  • “Hooray for Olsen!”  Um, why?
  • So Jimmy’s groupies see him off at the airport, and of course, Lucy is there, because when you’re assaulted by a kangaroo you go right back to work the next day.
  • “I never struck you!”  (Except for that time at the club and the table slipped while I was brushing away a spider.)
  • So Jimmy handcuffs himself.  Kink aside, doesn’t that seem like a bad idea if something happens to the plane and you’re HANDCUFFED while it’s crashing? (See also Kate Austin in the “Lost” pilot).
  • I’m betting at least half the stuff in Jimmy’s boxes violate TSA rules.
  • Panel 5: Thank you, Basil Exposition.
  • Panel 6: Thank you, Basil Exposition.

  • So Jimmy misinterprets Lucy’s pulse-taking and gets up – carrying the Jimmy-in-the-Box.  Um, Why?  Well, to make the next panel possible!
  • Panel 3: Best… Slap… Ever.
  • What would make everyone really happy at this point is if Jimmy would be taken into federal custody for assaulting a stewardess.
  • Look Lucy, I’m handcuffed!  So, I, ummm… So I couldn’t have… Um… {cough} Loser {cough}
  • Panel 5: Does anyone say “Bah!” anymore?
  • Panels 5 and 6 – here’s a travel tip: The next time you bring one of the most poisonous, deadliest snakes in the world on a plane, maybe write “DANGER!  DEADLY SNAKE” on the side of the box, and by the way, um, pack them in something stronger than cardboard!
  • Hmmmm… “Snakes on a Plane.”
  • Panel 6: Thank you, Basil Exposition.
  • “It’ll strike in the direction of any high-pitched sound!”  Good thing we’re at a nice, quiet AIRLINE RUNWAY!

  • Panel 1: Jimmy: “Finally, a REAL REASON” to smack Lucy!
  • Doesn’t the snake guy have something that can help him contain the snake, like a hook, or something?
  • Why didn’t Jimmy just call Superman as soon as the snake broke loose?  Ohhh, right, because this way it funnier.  Sigh.
  • Swoosh!  Superman saves the day in his tiny cape, and commends Jimmy for smacking Lucy.  Just wrong.
  • And now everything is fine!  Lucy conveniently forgets the spider slap, the gut-punch from Bappy the kangaroo, and the Jimmy-in-the-box.  Sure, she has a massive shiner, a broken jaw and probably some cracked ribs, but everything is just swell now.
  • And I’m sure the people in the Apache Dance Club, the guests at Lois’ party, Lois, the fan club at the air port, and the entire flight crew will all understand that it was all a harmless misunderstanding.  Yeah, right.
  • Nothing like a near death experience to help you get past days of false accusations and seething hatred.
  • And so concludes this Silver Age story of Lucy, who is certainly bi-polar, and Jimmy Olsen, a passive-aggressive batterer.
  • Um, how exactly did this get past the Comics Code Authority?

I once heard a DC comics artist say that a lot of the stories of this era were written after three-martini lunches.  I believe him.

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