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Jimmy Olsen 85
"King Olsen's Private Island!"


It's about time that I contributed a review to this forum, and it's only appropriate that it be of the first comic book I ever read, at the tender age of five. I had never heard the term "super-hero" before, the Batman TV show was still a year away, and my only image of Superman prior to this was George Reeves in black and white. I believe that 1965 was the last year that it was still possible to find a comic book with three complete stories for only 12 cents.

"Love Me, Love My Beast" Bill Finger (Script), Curt Swan (Pencils), George Klein (Inks) (reprinted in Superman Family #172)

As Jimmy is covering a demonstration of a new radio telescope for the Planet, a strange, crackling energy appears in the dish antenna and coalesces into a small green spaceship. The ship lands and discharges two passengers... a gorgeous, redheaded woman and a hideous, redheaded creature she keeps on a leash. The woman introduces herself as Shara of Salan, a world slightly smaller than Earth, on which all animal life has red hair. Her pet is Gnor... a biped about Jimmy's height, with a white, froglike face, huge red eyes, hairy tentacle-like arms, and a single antenna in its forehead. Spying the redhaired Jimmy in the crowd, Gnor is instantly attracted, much to Jimmy's revulsion... and so is Shara, much to Jimmy's delight. The government assigns Jimmy to be Shara's guide and goodwill ambassador during her visit to Earth.

Jimmy decides to demonstrate the typical American way of life by taking Shara on a picnic... and learns that wherever Shara goes, Gnor goes, too. As the three of them enjoy... well, maybe "enjoy" isn't the most appropriate word for how Jimmy feels... a canoe ride on the lake, Jimmy spots a tell-tale glow from a rather large chunk of kryptonite protruding above the water's surface. Jimmy seems pleased at the discovery, so Gnor decides to make him even happier, by using his antenna to attract all the kryptonite in the area. Green, red, gold, blue, and white chunks come flying in from all directions (making one wonder: if kryptonite is so rare, then how large is "the area?" And how come the pile seems to contain equal amounts of all five colors? Aren't gold, blue, and white K supposed to be even rarer than the green and red varieties?) In moments, the canoe is perched precariously atop a 20-foot rainbow-colored hill of kryptonite. Jimmy explains that he was only happy because he had the opportunity to dispose of the kryptonite before it could endanger Superman, so Gnor causes the ground to crack open and swallow up all the glowing stones. Soon after, Shara grows tired and asks Jim to take her home to her ship.

The next day, the trio visits an amusement park. Shara is enchanted by the House of Mirrors... and Jimmy is repulsed by seeing Gnor everywhere he turns. At a concession stand, Jimmy buys a round of hot dogs. Shara isn't hungry, but Jimmy tells her that he's hungry enough to eat a hot dog as big as a horse... so Gnor obligingly (hmmm... ummm... no, I guess there's no way to say this without getting snickers from the peanut gallery) turns Jimmy's wiener giant-size. An exasperated Jimmy tells Gnor to "get this horse-sized hot dog to gallop out of here!" Ever literal, Gnor gives the sausage a set of equine legs, and it carries Jimmy away. When things settle down again, Shara apologizes for being exhausted, which Jim attributes to Earth's heavier gravity, and asks to go home. As she enters her ship, Jimmy tells her she's a "living doll," which causes her to burst into tears.

The next day, Lucy comes to see Jimmy, to find him taking Gnor for a walk while Shara rests. (I do not want to deal with the mental image of Gnor at a fire hydrant.) Lucy gets jealous, and goes to the ship to give Shara a piece of her mind... but when she leaves, she tells Jimmy that she found Shara on her deathbed, dying from the germs in Earth's atmosphere. The ship takes off into space, leaving Jimmy in tears (because Shara's gone, or because he's left with custody of Gnor?), while Lucy thinks to herself that she's glad Jimmy doesn't suspect the truth....

Some time later, Jimmy complains about feeling listless and tired. To cheer him, Lucy takes him to see Professor Potter, who has just invented an "age-accelerator." Jimmy and Lucy accidentally find themselves in the path of the beam, and age decades in seconds. Potter tells them that the process is irreversable, and within the hour, they'll die of old age. Suddenly, Gnor's leash flies from Jimmy's hand into Potter's. The Professor smiles, and removes his disguise, to reveal he's really Superman! Lucy explains what she learned back in the spaceship: Gnor was really the master, a parasitic lifeform who must absorb energy from others to live. Shara was a chemically-created android, a real "living doll," created by Gnor to temporarily provide him with energy until he could find a real, living host. Once the leash was out of her hand, Shara gained free will and was able to tell Lucy the truth, and ask her to find a way to free Jimmy from Gnor's power.

Now that Superman had the leash, Gnor had an inexhaustible source of energy... but in seconds, began to get very uncomfortable from "overeating." Superman held the leash tight, and Gnor burned up from absorbing too much energy. (Ironic... the first Superman story I ever read was one in which he blatantly violated his code against killing!)

In the last panel, Jimmy runs in panic from a woman who asks him to hold her dog's leash for a moment. As drawn by Curt Swan, the woman bears a striking resemblance to Lois Lane. (Nahhh... it couldn't be. This woman is wearing glasses.)

"The Adventures of Chameleon-Head Olsen!" Jerry Siegel (Script), John Forte (Pencils), George Klein (Inks)

As an honorary Legionnaire, Jimmy is invited to the 30th century to take part in a celebration honoring the Legion of Super-Heroes. He mentions that he'd like to do a story for the Planet about what it's like to be a Legionnaire... so Chameleon Boy gives him a gift of a Durlan serum to give him temporary shape-changing powers, then returns him to his apartment in his own time. A radio news report announces that astronomers sighted Superman leaving Earth on a space mission (this is news?) just as Jimmy is surprised by an armed thug. It seems that the Anti-Superman Gang is holding a crime convention in Metropolis, and to celebrate, a price has been placed on Jimmy's head... $20,000 alive, $10,000 dead. (Boy, inflation's come a long way since then.) Jimmy asks the thug if he may take a tonic for his nerves... intending to swallow the chameleon serum, turn into a kangaroo, and leap to safety on the next rooftop... but he clumsily spills most of the serum and swallows only enough to transform his head.

Seeing Jimmy in what appears to be a kangaroo mask, the thug gets impatient. Then Jimmy sees the set of JLA figurines on his dresser, and is inspired by the sight of Aquaman. He turns his nose into a swordfish's snout, and disarms the gangster like a fencing expert... if a fencing expert held his sword in his nose instead of his hand.

With Superman off in space and out of signal-watch range, Jimmy's only hope is to get to the airport and leave Metropolis until the crime convention is over. Spying a cop on the street, Jimmy explains his dilemma and asks for an armed escort. The cop, however, turns out to be a Gang member in disguise. As he brings his nightstick down on Jimmy's head, it shatters when the head turns to solid stone. (Some might say it was no change at all... oh, that's too easy.) Jimmy "rocks" the cop to sleep and dashes for a cab. Holy conspiracy theories, the cab driver is ALSO a Gang member, and releases a pair of black widow spiders into the passenger compartment. Thinking quickly, Jimmy gives himself the head of an anteater and gobbles the arachnids. (Bleeccch! Never mind your head, Jimbo, what happens when they hit your stomach?) The driver gets out of the cab and runs. Jimmy spots a lookout with a walkie-talkie on a nearby rooftop, and enlarges his left ear into a parabolic microphone to hear what he's saying.

As a thick fog starts to roll in, Jimmy ducks into a museum for cover. Waiting inside are two more thugs in suits of armor. (These guys are EVERYWHERE!) Spotting a mastodon skeleton, Jimmy gives himself a pair of tusks and jousts with his attackers. He darts from the museum into a nearby cemetery, and through the fog he sees a young member of the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club on a bicycle. Jim flags down his fan, but no... it's really a midget gangster in a bowtie. But Jimmy realizes that criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot, and taking advantage of the foggy cemetery's atmosphere, turns his face into a skull and scares the goon away.

Finally, Jim makes it to the airport gate... only to be conked from behind and carried off to the convention, where the boss of the Anti-Superman Gang will get the pleasure of finishing him off himself. The gang leader puts a gun to Jimmy's head, and gloats that only Superman could save the reporter's life, and he's away in space. Hearing this, Jimmy begins laughing hysterically. He rubs his face with his hands... revealing the face of Superman! The gang members trample one another in a panic, trying to get away. (How come, when it's really Superman, they always empty their guns trying in vain to kill him... but when it's Jimmy pulling a fast one, they run?) Moments later, Superman returns from his space mission (to the A-S Gang's HQ?), and he and Jimmy will share a laugh over the way those poor, dumb mobsters were outsmarted.

The letters page follows this story. It begins with a letter from Barbara Brown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, praising the story "The Wedding of Magi and Sandra," and the way that Lucy and Jimmy reached a new level of respect in their relationship. In a somewhat disturbing non sequitur, the editor replies "Thank you, Barbara. Don't you just envy the lucky four-year-old tots who, several years from now, will read the Magi and Sandra series for the first time in a future JIMMY OLSEN GIANT?"

"King Olsen's Private Island!" Edmond Hamilton (Script), Curt Swan (Pencils), Sheldon Moldoff (Inks)

Perry sends Jimmy to interview Captain Bowlin, a crusty old seaman who owns his own country. The old salt refuses to talk to Jimmy, until the reporter saves him from being hit by a truck. In gratitude, he gives the exclusive story of how he saw an island rise from the ocean while fishing offshore. He claimed the island for himself, naming it "Lost Island." (Quite an imaginative guy, the Captain was.)

A few weeks later, Bowlin's cabin cruiser is wrecked in a storm. In his will, he left Lost Island to Jimmy, as a reward for saving his life. Jimmy takes Lucy, Lois, and Perry to visit the island in the Flying Newsroom. While exploring, they discover a cave filled with hidden treasure: ancient gold figurines that look vaguely Egyptian or Aztec, and a bowling ball sized globe of the Earth that shows the continents joined together before plate tectonics forced them apart. Jimmy lifts the globe to his face to examine it more closely. (Wait... Jimmy lifts a globe of gold with no noticable strain? What has he been eating for breakfast?)

Soon, Jimmy starts taking his ownership of the island a bit too seriously. He declares himself King, quits his job at the Planet, and tells Lucy that he can never marry "a commoner," which infuriates her. Several days later, having sold some of the gold, Jimmy has taken to wearing a crown and cape, and has erected a huge statue of himself holding a sign reading "Warning! This is Olsen Island! Trespass at your own risk! --King James Olsen I." No, he doesn't authorize a King James Olsen version of the Bible, but he does design a national flag: red, bearing the orange letters "JO," with a crown atop the O.

Soon after, Superman returns from a mission rounding up a group of escapees from a space prison (a few got away, but he's confident that Supergirl will find them). Lois tells him of Jimmy's personality change, so Superman flies off to have a talk with his pal. Or should I say, ex-pal... for as he approaches the island, Jimmy releases a barrage of green K boulders from a catapult, driving him away. Superman's microscopic vision reveals to him that the rocks are genuine kryptonite... but it also reveals something more...

That night, as Jimmy walks along the beach with a flaming torch (??!?) he sees something that startles him... Captain Bowlin, walking out of the ocean. ("How can he be alive -- when he's dead?" Great question, Jimbo.) Bowlin pulls off his face to reveal that he's really an alien, one of the escapees that Supergirl is still searching for. It seems that he set up this whole situation as a trap for Superman, but his plans were ruined when Jimmy drove his pal away instead of welcoming him to the island. Why, he asks? Jim explains that he knew from the start that it was a trap, so he acted overbearing to keep his friends a safe distance away. He carved a warning onto the kryptonite boulders in microscopic letters, so that Superman would be alerted and keep an eye on him from a distance. Sure enough, at that moment, the villain is ensnared with a super-long lasso tossed by the Man of Steel.

But what was the trap? The golden globe in the cave was actually made of gold kryptonite, which would steal Superman's powers permanently if he got too close. Jimmy realized this when he picked up the globe, because gold K weighs three times as much as ordinary gold. (Wait... whoa... hold it there, Jimbo. You lifted a globe the size of a bowling ball in the palm of your hands, and noticed it was three times as heavy as solid gold? What, are you on Miraclo or something?)

Jimmy disposes of the globe in a deep crevice, and donates the real gold to charity. A grateful Superman talks to Perry about getting Jimmy his job back. But not even Superman can make Lucy get over being called a "commoner."

A "Little Pete" cartoon by Henry Boltinoff, and a public service message (Superboy in "Happy Hobby Time!") round off the issue.