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for Friday, June 2, 2006

Jimmy Olsen 11

From the moment I saw the cover of SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #11 [March, 1956], I knew I had to run this Curt Swan/Ray Burnley treasure the next time our opening rotation rolled around to Supes and his extended family. Check out Jimmy's expression as he starts going down for the count. I can't look at it without smiling and, on occasion, even chuckling out loud.

Otto Binder wrote all the stories in this issue and, thanks to SHOWCASE PRESENTS SUPERMAN FAMILY: VOLUME ONE [DC; $16.99], I got to read them. The only downside to that black-and-white collection is that it's taking all my will to resist blowing off this column, sitting down, and reading all 500-plus pages of it.

Getting down to business...

Jimmy becomes "Superman's Seeing-Eye Dog" in the first of the issue's three stories, all of which are pencilled by Swan and inked by Burnley. It starts with Superman bringing his pal a souvenir: a jar of meteor dust which radiates x-rays. Jimmy drops the jar, gets the dust in his eyes, and develops x-ray vision. But, if his x-ray vision touches Superman's x-ray vision, an explosion would be the result. Since Superman needs his x-ray vision, Jimmy makes a suggestion: "You'd better take me far away...or put me in a lead-lined room!"

Superman replies, "Good idea, Jimmy!"

What a pal that Superman is!

Okay, Supes does take Jimmy to an eye specialist who somehow deduces the cub reporter's x-ray vision is temporary. Jimmy's next suggestion is that he act as Superman's seeing-eye dog and, just one panel later, Superman has Olsen in a harness and is flying him around the city. Now that's kinky!

By the way, don't worry about me spoiling the endings of any of these stories. I consider it my civic duty to do everything I can to get you to buy this book and enjoy the stories for yourself. This is Silver Age magic, baby!

In "Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent's Pal," Superman is shocked when the cub reporter kicks him to the curb in favor of hanging out with the Man of Steel's secret identity. What's especially hilarious in this tale, at least to my doubtless twisted 2006 sensibilities, are the shocked reactions of the people of Metropolis to the break-up! Gasps Perry White, his cigar dangling precariously from his mouth, "Great Caesar's Ghost! Are you ill, Jimmy? Is your friendship with Superman going sour? I--I can't believe my ears!"

It's like a 1956 version of the Brad/Jennifer split...if Brad and Jennifer were the Ambiguously Gay Duo.

"T.N.T. Olsen, the Champ" - the cover story - finishes out the issue. Our pal Jimmy was clever when his adventures called for him to be clever. He was a courageous and steadfast loyal friend when his adventures called for him to be so. When editors and writers were feeling impish or sadistic, he could be as dumb as dumb gets. And, every now and then, when the story dictated it, he could be all of these things at once.

In this story, Jimmy defends the honor of Lois Lane against an arrogant masher. Slipping on a banana peel, the guy knocks himself out, but, to most bystanders, it appears Jimmy flattened him with one punch. The truth of the matter is witnessed by crooked boxing promoter "Pugs" Orten, who proceeds to con Jimmy and everyone else in Metropolis into thinking the reporter is as strong as a gorilla. Indeed, Jimmy even punches out a gorilla in the days leading up to a major prizefight. "Pugs" figures to clean up by betting against Jimmy in the match. This might not be the ten hilarious rounds of action promised by the cover, but it's a remarkably satisfying tale showcasing Jimmy's strengths and shortcomings.

Showcase Presents: Superman Family Vol. 1

SHOWCASE PRESENTS SUPERMAN FAMILY: VOLUME ONE reprints JIMMY OLSEN #1-22, SHOWCASE #9 (starring Lois Lane), and the first Lois solo story from SUPERMAN #28. That's 70 stories for your 17 bucks, a super-deal if there ever was one.

I might be shaking up our TOT opening rotation a mite over the summer, but you can count on SUPERMAN and his family making regular appearances as long as I can get my hands on gems like the stories in this issue of JIMMY OLSEN.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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