DC Comics History: Jimmy Olsen (1960 - 1964: the Silver Age)
By Deejay Dayton
Jun 8, 2017 - 10:54
1960 – 1964: the Silver Age were a wild period for Jimmy Olsen. He gained new secret identities, new bodies, and new girlfriends. Like the rest of the Superman family of books, the tales in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen served to introduce, or to expand on, a variety of characters, locations and objects in Superman’s vast world.
Jimmy Olsen had been around in the comics for more than twenty years before any story dealt with his never seen parents. Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 75 is the first story that delves into the mystery of the parents. An early story made casual reference to the fact that Jimmy was an orphan, but beyond that, nothing had been explained about them. In this tale, we see a pretty horrific train wreck, and learn that Jimmy's parents had died, or at least vanished, in the crash. Now, Jimmy gets leads to believe that a prisoner in Metropolis may well be his missing father, Mark Olsen. Jimmy goes to visit the man, and the guy confirms that he is Jimmy's father.
Jimmy is conflicted, ashamed and embarrassed that his dad is a felon, but also wanting to help him. He saves his father's life a couple of times, and the dad tells Jimmy he wants to turn over his hidden loot to the boy and Superman. Sadly, this all turns out to be a giant hoax, an elaborate plot to kill Superman, as the "loot" is really kryptonite. The man gets killed, after confessing his deception. The final panel indicates that the truth about Jimmy's father will be revealed in an upcoming story. It was, but I’ll be dealing with that in the next era.
Many stories dealt with Jimmy’s relationship with his boss at the Daily Planet, Perry White. My favourite of those appears in issue 76. After a rival newspaper, the Sentinel, runs a story about Perry being descended from a tyrannical soldier, Perry decides to haul Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen out to the desert to re-enact the events.The poor staffers have no option but to go along with the weird idea. And, sure enough, once they are out there, Perry begins acting outrageously, making them all risk their lives (well, except for Clark) by forcing them into a long march without adequate water.
Perry himself turns out to be the one to collapse and almost die. In the hospital, he reveals to the group that this was all a wager to prove to the rival newspaper owner how loyal and devoted his staff is. Strangely, none of them quit after finding out how horribly they have been used.
Supergirl appeared in quite a few of Jimmy’s adventures during these years, even though, at first, her existence was to be kept hidden from him. In Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 46 Jimmy covers a flood, but winds up getting injured while rescuing a cat, and gains amnesia. With no idea who he really is, Jimmy is sent to the nearest orphanage, at Midvale, the same one Supergirl resides at. Linda Lee immediately recognizes Jimmy, but he has no idea who she is.
His memory is slightly prompted when Linda reads the other children the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, although how Jimmy associates his kiss from "Miss X," who he never saw, with Linda is a bit of a mystery. Jimmy's memory returns, and he reveals this to Linda, as well as his intention to write a story about his time at the orphanage. Linda winds up using her Supergirl powers, first to prevent a couple from adopting Jimmy, and later to contact Superman, and get the kid out of there before he realizes Supergirl exists.
In issue 51 Supergirl decides to make Lucy Lane jealous, after she starts dating a rock star. She creates an alternate identity, but goes by the name Ka-Ra, so it's really not difficult for the reader to get a jump on who the mysterious, super-powered girl with green hair really is. Supergirl has been shown in other stories to work on getting Superman and Lois Lane together, so all of this is well within her usual course of action.
And this plan seems to work better than most, as Lucy does get jealous, and drops her rock star to spend more time with Jimmy. But then Lucy comes across a robot form of Ka-Ra, made as a gift by Professor Potter. Thinking that Ka-Ra was a hoax all along, Lucy turns on Jimmy and goes back to her rock star. Yet again, Supergirl's attempts to bring a couple together have failed dismally.
Supergirl also gets a main role in an Imaginary Story in Jimmy Olsen 57. The story brings together Jimmy and Supergirl, who, at this point, is still not known to the world, although her change in hairstyle makes it clear that she has already been adopted by the Danvers family. Linda returns to visit the orphanage on the same day Jimmy is making a trip there, to give a talk and show off some of his Superman souvenirs. One of the things he has brought with him is a chunk of red kryptonite. Linda has no opportunity to get away from it, and the red k removes both her powers and her memory of being Supergirl. The pair then hit it off, and Jimmy is far happier with Linda than he ever was with Lucy Lane. Superman gets concerned about the situation when he finds out Jimmy and Linda are engaged, and discovers the role the red kryptonite played in the situation. But as the two are so happy together, he keeps his mouth shut.
Lucy attends the wedding, though Lois notes how unhappy she is, and how much she regrets not giving Jimmy more of a chance. Shortly after the wedding, the effect of the red k wears off, and Linda regains both her memory and her powers.
Spotting Jimmy in trouble, she goes into action as Supergirl, and saves him. She explains her past and connection to Superman, although she keeps her other identity a secret from him. As Supergirl, she saves Jimmy from an alien monster and bring trapped in an underground civilization, and begins actively romantically pursuing him.
Jimmy is taken with Supergirl, but uncomfortable with the situation, as he still loves Linda. The story concludes with a happy ending, as Linda reveals that she and Supergirl are the same person. A fun Imaginary Story.
Issue 75 has Supergirl dealing with a host of problems caused by exposure to red kryptonite. She briefly travels into he future, and sees Jimmy Olsen killed in an accident with the Flying Newsroom. Returning to the present, she decides to avert this situation by having Jimmy get fired from his job. This is made more difficult for her, because the red kryptonite effect only allows her to have powers as Supergirl, not as Linda Danvers. She gets a job at the Daily Planet, and does all she can to get Jimmy fired.
Oddly, she also works to break up his relationship with Lucy Lane, even though this has nothing directly to do with his death. In both cases, she succeeds, as Lucy dumps him and Perry fires him. But then it turns out that the person who died in the helicopter crash was not Jimmy, but a criminal disguised as him. Jimmy manages to get his job back by promising to write the whole story of this. And when Linda quits her job, and Jimmy does not protest, Lucy decides that Jimmy hadn't really fallen for her either.
Supergirl’s cat, Streaky, also shows up in Jimmy’s book, in issue 60. Jimmy encounters the animal in Metropolis, and sees it fly backwards through time. Which is something one can just tell by looking at. Jimmy has a belt, given to him by Ilona, the alien woman in the previous issue, which allows him to time travel, and he uses it to follow Streaky, intending to return the cat to Supergirl. Jimmy winds in Salem at the time of the witchcraft trials, and comes to the aid of a woman, Lucinda Lawrence, who happens to be identical to Lucy Lane.
Jimmy's actions with the belt, while well meant, wind up making everyone think he is a witch. There is an enjoyable twist at the end of the story, as Jimmy and the reader discover that Lucinda really is a witch. She saves Jimmy's life from the people of Salem, and sends him back to his own time with Streaky.
The stories I have covered have referred to the crazy romance between Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane. Like Superman and Lois, they are severely dysfunctional, but made for each other. My favourite story of theirs from this period appears in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 74. Jimmy is on the hunt for a notorious jewel thief, and adopts the disguise of Magi the Magnificent, a stage magician, in order to pursue the man. Meanwhile, Lucy Lane is sent undercover to check on passenger service on the airline. She pretends to be an actress, Sandra Rogers.
The two wind up meeting, and neither recognizes who the other truly is. It's like Shakespeare! Both find their new companion much more interesting and enticing than the one they are used to. At one point, the plane gets grounded, and the two rush off, only to meet up again as themselves at a costume party.
For double the fun, the costumes they wear are inspired by the disguises the other one wore. Did that sentence make sense? It's all a lot of comedic craziness, but the two go through the entire story without ever figuring out who each other really is. Superman catches the jewel thief, because Jimmy is far too busy pursuing Sandra. The identities of Magi and Sandra will return in the next period.
Other women would show an interest in Jimmy during these years, of course, and three would return in years to come.
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 59 begins as Jimmy gets mocked by Lucy and her horde of wealthy suitors. But Jimmy's fortunes seem to improve when a beautiful alien woman arrives on Earth and goes after him. Jimmy gets swept away by Ilona, and agrees to go back to her planet with her. But it turns out that Ilona has a number of guys, all of whom had once been her favourites, and now are essentially her harem. They are jealous of Jimmy, and transform him into a freak, as in the cover image. Superman shows up, and the other guys are clearly scared enough by him that they change Jimmy back.
Jimmy is not interested in being part of a harem of guys, so with the aid of Superman, and a disguised Lois Lane and Lana Lang, convinces Ilona that Jimmy has his own set of wives, which she will simply be one of. Ilona loses interest in this, and Jimmy is free to go back to Earth. Now that Jimmy has been seen with the beautiful Ilona, Lucy Lane is once again interested in him. This time, Jimmy knows to act cool, in order to keep her interested. At least until next time.
Jimmy never learns his lesson, as seen in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 64. After Lucy Lane once again treats Jimmy Olsen like dirt, he winds up getting contacted via television by an alien woman, Allura, who has worshipped him from afar. She gives Jimmy instructions on how to build a wrist band that endows Jimmy with super intelligence.
Jimmy uses his new powers to try to impress Lucy, but she still winds up treating him like he is second best. So Jimmy decides to head to Allura's world and be with her. Sadly, when he arrives, the two discover that they are wildly different in size. Both are quite devastated to discover this, and Jimmy winds up heading back to Earth, and being treated like shit by Lucy.
In issue 73 Jimmy carves a woman, who comes to life. The statue was meant to be one of Lucy Lane, but the woman that emerges looks nothing like her. Rona claims to be from the 7th Dimension, and she and Jimmy begin dating right away. Jimmy proposes to Rona, and Lucy Lane gets enlisted to help buy the woman's wedding clothes. As crappy as Lucy is to Jimmy, in so many stories, you gotta feel really bad for her here. Even Jimmy regrets making her be a part of the wedding party.
Ultra Boy makes a one panel cameo, bringing a wedding present. But the wedding does not go very well, as Rona poisons Jimmy. Superman concocts an antidote, and Rona gets carted off to prison, being a wanted felon. Pretty much nothing she had told Jimmy about herself was true, and she used him to escape from her alien prison. Rona returns a few years down the road.
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 76 opens with a disastrous date between Jimmy and Lucy Lane. Ultra Boy and Sun Boy show up to bring Jimmy to the future, explaining that he has to take part in some Legion activities to maintain his honourary membership. Jimmy leaves with them, allowing Lucy to watch his adventures in the future with a special monitor. As they guys head off on a mission, Jimmy spends his time on Earth, working with Duo Damsel, Lightning Lass and Saturn Girl in succession.
Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum, and stops a fleeing criminal, helps prevent a monorail crash, and joins in rounding up some escaped animals. In each case, the woman he is working with goes nuts over him, and he spends as much time fending off their advances. The three even wind up in a catfight over him. When Jimmy's powers wear off, the boys take him back to his own time, and we discover that the romance stuff was all a fake, designed to make Lucy jealous. But Lucy didn't watch any of. She just took a nap. So she is no more impressed with Jimmy than she was at the top of the story.
The Legion were not the only heroes to guest star in the book at this time. Congo Bill, Janu the Jungle Boy and Congorilla show up in issue 49. Congo Bill comes to the Daily Planet seeking Superman's help after Congorilla winds up getting captured. He explains to Jimmy how his ring functions, switching his mind with that of the Golden Gorilla, and briefly recaps the origin of Congorilla. In a not particularly wise move, Bill lets Jimmy hold onto the ring. Of course, Jimmy winds up using the ring and switching minds with Congorilla.
In the ape's body, he goes after the criminal group, the Red Knights. Lois Lane comes across an apparently sleeping Jimmy, and wakes him, but the ape's brain is now in Jimmy's body, and he starts running wild. It's left to Superman to straighten everything out and capture the Red Knights. Superman returns both the ring and Congorilla to Congo Bill, who heads back to Africa, and his own series in Action Comics.
Aquaman appears in issue 55, but heads off planet on a mission with Superman. Using a helmet Superman has created, Aquaman endows Jimmy with his powers. You'd think he might have done this with Aqualad, but nope. Jimmy gets to patrol the oceans while Aquaman is away. While Jimmy is swimming around doing Aquaman-type stuff, a sea monster gets freed from an iceberg. The monster begins tagging along after Jimmy, and imitating his actions, which causes a lot of problems.
Jimmy is unable to communicate with the creature, and is not experienced enough to either capture it or stop it. It seems to be his good fortune when some other sea monsters show up to seal the creature back into the ice. At the very end of the story Superman and Aquaman return to Earth, and we learn that Lori Lemaris had been the one to summon the other creatures and save the day. Should have just let her protect the oceans.
Power Lad becomes Superman's new friend and partner in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 45. The story begins with Superman out in space on a mission. Jimmy is interviewing a young scientist, Tom Baker, who is working on a method to give him super-powers. The experiment blows up, but is still a success, and Tom Baker gains speed, strength, flight and even super-breath. Baker adopt the identity of Power Lad, and begins to become a popular hero on his own. When Superman returns to Earth, Power Lad starts working alongside him, and Jimmy gets miserable and jealous.
Towards the end, Tom's powers fade, and Jimmy cheers up immensely. The ending of the story twists it all in a completely different direction. Tom Baker never really existed. He is really a Kandorian, Dik-Rey, who had traded places with Supergirl while she went to explore Kandor. This is an early Kandor story, as can be seen by the shape of the bottle. It introduces the exchange ray gun, which will be used to trade someone from Kandor for someone from Earth, in these early years of the bottled city.
The Superman Emergency Squad make their debut in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 48. The tiny superheroes first appear when Jimmy is in danger of crashing the Flying Newsroom. Although they are glad to help him, and tell him the name of their group, they provide no further information about who they are. And they are determined that no one other than Jimmy should see them at work. Superman is away on a mission, but the Emergency Squad are keen to go into action, even if that just means typing up Jimmy's news article for him.
But when Jimmy tries to call Perry White in, to show him the Emergency Squad, they stuff paper in his mouth to gag him. Perry comes to believe the Emergency Squad are just a figment of Jimmy's imagination. Towards the end of the story the Emergency Squad seek out Supergirl, whose existence is still a secret. Not only do they reveal themselves to her, but she even gets an explanation of who they are. A group of Kandorians, eager to aid Superman, who can enlarge themselves a bit, though not fully.
They wear Superman masks and costumes, and it appears to require a whole group of them to force open the stopper on Kandor, in order to emerge. They warn Supergirl that she has left her fingerprints behind on one of Jimmy's souvenirs. The Superman Emergency Squad would return the following year in Supergirl's strip in Action Comics, and soon become just another part of the vast Superman mythos from this period, no longer worried about keeping themselves a secret.
In issue 60 Superman tries to cheer up an ailing boy, Danny Dare, by leaving him a miniature Superman robot, which he calls Super-Mite. Superman has to head into the future on a mission, so cannot stay and cheer up the boy himself. The little robot performs far better than Jimmy Olsen expected. But that's because it isn't really a robot at all.
Although when Jimmy tries to use it, the thing just gets fried and breaks. It turns out that the thing Danny was commanding was not actually a Superman robot, but one of the Superman Emergency Squad, Don-El, who is introduced in this story as the leader of the team.
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 53 sends Jimmy Olsen into Kandor. He exchanges places with Van-Zee, the Kandorian scientist who looks identical to Superman, while Van helps Superman with an experiment. Jimmy gets to meet Van-Zee's wife, Sylvia, and their children. Jimmy is shocked that Sylvia looks identical to Lois Lane, but somehow less surprised when he learns that she is from Earth, not Kandor. Superman's experiment backfires, and results in Jimmy not being able to be exchanged and enlarged, so he is stuck in Kandor until the two heroes can figure out a way to fix the situation.
The Kandorians spend a lot of time watching. Superman and his friends, so Jimmy is able to watch Lucy Lane on a monitor, and sees her going out with other guys. Jimmy happens to find a Kandorian stewardess who looks exactly like Lucy, but to his dismay, she is already married. The woman makes the (to me) curious comment that in Kandor, stewardesses are allowed to keep their jobs after getting married. I guess in 1961 that was not the case on Earth. Anyway, Superman and Van-Zee do fix the problem, and Jimmy returns to Earth. He is so angry with Lucy for seeing other guys that he ignores her. This makes her more interested in him, until he responds to her interest, at which point she stops caring again. The Lane sisters are severely fucked up.
The silver kryptonite story in issue 70 is a genuine puzzler. The story begins as Jimmy enlists Lori Lemaris and Supergirl in establishing that there is no such thing as silver kryptonite. Jimmy then goes around, collecting silver objects from Perry White, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris and even Clark Kent, bringing them all to Professor Potter, as part of operation Silver Kryptonite.
Because Potter's lab is lined with lead, Superman cannot tell what is going on inside it. He enters, and Jimmy proudly displays their newly created piece of silver kryptonite. But it has no real effect, it is simply a container, with silver busts of Superman's friends inside it. The statues were made using the likenesses of Kandorians who are identical to Superman's friends. This group of people will later be named the Look-Alike Squad, and return in a few months.
Element Lad, from the Legion of Super-Heroes, also drops by to help celebrate Superman's silver anniversary, commemorating twenty-five years since he came from Smallville to Metropolis. Now, this is really commemorating twenty-five years since Superman's debut, and even advertises a Superman giant that cover features that fact. To make it twenty-five years since Superman arrived in Metropolis would make the hero at least 43 years old, which is clearly not the case.
Jimmy appears to possess miraculous powers in issue 73, as he goes undercover as a "rajah" while going after a gambler. Jimmy's "rajah" character is meant to have incredible mental powers, and in fact he demonstrates some impossible skills during the course of the story. Only towards the end, when the gambler figures out who Jimmy Olsen really is, do we get everything explained.
The Superman Emergency Squad was flying around, all tiny, and making all of Jimmy's impressive feats take place. The Look-Alike Squad, and Jimmy's double, specifically, also play a part in this when the gambler tries to kill Olsen, but just blows up an invulnerable Kandorian.
Jimmy Olsen gets a new friend, whether he wants it or not, in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 43. The weird, monstrous creature appears when there is an explosion, and Jimmy uses is signal watch, but can only manifest briefly. As odd as it is, the creature is clearly benevolent, and helps Jimmy out. Lucy Lane is less than impressed when it shows up during a date, and once again acts like a real bitch, refusing to see Jimmy as long as he is friends with a monster.
Pesky Lois Lane makes the situation even worse. She tries to use the signal watch to summon Superman to help her on a story, but in playing with it alters the frequency, which brings the monster to Earth for as long as it wants. Jimmy is stuck having the overly-friendly creature accompany him everywhere.
It turns out that the creature really likes horror movies, which is a bit of a hint as to where the story is going. The monster really just wants Jimmy to come back to his planet with him, and Jimmy finally agrees. There, Jimmy is perceived a horrible monster, and used in a horror film on that planet. A fairly simple tale, but the weird creature would return in issue 47.
We see how popular the horror movie made with Jimmy Olsen is on their world in that story. To make another, they construct robots, of both Jimmy and Superman. The Superman robot gets destroyed after the film shoot, and the Jimmy robot, fearing destruction, heads to Earth. There it kidnaps Jimmy and takes his place. The robot has hypnotic powers, which it uses to learn Jimmy's secrets, so that it can impersonate him perfectly.
Since the robot has no need for love, it decides to get rid of Lucy Lane, and is horribly harsh to her. The robot is simply pleased that its impersonation worked. It even convinces Superman, briefly, until he notices that Jimmy wrote "fiend" instead of "friend" on a picture. Superman destroys the robot, and goes off to explain the situation to Lucy.
Jimmy continued to get into his stretchy purple leotard and dive into the action as Elastic Lad during these years. In Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 46 Jimmy takes another dose of Professor Potter's serum, in order to entertain his fan club with tales of his adventures as Elastic Lad. Jimmy is so confident in his Elastic Lad abilities that he winds up in danger a few times, and Superman has to secretly intervene to keep him safe. The story kind of jumps from one thing to another.
The last part of the tale has Jimmy spot a wanted man, and go into action to try to catch him. Superman keeps an eye on Jimmy, but is impressed with his resourcefulness as he corners the mobster and his gang. But then the powers wear off. Superman is about to step in to save Jimmy, but the boy's fan club show up, and help bring the bad guys down, simply by cycling into the mob and knocking them down.
In Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 54, discovering that a wrestling promoter is fixing the matches, Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum and enters the ring, accepting the standing challenge to all comers. The story is pretty light on plot, consisting largely of dynamic visuals as Elastic Lad wrestles guys in crazy costumes.
The Ugly Superman, a professional wrestler who had appeared a couple of years earlier in the pages of Lois Lane's book, is in for the final match, and takes the Elastic Lad serum himself. Jimmy calls on Superman to help him against a more experienced and equally powered opponent.
Jimmy Olsen gets the opportunity to learn Superman's identity in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 62, as Jimmy inhales the fumes of a bottle that has lost its label, and winds up turning into Elastic Lad again. The first few pages are played for comedy, with some wonderful visuals as Jimmy goes off to fight crime in his stretchy identity. Then he spots a hole in the sky, and finds that it is a tear that leads into the Phantom Zone. Entering it, he is able to spy on Perry White, who does the dishes, contrary to gender norms from the time. Jimmy also checks on Lucy Lane, and finds that she holds him in higher regard than she claims. A nice touch. But then the Phantom Zone villains Jax-Ur, Dr. Xadu and Professor Vakox show up.
They coax Jimmy into following Superman, and using his time in the Phantom Zone to learn Superman's real identity. Mon-El also pops up, pleading with Jimmy not to. When the critical moment comes, Jimmy closes his eyes and refuses to look. Coming back to the real world, Jimmy makes an impassioned speech about the importance of Superman keeping his identity a secret, and really bitches out Lois Lane. As Clark Kent, Superman pretends to take Lois's snoopy point of view, but is really impressed with Jimmy's loyalty. The story does weave a bit, but it's a good one.
Jimmy took on other forms as well in this period. In Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 44 Jimmy turns into a werewolf. Superman drops off a box of magical items with Jimmy. By this point, I am fairly certain that Superman fully expected Jimmy to drink the magic potion inside the box, which is exactly what he does. Just as it said it would, the potion turns Jimmy into a werewolf, and he changes form during a full moon, but back to normal during the day. Lucy Lane has a large role in this story, as Jimmy has to keep making excuses for his werewolf face, so that she will not suspect what has really happened.
The only thing that will lift the curse is a kiss from a beautiful woman. Jimmy tries to get Lucy to kiss him, but she will not as long as he is "wearing" his wolfman mask. Jimmy even resorts to offering to pay random women to kiss him, but this fails as well. Superman gets involved, and arranges for Jimmy to get a kiss from "Miss X," who is really Supergirl, still unknown to the world.
In issue 49 Jimmy downs a serum created by Professor Potter, intended to make farm animals larger. I'm not sure it would actually have worked that way, as it just makes Jimmy grotesquely fat. There are a few different threads going on in this tale. As the cover implies, there is a visiting Maharajah whose life was saved by Jimmy, and who promises his weight in gems. But there is also a plot about jewel smugglers trying to take advantage of this situation.
Mixed up with that is a Lucy Lane plot, as Jimmy tries to prevent Lucy from seeing him all fat. He gets into a Santa Claus disguise to avoid her, but she spots him at a carnival fighting with a fat woman, who thinks Jimmy is after her husband's job.
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 53 contains the infamous Giant Turtle Boy tale. Jimmy finds a chest washed up on a beach, and discovers an enlarging ray inside. Playing around with it, he enlarges a turtle, but also himself at the same time, which turns him into a giant, mute, destructive turtle boy, and so he goes on a rampage, as giant mute turtle boys tend to.
He attacks ships and bridges, stuffing bits of them into a volcano. Typical giant mute turtle boy stuff. At the very end of the story, both Superman and Lori Lemaris get involved. Lori explains to Superman that an Atlantean villain, Goxo, had been manipulating the situation all along, telepathically controlling Jimmy. Superman uses Brainiac's shrink ray to restore Jimmy to normal, while Goxo is left to Lori and the Atlanteans. But Giant Turtle Boy would return! How could it not?
Jimmy would face a number of Superman’s enemies in his own book, but none so often as Mr. Mxyzptlk. The imp had major roles in seven of tales in these years. Not all were gems. In issue 44 he pretends to be a leprechaun. In issue 54 Jimmy winds up with the imp’s hat, which contains a piece of red kryptonite, and gives Jimmy hallucinatory dreams, and in issue 71 creates some identical, but fake, Jimmy Olsens.
Of the better stories, there is the tale from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 52, which begins as Mr. Mxyzptlk comes to Earth and spots Jimmy on a date with Lucy Lane. The imp is instantly taken with Lucy, but of course she rejects him. Mxyzptlk decides to split up Lucy and Jimmy, and uses his magic to turn Jimmy back into a werewolf. But he also forces Jimmy to drink from the bottle containing the potion that did this before, even though Mxyzptlk has turned that into water. It's complicated, but the point is that Jimmy believes that a kiss will restore him to normal, as it did before. But it won't. Only 5th Dimensional magic can cure him.
Superman brings Supergirl to kiss Jimmy again, as "Miss X," but it doesn't work. Lois takes pity on Jimmy and kisses him, but with no effect either. Lucy shows herself a bit less shallow than usual, and kisses Jimmy, but again, to no effect. Even Lana Lang and Lori Lemaris get in on the kissing action, both making their first appearances in this book.
At the end, a mysterious woman shows up to kiss Jimmy, and this time it works. This is Miss Gzptlsnz, in her debut. Mxyzptlk's girlfriend from the 5th Dimension. She was none too pleased with his goal of romancing Lucy Lane, and restoring Jimmy is really just her way of revenge.
Issue 53 has Mr. Mxyzptlk send Jimmy back to the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Mxyzptlk is once again chasing after Lucy Lane. She and Jimmy are attending a costume party, and Mxyzptlk, in disguise, manages to get Lucy to add him to her dance card. Then he magically sends Jimmy away. Fortunately, Jimmy happens to be perfectly dressed to fit in at Camelot. Jimmy is assumed to be a wizard, and shows off a pencil with an eraser, a lighter, a coin and a photograph, all of which blow the minds of Arthur and his men.
To Jimmy's surprise, Merlin is there, but as a jester, not a wizard. But Merlin turns out to be another 5th Dimensional imp, who uses his magic to make Jimmy seem like an evil sorceror. Jimmy figures this out, and tricks Merlin into saying his name backwards. Returning to his own time, he then writes Mxyzptlk's name backwards on Lucy's dance card, after explaining the situation to her, and she gets rid of her unwanted suitor that way.
Issue 66 plays things a different way. While Superman is busy dealing with Mr. Mxyzptlk, Jimmy oversees the retrieval of a mysterious cabinet that had landed in the ocean, which had been created on Krypton. Although Perry warns Jimmy not to go into it, Jimmy figures it's worth a try anyway, and does so. The cabinet winds up transforming Jimmy into an old man. Perry spots the notes he had given Jimmy in the cabinet, enters it as well, and gets turned into a baby. This is a story largely played for comedy, so the central scene has Lucy Lane on a date with the now aged Jimmy, and getting all upset with him.
Lois Lane winds up entering the cabinet as well, and gets a cat head. When Superman finally gets around to dealing with the situation, he reads the warning on the cabinet, which explains that the Kryptonian scientist who created it was sent to the Phantom Zone, because there was no way to reverse the changes the cabinet made to people. Superman goads Mr. Mxyzptlk into bringing the three people back to their normal selves, stating that even his magic was not powerful enough to reverse the cabinet's effects.
In Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 74 Mr. Mxyzptlk causes problems without even leaving the 5th Dimension. Jimmy wears the hat belonging to the imp, which he acquired in an earlier issue. Mxyzptlk sends his abilities into the hat, so that whatever Jimmy wishes comes true. It also seems to affect Jimmy's mind, for a while at least, as he takes enjoyment at turning Perry White into a tiger, shrinking Lucy Lane down in size, giving Lois Lane a swelled head, and Clark Kent a chicken head.
When he decides he wants to turn everyone back, Mxyzptlk intervenes to prevent Jimmy from saying or writing his name backwards. Jimmy finally overcomes this by typing it, and using a sheet of carbon paper in reverse.
Miss Gzptlsnz returns in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 65. After Mr. Mxyzptlk rejects her marriage proposal, Miss Gzptlsnz returns to Earth and proposes to Jimmy. He turns her down politely, but she overhears him talk to Superman about how awful she is. She uses her magic to turn Jimmy into the first animal he meets, which happens to be a porcupine. Miss Gzptlsnz refuses to change Jimmy back to normal until he accepts her proposal, so Jimmy is forced to pretend to fall in love with her.
Of course, he also has a scene with Lucy Lane, just so that she can get all upset at his porcupine self. At the end, Jimmy gets a tattoo proclaiming his love, but spelling her name backwards. As with all 5th Dimensional beings, this causes the imp to return to her home dimensions, and removes the effects of her magic.
Jimmy Olsen meets Thor, but not the version from Marvel Comics, in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 55, which is a variation on the theme. Jimmy discovers a tablet with Viking runes on it, which he is able to read. That's fairly impressive. When he does, he winds up getting sent back to he Viking era, and immediately encounters Thor, who has been imprisoned by Loki. He frees the Norse god, and the two become buddies. This makes Loki angry with Jimmy, and he tries to use his magic against the boy, but Thor intervenes.
Back and forth it goes as the story plays out, with Jimmy and Thor saving each other from Loki's schemes. Noticing how similar Loki's magic is to that of Mr. Mxyzptlk, Jimmy tricks the trickster into saying his name backwards, and sure enough Loki vanishes back to the 5th Dimension. At Jimmy's request, Thor then throws the boy through the time stream, so that he winds up back in the present.
Poor old Luthor only made one major appearance, in issue 74. Without much of an explanation, Jimmy gets sent back to ancient Baghdad, and more or less into the legend of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. He befriends a man who looks like Lex Luthor, and who, in fact, turns out to be the villain. Luthor had gone into the past to avoid Superman, but now that he has run into Jimmy, he tries to use the boy to summon and trap the hero.
Jimmy turns the tables on Luthor, kicking a snake towards the villain. The snake bites Luthor, who must free Superman so that the hero can concoct an antidote, after which he brings both Jimmy and Luthor back to the present.
In issue 50 Jimmy finds out he is the heir to a castle, as long as he can complete a number of bizarre challenges. Jimmy breaks his signal watch right at the outset, and as both Lois and Clark are with him the whole time, there seems to be no way Superman can help Jimmy. Despite this, we see Jimmy drink a preposterous amount of beer, hurl a giant hammer, and later face off against an ogre, all on his own.
Lois is stunned by Jimmy's achievements, while Clark is much more quiet. A strong indicator that something more is going on in the story. And, indeed, in the final pages we discover that Supergirl helped with the drinking, Krypto was inside the hammer, and the ogre was really Bizarro, who was being uncharacteristically, rational and helpful.
The story in Jimmy Olsen 59 is a large, complicated way of pitting Jimmy Olsen against Titano. The story begins as Jimmy has a toothache, and gets a filling. Then he asks one of Superman's robots to the future, but the robot malfunctions. It brings Jimmy to the prehistoric era, and then breaks down. Jimmy has to try to find some silver for the robot to be able to repair itself.
But Jimmy' quest for silver is interrupted by a cavegirl who falls for him, and later by Titano, the super-ape. This story falls in between Titano's two appearances in the Bizarro World series. The scene is not really fulfilling in any way. The filling in Jimmy's tooth turns out to have the silver the robot needs, and they leave Titano and head back to the present. Blah.
In Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 63, while Superman is off on a mission, Jimmy Olsen goes to visit the Fortress of Solitude, and is on hand when four Kandorian criminals escape from the bottled city. Jimmy grabs a red kryptonite ray gun and uses it on them, which gives the men weird heads, but doesn't stop them or anything. Ironically, the quartet wind up getting captured by the Legion of Super-Villains, who teleport them into the future. Cosmic King and Lightning Lord are joined by Sun Emperor and Chameleon Chief, two new members, who will not be seen again until the 1970s, in the pages of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The Legion of Super-Villains members then disguise themselves as the Kandorians and return to the Fortress, intending to be put into Kandor and then sent into the Phantom Zone. Their goal is to recruit the Zone villains onto their team, and then lead a big escape, using special belts that they have prepared. The villains' plot seems to go perfectly, until they find that the bottle Jimmy places them in is not Kandor. Lori Lemaris had telepathically picked up on their scheme and alerted Jimmy. Supergirl even pops up to fly the villains back into the future, and turn them over to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The cover of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 69 has a shameful error, with Jimmy referring to Superman as Nightbird, instead of Nightwing. Superman gets alerted by his friend Nor-Kann to the presence of a super-powered criminal in the bottle city of Kandor. He brings Jimmy to the Fortress of Solitude, and they enter the bottle and once again don the guises of Nightwing and Flamebird, as they had a few months earlier in the pages of Superman.
That tale had also introduced Nor-Kann. They discover that the villain is dressed like Superman, but masked. As for the real Superman, he falls ill with Scarlet Jungle Fever, and while Nor-Kann tends to him, Jimmy continues his pursuit of the bad guy, aided by a telepathic dog he calls Nighthound. Because this is an Edmond Hamilton story, it gets packed with a variety of interesting Kandorian elements.
A dangerous sentient computer, the Machine King, a flying horse, unimaginatively called the Winged One. There is even a bottled city within Kandor, created before Brainiac shrunk their city.
Superman finally recovers, and together he and Jimmy capture the villain, who turns out to be Nor-Kann himself. The Nor-Kann they had been dealing with was really an android. The real Nor-Kann had been hypnotized and controlled by the Superman Revenge Squad.
Jimmy Olsen entertains his young fan club members in Smallville in issue 70. Jimmy shows off a number of his souvenirs, and displays his ability to change into Elastic Lad. He also somehow has a new werewolf serum, even though the one he had got changed into water. Things start to go awry almost from the start, when one of the boys takes the werewolf serum as well. It gets worse when he calls Superman down to help demonstrate a kryptonite detector, which turns out to be a kryptonite attractor, and almost winds up killing the hero.
But then we find out that the kids are actually all members of the Superman Revenge Squad, a junior version. They had intentionally switched the label on the machine, intending it to kill Superman. There is a weird, lame explanation as to how Jimmy deduced who the kids really were, involving a lack of ice cubes. Suffice it to say, the plan neither kills Superman nor removes his trust in Jimmy, so can be counted a failure. Much like the story.
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 73 contains a story that features one of Supergirl’s foes, Vostar. The story has two seemingly benevolent aliens endow Jimmy with the ability to turn anything he touches into gold. Much of the story deals with the effects of this, and how Lucy Lane goes from being thrilled about it, to getting into trouble because the golden airplane is too heavy to fly. It's not difficult to see how the Midas touch will be a mixed blessing.
But the story adds another element to it, Vostar. He was the one behind giving Jimmy the golden touch, part of a plan to turn white kryptonite into gold kryptonite and use it on Supergirl. Superman intervenes to prevent the plan from coming off.
In closing, I have to highlight the ultimate, the most iconic Jimmy Olsen tale from the period, the classic tale The World of Doomed Olsens, in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 72. The story opens as Jimmy entertains one of the chapters of his fan club by showing off his various changes, taking the serums that turn him into Elastic Lad and the werewolf. But then a mysterious man, the Collector, shows up and kidnaps Jimmy, taking him to a far off planet. There, Jimmy is confronted and mildly attacked by alternate versions of himself, including Elastic Lad and the werewolf, as well as his fat self, the human porcupine, and giant turtle boy.
Jimmy convinces his alternate selves that they should be working with him, rather than against him, and they turn on the Collector, who starts to make them melt into the ground. Superman flies by, and Jimmy begs for help, but Superman uncharacteristically doesn't seem to care. After Jimmy throws a microphone at the Collector, who flinches, Jimmy suddenly realizes what is going on, and who everyone is.
They are all members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. giant turtle boy is Colossal Boy, fat Jimmy is Bouncing Boy, Cosmic Boy used his powers to control the spines of the human porcupine, and Chameleon Boy and his pet Proty II were Elastic Lad and the werewolf. The Collector is really Mon-El, who clinched because the microphone has lead in it. Superman was part of this whole scam, which was really an initiation ceremony, as Jimmy gets inducted as an honourary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Jimmy Olsen continues in the next period 1964 – 1967: the New Look.
Jimmy Olsen: Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 43 - 76 (Mar 60 – April 1964)
Next up – Martian Manhunter!
DC Comics History: Jimmy Olsen (1960 - 1964: the Silver Age)
DC Comics History: Jimmy Olsen (1955 - 1959: Dawn of the Silver Age)
DC Comics History: Jimmy Olsen