Sunday, September 4, 2011

Episode #193: Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated June 1956: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #13!

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #13, June 1956, was published around April 19, 1956. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of a dime. The editor was Mort Weisinger, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. All three 8 page stories were written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Ray Burnley, and were reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman Family vol. I.

The Six Jimmy Olsens was the first story of the issue. It began while Jimmy ate breakfast, when he noticed a personal ad which read, Attention Jimmy Olsen. Help me solve a riddle. It will be worth your while. Go to old deserted house on Oak Street. Mr. X.

At the address, Jimmy met another young man he assumed was Mr. X, and was surprised to learn that his name was also Jimmy Olsen. Soon, four more young men showed up, all with the name of Jimmy Olsen. To keep everyone straight, reporter Jimmy gave everyone nicknames: Tubby Jimmy, Slim Jimmy (Slim Jim?), Tall Jimmy, Short Jimmy, Goggles Jimmy, and himself Cub Jimmy.

Cub Jimmy found a steel chest, with a note attached to it, under a bush outside the empty house. The note read, Jimmy Olsen, for private reasons I must remain anonymous. Find out what is inside this chest and the contents are yours. But do not damage or force it open, because it is for my curio collection. Mr. X.

The gang of Jimmys began to fight over the chest, until Cub Jimmy suggested that they all split the treasure evenly. He then alerted Superman with his signal watch, but it malfunctioned. Cub Jimmy sent the other Olsens out to find Superman.

At the Daily Planet,  Tubby Jimmy appeared when Perry White called for Olsen. Lois was surprised to meet Slim Jimmy when she called his name when she needed him to help her with a story.

Shorty Jimmy took his post outside a building fire, hoping Superman would show up to the emergency. His efforts were rewarded, but Shorty didn't expect to have Superman save him when some debris fell toward him. Short Jimmy explained everything to the Man of Steel.

Superman also saved Goggles Jimmy, who had climbed a tree in order to use a mirror as a signal to catch the Man of Steel's attention. He did, but by falling when the branch he had climbed on broke. So Superman flew back to Cub Jimmy's apartment with two hitchhikers on his back.

Superman noticed something unusual about the chest, but when he examined it with his x-ray vision, he found that it was empty. To make it up to everyone, Superman gave all of the other Jimmys a round the country flight on Superman Airways, with three Jimmys on his back and one on each arm. The Man of Steel kept an eye on Metropolis during the entire journey.

Back at Metropolis, Cub Jimmy had the dubious job of disposing of the worthless chest in a public garbage can on the sidewalk. He was followed by someone who we learned was named "Faker" Floyd. He grabbed the chest and took it to a jeweler. By the time he arrived at the jewelry store, the chest had somehow become covered in diamonds. The jeweler was about to pay $100,000.00 for it, when Superman barged into the store.

The Man of Steel warned the jeweler about his customer's identity, and Floyd confessed his scam. He had perfected a way for carbon steel to temporarily transform into its crystalline form of diamonds. Floyd had planned to leave town as soon as he could sell it, and leave the jeweler with a worthless chest. To confirm his words, the chest converted to its original steel form. Superman was suspicious when he noticed the chest was empty, and correctly guessed that somehow using his x-ray vision would affect it somehow.

Cub Jimmy divided the reward money Superman gave him for the capture of Faker Floyd, which made the other Olsens very happy. They all agreed with his suggestion to keep meeting as the Jimmy Olsen club.

Faker Floyd's swindle seemed too complex to be worth the effort. First, he had to hope that Jimmy Olsen read the personal ads, then keep the abandoned house under surveillance. After getting Superman's attention in order to expose the chest to his x-ray vision, Floyd would then have to follow Jimmy until he could find a way to get it back.Why not find an industrial use for his process, which might have been possible if he had perfected it further. Then he would probably earn a lot more than $100,000.00.

It was fun to see the other Jimmy Olsens, and Perry and Lois had some humorous interactions with two of them. Seeing the Man of Steel fly the other Olsens on his back was comical, as was his expression at the end of the story with the idea of the Jimmy Olsen Club. I wonder if protecting cub Jimmy ever made Superman feel as if he had a half dozen Olsens on his back. I give this fun story 4 Superman Capes out of 5.

In the second story of the issue, The Stolen Superman Signal, Jimmy had volunteered to help Superman collect funds from the various charity collection booths around Metropolis.

After emptying the first collection booth, shaped like a horn of plenty, Jimmy called Superman with his signal watch. Superman took the money to the charity headquarters for obvious security reasons.

Unknown to Jimmy, Labs Logan had been following Jimmy. when he saw Jimmy seem to adjust his watch twice, he correctly deduced that Olsen must have some type of ultrasonic signal to call Superman.

Logan followed Jimmy into the restroom of a restaurant. While Jimmy washed his hands and face, Logan examined Jimmy's watch, which Olsen had placed on a shelf behind him along with his jacket. Logan was able to figure out the parts, and adjust the signal to a different frequency, before Jimmy discovered his watch had been tampered with.

At the next charity collection station, shaped like a pot of gold, with a rainbow arch over the street to the other side, Jimmy activated his signal watch, but Superman assumed it was from someone else. Logan had been driving a car, following Jimmy with a receiver set to the frequency he had set on Jimmy's watch. Logan pulled up to Jimmy and robbed him of the charity money.

The next charity station was shaped like a pirate with a treasure chest. Logan hit the plaster arm of the pirate statue with a stick, causing the arm to fall and allow him to rob Jimmy a second time.

Jimmy was no dummy, and decided to get to the bottom of things. At the next station, shaped like a gold miner with a bag of gold, Jimmy activated his signal watch, waiting for Superman to appear before he opened the collection box. Logan noticed that Jimmy had gotten wise to his scam, and forced Jimmy to remove the funds and took Olsen to his hideout. Jimmy wasn't worried, because he figured that he would use his signal watch when they got to Logan's place.

Olsen got a shock when Logan revealed that he had adjusted the signal watch, using the receiver to prove his point. After taking Jimmy's keys to all of the collection boxes, Logan called his friend Barney, who brought a piece of kryptonite. Their plan was to use the kryptonite to trap Superman and use the keys to steal the rest of the charity funds from the collection stations. Logan reset Jimmy's signal watch to its original frequency and ordered him to call Superman.

Jimmy summoned the Man of Steel with his signal watch, but outsmarted his captor by emitting Morse code which warned Superman about the kryptonite trap. The Man of Steel fashioned scrap metal into a giant pair of tongs, which he used to safely extract the kryptonite and fling it into the ocean, then use the tongs to carry the crooks to jail.

Superman then helped Jimmy safely collect the rest of the charity funds, and Olsen promised to never let his signal watch to fall into the hands of a crook again.

This was the second story of the issue about a crook who used his smarts for crime and not for an honest job. Logan was more of a scumbag than Floyd, trying to steal from charities. He had the smarts to figure out Jimmy's signal watch with a quick glance, and I wondered if he built his radio monitor himself. With that much know how, it would have seemed easy for him to get a job in engineering or electronics. For Logan to get to Jimmy right after he collected the money from the collection station, traffic must have been light or he happened to be driving nearby. Logan was a menacing villain with his goatee and purple suit, and with the shadows falling over his face on the second panel of page three.

Metropolis had some elaborate charity collection stations. My favorite was the pot of gold, with its rainbow over the road. I wonder if there was another collection pot at the other end of the rainbow on the other side of the street.

Logan almost set up the perfect trap for Superman, if not for Jimmy's use of his signal watch to broadcast a Morse code message. I guess Logan had turned his monitor off, or else he might have caught on to what Jimmy was doing.

This was my favorite story of this issue, thanks to Jimmy's quick thinking action, and I give it 4 Superman Capes out of 5.

The final story of the issue was featured on the cover, Jimmy Olsen's Super Illusions. It began as Jimmy cooked breakfast. He had two eggs frying on a grill, when suddenly 1o fried eggs appeared. There were only two sets of egg shells, and when Jimmy looked at the cooking eggs again, there were only two.

After breakfast, Jimmy noticed a bent steel bar in his Superman collection was now straight. When he did a double take, he saw that it was bent into its original shape again.

During his walk to work, Jimmy saw a light post painted in candy stripes. While he looked for someone to ask if he was seeing things. While Jimmy was gone, Superman, who had painted the candy stripes originally, repainted the light post its original color.Jimmy returned to see it as the original color, the stranger wondered if Jimmy had seen an illusion also.

Superman's thought balloons revealed that he had also placed the extra eggs on his grill and re-bent the steel bar. He flew ahead of Jimmy and flipped an empty hose for rent onto its roof. After Jimmy saw that unusual sight, he saw a rock sparkle like a diamond on the ground, and a cannon roll uphill, then activated his signal watch.

When the Man of Steel arrived, Jimmy accused Superman of using his x-ray vision to make the rock sparkle, and of using his super breath to blow the cannon uphill. Superman denied it, and was actually telling the truth. In his thought balloons we learned that he had used his super breath to blow sand onto the rock to make ti sparkle, and burrowed under the cannon to push it uphill with his finger. He deliberately avoided doing those tricks the obvious way so that he could give Jimmy an honest answer when Olsen accused him of doing them.

Suddenly, Jimmy saw two Supermen, but when the real Man of Steel flew away, Olsen saw only one. Before he flew out of range, the Man of Steel told Jimmy that maybe he needed to see an eye doctor. A very confused Jimmy finally arrived at the Daily Planet offices. He developed film from a night camera he used for a story he and Clark covered the night before. Much to Jimmy's surprise, one of the pictures showed Clark changing into Superman.

When confronted by Jimmy, Clark admitted that he was Superman.He changed into the Man of Steel to help a town that had been buried in a sandstorm. Jimmy asked to go along in exchange for his silence. Cub Olsen finally got his ride on Superman's back. While Jimmy held onto Superman's cape, the Man of Steel spun at super speed to clear the entire town of sand. On the trip back to Metropolis, Jimmy was extremely dizzy, to say the least. But that was all part of Superman's plan.

In a flashback, we were shown the warehouse robbery that Jimmy and Clark covered the night before. They split up, and Clark thought it was safe to change into Superman in the dark. Jimmy happened to snap a picture by mistake, and Clark happened to see that Jimmy had aimed the night camera in his direction. This led to everything Superman did to Jimmy the following day.

Jimmy awoke in his own bed, with Superman waking him up. The Man of Steel said that he had been sent there by Clark to check on him  because he was late to develop some film Olsen took last night. Jimmy remembered developing the film already and learning that Superman and Clark were the same person. When Jimmy returned to the Daily Planet and developed the film, the negatives were blank. Superman had actually put a blank roll in the camera, but Jimmy was convinced that all of the weird things that had happened to him were all in a crazy dream he had. That was a big relief for Superman, since his secret identity was safe again.

Later, when Jimmy recounted his dream to Clark, he had a big laugh thinking that Clark and Superman were the same person. Clark ended the story with a big wink to the reader.

This was basically a story about Superman brainwashing his best pal to protect his secret identity. Actually, the Man of Steel treated Jimmy worse than Clark did in the Jungle Jimmy Olsen story from Jimmy Olsen #10 (covered in episode #185). Like that previous story, Superman is basically the villain in this one, so to speak, because of the tricks he plays on Jimmy. Granted, it was to keep Jimmy safe from any crook who would learn if he knew Superman's secret identity.

Ultimately, this is another strange silver age Superman story with plenty of oddball super deeds. First of all, I wonder how Superman got rid of the extra fried eggs he put on Jimmy's grill? Did he eat them? If so, I'm glad he was invulnerable to cholesterol. When the Man of Steel flipped the empty house upside down on its roof, it gave a new meaning to the phrase "flipping a house."

Superman's explanation of blowing sand against the rock to make it sparkle like a diamond seemed a little dubious. It would seem that the Man of Steel;'s super breath would blow up at least a little cloud of sand.

I had to wonder why Superman didn't use one of his robots to convince Jimmy that he was seeing double, instead of using a dummy and his super ventriloquism.

The only redeeming part of this story was that Superman at least felt bad about what he was doing to his pal.  This story proved that, at least during the silver age of comic books, the worse thing than being Superman's enemy was being his closest friend. It grabbed my interest like driving by a car wreck, and I give this story 3 Superman Capes out of 5.

Elsewhere in DC Comics, there were 31 titles that carried the June or June/July 1956 cover date.

Next episode: Superman Comic Books Cover Dated August 1959: Superman #131 & Action Comics #255!

In 2 weeks: Superman Family Comic Books Cover Dated July/August 1956: World's Finest Comics #83!

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