Jimmy Olsen #104 (Aug. –Sep. 1967)
Now we’re at Jimmy Olsen #104, in June 1967. This was not just any issue, this was an 80-page Giant issue! Sure, I’d read giant-sized Casper and Wendy issues before—I loved that a single comic could contain so many stories–but JO #104 was my first bonafide giant-sized DC issue! All in color for a quarter, you can’t beat that. At least not back in the 1960s.
If you look closely at the cover, you’ll this issue was not only Jimmy Olsen #104, but it was also labeled #G 38. DC’s Giant issues started out as a series with its own numbering. Eventually the Giants became integrated into the title characters own series too (for the purposes of cheaper mail rates, perhaps?), hence the double-numbering. Here’s a close up shot of the dual numbers G38 and #104 :
This issue was my introduction to the comic book version of Jimmy Olsen, though I was already familiar with “Superman’s Pal” because of the Superman TV show. It’s been said that the TV character’s popularity–played by the personable Jack Larson– is what inspired DC to give Jimmy his own comic in 1954. But I’d also seen Jimmy previously in a few panels in a couple of Lois Lane issues. Years before the Marvel Universe was a gleam in Stan Lee’s eye, over at DC Mort Weisinger presided over a “Superman family Universe” with Superman, Superboy, Action, Adventure, World’s Finest, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen; a regular cast of characters and core concepts were used over and over again in these mags.
For example, there was Lucy Lane: she did double duty as Lois’s sister in LL, and appeared as Jimmy’s love interest in JO. I love how her hairdo was a blonde version of Lois’s ‘do; only Lucy had two little curls adorning her forehead instead of Lois’ more serious curtain of bangs!
We know Lucy is fickle because she’s an airline stewardess (they didn’t call ‘em flight attendants back then). “Stews” were supposed to be the epitome of swinging single gals back in the day. Or haven’t you seen ABC’s Pan Am?
Anyway, this Giant featured reprints of Jimmy’s “Weirdest Adventures”, most of which consisted of Jimmy being transformed into something quite different from his normal, red-haired freckled self, a popular plot back then (most of these JO stories were from the late 1950s-early 1960s). As shown on the cover, Jimmy became a giant turtle-man, a witch doctor, and Elastic Lad. But the best story wasn’t even shown on the cover, it’s when Jimmy becomes “The Wolf-Man of Metropolis” from Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960) and the cure is to have a “beautiful maiden” kiss him. The cub reporter is forced to resort to desperate measures:
Eventually Superman procures the young, beautiful “Miss X” to kiss Jimmy and he’s released from the spell. And to further illustrate the shared Superman universe, Miss X is none other than Supergirl (whose identity wasn’t known to the public at the time). Not sure why she had to kiss Jimmy with the lights off, though, since if no knew of Supergirl’s existence back then, why couldn’t she just wear regular civilian clothes and kiss Jimmy?
Most of the art in this issue was by none other than the great Curt Swan and inked by John Forte, Stan Kaye and George Klein. Swan cut his teeth on the Superman family by doing JO for many years. When regular Superman artist Wayne Boring left, Weisinger moved Swan over to the main Superman features in Superman and Action, and Swan became the definitive Superman artist.