Comic: "Supermans Pal Jimmy Olsen #133"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Jack Kirby
Artist: Jack Kirby
Reviewer: Max Burbank
Plot: Media Mogul Morgan Edge buys the Daily Planet, and his first order of business is an assignment for… Jimmy Olsen? With the assistance of The Newsboy Legion, Olsen penetrates the ‘Wild Area’, a lawless zone of dropouts, hippies and motorcycle gangs. Jimmy defeats gang leader Iron Mask and takes over “The Outsiders”. Superman shows up, trying to harsh Jimmy’s buzz, sure the assignment is too dangerous, but Jimmy is on to a very big story. The Wild Area is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a whole hidden sub culture there, and something called “The Mountain of Judgment” that needs investigatin’.
Review: In 1970, Jack Kirby left Marvel over a very ugly contract dispute. DC was only too happy to snap up the man who’d co-invented The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, The Avengers, the X-men, not to mention Captain America. Kirby wrote and drew several books for DC, but the first title he took over was Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Why you might ask, was a big star debuting, not with Superman or Batman? Jesus, why not Hawkman? Jimmy Olsen? There were two reasons. Kirby wanted to turn around a low selling book, and this one had the advantage of not having an assigned creative team. Kirby hated the idea of kicking anyone off a book.
Jimmy Olson 133 is the Doggy Door to the DC universe. Entering through it, Kirby would soon introduce The Fourth World and give DC arguably it’s greatest villain, Darkseid. This issue is the fuse to a totally out of control creative explosion that at very least equaled the birth of Marvel comics.
As a kid, I was not a Kirby Fan. I vastly preferred the realism of Neal Adams to Kirby bizarre, kinetic style. Kirby’s work was way to out of control form me, and sometimes seemed downright childish. As an adult, I look at this period of his work and see art on fire with energy, as if he could barely finish a page fast enough, he was so eager to get to the next. Looking at a Kirby book is like walking a very excited dog that’s almost but not quite strong enough to pull you off your feet and drag you along behind it.
His ideas and plotting were operatic in scale, huge sweeping Dickensian masses, careening in all directions. Tragically, his writing, not so much. For a long time, his tin ear really put me off, but I’ve come to savor it because it’s not that it’s bad. It’s odd. It’s really damned odd. “Cool, Baby! The Whiz Wagon grabs sky like a crazy eagle!” There’s a certain naive poetry there that’s kind of beautiful. Was there no one around to tell the King that “Whiz Wagon” was a kind of unattractive name for a super car. “Whiz Wagon” is what you call the stuttering jalopy you can’t afford to replace even after your terrified cat sprayed the upholstery the last time you took it to the vet.
It makes me sad that I disdained Kirby’s 70’s DC arc, like I missed a great friendship because I was too worried about what hanging with such a weirdo would make me look like. It’s all being reprinted now, and I urge you to dig into it. It is seriously out there shit, the last best work of a mad genius. Kirby would eventually return to Marvel, and try to create a new mythology there as he’d done at DC. His genius was still there, but it never gelled, and I don’t think he ever got back on his game.
Olson #133 is where it starts. Check it out.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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