Thursday, November 15, 2007

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #66 (Story One, Part 1): THE BURGLARY KIT FROM THE FUTURE

"In his amazing adventures with Superman, cub reporter Jimmy Olsen has come across some astounding gadgets... including his super-sonic signal watch, the fantastic red kryptonite ray-gun and the Sunevian wonder belt! But the incredible array of super-gadgets he meets in this story tops them all! Thrills come fast and furious when you read the story of... THE BURGLAR KIT FROM THE FUTURE!

I don't know about you, but I personally can't wait to have thrills coming fast and furious. That Jimmy is always getting into trouble because of his deep-seated desire to be Superman. He wears costumes at the drop of a hat, has his enormous collection of super-memorabilia, and now a burglar kit from the future? That spells trouble to me!

The splash shows Jimmy trying out some of the gadgets from the burglar bag by using tongs that appear to phase into a file cabinet (fourth dimensional tongs, actually) and x-ray glasses. Good ol' Jimmy has both Lois and Lucy Lane right in front of him and he uses the x-ray specs on a file cabinet. Then again, he's doing it to try to impress Perry White, so it makes sense. Perry lost the key to his Superman file cabinet, you see, and Jimmy is helping him out by retrieving an 8x10 of Big Blue. I wonder why he keeps those locked up? Is there a lot of risk involved in keeping a Superman file cabinet? Could Supes' enemies try to get to him via Perry's files? Well, whatever is in there, Perry appears happy enough to let Jimmy and his phasing tongs go at it.

The story begins with Jimmy hosting a small get together with Clark Kent and Lucy Lane. Being Jimmy, it's all about bragging about his Superman souvenir collection, which is housed in a safe made of "the hardest metal in the universe". Lucy is impressed and Clark smiles benignly. Jimmy apparently isn't happy with Clark's noncommittal response because he says, "Some collection, Clark, eh? (I believe Jimmy is originally from Canada) I'll bet you wish you were Superman's best friend instead of me!" The benign smile doesn't waver as Clark agrees that a lot of people envy Jimmy. But in one of my favorite silver age conventions, a thought balloon spells everything out, just in case the reader is unfamiliar with the bespeckled secret identity. "Ha ha! Jimmy would really flip if he knew that I am Superman!" Just keep that in mind, folks. If you feel like bragging on yourself, you may be talking to someone who secretly has far more to brag about than you. We can learn so much about life in these comics, can't we?

Between the splash page and two panel set-up, we pretty much know what's going to happen in this story. Or do we...? Perhaps the next panel will throw the story in a brand new direction.

"As Jimmy serves supper, suddenly..." There's a big "THUMP!" from the room with the souvenir collection. (Jimmy is quite the host. Although his dining room table is about the size of a card table, all of the food he's carrying is in covered dishes, like in a fancy restaurant. He's such a bon vivant. And after dinner, they can play poker!) As with most of us, Jimmy has installed a two-way mirror so that he can spy on his collection from the dining room. Perfectly normal thing to do. (Wonder how many times he's tricked Lucy into changing clothes in that room? "Hey, Lucy, you can change in my Superman room. Feel free to gaze adoringly at my souvenirs as I, er, comb my hair in front of this mirror out here.")

When they look through the mirror they see a green-skinned thief dressed in a standard silver age "I'm from the future" spandex jumpsuit. Naturally, Clark Kent recognizes him from an encounter in the 31st century. (What are the odds? A thief from the future happens to break into Jimmy Olsen's apartment – Jimmy is famous over a thousand years into the future? – and Jimmy's having a party on that exact night hosting none other than Superman. Add to that the fact that Superman happened to run into that very thief in the distant future and it's almost beyond belief. Happily, I believe every word of it, so let's carry on.)

The thief uses a strange "vibration ray" weapon that shakes the safe to pieces. So much for the hardest metal in the universe. As we all know, the harder metal is, the less flexible it is. Safe-maker should have foreseen that a futuristic thief would be able to breech it with a vibration gun. Duh. Worse yet, it was apparently Superman who had given the guarantee that the safe was crack-proof.

What on earth is Jimmy going to do? His Superman souvenirs are in danger, his dinner party is ruined, and his suit clashes with the alien's skin! Will the alien get away with the theft? Will anyone eat Jimmy's dinner? Is it possible the alien brought with a burglar kit from the future? (not sure where I got that crazy idea.) Tune in tomorrow for part two of: THE BURGLAR KIT FROM THE FUTURE


Grace Tyler said...

I wonder if the comics of today will sound this silly in 50 years.

This is too good.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

No, today's comics are very dark. There's none of the light-hearted fun of these earlier stories. That' primarily because comics are now marketed to adults, rather than children. 50 years from now there may not even be a comics industry because of the short-sightedness of this shift in the market. That's my 2c anyway.

Anonymous said...

No, comix are still marketed to the same people.

People who are now 60 years older.