Sunday, November 18, 2007

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #66 (Story Two, Part 1): JIMMY OLSEN'S LAST STAND!

Jimmy Olsen has made many thrilling time trips into the past! The gallant cub reporter has matched wits with famous villains in the age of Vikings, in colorful biblical times and in the stone age: but now comes the time-adventure that tops them all! You'll be holding your breath until the last page as you read about: JIMMY OLSEN'S LAST STAND!

Wow, now that's a build-up! Not only is it going to top every Jimmy Olsen time travel story, but you'll put yourself in mortal danger by holding your breath until the last page (and because you'll be reading this in separate parts posted over several days, you'll be dead before we get to the end from lack of oxygen. Sorry about that. Still, with that write-up I'm thinking it might be worth it. Death by silver age Jimmy Olsen comic would look cool in an obituary). I don't know about you, but I'm all atwitter at even the thought of reading this story! I'm also atwitter that Microsoft Word knows the word atwitter. I wasn't expecting that. See? Already this story is giving unexpected thrills! Let's get to it, shall we?

WARNING: From the splash page, we can already tell that this is not going to be a PC (politically correct) story when it comes to Native Americans. For starters, Sitting Bull is apparently a dead ringer for Lex Luthor. In all the photos I've seen of Chief Sitting Bull, he doesn't look a thing like Lex. Not even close. Not even... what am I doing? I'm looking for historical accuracy in a Jimmy Olsen comic! Have I gone mad? Are the men with the white coats mere steps from my front door? Of course Chief Sitting Bull looks like "evil Lex Luthor". It makes all the sense in the world.

Okay, with that out of the way, let's see how this historically accurate Jimmy Olsen story unfolds. Hmmm... wonder which side he'll be on – evil Sitting "Lex" Bull or the white guy, General Custer? Can't wait to find out.

Right off the bat we get one of those fantastically strange Silver Age panels. It's the opening of "Frontier City, an exhibit of life in the old west" and Superman is there to cut the ribbon with his heat vision. Ole Supes, however, is a wee bit miffed. Apparently, everyone had to come in western costume to the opening, including the Big Red S. According to his thought balloon, he feels silly wearing "an old-time cavalry uniform." Okay, I could see that. The only problem is that Superman is not wearing anything close to an "old-time cavalry uniform." No, he's wearing his usual super suit with two adornments: a gun and holster belt plus a cowboy hat. Quite frankly, if old-time cavalry units wore only those items, the west would have been filled with naked guys on horses with very sore, er, manly bits. Can you picture it? Between the sunburn and the embarrassment, they would have been called the red men and the Native Americans would have been called "the ones with some common sense."

Okay, go wash that image out of your brain. I'll be here when you get back. Ready? Let's move on. The next panel shows Jimmy (who's dressed conveniently in an actual cavalry uniform) and Superman looking at a display showing Custer getting wiped out by Indians. I do believe we're about to find out who's side Jimmy is on. "What a shame a hero like Custer had to go like that!" Oh, Jimmy, must you? Must you believe the propaganda that has been handed down the generations about the arrogant and cocky Col. Custer?

(For those of you who want to read about Custer and the battle of Little Big Horn, I have two suggestions beyond, of course, this entertaining and educational comic book. One is Black Elk Speaks the story of a Lakota holy man, told in his own words. Utterly fascinating. It starts with Little Big Horn and ends with Wounded Knee. Definitely worth a read. The other is written by Custer's wife, Libby: "Boots and Saddles" Or, Life in Dakota With General Custer -- it's another fascinating look at frontier life. She's a good writer and although Custer is written as the most perfect human being who walked the planet, it is a wonderful look at what life was like for the cavalry in that time period. Both are worth a read, especially if you want to see things from both sides of the battle. Okay, back to Jimmy.)

Jimmy and Superman (who appears to have lost the front brim of his cowboy hat and now looks more like a lumberjack) stand in front of a teepee. There's a sign that holds a peace pipe. But this is not so peaceful at all. It's a warning: Sitting Bull's peace pipe! Beware! Do not touch! Anyone who smokes this pipe goes to the happy hunting grounds. (Those anti-smoking people are everywhere.) Jimmy sees the sign as more of a challenge than a warning. He hatches a plot to smoke the pipe when no one is watching. Nice, Jimmy. You want to defile a valuable artifact, break non-smoking laws (although there probably weren't any anti-smoking laws then, it still seems an odd thing to do in a museum) and risk your health because your readers might get "a good laugh" out of it? That is one tenacious cub reporter!

Jimmy smokes and he's suddenly swirling around in a colorful tunnel (as established in the last story, the time stream is rainbow-colored). He feels as though he's "spinning dizzily through space." What are the odds? If you and I were to feel dizzy, we might fall flat on our dignity, but not much else would happen. Jimmy's wacky tobaccy has a more interesting effect. He gets the rainbow ride to unknown destinations. Now I'm not certain, of course, but I wonder if this story will have anything to do with Col. Custer and the Sitting Bull and the Little Big Horn? Wherever the swirly rainbow dizziness leads, you'll have to wait. So come back tomorrow to find out what exactly is JIMMY OLSEN'S LAST STAND? Can you stand it? (you may now curse my name for the horrendous pun.)

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