Monday, November 26, 2007

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen (Story Three, Part 1): THE CABINET FROM KRYPTON!

Curiosity is a good quality in a newspaper reporter, but it can be carried too far! And Jimmy Olsen proves that when his curiosity drags him, and also Perry White and Lois Lane, into an amazing predicament from which it seems even Superman can't rescue them! Here is the tale of the strange doom that came out of-- THE CABINET FROM KRYPTON!

Life is never easy for ole Jimmy, is it? Even when he's showing one of the qualities that put the rep in cub reporter, he still manages to get in trouble. I wonder how? Oh, look! A comic book and it appears to have all the answers. Let's find out together, shall we?

Our splash page shows Metropolis's rainbow Lego block skyline and Jimmy as an old man. You can tell he's old because he has a long, white beard down to his knees, uses a crooked cane, has his hand on his back, and puffs and gasps in his thoughts. I'll admit that I don't know if geriatrics puff and gasp in their thoughts, but I'm willing to take it as given. (Note that Jimmy's trademark 'red' hair has but a wee bit of white at the temples and is otherwise still full, lush and orange, as it always is. I guess when something is your trademark it won't do to lose it. How else are we to know it's Jimmy? Certainly not by his fashion sense. Everyone knows Jimmy only owns one suit and it's green. Apparently, once aged, Jimmy quickly went shopping at Geezer Gap.) Meanwhile, Superman flies overhead and helps the reader note that a) it's Jimmy – just in case that orange hair didn't clue us in enough, b) he's old, and c) he's having a tough time holding his job, most likely due to internal puffing and gasping.

I glance at the first panel and right off the bat, I'm proven wrong. Jimmy does own clothes that aren't green. I guess the bowtie is far more important than the color of his suit. The story begins with Jimmy shouting at a flying Superman. Apparently, Supes didn't answer Jimmy's signal watch's "zeeeee". Jimmy wants Supes to help with a deep-sea dredging story. Superman can't help with that fascinating dredging story, however, because he's on the tail of Mr. Mxyzptlk (helpfully pronounced "Mix-Yez-Pit-Lek" according to the editor).

So what is that wacky interdimensional imp up to now? (oddly, Microsoft Word does not recognize the word 'interdimensional'. Do they not read any comics over there? Shame on them. They are tainting the appellations 'geek' and 'nerd' for everyone.) Ole Mxy is causing havoc by reversing signs (i.e. spelling everything backward). Wow. That is... just... havoc-making. Obviously a job for SUPERMAN! The world would stop if a motorist can't make out that billboard for Burpsi-Cola (or Isprub-Aloc, as it now appears). Superman needs to make all new signs to avoid traffic jams. (Often I think about the things that happen in comics and what mayhem would be produced in the real world were some of the happenings within to occur in reality. The comic world needs superheroes just to deal with all that insanity. But reversed signs? Yeah, that's the end of civilization as we know it. No nation could recover from that. Armageddon.)

Recognizing the seriousness of the whole 'ngis' dilemma, Jimmy heads on over to the docks for the dredge report (heh). A crane lifts up what appears to be a red phone booth and it is a startling sight to Jimmy. "What in the world is the dredge bringing up now?" (Nothing political, I hope) The dredge guy doesn't know but guesses it's been sunk for a hundred years due to its excessive silty-ness.

Dredge Guy does not see it as a red phone booth. He thinks it is some sort of scientific instrument (have to admit, that would not have been my first thought.) Ever-helpful Jimmy notes that, "...this inscription on it is in the language of the perished planet, Krypton! I learned the language from Superman and can read it!" Wow, Jimmy's education in all things Superman even extends to speaking Kryptonese. That is simply amazing. I wonder how often that's needed? What am I saying? In Jimmy's life, probably every other day.

He reads it aloud. "This is the evolution cabinet of Zan Zoll (Kryptonians really love the letter "Z", don't they?), scientist of Krypton..." The rest is corroded and illegible. As Jimmy and the dredger load the cabinet onto the Daily Planet helicopter, Jimmy notes that, "for some mysterious reason, it was not changed into Kryptonite." You know, that alone would make me wary of the thing. A scientific instrument from Krypton. Not turned into Kryptonite. Zan Zoll. Yup, those all add up to a big yellow "Caution!" sign to me. But this is Jimmy "I'll do anything as long as it's against common sense" Olsen. He's taking it with him so Superman can have a lil look-see.

Later, in the Daily Planet office, Jimmy proudly shows Perry White his new toy. The ever-sensible Perry warns Jimmy not to "tamper with it." Sound advice, Chief. Just don't expect Jimmy to follow it. (that's a guess on my part. Perhaps I'm wrong and the rest of the comic is simply pictures of Planet employees walking past it without touching it.)

The next panel shows Jimmy opening the door to the big red phone booth scientific instrument from Krypton that shouldn't be tampered with. He thinks, "What does Perry think I am... a child? I'm not going to tamper with this thing... but it won't hurt to look it over... if I could find out what it does, I might be able to impress Lucy Lane tonight!" Brilliant thinking, sport. Don't tamper with it, but open it up, try to figure out how it works because there's nothing that turns Lucy Lane on more than a guy who tampers with, er, figures out how big red phone booth scientific instruments from Krypton work. Yeah, go on inside and see what happens.

"What's happening!" From my perspective, Jimmy, you're in a big red phone booth scientific instrument that is now glowing. What a startling turn of events! "I didn't touch any gadgets, but that force came on automatically when I stepped in! It's overpowering!" (I did NOT see this coming. I thought for sure opening the door and getting inside would be completely harmless. Wonder what happened? If only the splash page had given us a clue.)

Are you as curious as I am about what could possibly have happened to Jimmy in the big red phone booth? Are you completely clueless because the splash page and the cover of the comic book are too enigmatic? Then come back on Wednesday for part 2 of "THE CABINET FROM KRYPTON!"

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