Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen

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Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen
Cover of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1. Art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
ScheduleBimonthly and later Monthly
FormatOngoing while in publication
Publication dateSeptember–October 1954 - March 1974
No. of issues163
Main character(s)Jimmy Olsen
Creative team
Written by
Collected editions
Jimmy Olsen: Adventures by Jack Kirby, Volume 1ISBN 1-56389-984-1
Jimmy Olsen: Adventures by Jack Kirby, Volume 2ISBN 1401202594
The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy OlsenISBN 1401213693
Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 1ISBN 1401213448

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen is an American comic book series published by DC Comics from September–October 1954 until March 1974, spanning a total of 163 issues.[1] Featuring the adventures of Superman supporting character Jimmy Olsen, it contains stories often of a humorous nature.

Publication history[edit]

The 1952 television series Adventures of Superman co-starred actor Jack Larson, who appeared regularly as Jimmy Olsen. Largely because of the popularity of Larson and his portrayal of the character, National Comics Publications (DC Comics) decided to create a regular title featuring Jimmy as the leading character,[2] which debuted with a September–October 1954 cover date. Curt Swan was the main artist on the series for its first decade.[3]

In 1958, a second title was introduced, Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, which revolves around another supporting character in a similar fashion.

Lucy Lane was introduced in issue #36 (April 1959)[4] and became an on-again, off-again romantic interest of Jimmy Olsen. In issue #57, he marries Supergirl (Kara Zor-El/Linda Lee Danvers) after she loses both her powers and memories of being Supergirl, only for her to recover her powers and memories after their marriage; once she lets him know that she is Supergirl, he is perfectly happy with it.[5][6] She was also the anonymous "Miss X" whom Jimmy kissed in issue #44 to break the spell that turned him into a werewolf.

When Jack Kirby began working at DC in 1970, he insisted on taking on this title since it was the lowest-selling in the publishing line and without assigned talent at the time, so he would not cost someone their job.[7][8] Kirby's first issue was #133 (August 1970), and made a very clear break between the old style and the new.[9]

During his run, Kirby introduced many memorable characters, notably the Fourth World's New Gods, Darkseid, Project Cadmus and Transilvane.[10] He also reintroduced the Newsboy Legion and the Guardian. The faces of the Superman and Jimmy Olsen figures drawn by Kirby were redrawn by Al Plastino or Murphy Anderson.[11] Comedian Don Rickles guest starred in a two-part story by Kirby in issues #139 and #141.[12][13][14] Kirby left the series with issue #148 (April 1972).

Lucy Lane was believed to have died in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #120 (March 1972)[15] but was later revived in a story in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #160 (October 1973).[16] Nick Cardy was the cover artist for Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen for issues #154–163.[17]

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen; Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane; and the short-lived Supergirl title (launched in 1972) ended in 1974 by merging into the new omnibus title The Superman Family. The new series continued the numbering from Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen.[18] Superman Family itself was canceled in 1982.

A Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen special one-shot was published in December 2008, following on from the "Atlas" storyline, and leading into Superman: New Krypton.

Jimmy's transformations[edit]

Many of the issues include Jimmy undergoing a transformation of some form.[19] These include:

  • Speed Demon - In 1956, a month before the debut of Barry Allen as the new Flash, Jimmy drank a potion produced by a Professor Claude and briefly gained super-speed.[20]
  • Radioactive - After being exposed to a radioactive substance, Jimmy began to irradiate everything in his presence.[21]
  • Super-Brain - Jimmy briefly evolved into a "man of the future" with superhuman mental powers.[22]
  • Monstrous beard growth - The machinations of the sinister Beard Band cause Jimmy to grow an immense beard.[23]
  • Gorilla - When Jimmy switched minds with a gorilla, he went about his reporting duties as a gorilla in Jimmy's clothes.[24]
  • Elastic Lad - As Elastic Lad, Jimmy by serum or by alien virus could sometimes stretch himself, akin to Elongated Man or Plastic Man.[25] As Elastic Lad, Jimmy was inducted as an Honorary Member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.[26]
  • Alien-form - Aliens transformed Jimmy into a telepathic Jovian for a week.[27] This turned out to be a Jovian week ... which is much shorter than an Earth week, about 70 hours = slightly less than three days.
  • Fire-Breather - An accident involving an experiment gives Jimmy fire-breath.[28]
  • Human Octopus - After eating an extraterrestrial fruit, Jimmy grew four extra arms. According to Superman, this was actually a hallucination, but Jimmy suspected that Superman said this to teach him a lesson since Jimmy had foolishly ignored advice from the Man of Steel that would have saved him a lot of trouble.[29]
  • Genie - Jimmy found a genie's lamp and was tricked into replacing its villainous occupant.[30]
  • Wolf-Man - In the vein of the 1957 Michael Landon film I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Jimmy found himself transformed into a werewolf.[31]
  • Woman - Jimmy would occasionally go undercover dressed as a woman in #44,[32] #67,[33] #84,[34] and #159.[35][36][37]
  • Morbidly Obese - Jimmy tried to get fat in an attempt to stop a jewel smuggler and to impress a Circus Fat Lady.[38]
  • Giant Turtle Man - One of Jimmy's most frequently cited transformations was that of his turning into a giant turtle man.[39]
  • Human Porcupine - After rejecting the romantic advances of an imp from the Fifth Dimension.[40]
  • Bizarro Jimmy - Although Jimmy has a counterpart on Bizarro World, he was briefly turned into a Bizarro himself.[41]
  • Hippie - Investigating a colony of hippies at "Guru Kama's Dream Pad", Jimmy grew a beard and participated in a mock "hate-in".[42] On the cover of this story's issue, Jimmy is wielding a sign that says "Superman is a freak-out!"
  • Viking - Jimmy put on Viking armor and mistakenly thought he had been transported 1,000 years backward in time.[43]

Proposed TV series[edit]

In 1959, the producers of the action/adventure series Adventures of Superman were hit by a snag as to how revive the now-canceled series after series star George Reeves had died that summer from a gunshot wound. Jack Larson, who played Jimmy in the series, was approached with the idea of continuing the franchise as a spin-off for two new seasons of 26 episodes each to begin airing in 1960. Titled Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, it would focus on a more serious angle of Olsen's rising career as a reporter and journalist with Larson reprising his role. In place of Reeves, stock footage of Superman flying and a look-alike stunt double would be used to play the Man of Steel. Disgusted at the thought of the producers trying to cash in and make money over the death of Reeves, Larson rejected the proposal, and the project went unmade.[44]

Collected editions[edit]

  • Showcase Presents: Superman Family
    • Volume 1 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1–22, 576 pages, March 2006, ISBN 1-4012-0787-1
    • Volume 2 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #23–34, 520 pages, February 2008, ISBN 1-4012-1656-0
    • Volume 3 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #35–44, 576 pages, March 2009, ISBN 1-4012-2188-2
    • Volume 4 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #45–53, 520 pages, March 2013, ISBN 1-4012-3837-8
  • Superman: The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen includes stories from Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #22, 28, 31–33, 41–42, 44, 49, 53, 59, 65, 72, 80, 85, and 105, 192 pages, July 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1369-3
  • Showcase Presents: Supergirl Volume 1 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #40, 46, and 51, 528 pages, November 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1717-6
  • Legion of Super-Heroes Archives
    • Volume 2 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #72, 224 pages, 1992, ISBN 1563890577
    • Volume 3 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #76, 224 pages, 1993, ISBN 1563891026
    • Volume 7 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #106, 240 pages, May 1998, ISBN 1563893983
  • Jimmy Olsen: Adventures by Jack Kirby
    • Volume 1, collects Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133–139, and 141, 160 pages, August 2003, ISBN 1-56389-984-1
    • Volume 2, collects Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #142–148, 192 pages, December 2004, ISBN 1-4012-0259-4
  • Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus
    • Volume 1 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133–139, 396 pages, May 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1344-8
    • Volume 2 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #141–145, 396 pages, August 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1357-X
    • Volume 3 includes Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #146–148, 396 pages, November 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1485-1
  • Countdown Special: Jimmy Olsen #1 (January 2008): collects Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #136 and #147–148.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Irvine, Alex; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1950s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Jimmy Olsen got his own adventures in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1. A comic remarkable for its inventiveness and longevity, it ran for 163 issues.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Golding, James Grant and Smith, Steven (writers); Burns, Kevin (director) (June 20, 2006). Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman (documentary film). Burbank, California: Warner Home Video.
  3. ^ Daniels, Les (1995). "The Superman Family Strength in Numbers". DC Comics : Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. New York, New York: Bulfinch Press. p. 118. ISBN 0821220764. Jimmy Olsen got its start in September–October 1954 at the height of Superman's television run, and the art job was assigned to Curt Swan. For Swan, his ten-year stint on Jimmy Olsen was 'like being introduced to the Superman Family'.
  4. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Giunta, John (i). "Lois Lane's Sister!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #36 (April 1959)
  5. ^ Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #57 (October 1961) at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Siegel, Jerry (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #57 (October 1961)
  7. ^ Evanier, Mark (2007). "Afterword". Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 1. New York, New York: DC Comics. ISBN 978-1401213442.
  8. ^ McAvennie, Michael "1970s" in Dolan, p. 141: "Since no ongoing creative team had been slated to Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, "King of Comics" Jack Kirby made the title his DC launch point, and the writer/artist's indelible energy and ideas permeated every panel and word balloon of the comic."
  9. ^ Sacks, Jason; Dallas, Keith (2014). American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1970s. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 978-1605490564.
  10. ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Bronze Age 1970-1984". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 447. ISBN 9783836519816. Kirby began introducing new elements to the DC Universe, building toward the introduction of a trio of new titles based on a complex mythology he called the Fourth World.
  11. ^ Evanier, Mark (August 22, 2003). "Jack Kirby's Superman". News From ME. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012. Plastino drew new Superman figures and Olsen heads in roughly the same poses and positions, and these were pasted into the artwork.
  12. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 146: "In one of Jack Kirby's strangest tales, Jimmy Olsen met real-world funnyman Don Rickles' costumed likeness, 'Goody' Rickles."
  13. ^ Kirby, Jack (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "The Guardian Fights Again!!!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #139 (July 1971)
  14. ^ Kirby, Jack (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "Will The Real Don Rickles Panic?!?" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #141 (September 1971)
  15. ^ Bates, Cary; Vartanoff, Irene (w), Roth, Werner (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "Who Killed Lucy Lane?" Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #120 (March 1972)
  16. ^ Dorfman, Leo (w), Schaffenberger, Kurt (p), Schaffenberger, Kurt (i). "The Shadow from the Grave" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #160 (October 1973)
  17. ^ Coates, John (1999). "Art Index". The Art of Nick Cardy. Coates Publishing. p. 163. ISBN 1-887591-22-2.
  18. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 159 "DC's 100-page Super Spectaculars were proving popular, so DC said goodbye to Supergirl, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, and housed the characters together in Superman Family. Continuing the numbering from where Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen ended, the series featured classic reprints with new tales in the lead spot."
  19. ^ Markstein, Don (2008). "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on July 11, 2014.
  20. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "Jimmy Olsen, Speed Demon" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #15 (September 1956)
  21. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The Radioactive Boy" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #17 (December 1956)
  22. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The Super-Brain of Jimmy Olsen" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #22 (August 1957)
  23. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "Jimmy Olsen, the Bearded Boy" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #23 (September 1957)
  24. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The Gorilla Reporter" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #24 (October–November 1957)
  25. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The E-L-A-S-T-I-C Lad" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #31 (September 1958)
  26. ^ Siegel, Jerry (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "The World of Doomed Olsens!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #72 (October 1963)
  27. ^ Schwartz, Alvin (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The Jimmy Olsen from Jupiter" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #32 (October 1958)
  28. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The Human Flame-Thrower!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #33 (December 1958)
  29. ^ Bernstein, Robert (w), Swan, Curt (p), Forte, John (i). "The Human Octopus!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #41 (December 1959)
  30. ^ Bernstein, Robert (w), Swan, Curt (p), Giunta, John (i). "Jimmy the Genie!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #42 (January 1960)
  31. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Kaye, Stan (i). "The Wolf-Man of Metropolis!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960)
  32. ^ Bernstein, Robert (w), Swan, Curt (p), Kaye, Stan (i). "Miss Jimmy Olsen!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960)
  33. ^ Dorfman, Leo (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "Leslie Lowe, Girl Reporter!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #67 (March 1963)
  34. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Papp, George (p), Papp, George (i). "Jimmy Olsen's Female Fan!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #84 (April 1965)
  35. ^ Dorfman, Leo (w), Schaffenberger, Kurt (p), Schaffenberger, Kurt (i). "The Day They Unmasked Mr. Action" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #159 (August 1973)
  36. ^ Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960); Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #67 (March 1963); Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #84 (April 1965); and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #159 (Aug. 1973) at the Grand Comics Database
  37. ^ Cronin, Brian (January 25, 2013). "The Feminine Side of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on November 23, 2013.
  38. ^ Swan, Curt (p)Forte, John (i)"The Fat Boy of Metropolis!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #49 (December 1960)
  39. ^ Siegel, Jerry (w), Swan, Curt (p), Forte, John (i). "The Giant Turtle Man" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #53 (June 1961)
  40. ^ Siegel, Jerry (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "The Human Porcupine" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #65 (December 1962)
  41. ^ Siegel, Jerry (w), Forte, John (p), Klein, George (i). "Jimmy Olsen, the Bizarro Boy!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #80 (October 1964)
  42. ^ Binder, Otto (w), Costanza, Pete (p), Costanza, Pete (i). "Hippie Olsen's Hate-In!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #118 (March 1969)
  43. ^ Dorfman, Leo (w), Schaffenberger, Kurt (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "Olsen the Red, Last of the Vikings" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #154 (November 1972)
  44. ^ Mangels, Andy (April 1993). "Superman: The Man of Screen". Wizard Superman Tribute Edition (#1): 45. A Jimmy Olsen show was talked about, with footage mixed in from the previous Superman shows, but Jack Larson refused to even consider the project, calling it a 'sick case of necrophilia.'

External links[edit]

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