Jimmy Olsen needs counselling

In Superman #123 (August of 1958), about a year before the real Supergirl first showed up in Action Comics #252 (May 1959), Otto Binder and Dick Sprang brought us the proto-type Girl of Steel.

This proto-type Super-Girl was brought about by Jimmy Olsen who wished her into existence by magic after being granted 3 wishes by a talking stick.

Yes, she was created by Jimmy…by rubbing a totem…at night…while wishing for a girl..just like Superman.

Eee-ugh.

From the look Super-Girl is giving Jimmy I’d guess she knows all his secret fantasies. Nothing wrong with fantasies…I’ve got a great one starring Hayley Mills that continually runs in my brain like a picture-in-picture feature on a TV, but Jimmy has issues. Oh yeah, Jimmy is totally in love with the super-guy.

This Super-Girl is so efficient that she keeps getting in the way of Superman and creates as many problems as she solves. Apparently, Superman is incapable of doing this like looking where he is going or dialing down the power of his super-breath. So, since she is getting real annoying Super-Girl opts for self-destruction and returns to nothingness.

Superman must have learned his lesson about this because in the following year when Kara arrives he places her in an orphanage. Keeping this new Supergirl a secret from the world until she is trained in the use of her powers is a way better option than having her tearfully choose suicide.

Jimmy’s second wish has to do with Superman catching criminals, and is boring. So I’ll skip it.

For his third and final wish Jimmy wishes for Superman to meet his parents. In a telling Freudian slip, Jimmy accidentally writes the wish as ‘mate his parents’. Superman is whisked away into the past where he assists with the romance of Jor-El and Lara. Jimmy has serious, scary issues.

After a pretty dull adventure where Jor-El saves Krypton from a mad scientist by posing as a traitor, the family-to-be says their farewells on an asteroid.

Yuck. At least Superman isn’t kissing her with his eyes closed. That would be too creepy.

This issue also highlights one of the differences between the Golden and Silver Age heroes. In the Golden Age the heroes routinely killed off their adversaries. In the Silver Age it was more common for the hero to set up the bad guy, knowing they could cause their own deaths. But that was acceptable to the heroes of the time, because if they were not evil at heart they wouldn’t fall for the trap and die.

The Super-Girl as a concept must have been a hit with DC because the next time she appeared it would be for semi-keeps.

I don’t like like the new mall-rat maybe-evil Supergirl. My nostalgia filter and hesitation to like Loeb’s writing probably has a lot to do with it. I did like the Linda Danvers/Matrix Supergirl, though. I think it will probably be a few years before the character is fleshed out enough to be more interesting. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens with the character.

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Warlord question

Dorian’s post about the Warlord over at postmodernbarney led me to once again wonder about something that has always gone unanswered about Mike Grell’s awesome creation.

Is that white tuft at the top of the belt part of the codpiece or is it the all-natural part of Travis Morgan showing?

from (but not directly linked to) postmodernbarney.com

It’s been bugging me for the last 20-plus years and I’d like an answer.

Yet it’s not like I could ask Grell if the curtains match the carpet in the Morgan household, I mean, it’s the WARLORD!

Mike Grell is almost as deity-like as Hayley Mills and I’d be too embarrassed to ask him about it. He drew the defintive and hottest Princess Projectra back in the day and deserves my respect. I mean, Mike Grell helped me become a man.

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Famous Firsts: X-Men vs Superboy

Well, since the site Something Awful kicked my ass way back in 2003 I think I’ll post a Famous First Expose myself.

I was an incredible X-Fan back in the day, and like almost everyone else was a drooling Marvel zombie when it came to the X-Men, Claremont and Byrne. It’s fashionable to hate them now but don’t lie, you were one of them too.

When I first read this page from X-Men #108 (Dec. 1977) I thought it was one of the coolest scenes I’ve ever seen. Wolverine gets punched hard enough by a robot leprechaun to reach escape velocity. He doesn’t die, either. To get all geek about it, adamantium skeleton or not, getting hit that hard would likely send the skeletal structure blasting out of the flesh unless there was some kind of concussive energy involved that lifted Wolverine…

Anyways, I really enjoyed this issue.

That is, until I calmed down and remembered that it had precedent.

Yes, months before in Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #224 (Feb. 1977) Superboy gets bitch-slapped into interstellar space by the super-baddie Pulsar Stargrave!

That’s right, Cary Bates and Mike (He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-As-If-He-Was-Hayley-Mills-Incarnate) Grell did it first!

It’s kind of interesting that a hero getting punched into space happened between 2 different comic companies in the same year. I can’t recall seeing anything similar before or since. No, I’m not even suggesting that one influenced the other. It was a pretty cool idea though.

Superboy was still a moderately hot property back then and I still recall how excited we were about the Grell art and Stargrave story arc. Then it kind of peaked and while the stories were still pretty good the art wasn’t there anymore. But that was okay, because Giant Size X-Men had come out and my friends and I abandoned DC en masse for Marvel.

Pulsar Stargrave gets my vote for having the Bestest Super-Villain Name EVER! Just look at how awesomely dramatic it is when he speaks his name…

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Authentic History Center: Donald Duck’s Atomic Bomb

From the Authentic History Center comes a cautionary tale of the Atomic Age by Disney.

In Donald Duck’s Atomic Bomb, the career-malleable mallard invents an atomic bomb in his home only to have it stolen by a consulting scientist named Prof. Sleezy, who turned out to be a spy.

Duh

The bomb is detonated inside the city of Duckburg, with frightening consequences that probably amused children and worried the more knowledgeable adults.

The Disney-fication of a nightmare scenario

In the Donald Duck strip, the bomb goes off and all that happens is that people lose their hair! That the loss of hair is a sign of radiation sickness was also downplayed as a harmless and temporary effect in pro-nuclear propaganda of the 40’s and 50’s. The usual message was “Don’t worry, it will grow back.”

While this comic on the surface seems today as anti-nuclear, I see it as another entry in the ‘harmless-ification’ for public consumption of a serious subject and horrifying weapon that the creators of the documentary The Atomic Cafe addressed so well years ago.

Here is where you can read the entire strip, Donald Duck’s Atomic Bomb.

Enjoy!

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Groin Injury Saturday: Desolation Jones

No, Warren Ellis’ semi-hero Desolation Jones doesn’t get a groin injury, he causes one. A bad one. Not as bad still as Batman making a thug shoot himself in the crotch, but still pretty serious. Jones even does it using the hat-trick of blunt force, electricity and heat!

In issue #3 of Desolation Jones, the protagonist/antagonist Jones beats up a pornographer in a sleazy hotel for some reason. Sensing the pornographers’ reluctance to cooperate, Jones takes one of the floor lamps used during filming and hammers it into the guy’s crotch.

The lamp is super-heated from hours of filming dirty movies and as you see in the next scene, Mr. Porn-monger has a smoking ruin where his reproductive organs used to be.

This scene is pretty much a play on the old joke; “Why did the farmer hit the mule with a two-by-four? To get the mule’s attention.”

In the real world this guy would have his buddies wack Jones for $200 dollars and a bag of apples. But on Comic Book Planet this guy is probably sufficiently terrorized to leave town and become a member of the Salvation Army.

I’m a cautious fan of Warren Ellis. My main hesitation about his work is that his characters are variations of a theme. Some time ago someone in a comic forum I frequent described a similar style of character by Howard Chaykin as “Chaykin-Man”, an archetype that gets recycled, showing up again and again.

It may be that the author has a specific idea of what a hero is like, is enamored with the idea and believes there is plenty of characterization to explore. That is not always the case. I think “Chaykin-Man” as a character peaked with Dominic Fortune and The Shadow. Heck, maybe even with The Scorpion.

If some common thread linking the characters would drop hints that he is a facet of some kind of eternal warrior that would be fine, and would even give a writer something to write in about ten years for a comeback, but “Ellis-Man” seems to me to be a retread of John Constantine and I’m getting kind of tired of the idea. Also, his “edgy techno-bastard” site is getting on my nerves, as it has many posts that have no explanation or seem to mean anything…that might be the point of it though. If I’m not hip enough to understand his posts without deeper references then I guess I’m not cool enough to be visiting it. It’s probably part of his plan to keep out the old and busted type of riff-raff.

Well…For a good show of an awful groin injury my hat is off to Ellis & Williams for this issue but only to use it to sympathy-protect my own package.

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