Friday, November 30, 2018

December 1970, Pt. 3

(Continued from December 1970, Pt. 2)

Published cover by NEAL ADAMS
Fantasy cover

This was, ironically, the LAST issue of Jack Kirby's run of JIMMY OLSEN I got ahold of.  I never found the first 2, and got the 1st one in SUPERMAN IN THE 70's (2000).  3 years later, JIMMY OLSEN ADVENTURES came out, and despite having all but one of the episodes already, I sprang for both books.  They turned out to be wonderful packages, and between having all the episodes in one place, NO ads, brighter paper, and no Golden Age reprints to get in the way, I enjoyed the run MUCH more than I had years earlier.  (Of course, as of yesterday, I've confirmed it for myself, the line reproduction IS better in the originals-- but the difference isn't nearly as bad as 95% of Marvel's reprints over the years.

Once again, the cover reads "Superman's EX-Pal, The NEW Jimmy Olsen".  It would go back to normal with the next issue, once this initial part of the "biker" storyline ended.  It also has "A King-Sized KIRBY Blockbuster!" on the top.  Was there anyone else at DC who got this kind of promotion?  I keep reading how some of the old-timers who remembered the late 50's (or even the early-40's) felt resentment against Jack in general, for the special treatment & he & Joe Simon got way back when, for the way they TWICE failed to show "company loyalty", for the way Jack DARED to try standing up to Jack Schiff (who was screwing Jack out of money on the SKY MASTERS newspaper strip), and for the way Jack had done so much to make that miserable upstart of a company, Marvel, into such a TOP competitor.  Having Jack back at DC, and having his NAME plastered in ads and on covers must have REALLY rubbed some of those guys the wrong way.

In a complete reversal from the wild kinetic energy of #133's cover, #134 is dark, moody and solemn.  And for the 2nd issue in a row, I find the word balloons really work well.  "Now our road is fast and clear!", says Jimmy.  Not your average dialogue, but seeing as this story is centered on "counter-culture" types, very fitting.  A LOT of people, in real life, talked "FUNNY" in the late 60's!!  Check out any TV show from the period that did episodes about hippies or bikers for proof.

Looking at this cover, I can't help but wonder... would DC and its readers have been happier, in the long run, if Jack had done what he really wanted-- WRITING-- and NEAL ADAMS had done the art?  (Let's face it, while Jack is one of the BEST-- and certainly most unique-- writers in comics,  Neal is one of the WORST-- and teaming up 2 guys as different as they were might have had very interesting results.)

This is funny, but seeing those vehicles gathering on that huge tree stump on page 2 reminds me of part of The Batcave from the Tim Burton movies.  Kinda dangerous place to park your car, if the brakes ever give out!

Once again, Superman sticks his nose in where it isn't wanted, and this time pays for it.  He certainly DOES seem to know more than he's letting on, although as the story progresses, we find that there's a LOT about "The Wild Area" he DOESN'T know, and I suppose the differences are telling.

The 2nd panel on page 6, where Yango blasts Supes, is so slick, it almost reminds me of something Frank Giacoia might have done.  Throughout this run, I feel, is some of the BEST-looking inks Vince Colletta ever laid down over Jack's pencils.  Although, according to Mark Evanier, he had HELP on some episodes.

The scene on page 7 where the Whiz Wagon drives at full-speed right INTO the side of that mountain reminds me of 2 things I've seen in movies many years later.  One, the scene in BUCKAROO BANZAI where he uses his "Oscillation Overthruster" to penetrate another dimension; and two, when Michael Keaton's BATMAN, with Vicki Vale in the passenger seat, drove into the Batcave.

From the moment they enter the underground road, "The Zoomway", the book becomes NON-STOP HIGH-SPEED action!!!  The comparison I made to Jules Verne's "The Terror" (from the book MASTER OF THE WORLD) continues as we find the Whiz Wagon ALSO operates UNDER water!  Reed Richards could have sure used a vehicle like this one-- might have saved him a lot of room taken up by all those different flying machines.

The photo-collages on pages 12-13 are nothing short of mind-blowing.  The reproduction in the reprint book is INCREDIBLY clear.  Usually, when Marvel would reprint something like this, it'd wind up looking even worse than it did the first time.  I wonder if someone one of these days might take the trouble to re-photograph the collages (if they still exist) and actually print them IN COLOR?  The only time I've seen this done so far was in the final issue of CAPTAIN VICTORY, and THE HUNGER DOGS.
A friend of mine, more than once, told he he "heard" that Jack Kirby "couldn't draw pretty women".  Look at the first panel on page 14 to put the lie to THAT belief!!

I LOVE the sequence on pages 15-17 when Superman first encounters "THE MOUNTAIN OF JUDGMENT"!!!  For the first time, Superman actually came in handy being around in this story.  It becomes clear at this point that Supes DOES know some of what's going on, but obviously not all.  After he saves everyone from the bomb, at last Jimmy shows some gratitude.  Of course, it might have helped if Superman had CONFIDED in his "pal" a lot earlier than this.  This attitude of his about being the "only one" who can handle certain things has continued and increased over the decades, to the point where under some writers, he's become insufferable.  (Then again, that's nothing compared to what certain editors & writers have done to Batman.  Remember when both those guys used to be LIKEABLE?)

After all these years, it finally hit me that "Hairies" is somewhat of a variation on the word "Hippies", except in this case referring to "hippies" who are super-geniuses.

It now becomes clear that the entire first 2 episodes were nothing less than a plot by Morgan Edge to DESTROY The Mountain Of Judgement (and possibly most of The Hairies as well), with no regard to how many others might get killed along the way (specifically, Jimmy & The Newsboy Legion)Superman seems VERY aware of this fact-- I'm wondering, will he DO anything about it?

From 1986 on, when SUPERMAN was completely rebooted from scratch, Lex Luthor was changed from being a scientific genius to the evil head of a corporation.  Seems to me Jack Kirby beat Marv Wolfman to that by 15 years.  Unlike the Post-Crisis Lex, who seems self-made, in this case, we find out Edge is working for someone else, who appears in exactly ONE tiny panel, on a tv screen... "DARKSEID".

As Jack says, "The outline of a VAST, OMINOUS intrigue begins to take shape!"

Apparently, the first thing Jack did when he started at DC was the first issues of his new books.  But then, for "commercial" reasons, he was asked to do something that was a "sure thing" FIRST, to help justify his contract.  Drastic changes to a series are often done when sales are plumetting, but often don't work out. I wonder, did sales of JIMMY OLSEN go up when Jack took over-- stay the same-- or continue to drop?  The book DID continue after he left it... but not for that much longer (well, 15 more issues,  I guess that's longer than some books' ENTIRE runs!).

(Continued in January 1971)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) DC Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa