Reign of the Supermen #466: Super-Gladiator

Source: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #159 (1973)
Type: Precursor
Once upon a time, in a previous story, Jimmy Olsen looked into an alien gemstone called the Star of Cathay and leaped back in time to live the life of Marco Polo. Midnight in the Metropolitan Museum, and he's having some scientists experiment on the thing, which again sends him back in time, and into the life of Spartacus. Because Jimmy Olsen, folks. While I could definitely do a year's worth of Reign of the Jimmy Olsens, what's actually relevant to our interests this time around is a fellow gladiator called Ursus the Mighty who is a dead ringer for Superman, and he seems to have the powers too. So that's a relatively easy slave revolt done.
As an army of followers builds around Spartacus Olsen, Ursus remains his best pal, the muscle behind Jimmy's 20th-century military strategies. They even find the Star of Cathay which seems tied to Jimmy's fate somehow, and Ursus nearly kills Julius Caesar!
History is preserved when Jimmy intervenes, but he's captured, and the Star of Cathay plays a role in bringing him back to the present. He tells Superman his story, and the Man of Steel impounds the jewel (of course he does), but to my surprise, the story didn't end with Superman flying back to the Roman Empire to play the part of Ursus for a few months to keep Jimmy out of trouble. He used to do weird stuff like that all the time! Damn you, bronze age! Stop trying to be so sensible! This was a story about Jimmy Olsen Quantum Leaping into Spartacus, for Pete's sake! Go the extra, loony mile! So no idea what happened to Ursus after that.

The Star of Cathay would return for one more story in which we would learn its origins, yadda-yadda, and that Jimmy leaped into Marco Polo and Spartacus because he is their reincarnation! Because Jimmy Olsen, folks.


SallyP said...

Oh Jimmy.

Why oh why isn't he on the Talk Show circuit with stuff like this?

Siskoid said...

Or have his own series full of crap like this? Is there no room for a weirdness magnet in the New52?

Matthew Turnage said...

The Murray Boltinoff edited issues of JO at the end of its run are a bit odd, like they couldn't quite decide what the book needed to be. It felt like they were trying to bring Jimmy more into the bronze age with the "Mr. Action" bit, but they still wanted to embrace the silver age weirdness with stories like this. I like those issues a lot, but it still felt like the book didn't have as clear a sense of purpose as some of the other Superbooks of the time.

But following on from Kirby is hard to do, so I understand their difficulties.

I would love a new 52 Jimmy Olsen series. I thought Nick Spencer perfectly captured what a modern Jimmy Olsen series could be in his Action backups/one shot. I wish they'd continue in that direction.

Siskoid said...

Yeah, where do you go from the Fourth World? Superman's Pal just went back to where he was before, more or less, and they almost read like pre-Kirby inventory stories though to be fair, this kind of thing was par for the course in the Superman titles right up to the Byrne reboot.

Spencer's Jimmy was indeed great.


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