Snapshots of Jimmy Olsen #26: Roughneck Olsen

Source: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #61 (1962)
Type: All a big misunderstanding!
If that splash panel doesn't make you cringe... Yes, I think I may have found the worst Jimmy Olsen story possible. It's full of the usual contrivances, but the unfunny punchline is Lucy Lane getting hit. Repeatedly. All kinds of wrong brought to you by - I'M NAMING NAMES! - Robert Bernstein and John Forte, as Mort Weisinger looks on. How does poor, sweet Jimmy Olsen become a "wife-beater"? Look on in despair, mortals...
`
It all starts in a Metropolis nightclub where Jimmy and Lucy, on a date, watch an "Apache dance":
Yes, "if a girl is attracted to a REAL he-man, she doesn't mind his rough treatment". As the dancers passionately kiss at the end of their rehearsed number, Jimmy is given to thinking that yes, the compliant sexism expressed by Lucy must be true, because that French-looking dude certainly got his reward. Maybe that wasn't the best time for Lucy to announce she had to break the next day's date on account of her careerist need to invite the vice-president of her airline to Lois' party (to which he is also going, of course). Jimmy sees red. Or rather, he sees a spider.
A scary spider, or a slap in the face? Your choice, Lucy. Now, as a reader of Lucy Lane comics, I've often wanted to smack her, but you know, a fictional smack that's supposed to go to her writers for making her such a terrible misogynistic portrayal of the 60s working girl. It's not right to have a character do it in a story, and that "accident" doesn't even make sense. Well, Lucy at least won't stand for it. Not because you don't hit a woman. No. Because Jimmy "isn't the kind of he-man who can push a girl around and get away with it". So it's okay with SOME guys, just not with YOU, Jim! And he's NOT that kind of guy, he "wouldn't mistreat any girl for ANY reason", which is plain enough: Jimmy's not the jerk of this relationship.

The next day, Jim visits a Noah's Ark theme park where animals are made to perform for the tourists (so add animal abuse to this story's sins) and when Jimmy throws his old popcorn into the backseat, so of it goes out of his car window (littering, check - what is this, a Mad Men episode?) and a boxing kangaroo jumps into the car with him, after some of that salty corn. He doesn't notice. It follows him up the stairs into Lois' apartment. He doesn't notice. The guests don't notice. At the party, it's Lucy's turn to play "Pin the tail on Krypto" (not a joke) and blindfolded, she heads into Lois' bedroom, nowhere near the life-size poster of a super-dog. Somehow, the kangaroo is in Lois' closet, and somehow, Lois, so keen on seeing her sister embarrass herself, steps out of the bedroom before the tail can be pinned.
Given all the nonsense in the story to date, I'm not sure I want to explore why there's an autographed picture of Jimmy on Lois' bedside table ('shippers, to your fanfics!), all that matters is that the kangaroo punches Lucy out and jumps out the window before anyone can see it. Reminder: No guests saw it enter Lois' apartment or bedroom, and no one noticed its dead body on the street after the party. So of course, it must be Jimmy who punched her. See how she pinned the tail on his picture as she went down? MOTIVE! He was in the kitchen eating a sandwich, he says? PROVE IT!

The next day, Jimmy is showing off his disguise trunk and new merchandising, a "Jimmy-in-the-box", to his Fan Club in a nearby city. Going home, he's met at the plane by a black-eyed Lucy; she's the stewardess on his flight. Knowing the kind of sexist farce he's in, Jimmy handcuffs himself to his luggage so he can prove he didn't hit her if she again does. Cover your ass, Jimmy. Good boy.
But he's so used to Lucy being a bad girl, he misinterprets a moment where she checks a snake hunter's pulse to see if the bite he got from one of his specimens is causing him a "momentary weakness". All he sees is her holding hands with a perfect stranger, so he gets up from his seat, still chained to his... Jimmy-in-the-box.

"Through forever"? Maybe that's for the best. But at the airport, the snake specimens get loose and a lethal Amazon viper paralyses Lucy with fear. Don't fret, there's only one thing to do! Buzz Superman on the signal watch so he can take care of the snake! And Jimmy does that, but first...

So if Jim's in immediate danger, call Superman. If Lucy is in immediate danger, SLAP HER SILLY. And with Superman smiling in the background and telling Jimmy's "hysterical" girlfriend he just saved her life, it dawns on her this was all for her benefit, and Jim gets all of the kisses. Hashtag MaleAgenda.

I can't believe Hank Pym still gets crap for that one nervous breakdown slap, but Jimmy (and more importantly, writer Robert Bernstein) skates free. So am I right? Worst Jimmy Olsen story of all time?

9 comments:

snell said...

Pym wasn't mind-controlled for "The Slap"...

Siskoid said...

But he had been and wasn't himself, or is that whole Yellowjacket episode too far back in my mind?

snell said...

He "wasn't himself" to the extent that he was having a nervous breakdown...but no outside control or hypnosis or brainwashing...

Siskoid said...

Still doesn't make "Jimmy the Roughneck" right.

NES Boy said...

You seemed to have screwed up the images, Siskoid. You put the image where Jimmy puts on the handcuffs where the one in which the Jimmy-in-the-Box hits Lucy should be, and the latter image is occupying the spot where you're supposed to see Jimmy slapping Lucy out of her hysterics. Until this mistake is corrected, your readers can find the intended final imagery here, in the top row of panels. I have this page to thank, which has every entire page of the story (except the first, which Siskoid already has covered).

Siskoid said...

No, that's the order I wanted them in. Handcuffs before slap.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing about Hank Pym was, the writer's intent WASN'T to have Hank smack her. Not intentionally, anyway. Here's Jim Shooter explaining it:

---

In that story (issue 213, I think), there is a scene in which Hank is supposed to have accidentally struck Jan while throwing his hands up in despair and frustration — making a sort of “get away from me” gesture while not looking at her. Bob Hall, who had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action, turned that into a right cross! There was no time to have it redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the “wife-beater” story.

When that issue came out, Bill Sienkiewicz came to me upset that I hadn’t asked him to draw it! He saw the intent right through Hall’s mistake, and was moved enough by the story to wish he’d had the chance to do it properly.

---

http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/03/hank-pym-was-not-wife-beater.html

NES Boy said...

Actually, you misunderstood what I'm trying to say. This is what you have in the article right now:

The next day, Jimmy is showing off his disguise trunk and new merchandising, a "Jimmy-in-the-box", to his Fan Club in a nearby city. Going home, he's met at the plane by a black-eyed Lucy; she's the stewardess on his flight. Knowing the kind of sexist farce he's in, Jimmy handcuffs himself to his luggage so he can prove he didn't hit her if she again does. Cover your ass, Jimmy. Good boy. But he's so used to Lucy being a bad girl, he misinterprets a moment where she checks a snake hunter's pulse to see if the bite he got from one of his specimens is causing him a "momentary weakness". All he sees is her holding hands with a perfect stranger, so he gets up from his seat, still chained to his... Jimmy-in-the-box.

[handcuff image]

"Through forever"? Maybe that's for the best. But at the airport, the snake specimens get loose and a lethal Amazon viper paralyses Lucy with fear. Don't fret, there's only one thing to do! Buzz Superman on the signal watch so he can take care of the snake! And Jimmy does that, but first...

[Jimmy-in-the-box image]


This is how it should have gone:

The next day, Jimmy is showing off his disguise trunk and new merchandising, a "Jimmy-in-the-box", to his Fan Club in a nearby city. Going home, he's met at the plane by a black-eyed Lucy; she's the stewardess on his flight. Knowing the kind of sexist farce he's in, Jimmy handcuffs himself to his luggage so he can prove he didn't hit her if she again does. Cover your ass, Jimmy. Good boy.

[handcuff image]

But he's so used to Lucy being a bad girl, he misinterprets a moment where she checks a snake hunter's pulse to see if the bite he got from one of his specimens is causing him a "momentary weakness". All he sees is her holding hands with a perfect stranger, so he gets up from his seat, still chained to his... Jimmy-in-the-box.

[Jimmy-in-the-box image]

"Through forever"? Maybe that's for the best. But at the airport, the snake specimens get loose and a lethal Amazon viper paralyses Lucy with fear. Don't fret, there's only one thing to do! Buzz Superman on the signal watch so he can take care of the snake! And Jimmy does that, but first...

[image of Jimmy slapping Lucy to save her from the snake]


This would be a bit easier to visually demonstrate if images could be embedded in these comments.

Siskoid said...

Oh crap! You're right! There's a missing pic to boot! All fixed now. Thanks for your perseverance!

 

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