Snapshots of Jimmy Olsen #37: General Olsen

Source: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #60 (1962)
Type: The real deal (since retconned)

I usually like the Silver Age stories I use for Jimmy's Snapshots. Usually. Here's one I think is bone-headedly stupid. Superman and Supergirl are both away conducting experiments in another "universe", and it seems like everyone's common sense has gone with them. It begins with a "drop-in" at the Daily Planet by Princess Mara of the Green Planet.
Okay, so that's just a fancy joy buzzer and the Princess immediately confesses that she's an actress in the new science-fiction blockbuster "Earth Invaded!" and she'd love for the Planet to cover it. Jimmy agrees, but his fluff piece gets him into hot water with Perry.
Sorry, not buying it. First of all, the Planet surely has an Arts section where this would go. Second, he was RIGHT THERE when the actress showed up and knew Jimmy was going to cover it. Third, he's the blamed editor, there's no way his paper would have led with Jimmy's "plug" and with a misleading title like that without his approval. Or do journalists routinely "turn in" their stories already laid out and printed like that? Nonsense. That evening, Jimmy gets another alien drop-in, this time at home.
Of course, this time, the aliens are legit, and have the impressive technology to prove it. Jimmy meets with them in lieu of Superman and they show him the "robot brain" they built on their home planet, a four-wheeled "being" designed to invent more stuff. It promptly did, including a beam that could transport it to another world (Earth), where it is now building warbots to presumably dominate the planet. The aliens are peaceniks who don't know how to stop their own creation, and need Superman to intervene. Or his best pal, in a pinch. Alas, because everyone in the story is resolutely STUPID, no one believes Jimmy and his alien friends about the threat facing the Earth.
Perry White is so OBTUSE here that not only doesn't he let Jimmy finish his sentences, but he calls the cops to make sure they don't believe Jim either. Olsen is a confirmed shill for Big Hollywood, and that's that. End of story. (Well, no, unfortunately, it's NOT the end of the story.) The aliens make Jimmy an offer he can't refuse:
"I'm no military genius... or am I?" YOU'D KNOW, JIM! YOU'RE NOT! "I've often thought I could be one!" WHAT?! So he accepts the post, digs out a marching band leader's general's uniform from his disguise trunk, and rents Revolutionary War uniforms from a costume shop out of his own pocket (after Perry's docked his pay, no less); he's really invested in this. But now what, military genius?
The same Jimmy who routinely pulls obscure historical trivia out of his ass whenever he accidentally time travels (which is fairly often) can't come up with a single historical strategy? And he gets a meeting with an actual general? Dressed like that? To his credit, the general plays along, but to his discredit, he doesn't have Olsen thrown in a cell and instead calls Perry to scold him. There's only one tactically viable recourse, and that's to borrow the robot props from the movie set to wage war on the brain.
Hey, they're FULLY FUNCTIONAL REMOTE-CONTROLLED WARBOTS. Eat your heart out, Spielberg. But they're still props, so they get trashed by the brain's forces. So Jimmy advises a suicide run, arming the aliens with prop rayguns that don't work. You know. In case the computer brain gets demoralized. By rights, this should end with Jimmy having caused the deaths of his entire platoon. Instead, Superman and Supergirl return to Earth just in time. Their judgment isn't much better than anyone else's in the story.
If there was ever a story where Jimmy needed to learn his lesson and NOT think he did good, it's this one. But the People of Steel instead melt a potentially sentient brain and make him think he's a hero. In the next panel, when they hop back up on their Zeta beam, he shouts "Farewell, men! I'll never forget how I led you to victory!" Self-serving git.

This story makes me hate Jimmy, hate Perry, and hate the Silver Age. So who's really responsible? Let me check the Grand Comics Database. Leo Dorfman. There. Now I hate Leo Dorfman.

7 comments:

wordsmith said...

But Leo Dorfman wrote "Superman-Red/Superman-Blue".

Siskoid said...

Which is the fluke?!

MichaelT said...

So why do I keep thinking of Enrico Colantani in Galaxy Quest imploring "you...are..our..last...hope....."?

wordsmith said...

But Leo Dorfman wrote "Leslie Lowe, Girl Reporter" (SP, JO #67), in which Jimmy disguises himself as the title character in order to get work as a journalist.

Point, game, set, match.

Martin Gray said...

Aw, it's just a daft story written for little kids, most everyone is dumb as cluck in most every JO tale.

And now you have to hate me too!

Siskoid said...

Have I simply hit my Silver Age limit?

Martin Gray said...

Could be. Maybe time for some Bronze Age Mr Action? I mean, how could you not love Meg?

 

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