The splash page of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #135, takes us, full bore, right into the Apokoliptian plot to sabotage The Project, Supes, Jimmy and the gang. No more shadowy background plotting; now we start to see details of The Evil Factory, Mokkari, Simyan, the Superman-hating giant… and the Superman, J.O. and Newsboy Legion mini-clones.
The implications of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) research by 1970 were obvious (and likely reality today): Human beings could be cloned, making exact duplicates from cells extracted from a person. In a future entry, I’ll discuss Jack’s fascination with DNA and the cultural history of the double-helix discovery in 1953, but for now lemme just note the amazing little replicas of our heroes, creations of Darkseid’s Evil Factory.
Itsy-bitsy doubles, en masse — all dressed in their trademarked costumes, no less! — “alive and spirited,” have been grown in the “rival project” run by agents of Apokolips, Mokkari and Simyan, who stole the originals’ cells from The Project. While we will see the legendary Scrapper Troopers in the series to come, Jack never delved into the implications of an army of miniature Men of Steel, for instance… an example of his throwing new concepts at us at such a fantastical pace that he himself often didn’t stop to contemplate the myriad story possibilities. (Though, as we always need to be reminded, the Fourth World was aborted quite early in its intended run, so it is very likely Jack had ideas for future stories using what seems now to be throwaway concepts and characters… He does have Mokkari say the critters will be sedated “Until a mission is devised for them!”)
I just love this splash page (and hate the false cover — not the art; Neal Adams did great stuff on the 4W covers! — but given the incident doesn’t take place in the ish… well, it’s a cheat, innit?).
Jack’s pacing from issue to issue is perfectly expert and after last ish’s pulse-pounding race, a leisurely stroll through the Evil Factory is just the right change of tone.