Category Archives: Jimmy Olsen #133

Day 14: Flippa-Dippa!

Okay, okay, this is way off the chronology as far as first-appearances here, but this scrawny kid is full of pugnacious courage and off-the-wall craziness, all in his perennial scuba gear, I gotta single him out… I just love it when Jack goes a little bonkers: I mean, how was the King thinking he could regularly use a newspaper delivery boy-slash-adventurer who always wears a wet suit, flippers, diving mask and oxygen tanks??? You’d think the lad would be a… errr… fish out of water, wouldn’t ya? Well, this sequence, taking place during the wild underwater ride on the Zoomway, is your answer, skeptics!

Flip is, natch, the newest member of the New Newsboy Legion (given he wasn’t born into the group). In a follow-up ish, we find that his unnamed father (Mr. Dippa?) is coincidentally associated with the now grown-up original Newsboy Legion! I mean, what are the odds…?

I still haven’t figured out if the newest Newsboy’s official name is Flipper Dipper (sometimes with a hyphen) or Flippa-Dippa (sometimes without). Me, I dig the non-parenthetical latter, dig?

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133

Cooke Look: “Jimmy Olsen Brings Back The Newsboy Legion!”

[As a bonus, it makes sense to include a synopsis and brief (yeah, right) discussion of the issues as I go along, thus at the end of distilling all the wacky Kirby Kharacters ’n’ Koncepts, we’ll do just that! — JBC]

The word that might best describe Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133 is inventive. In a mere 22 pages, in his debut comic book during his 1970s tenure at DC Comics, Jack “The King” Kirby let loose his creative energies and hurled one new idea after another at our tender, unprepared noggins, and those of us who “got” it, those of us who didn’t compare this wild new material to his Marvel stuff with Stan Lee, those of us who were amused by his oft-corny interpretation of the youth culture… well, we were changed for good.

Would I feel the same way if the Kirby saga in Jimmy O was a stand-alone epic and not prelude to the cosmic mythology we now call Kirby’s Fourth World? I dunno, but as I mentioned in my introductory post, I distinctly recall picking up the orange-colored “first” issue and being just floored by the sheer inventiveness, and I do believe I would hold that book in the highest regard of, at least, the entire JO run (and don’t forget: Edmund Hamilton’s superb Nightwing and Firebird saga partially took place in the pages of that title, with that luscious Curt Swan and George Klein artwork, so it ain’t all “Jimmy as giant turtle-man” kitsch…).

But JO #133 was prelude to the greatest super-hero adventure of them all. (Alan Moore’s “Marvelman/Miracleman” epic might be the singular contender, though “Born Again” in Dardevil by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli also comes darn close, in my less-than-humble opinion.) Not only do we get the first inklings of the encroachment of Darkseid and his hordes of Apokolips, but we also get the reintroduction of a bona fide Kirby Kid Gang, The Newsboy Legion. Only now the group has left the gritty despair of Suicide Slum, and instead lives in an amazing futuristic new world of Kirby’s imagination… the best kind of nostalgia and yet not looking back. And, anyway, as we would subsequently learn, their presence would lead us to a revitalized golden avenger, a character I would grow to love.

I’ll admit that I have always been mildly annoyed with the other-dimensional quality to the myths Kirby embraced and/or created. Like, for instance, just exactly where was Asgard, home to the Mighty Thor and his brethren? And where precisely is the earth-side entrance to the Rainbow Bridge? Hell, I can buy the “fact” a Norse god flies earthly skies courtesy of a hammer only he could hoist (I mean, the physics alone boggle the mind!), or that a scrawny 4F 90-pound-weakling is injected with a serum to become a super-soldier, but I guess I yearn for some exactitude in the fantasies I love. And I’m not alluding to the exact “where” of Apokolips and New Genesis here (I’ll get to that conundrum in a post to come, you betchum!); what I wanna know, desperately, longitude and latitude, is the location of the Wild Area, okay? It seems far from Metropolis and yet is still within thermonuclear-explosion range… Boy, ain’t I pathetic and petty!

What I need to realize is it’s best just to be swept away by Jack’s uncharted creativity. Not worry about whether he drew Lightray’s mask correctly or how Scott Free just happened to be outside Thaddeus Brown’s house at a pivotal moment… I need to let go, let Kirby be Kirby, and be grateful to join the ride and not worry about unimportant matters like continuity and exact location…

What is important is that Kirby arrived at DC Comics with guns a’blazin’, his imagination unleashed as never before. If we thought his mid-Fantastic Four run was fertile — and it was one of the most creatively productive eras in comics history — we were still unprepared for the awe that was yet to come… Darkseid, Super-War, the Anti-Life Equation, Infinity Man, Scott Free, Glorious Godfrey, Granny Goodness, the Pact, Himon, Bug, Kalibak, Glory Boat…

So, as you can see, I hold JO #133 in the highest esteem. As introduction to Jack’s epic, with all its unabashed exuberance and unapologetic “gee whiz” approach, it counts as chapter one to a story arc I deem the finest of fantasy literature, as important as The Lord of the Rings or The Elric Saga, the 55-issue mammoth-sized tale we call the Fourth World…

(Before I end-rant, I just gotta comment about the trio of legendary “orange covers” DC published between 1968 and ’71, and their super-groovy contents: Wonder Woman #179 [Nov.-Dec. 1968], where Mike Sekowsky began a spectacular run re-inventing Diana Prince as a comic-book Emma Peel; and Superman #233 [Jan. 1971], with Denny O’Neil’s great reboot of the Supes mythos, aided by superb “Swanderson” art (and one of Neal Adams’s finest covers); along with JO #133… well, not comment exactly, just sigh over them one more time!)

Now, back to our story: just what is this “Mountain of Judgment” Yango keeps yammering about…?

Cover: X-111
Story: No visible #
Text Page: “Jack Kirby — Continued,” X-112

On Sale Date: Aug. 25, 1970

Day 11: Habitat!

By 1970, the environment was becoming a huge concern to average Americans (note that the first “Earth Day” was marked in that year) and there was a “Back To Nature” movement taking place within the counter-culture, with young people gathering into communes, living self-sustaining lives.

Jack tapped into these issues and, I suspect, might have visited a Giant Redwood forest (having moved recently to the Left Coast), and his feverish imagination went into overdrive.

Of course, Habitat is a section of the Wild Area, adopted home to the “dropout society” called The Outsiders… But just who built the wooden city… and for what purpose? And what about these rumors of a monstrous “Mountain of Judgment”?

After Supes recovers from being zapped with a Kryptonite Paralyzer Rod and wakes up in Habitat, we learn that Jimmy’s assignment is to find answers to the aforementioned questions.

Day 10: Green K Paralysis Ray!

Trigger-happy Yango the Outsider zonks Supes not once, but twice, with the Hairie-built Green K Paralysis Ray Gun, in the first two issues of Kirby’s JO run. How fortuitous that it contain green Kryptonite, which is lethal to Superman (until the events of Jan. ’71’s Superman #233, natch)… But if the Man of Steel is familiar with The Project and a friend to the Hairies, why have they prepared a weapon to be used against him (or Supergirl, I presume)? Must be that Yango is just a mean person, eh?

Day Nine: The Raiders!

No, no, not the Oakland Raiders; the Wild Area Raiders, whom The Outsiders thought they were attacking when they ambushed Superman. I’ve always assumed these machine-gun toting interlopers were actually a military squad from The Project — note the “Red Fox to Blue Patrol” chatter — but mayhap they were well-armed scavengers in that dangerous environment? And, if scavengers, what were they scavenging or raiding? Habitat? I’m now thinking they were hoping to prey on The Project itself… Tell me what I’m not getting here, will ya?

Be here tomorrow for: The Green K Paralysis Ray!

Day Eight: The Wild Area Ascetic!

We’ll discuss the Hairie situation more comprehensively in a future post, but it’s worth noting the Man of Steel’s first encounter with an inhabitant — well, I think he’s a Hairie, but could be an Outsider reject — of The Wild Area is with an monk-like meditating dude perched cross-legged atop what appears to be a man-made eagle’s nest. While the bearded cat seems to be peaceful, welcoming Superman to the zone and telling the hero Supes was “free to do your own thing,” he triggers the release of noxious gases when annoyed by the super-hero. “They drive off unwanted company,” the free spirit tells the Last Son of Krypton. “And right now, I don’t want any!”

The presence of high-tech gas-emitting defenses leads me to suspect the ascetic is a Hairie on leave from the Mountain of Judgment, but you guys tell me what you think? Do you feel the spirit, are you in the groove?

Day Seven: Yango and Flek!

The cover models of JO #133, Yango (the bearded ruffian) and Flek (the more dandy dude) make a notable, if limited, appearance inside the issue, bestowing leadership status to the Daily Planet cub reporter of the biker gang, The Outsiders. Theirs is a ballsy outfit, as Yango, grim behind his sunglasses, even bests the Man of Steel with a Kryptonite ray-shooting gun (with Superman’s EX-Pal’s approval!).

Yango, the most prominent biker in the series, would go on to display “unprecedented regard for his kind” and take over The Outsiders as head honcho (after former boss Jimmy O. abandons the outfit without so much as a fare-thee-well!), this during the onslaught of the Four-Armed Terror on Habitat in JO #137. In that same issue, Yango appears alongside a new Outsider, the heretofore unseen Gandy, who looks the spitting image of Flek. This resemblance begs the question whether Kirby, moving at lightspeed in unleashing new concepts and characters, simply forgot the gang member’s name and was too busy penciling 15 pages a week to check.

Day Six: The Outsiders!

The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club of “The Wild Area” is composed of former leader Iron Mask and minions, including Vudu, Yango, Flek, and Gandy (who looks an awful like Flek in the opening sequence of JO #137), heading the “dropout society” which inhabits the tree city called “Habitat.” They rove on their futuristic three-wheeled motorized hogs over the Zoomway, looking for adventure and whatever comes their way (apparently). Jimmy O., after beating the tar out of Outside boss-man Iron Mask, temporarily becomes revered head man of the mobilized cadre.

Overall, though, The Outsiders are more than just a biker gang: they are leaders and protectors of a huge forest commune of young people, hippies really (true nature’s children?), who have taken over a vast wooden metropolis built and abandoned by The Hairies, whom we will learn more about quite soon.

No doubt, Jack was riffing on the then-wildly popular movie, Easy Rider, and perhaps Roger Corman biker movies in general with The Outsiders. He had recently moved from the East Coast to make his mark in the Golden State and the prevailing the zeitgeist of youth culture certainly was influencing him. Motorcycle riders had been synonymous with freedom and rebellion in American culture since the hit 1951 movie (which made Marlon Brando a breakout star), The Wild One, and California’s Hell’s Angels, most famous (infamous) of the nation’s motorcycle clubs were becoming a significant quasi-criminal force on the West Coast by the early 1970s. Hunter S. Thompson has written his 1966 first-person account of traveling with head hog Sonny Berger’s crew in Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, which was a popular paperback. And less than a year before JO #133, everybody was aware of the Dec. 6, 1969, notorious event at Altamont Speedway occurred, where club members killed a man at a Rolling Stones concert, famously chronicled a year later in the film Gimme Shelter. Less than six months after Woodstock, the pinnacle of “music, peace and love,” the hippy movement was already starting to turn dark…

[Patrick Ford in a reply below notes that Roz Kirby, the indomitable wife of the King, told John Morrow in a TJKC interview, that The Outsiders are based on motorcross racers that annoyed the heck out of the couple when they lived in their first California home… But the costuming of the biker gang: that’s GOTTA be based on outlaw motorcycle clubs, right?]

It’s interesting to note that his approach to the counter-culture was one of curiosity and not without sympathy. As to be seen in the days to come on this page, especially with the “Hairies,” one suspects this cigar-chomping, “deese ‘n’ doose” former East Side Kid, U.S. Army veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, felt a kinship with young people of the “Generation Gap” era, not necessarily a common empathy for those of his age.

“Yeah, darlin’, gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space”

Steppenwolf, “Born to be Wild”

Day Five: Iron Mask and Vudu!

Big boss and henchmen of “The Outsiders,” roving motorcycle gang in “The Wild Area.” Jimmy O gives Iron Mask, Mr. Big Wheel, looking a wee bit like Doctor Von Doom, the big K.O. and becomes head of the outlaw crew…

I’m consistently impressed with not only Jack the storyteller but with his outstanding approach to design. Vudu, a throwaway character pretty much, looks to be coming straight from the home planet of Predator by way of Jamaica. I mean, feast on those dreadlocks, huge chain necklace, and snazzily lapeled vest. That’s one ominous, imposing biker! Well, “ominous,” yes, but am I wrong to sense a touch of sympathy coming from Jack for these guys and their generation? Maybe I read too much into his view of the counter-culture (even if, after all, the entire Fourth World can be interpreted as a running commentary of the day’s youth and their aspirations), but seems to me Jack was open-minded and forever curious about hippies and the meaning behind their rebellion against The Establishment. Do you think envy might have also played a role? Just a thought…

Coming soon: Fellow Outsiders Yango and Flek!

Day Four: The Wild Area!

The story so far: Jimmy O. is given a secret assignment and joins up with The “New” Newsboy Legion to inspect the “Whiz Wagon,” a vehicle financed by the Daily Planet’s new owner, Morgan Edge, media mogul head of Galaxy Broadcasting System, who has an ulterior — and malevolent — reason for the kids’ endeavor. Clark Kent, mild-mannered alter ego of Superman, is promoted to television reporter, but Edge, who has underworld mob contacts, orders a hit, because Kent is “too nosey” (what the heck does M.E. expect from a journalist???). Inter-Gang, mobsters in service to Apokolips, tries to run down the distracted Kent but, being secretly invulnerable, the intended victim does okay (wonder how the front end on that car made out!). Jimmy and his new pals take off in their miracle car and are headed into…

The Wild Area is that unkempt terrain adjacent to the mysterious Zoomway (byway of that “Moby Dick” of vehicles, the Mountain of Judgment); the mystical city made of wood called only Habitat; and the ominous underground complex known as The Project. Within its forest, roam the sophisticated weapon-wielding motorcycle gang, The Outsiders, and some odd characters known as The Hairies (who pilot the Mountain), plus some machine-gun-toting soldiers… What more to say? The environ of adventures to come!

(Actually, I can think of a lot more to say, particularly about the growth of hippy communes and the overarching “Back To Nature” movement of the day… Please note I do intend to keep expanding on these postings as I keep pondering All Things Kirby and the Kontext of His Times!)