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!)

7 thoughts on “Day Four: The Wild Area!

    1. patrick ford


      Like yourself, Jimmy Olsen was my first real exposure to Kirby that left an impression. As a kid, my interest was a few scattered DC comics, and don’t even remember noticing Marvel Comics.

      Prior to 1970, I’d actually quit reading comics for a number of years after having become interested in Edgar Rice Burroughs at the age of ten. After reading all of Burroughs and Robert E. Howard (and drooling over the Krenkel, and Frazetta covers), I began reading what’s known as “hard” science-fiction. Things like Harlan Ellison and Philip K. Dick, whose work I picked up by way of the Science Fiction Book Club, which I joined so I could get the Frazetta-illustrated ERB Barsoom books.

      It was by way of my interests in fantasy and science-fiction I began reading comics again.

      A REH fanzine I subscribed to mentioned Marvel would be publishing a Conan comic book, which got my attention. While waiting and searching the newsstand I started to see the same “Kirby is coming” ads you’ve mentioned.

      Jimmy Olsen? Yeah, I knew who Jimmy Olsen was, but I dove in and felt like Clark Kent in that first issue for a moment, as in, “Did anyone get the number of that Whiz Wagon that hit me!”

      Habitat, The Outsiders, The Hairies, I felt like I was reading a comics entry that would have fit in Dangerous Visions.

      1. JonBCOOKE Post author

        Ellison was huge to me soon after starting off on the Fourth World, but I was particularly enamored with his teevee criticism, the Glass Teat books. (I’ve also been acquainted with him since I did a horror ’zine back in the early ’90s, and I can tell ya, he’s a hoot! Charming as a kitten and savage like a tiger, sometimes in the same phone conversation!). PKD, I’m only familiar with the film adaptions… I need to catch up. ERB is fun, though I confess to only making it through the first three or four Tarzan books and only a couple of John Carters… like a lot of pulp fiction, a little goes a long way for me. Have you read Dashiell Hammett? I’m deep into his work and am convinced he’s the Kirby of detective fiction!

      2. Mike Hill


        I approached Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen from the future of mid-20s (Bruce Berry) Kamandis and found it equally jarring. My first comic was Cap #102 but I didn’t start buying my own comics until six years later, when I could finance the habit with a paper route. Soon I was buying back issues along with new copies of Kamandi, OMAC and OFF [Our Fighting Forces], and caught my first glimpse of Jack’s JO covers in house ads. Up until then the title, along with Superman and JLA, was the realm of the stupid kid stuff my less mature cousins used to read (at the time I’d have said “retarded”).

  1. patrick ford


    Hammett is one of my absolute favorite authors.

    I’ve read all his stories, and novels. My favorite is Red Harvest (which was adapted by Kurosawa, and Leone in films), but all the Continental Operative stories are up there with it.

    Just recently I read a quote from Hammett where he said he grew to hate the Nick and Nora Charles characters [of The Thin Man, adapted into a popular film series in the 1930s and ’40s]. He couldn’t stand writing about people who made wise cracks while people were suffering, and being murdered.

    As you probably know Hammett really did write the first three Secret Agent X-9 [newspaper comic strip] continuities illustrated by Alex Raymond, but when I want to beat myself up I dream of Alex Toth spending his career adapting Hammett stories.

    Maybe one reason names like Granny Goodness appealed to me is I was reading things about a scolding Tick-Tock-Man at the same time?

    Have you read the excellent biography by Richard Layman?

    1. JonBCooke Post author

      No, I haven’t yet read the Layman bio. Am finishing up Hammett’s Lost Stories collection, mid-way through The Big Knockover, and will be off to tackle his novels after ingesting Nightmare Town. I’m going to take it, the fiction, all in first, but I was very impressed with Lillian Hellman’s biographical sketch in her Knockover introduction, so I’ll strike out for the bios thereafter. What a remarkable human Dash was… The narrative of his short stories is as gripping and simply put and contemporary-feeling as any I’ve ever read. I immediately starting writing a story in that style and it was instantaneous, like a weight of verbose pomposity in my work had been lifted. Now, hopefully I can translate that to my non-fiction stuff (but don’t hold your breath, effendi)!

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