Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134

Cooke Look: “The Mountain of Judgment!”

Holy smokes! What a helter-skelter ride this ish is, the second comic book in Jack’s Fourth World saga: A breakneck race down the Zoomway by the Whiz Wagon (with Jimmy and the Newsboy Legion onboard) and the Outsiders in search of the gargantuan Mountain of Judgment! The Big Jump, Flippa’s underwater demolition save, Supes’ last-second rescue of the boys, who were about to become roadkill under the wheels of The Hairies giant ride… phew! Where’s my Valium?

It’s appropriate, I think, that after Jack introduces SO much to us readers in his premiere Fourth World effort, a solid half of his second issue is devoted to a (albeit hair-raising and nonstop) road race… it eases the intellect and stimulates the id, don’tcha think?

(And we haven’t mentioned in these entries his two facing pages of photo collage work, an aspect of Jack’s art which endlessly fascinate me. Even if sometimes it’s for the fact I strain to ascertain exactly what’s in the images as comic-book printing was so ill-suited at the time to achieve his intent. With the able and appreciated assist from Jon Cooke’s Pal, John Morrow, we’ll be featuring some of the original collages (in full, glorious color!) in a bonus entry to come.)

There’s not much to talk about really, regarding the story overall, but we do feel like we’re going somewhere, on the Zoomway, towards the deeper mysteries of The Wild Area, and into the complexities of the unfolding storyline.

We see the natural, outside world of The Outsiders and then glimpse the dark interior environment of The Hairies’ high tech laboratory on wheels. And they both are appealing. Jack’s starting to get at something, a thing I’m just beginning to fathom… a statement about the hopes and dangers that encompass man’s endless quest for answers…? I dunno, but I sense we can forever dig into this material and be amazed at what we might find (or THINK we find!).

And, it goes without saying, we are introduced to the Great Villain Himself.

I guess the word is resonant.

Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen is a confident, courageous man of his own, the Newsboy Legion complement his leadership with camaraderie and bravery — with Flippa taking MVP for derring-do — and Jack’s rendition of Superman is emerging from behind the muted Colletta inks and Plastino face redraws. (I used to lament how a Kirby Superman, the one especially alluded to in Forever People #1 and in the “Supertown” story, never was really unleashed — not like Gil Kane was able to accomplish in those GREAT stories of the 1980s — but I realize now there’s enough of the King’s Man of Steel to admire and be satisfied.)

I’m not a big Superman fan, but I do think Kirby’s version stands with the Burnley “Powerstone” saga, Gil Kane’s Action Comics, and the Fleischer cartoons… and of course, the contemporaneous-of-the-Fourth-World and also-not-properly-concluded “Sandman” epic by O’Neil, Swanderson and Schwartz…

I’m ramblin’, but good ish!

Cover: (Attributed to Murray Boltinoff) B-792
Story: X-114
Text Page: “The Whiz Wagons Are Coming!” X-116

On Sale Date: Oct. 20, 1970?

5 thoughts on “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134

  1. R Drew

    I’ve often wondered what inspired Jack to experiment with his collage pages, and how time-consuming they were comparative to actually drawing the page instead.

  2. JonBCooke Post author

    I wonder, too, if there was therapeutic value to the activity… I’ll ask John Morrow if TJKC covered the subject. Unless one of you Metrons know…

  3. patrick ford

    My impression is some of the collage work Kirby worked into his stories was done for his own pleasure, and Kirby found a way to incorporate them into his work.

    This obviously wouldn’t be the case with all the collage work. For example, there were several collage-Whiz Wagons in Jimmy Olsen #135, but those collage-Whiz Wagons may well have been applied to a pre-existing collage used for the background.

    Mark Evanier answered a few questions I asked him about Kirby’s collage work.

    Mark, I wonder if you could answer a few questions about Spirit World?

    1. The Collage pages in Spirit World (and other Kirby comics) usually contain a small drawing by Kirby pasted on the collage. Did the inker get paid a full-page rate for these pages?

    ME: I don’t think so, but I don’t know for sure.

    2. If so; was Vince Colletta a huge fan of Jack’s collage work?

    ME: I would imagine that if Colletta was paid for a full page, then he loved ’em. If not, not.

    3. How was the pencil art inked? If it was already glued down, wouldn’t it be difficult to ink the holding lines?

    ME: Jack drew any figures on a separate page, the inker inked them on that page and then the production department took a stat of the figures and pasted that stat into a screened stat of the collage.

    4. Many of the collage pages have been reprinted with the penciled and inked figures removed, I assume Jack put them down with rubber cement with the intention of removing them later?

    ME: No, they were never on the original.

    5. The collage pages are evidence of Jack’s amazing creative spirit. One of the things that I think separates him from really all other comic book creators is his urge to create and explore. Did it typically take Jack longer to do one of the collage pages than it would have for him to draw it in pencil?

    ME: Much longer.

    6. The story combining collage and a fumetti approach called “Children of the Flaming Wheel,” is this something you and Steve [Sherman] wrote with Jack supplying the finishing touches? Who directed the photo shoot?

    ME: Jack did all the collage work in Spirit World. The kids in the photo shoots were friends of Steve Sherman’s. Steve Sherman and I wrote it, based on an idea from Jack. Steve directed it. Matter of fact, I wasn’t even at the photo shoot on that one, though I did help design the few props.

    7. Most of the material intended for Spirit World #2 was published in DC’s mystery books. Was their another collage/fummetti story completed that we haven’t seen?

    ME: There was a fumetti done for True Divorce Cases that has never seen the light of day but it had no collages in it.

    8. Was the text piece “The Spirit of Vengeance,” credited to you and Steve, based on notes by Jack?

    ME: A little bit.

    9. The cover of Spirit World #1 is by Neal Adams, or is it? We know the Stan Drake-inspired inking style of Adams was assertive. What did Kirby think of the Jimmy Olsen covers inked by Adams?

    ME: Jack did a cover for Spirit World #1 that combined drawings (which he inked) and photo collages. DC fiddled a lot with the layout and finally decided to have Neal Adams just redraw it. Jack was fine with the Adams inking on those covers. He wasn’t happy with the fact that they were retooling his Superman and he thought it was a mistake from a commercial standpoint. But what Adams did was better than having the cover inked by two separate people with clashing styles.

    1. JonBCooke Post author

      Thanks, Pat (and Mark)! I’m going to illustrate your reply/ME interview with a couple of Spirit World collages, which John Morrow shared with me yesterday.

  4. R Drew

    Thanks for posting those images, Jon. The colour collage, in particular, is excellent. Keep up the great work on the blog! Thanks also to Patrick for the very informative commentary!

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