Day 74: Scrapper-Troopers!

WOW, indeed! The not-so Jolly Green Jimmy is engaged in a ferocious fight against the new Golden Guardian, with Superman out cold on the sidelines, as the real Jimmy and his newsboy friends voice their astonishment at the titanic battle being waged before their eyes. The cloned Jim Harper holds his own against the behemoth, who is engulfed with primal rage, fists and exposition flying. “Kill! Destroy!” the monster screams, “I have been programmed by the forces who created me, to eliminate whatever lies before me! You must die!

Within moments, the Guardian is knocked off his feet and Jimmy runs to revive Superman only to be approached by his enormous emerald-skinned doppelganger, who tells him, “I come for… you!” But before the Man of Steel can protect his pal, the creature yanks the cub reporter off his feet and: “As the giant pulls Jimmy to him in his fierce grip, he suddenly comes face to face with his own image!” The beast hesitates, telling his lookalike, “You — you are exactly like myself!” and, confused, turns to face Superman and the revived Guardian, who work together: Superman “Slowly begins to exert pressure on the cement floor,” as the Protector of Suicide Slum dives at the Goliath. Suddenly the pavement beneath the giant collapses and Superman grabs Jimmy. The Guardian rushes to engage “The Incredible Jimmy” when a sudden flash envelopes the creature’s head and plumes of vapors rise from him. The Giant collapses and passes out…

Strange!” says the Guardian as he examines the giant’s head, “The vapor literally exploded from his hair — without cause! It is puzzling!” After Jimmy and Superman trade thanks and compliments, the Last Son of Krypton takes a close look: “Now, as for our fallen Goliath, it would seem the best course to take would be — to look for a — David! Ah! Here he is!” Jimmy quips, “Don’t tell me he’s got armed fleas!” Superman replies, “It’s a rather humorous label to apply to our little friend here, but I would say you’re close!” Superman holds out his upturned palm and we see an individual example of yet another amazing product of The Project!

Standing on the Man of Steel’s hand is a tiny solider — “A miniature paratrooper!” says Jimmy, “And he’s waving a grenade!” For he is only one of a platoon of Micro-Paratroopers, all cloned from the same D.N.A., that of Newsboy Legionnaire, Scrapper! Suddenly toy-size jets fly over Jimmy’s head and drop dozens of Scrapper-Troopers floating down with chutes towards the green giant, and one says, “The objective is tranquilized, men! Now to complete the operation!” The troopers land and, each hoisting a canister, scurry past Jimmy’s feet and set up a cannon-like device. “Cryonic equipment!” says Superman, “They’re going to put our giant on ice, Jimmy!” The small cryonic canon shoots liquid nitrogen onto the giant and quickly covers him head to foot, to be sealed in Cryonic Capsule #31570.

Hey!” delights Scrapper (the original), “Here comes dat little gimmicky plane again!” It lands and the green-bereted newsboy lies on the floor and rests his cherubic face in his hands as he marvels at his itsy-bitsy lookalikes and coins a nickname. “It’s pickin’ up da little ‘Scrapper-Troopers!‘ Ain’t dey cute? So dey used me cell tissues to make dese spunky fightin’ men! Well, it’s only a natural cherce!”

Later on in this issue, we see The Project has used another member of the Newsboy Legion to harvest D.N.A. — Gabby, whose clones are used as telephone operators. “It’s never-ending surprises!” says Jimmy during his tour of The Project with Superman. “These technicians look like Gabb!” The Man of Steel replies, “Could you think of more perfect candidates for the communications division?

Back to the our subject: Scrapper-Troopers, a cunning Kirby creation, almost certainly had an impact with readers (or at least Jack’s assistants, Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, who I believe were involved in plotting the next sequence discussed) as a representative returned upon the conclusion of this “Big Boom” epic. After Gabby develops a cold, the super-cautious medical staff at The Project puts the entire gang under quarantine and, bored beyond measure as well as wanting to get back into the fight alongside the Guardian, the Newsboy Legion devise an escape. Suddenly there’s movement in Scrapper ample head of hair.

“Dere must be somethin’ movin‘ t’rough me hair! — and it’s scarin‘ da daylights out of me!” says Scrapper and, yep, you guessed it, a Scrapper Trooper crawls out of the brown locks, takes a seat on the bulbous nose of the kid and snaps a salute to his genetic “father”! “Wow! It’s a — Scrapper-Trooper! He’s our way out of here!” They instruct the little guy to crawl into and open an electronic lock, and they exit into… “An abandoned tunnel!” says Tommy. “The ‘Project’ builders must’ve stopped digging here when they struck an underground river!’ Fortuitously there’s a small motorboat and the boys take leave of The Project… (The kids do get involved in a tragic episode that minimally includes the little fellow, but we’ll discuss the details of that down the river, so to speak.)

Scrapper’s little buddy joins the crew on the visit to Scotland, where he plays his biggest role in the entire series. First, he thwarts Inter-Gang agent Felix MacFinney attempt to throw Jimmy and the boys overboard, and a little later living in his own mini-portable home. The team splits up with Jimmy and Scrapper on foot, the pair searching for the origin of the strange mythical creatures now scampering the braes of Scotland. After struggling through the thicket, they come to open country and take a breather. Scrapper, resting his back on a boulder, holds a box with shoulder strap and and a wire-meshed window, and he says, “I hope the little Scrapper Trooper’s okay!! I brought him along — in dis special box I made!!” Jimmy replies, “I knew you would! That’s why I chose you to come with me, Scrapper!” Superman’s Pal explains his reason and the pair start an afternoon siesta as Scrapper-Trooper stands guard.

“But nothing can guard against the Compressor Wave! It comes out of nowhere — and does its strange work!!”

Then Scrapper is nudged awake by a hand with a khaki-colored sleeve. “‘Scrapper One! Scrapper One! Wake up!!” The Newsboy Legionnaire rises from his slumber and sees a “full-size” Scrapper-Trooper. Still foggy, he says, “Oh! Hi, little Scrapper Trooper!!” Then it hits him — they are all the same size! “I told you that I saw something weird happen to you!!” Scrapper-Trooper says, “In short — you’ve been shortened!!” Yep, the guys have been miniaturized and, with a “Sixth Sense” that clones of The Project seem to possess, Scrapper-Trooper leads them to… Brigadoom! The trio has uncovered the location of Darkseid’s Evil Factory!

That’s enough of this adventure for now, as I’d like to detail it at the appropriate time, but suffice to say Scrapper-Trooper is an able and courageous asset to the adventurers as they do battle with Mokkari and Simyan, a menagerie full of prehistoric monsters — and even Jimmy himself, in the guise of Homo-Disastrous!!!

The last we see of Scrapper-Trooper is when he is hauled onto the Whiz Wagon at the climax of the “Brigadoom” trilogy and, ya gotta admit, he and his fellow clones were a great addition to the title. A fine example of Jack’s occasionally impish sense of humor, they also hinted at a dramatic aspect of The Project that was never fully developed in Jimmy Olsen — that they all shared strange, mysterious brain activity, maybe even E.S.P., common to artificially grown “test-tube” humans. While his clones didn’t share in their “original’s” Brooklyn accent or his pugnacious sense of humor, it is their stoic and reserved nature that juxtapose nicely with Scrapper.