Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #138

Cooke Look: “The Big Boom!”

Wow, what a nail-biter this issue is! It’s an unrelenting juggernaut of a story that climaxes the Project story arc that basically started in JO #133. Jack’s depiction of Superman is simply awesome, whether our hero is smacking down the Four-Armed Terror or carrying a rather hefty atomic reactor over his head while in full trot!

When I was a kid, as my brother and I would lay about our shared bedroom leafing through the latest Kirby comics, I distinctly recall when finishing a Kamandi comic book once, I’d snort, “Yeesh, that took me eight minutes to read,” like it was a bad thing. You know, this was when Jack had multiple chapters to an issue, each chapter opening with a full-page splash, never mind the requisite double-pager for the second and third pages… plus the regular pages typically had four panels per. I think I complained — I know I complained — because I wanted to spend more time in the throes of Jack’s imagination and, however brief, I still reveled in the experience.

I bring this episode up because this issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen is almost a “real-time” comic book, starting on page one as it does with 15 minutes to go and ending at second zero on pg. 23 (not counting the epilogue that occurs an hour after the almost-Armageddon). This is certainly one of my all-time favorite Kirby comic books. The Four-Armed Terrors are terrific baddies and it’s a delight to see the old Newsboy Legion in action. The ferocity of the almost-final battle is breath-taking and a reminder of Jack’s great war comics work…

This, in my humble opinion, is the best the series ever got under Jack’s guidance, though there are lots more exciting, engaging adventures to come. Me, I’m a big fan of the Goody Rickels stuff, so you’ll not hear me say the series goes downhill… no, just the pacing changes and, for me, a humorous episode was perfectly timed following these stressed-out, ticking-bomb tales!