Like kids grabbing a handful of candy while trick-or-treating Apokoliptian agent Simyan snags a fistful of mini-clones while his partner Mokkari zaps the tiny human replicas with the tranquilizing Z-Ray, which they hope will be as effective with (ahem) larger, more aggressive duplicates.
Yeah, Jack used just about every letter of the alphabet — English and Greek! — to name his myriad devices, whether weapons or whatnot. No doubt his criteria was: As long as it sounds cool and futuristic, it works!
If I may make an aside here, I need to confess I pondered over whether to include such apparently superfluous items as the Z-Ray in this ongoing chronological catalogue of Kirby Fourth World creations. First I considered (self-servingly) I might need to get pretty darn minute to fill 365 daily entries… I mean, c’mon, three hundred and sixty-five!… but then it occurred to me, it’s only proper and respectful of Jack’s creative output to put it all down, to begin to establish an encyclopedia, if you will, down to the nitty-gritty details of his imagination. You may say, “Really, Cooke: A ‘Green K Paralysis Ray’?” But I contend it speaks not only of his ceaseless fertile mind, but also to the actual value of his work. Super-hero accessories are potential merchandising; just ask George “The Source, I mean, Force” Lucas. So maybe, by being exact and as precise as can be, this can be a resource for multiple use — as scholarship, as testament, as inventory — all fit for a King.
The splash page of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #135, takes us, full bore, right into the Apokoliptian plot to sabotage The Project, Supes, Jimmy and the gang. No more shadowy background plotting; now we start to see details of The Evil Factory, Mokkari, Simyan, the Superman-hating giant… and the Superman, J.O. and Newsboy Legion mini-clones.
The implications of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) research by 1970 were obvious (and likely reality today): Human beings could be cloned, making exact duplicates from cells extracted from a person. In a future entry, I’ll discuss Jack’s fascination with DNA and the cultural history of the double-helix discovery in 1953, but for now lemme just note the amazing little replicas of our heroes, creations of Darkseid’s Evil Factory.
Itsy-bitsy doubles, en masse — all dressed in their trademarked costumes, no less! — “alive and spirited,” have been grown in the “rival project” run by agents of Apokolips, Mokkari and Simyan, who stole the originals’ cells from The Project. While we will see the legendary Scrapper Troopers in the series to come, Jack never delved into the implications of an army of miniature Men of Steel, for instance… an example of his throwing new concepts at us at such a fantastical pace that he himself often didn’t stop to contemplate the myriad story possibilities. (Though, as we always need to be reminded, the Fourth World was aborted quite early in its intended run, so it is very likely Jack had ideas for future stories using what seems now to be throwaway concepts and characters… He does have Mokkari say the critters will be sedated “Until a mission is devised for them!”)
I just love this splash page (and hate the false cover — not the art; Neal Adams did great stuff on the 4W covers! — but given the incident doesn’t take place in the ish… well, it’s a cheat, innit?).
Jack’s pacing from issue to issue is perfectly expert and after last ish’s pulse-pounding race, a leisurely stroll through the Evil Factory is just the right change of tone.