Big issue this time, even the cover says it’s a “King-Size Kirby Blockbuster” (although not one they wanted to put a Kirby cover on…). The whole cloning thing kicks off into high-gear this issue, with a look at villains Mokkari and Simyan and their theft of genetic technology from the Project, twisting it to their own ends. Of course, you have to wonder about the Project in general and their cloning of Jimmy Olsen, without informing him, into an army of Olsen clones.
In the Project we meet the original Newsboy Legion, as well as the Olsen clones, finding out some of them have been stolen. Mokkari and Simyan report to Darkseid, with one of those great brief Darkseid moments. “Death can eclipse life! A great lie can smash truth!”
Their most powerful clone, laced with kryptonite, breaks out and attacks the Project, where Superman finds out that it’s a giant Jimmy Olsen clone. The elder Newsboys unleash their own secret weapon in response, a clone of the recently deceased in the line of duty Jim Harper, their old Guardian.
Kirby throws a bunch of ideas out in this issue, some of which were probably considered even stranger 35 years ago. It’s nice stuff, very bold and in-your-face, although I thought some of his expository dialogue fell flat (the elder Newsboys introducing themselves (“I, Scrapper, became a social worker — but I’m needed here, too”).
Inking on this 22-page story is officially Vince Colletta, but as usual that’s only part of the story. Mark Evanier’s introduction to the tradepaperback reprint of these stories says that this issue was a bit different from the others, as the Superman and Jimmy Olsen figures were adjusted in the pencils by Al Plastino, Murphy Anderson and others, then inked by Colletta (and with Colletta’s frequent background assistant Art Cappello doing more than usual on this story). It does look a little more cohesive than some of the others (which involved paste-ups over the finished art or Anderson penciling and inking the adjusted art), although of course far less than it should have been with a single decent inker following Kirby’s pencils.
Kirby also wrote one of his odd essays in this issue, “The Hairies – Super-Race or Man’s Second Chance”, about his odd little DNAlien biker/hippie community. That’s one of those things I just assume he had bigger plans for that he never got around to.