Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tale Of Two Jimmys!


Jimmy Olsen #147 is an oddball comic for certain. The great Jack "King" Kirby was ending his memorable run on the series and it would revert to more typical Jimmy stories for several issues before being folded into the Superman Family comic along with Lois Lane. But the cover for this issue ain't by Kirby, and that's about all anyone knows for certain. The boys at the Grand Comics Database are pretty savvy fellows and they have a keen eye for comic art styles, but there's a great deal of disagreement even there about who produced this cover. The comic has had Carmine Infantino as the artist, even Bob Oksner. Kirby ismentioned but I see no evidence of that at all. The most likely culprit is Neal Adams (he would do the next cover for certain) with some nimble help from Dick Giordano on the flying figures. Murphy Anderson steps into to give it a proper Superman gloss, but whoever did it, it's pretty much a mess. And the reason is most likely speed.


This appears to be the original cover for this issue by Kirby with some handsome Anderson inks. It's no prize winner itself and the action is pretty difficult to decipher at a glance, the key job of a comic book cover back then. So I can see why it was rejected, even if it was the King. But sadly its replacement was no improvement in my eyes, so best to leave it alone to begin with.


Here is the Kirby artwork with some inks, most likely by Mike Royer. This is the strongest image of the three. Maybe that old saw about too many cooks in a kitchen might be in play here.

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7 comments:

  1. Jimmy Olsen - the best thing Kirby did at DC. Surprising, therefore, to learn that he was glad when his time on the mag came to an end. Superman was a mega-star that gave power and presence to Jack's stories; most of his own Fourth World characters always struck me as 'bit-players' at the most.

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    1. I agree that the Jimmy Olsen stuff is strong, love it more with each reading. But Orion and Mister Miracle seem fully realized to me as heroes, especially the latter. They are certainly subservient to the story Kirby told, which of course we never got a solid ending for. Darkseid too seemed to become more refined the more he appeared.

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    2. I've always thought (and said on several occasions) that after JO, Mister Miracle was the most interesting (and entertaining) JK DC character. I never really took to Orion for some reason, although I agree that Darkseid was a good villain. I was thinking more of the heroes in my first comment though. The Black Racer just looked silly to me, although it was more the look of the character I didn't like than the idea behind him.

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    3. I think Kirby was building on something he had started at Marvel, and was no longer doing superheroes, but some quasi-Biblical genre that was new to comics. As a character, Orion is closer to Oedipus than the Flash. Darkseid may not have been totally unprecedented in comics, but he was of such a magnitude that he threw all other DC villains in his shadow, and seemed less like Lex Luthor than Milton's eloquent version of Satan. A telling example of Kirby's approach to character is his treatment of Superman in the very first issue of Mr. Miracle, which he actually drew before he started work on Jimmy Olsen. It was the first time I remember Superman feeling alienated from humanity by who he was. My point is that Kirby always looked past the limitations that other creators had meekly accepted and envisioned bigger worlds and grander characters. It's too bad those in charge were so short-sighted as to continually try to make his work fit within their limited view.

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    4. I think Kirby's trouble fitting in at DC was more to do with his idiosyncratic scripting than editorial interference, in the main. It took me a while to warm up to Jack's Fourth World stuff, JO excepted. When I picked New Gods or Forever People off the spinner-racks to have a look, I put them back again because they just failed to grab me. In fact, it's possible I only started buying them when they went up to 25 cents for 52 pages because I was intrigued by the reprints, but I never quite got into Orion or Lightray in the same way that I could get into Thor or Hercules.

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  2. The four flying figures in the upper-right of the published are re-inked Kirby figures from either a New Gods or Forever People double-page spread.
    Now I have to dig them out...

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  3. Not sure what’s worse: Bad Posture Superman on the mystery cover – or One-Legged Amputee Superman on the rejected Kirby cover…Which of course begs the superlative question: ‘How super is a superman in super town’?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey-AmU6Nbgk

    Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown (Rob Zombie)

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