Ask Not What Jimmy Can Do For You…

Some of you may have heard about this, but today, the United States inaugurated a new President, and while we tried to keep it low key, it’s actually kind of a big deal.

If you caught the Inaugural Address, you might’ve noticed that the theme of it–as it usually is with this sort of thing–was a reminder that we all share responsibility for the world around us and should rise to meet the challenges ahead, and that’s a sentiment that we here at the ISB can wholeheartedly get behind. Because really, when your President gives you a call to action, you answer.

And by “you,” I mean Jimmy Olsen.



Yes, Superman’s Pal takes on the harsh, unforgiving world of jungle warfare at the request of President Nixon in the pages of Jimmy Olsen #132, which is notable as the last issue before Jack Kirby showed up and changed everything. But rest assured: It’s still pretty crazy.

It all starts, as do all historic events, when Jimmy’s out cruising on a yacht with a couple of bikini girls and what is quite possibly the greatest shirt in the history of man:



Sadly, Jimmy isn’t able to spend a lot of time macking on the ladies, because… Well, because he’s Jimmy Olsen, and in the Silver Age, that meant that he couldn’t go downstairs to get a cup of coffee without something strange and occasionally horrible happening to him. This time around, it’s a volcanic eruption that not only creates a new island, but somehow manages to furnish it with a good-sized jungle “within a few days.”

Even more important than the miracle growth, though, is the fact that the new island is exactly halfway between Russia and the United States, and–this being the height of the Cold War–the race is soon on for each country to claim Island X first.

Needless to say, things get a little heated…



…and so Nixon and Brezhnev decide to settle things the old-fashioned way. And when I say old-fashioned, I mean Old Testament: Each nation picks a single champion to duel to the death on Island X, with the winner’s country claiming the territory as their own. So why don’t they just get Superman to do it? Well, according to Superman, it wouldn’t be fair because the Russians don’t have an equivalent, which one would think would be the entire point of having Superman on your side.

Thus, it’s up to Jimmy Olsen, who proves his mettle by–how else?–rolling up his sleeves and punching out a robot:



Because really: When the fate of the country is on the line, you want to entrust your last-ditch military operation to a habitual kidnapping victim in a bow tie. Ah, the Silver Age.

Before long, Jimmy’s off to Island X to face off against the ersatz Ivan Drago that is Bors, and what follows is something that you could refer to as a “deadly game of cat and mouse,” but only if you really, really wanted to sell somebody on this comic. Mostly, it just involves Jimmy and Bors failing to shoot at each other…



…and just, you know. Hanging around:



Eventually,they (of course) learn a grudging respect for each other and the whole thing becomes a moot point anyway when Island X recedes into the sea, but not before we all learn a lesson that I think we can all benefit from.

And that is this:



If you can’t solve your differences with dynamite, then maybe you should just be friends.

37 thoughts on “Ask Not What Jimmy Can Do For You…

  1. Mr. Carstairs. That’s not far from Mr. StairCar. I think it’s safe to say Jimmy Olsen would want the Arrested Development movie to move forward.

    Get on it, Cera.

  2. Jimmy Olsen is a fucking badass. I can only imagine his plan in that last panel is exploding fisticuffs.

  3. Holy crap, I think Terry Pratchett used this comic as the inspiration for Jingo.

    Does this mean that Jimmy Olsen > Samuel Vimes?

  4. The ending, stolen from the butter battle book? And no, Sam Vimes would kick Olsen’s face in any day.

  5. No, Vimes would defend Jimmy’s right to wear bow ties and be bad at things to the death, but he would resent the hell out of him for every second of it.

    And he would give Superman a very nasty look.

  6. I think Sir Terry – and perhaps this comic book? – used the real world non-island of Ferdinandea as inspiration.

    It’s good to know that when a little dispute arises over land, the leaders of America and Russia will calmly chat to one another over the phone and agree to resolve their dispute via an organised, one-on-one duel. Truly, we live in civilised times!

  7. I’m still dying from the Jack Knight reference. Truly Mr. Sims, you are the master.

  8. “If you can’t solve your differences with dynamite, then maybe you should just be friends.”

    Truly, words to live by….

  9. Jimmy Olsen is the man Nixon turns to when there is a mess to clean up? Do you realize what this means?!

    Jimmy Olsen is the Earth-1 Comedian!

    If Kirby hadn’t taken over next issue I’m sure that he’d soon be dealing with a pair of meddling competing reporters from Washington…

  10. “If you can’t solve your differences…”

    I hereby nominate the honorable Mr. Sims to be the new Middle East peace envoy. Clearly, they’ve demonstrated that they aren’t going to solve their differences with dynamite, but perhaps nobody thought to present this alternative to them in such stark terms.

  11. The island sinks “from whence it came”, just like that little spit of an island in that one issue of G.I. Joe!

    This changes all of my plans to one day visit some tropical paradise. Unstable little buggers.

  12. Was this the only time in history that Jack Kirby taking over a title made it LESS crazy than it was before?

  13. Listen Biff, Jimmy Olsen obviously DOESN’T suck… as Nixon himself picked him to be the one guy capable of winning that duel.

    Y’know, after Superman punked out with a flimsy excuse.
    (Why didn’t Nixon keep going down the superhero list? I’m sure some of them wouldn’t have minded taking out poorly equipped Russians.)

  14. thanks for linking to that other entry i’m going to have hideous anteater face nightmares for ages
    ‘god exists and he is american’ etc

  15. Danicus, Nixon didn’t go with a superhero because he was trying to lose. As we learned in Captain America shortly after Kirby left, Tricky Dick was up to his eyeballs in the Secret Empire. There was only one thing he didn’t count on… MISTER ACTION!

  16. Is it just me or does that robot Olsen is punching out kinda look like a little ROM like?

  17. Wow. I’ve really got to break down and buy some Showcase Presents Superman Family. Also, well done on the alt texts this time–not everyone can get away with references to Jacks Knight and Chick in the same post.

  18. “Jeff Says:
    “The island sinks “from whence it came”, just like that little spit of an island in that one issue of G.I. Joe!”

    Whence? You’ve been reading those Thor comics again, haven’t you?

    Thank God someone else remembers that issue of GI Joe.

  19. Its reads like this that just blow my mind…I want to say :nobody could make this u,” and yet someone actually did.

    ps: nice Chick reference.

  20. Oh my god. Ohmigod! Oh My *Fucking* God!

    I remember this story! I read it about 25 years ago in a reprint annual or pocket digest, something that came from pharmacy rack back when they still sold comics. Seeing it again, I suddenly recall Jimmy and the Russian were equipped with the exact same gear in the name of fairness; their only guns were those pistols. I think they even had a specific number of bullets.

    That scene with the Russian in the snare, his reply to Olsen’s shock is that he carved a dummy pistol from soft coral rock to trick him; I’d swear his exact words are “soft coral rock.” I read this story once when I was 9! How the hell do I remember it stil?!

    I think I can even recall the other Olsen story in the same issue: Jimmy goes to a museum, gets mentally zapped by a magic jewel, psychically travels back in time to become Marco Polo, fights Mongols by inventing the parachute, falls in love with a harem girl only to have her die in his arms, then wakes up again in the museum inside the display case with the jewel.

    If that summary is at all accurate, I’m not sure whether I should be proud or ashamed.