You know, the ISB’s been here at the new site for a few days now, and while things finally seem to be settling down with WordPress and the new design, it just doesn’t quite seem like “home” yet. I don’t know why, but it feels like I’m missing something…
Oh, right: Jimmy Olsen stabbing people with a sword while riding a horse.
For the record, that all happens in Otto Binder and Curt Swan’s “Jimmy Olsen, The Boy Swordsman” from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #108, which also includes a Brewster’s Millions-esque tale wherein everyone’s favorite cub reporter has to spend a million bucks in order to get another million from an eccentric miser and, as you might expect, spends the whole time dressed like a red-headed Thurston Howell.
This one, however, opens up with Jimmy in a museum that apparently lets anyone with a signal watch waltz in and start pawing the merchandise, which is how he ends up accidentally preventing a robbery by slashing a would-be crook’s belt. The fact that he nearly kills a man while swinging a three hundred year-old rapier in a crowded room doesn’t stop anybody from applauding his quick thinking, which probably sent the wrong message to the kids of the Silver Age, but hey, look on the bright side: Jimmy’s got a new hobby!
Through a series of amazing coincidences–which, really, is how everything happened back in Metropolis in 1968–Jimmy impresses Lois and Perry to the point wher ethey introduce him to a visitor from Valdania, “the tiny kingdom where Swordsmanship has never died out.”
At this point, you can probably see where this is going.
Jimmy ends up heading out to Valdania, one of twenty-six Silver Age monarchies whose citizens have steadfastly refused to adopt modern technology to make for a more interesting story, where he hooks up with Prime Minister Kandu and performs a few sword tricks for the king, which is right about the time the sotry takes a sharp left into crazytown.
See, while he’s performing, the notorious criminal swordsman known as “The Ace of Swords” busts onto the scene, completely bypassing the King’s security guards depsite the fact that he’s wearing a purple jerkin and an orange hat with a big white feather, waving his sword around, and threatening to assassinate the king.
So Jimmy kills him.
Under normal circumstances, a hero killing someone in the Silver Age DC Universe was a pretty grim situation, usually resulting in exile from Earth or being drummed out of the Legion or something. For Jimmy, though, the thrill of taking another man’s life is instantly addictive, and with some encouraging words from Kandu, he agrees to hunt down and murder the enemies of the kingdom for money.
What follows is the Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen equivalent of that scene in Tombstone where Kurt Russel and his moustache go on a rampage, but with more windmills and slightly less Sam Elliot. Jimmy takes out “Black Blade” and “Flashing Saber,” which results in the King rewarding Jimmy with the entire treasury and sending him off to the airport.
But then, surprising… well, nobody, it turns out that the whole thing was a sham cooked up by Kandu to steal the country’s money. So let’s check the ol’ scorecard here. This Sinister Master Plan required Kandu to..
- Travel to America from a country that doesn’t believe in modern technology, like, you know, airplanes.
- Locate a suitably gullible patsy who was under the impression that he had natural talent for swordplay.
- Stage the deaths of three notorious outlaws.
- Convince the king to reward said patsy with the entire treasury.
- Team up with outlaws to murder said patsy, who will hopefully not be the best friend of someone who can fly and shoot death rays from his eyes.
Clearly, there is no other possible way that Kandu, the Prime Minster of Valdania, could’ve gained access to his country’s wealth.
Needless to say, Superman ends up showing up to save Jimmy from being skewered, everything works out okay, and Jimmy vows to give up swordplay. But he’ll always remember that it’s the Olsen Thrust… that really drives you insay-ay-ay-ane.
That joke sent in by Mark Hale, age 29! Let’s give him a big hand, everybody!