In the run-up to this year’s Valentine’s Day, we’ve already seen that the romantic abilities of one James Olsen simply cannot be contained by mere space and time, spilling over into the world of the Imaginary Story. Sadly, that sort of thing doesn’t appear to be hereditary.
Or at least, that’s what you can learn from the pages of another imaginary story of amorous adventure from the pages of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #56 in a story that finds him in what is undoubtedly a loveless marriage with comics’ greatest harridan, Lucy Lane. What’s more, he and the shrew are even raising a son, the imaginatively named Jimmy Olsen Jr–or as I like to call him, “The Deuce”–who finds himself mired in his own impassioned entanglements with a super-powered lass. But whereas Pops was able to find happiness with Supergirl in our previous story, James the Lesser has a whole new set of problems…
BECAUSE HE’S MAKIN’ OUT WITH HIS FREAKIN’ COUSIN!
Seriously, it blows my mind every time I see this thing that this cover went through at least three people–including Jerry Siegel, Kurt Schaffenberger and editor Mort Weisinger–saw this and thought it would be a fine idea to just slap up a cover with two people in the throes of passion while their mothers–who are sisters–look on with emotions that are far more mild than the situation warrants. And what’s more, not only isn’t it mentioned on the cover, but nobody even thinks to bring it up in the actual story, either. Truly, 1961 was a different time.
Then again, given Superman’s own history “exploring the House of El,” it probably shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
“But Chris,” you may well be saying to yourself, “Surely there’s some kind of explanation offered up, isn’t there?”
Short answer, no. Long answer, well…
The whole thing gets started in the vague, 50s-style future of rocketry and atomic science when Jimmy the Deuce gets home from conquering outer spaaaaace to find that he’s just in time for a dance being held at the Daily Planet, because, you know, there’s apparently no news to report in The Future, either. Regardless, there’s a catch to the festivities, and that’s that Jimmy’s going to be the date of one Lola Kent–you know, his cousin–the daughter of Jimmy Sr.’s pal Clark:
What Jimmy Jr. doesn’t know–wait. That’d take hours. One of the things that Jimmy Jr. doesn’t know, however–and something Pops Olsen hasn’t been able to figure out after all these years–is that Clark of course is Superman, and Lola has her own crime-fighting identity as Supermaid.
And he also doesn’t know that she’s got a crush on him.
Or maybe he wasn’t interested BECAUSE HE’S HER COUSIN.
Ah well. What harm can one dance do?
Plenty, as it turns out. See, the Deuce–while originally more attracted to Super-Maid, who saves him from a very atomic explosion–proves that Jerry Siegel was decades ahead of his time and the rise of the ’80s teen movie by seeing past Lola’s glasses and to le cousin dangereaux beneath.
Sadly–which is to say, thankfully–not everyone approves of their newfound romance:
Ah, Superman! Always the moral center of the DCU! Surely he’s stepping in to stop things BECAUSE THEY’RE COUSINS, right?
Well, no, actually. Instead, he gives Lola the same old line about James the Lesser being in constant danger if the world should learn she’s Supermaid, which really ought to be a tertiary concern at this point.
Anyway, even the edicts of a mild-mannered reporter can’t stop the Deuce when he puts his mind to something, and while he’s trying to talk her into a union that even the good people of Alabama wouldn’t approve of, he acidentally discovers her secret identity, and before you can say “three-eyed super-baby,” they elope.
But not, it seems, before taking precautions:
Ladies and gentlemen… what has science done?!
Yes, thanks to the Larimus Parnae–an anagram, incidentally, for “Superman: A Liar” (also: “Samurai Planer” and the far more telling “Manual Repairs”)–Jimmy 2: Electric Boogaloo is able to overcome the last obstacle to their happiness, with the exception of THE FACT THAT THEY ARE–aw, you know where I’m going with this.
Superman’s so pleased with the results of the Malaria Prunes potion that he ends up revealing his identitiy–and Supermaid’s, of course–to the whole world, secure in the knowledge that nobody will think of insulting the unsavory breeding practices of an entire passel of super-aristocrats. And he’s right, until someone finally comes to their senses.
Lex Luthor, everybody! As always, the voice of reason.