A Tribute to the of






Well, we lost another one, faithful reader. Dick Ayers caught the last train out on the 4th of May, just a short time after his 90th birthday. Dick, of course, was considered one of Marvel’s Big Four from back in the day, to include Kirby, Ditko and Heck. I spoke to Dick once because I learned he was one of the original instructors at the Kubert School and he was warm, helpful and friendly when I interviewed him, which is consistent with every single story that came out about him after his passing. Everyone talked of what a wonderful human being he was beyond his formidable artistic ability. Dick was one of the good guys.

As best I could tell, I own a single story drawn by him. It’s an old issue of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos from 1967, issue #40 to be exact. I read through it and toyed briefly with making an exception and reviewing it here, but frankly, the story wasn’t much to talk about. Fury and his crew spend a lot of time bantering and it seemed the panels were jam-packed with word balloons, not to mention copious sound effects from gunfire and explosions. Poor Sam Rosen, the letterer, really earned his pay on this one. Dick was credited with plotting and penciling and he had a pretty good gift for facial expression in particular. I just couldn’t help but think, though, that a squad of soldiers, tramping around Europe during World War II, each with distinctive personalities and gear sounded awfully, awfully familiar. I looked up that other Sergeant, Rock, along with Easy Company and saw where he hit the newsstands in 1959 whereas Fury and the Howlers came along in ’63. Sometimes I’m just not so sure the fabled House of Ideas had that many originals.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what I’m doing with this book, it was included in some eBay purchase I made once upon a time as a bonus. Maybe I should list it for someone who would appreciate it more. It’s strictly a reader copy, complete but with a detached center leaf. If you’re interested, drop me an e-mail. It’s yours for the price of postage.

So, back to business. I settled for a backup story this time around. Sometimes they can be as entertaining or more so than the headliner and anyone who purchased BACK ISSUE #64 was treated to a bunch of backup features, including my own article on Metamorpho in Action Comics. So, turning the clock back to August of 1961 in the pages of Adventure Comics, issue #287, we go to the back of the Mort Weisinger edited book to find a story by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel titled “Jimmy Olsen’s Kookie Scoops!” Art is provided by John Forte and it’s another installment in the Tales of the Bizarro World.

Things start at the Daily Planet, Jimmy’s employer and he’s in the midst of getting a thorough butt-chewing from editor Perry White, who is criticizing his latest story. (I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t Jerry Siegel channeling himself in dealing with Weisinger.) Jimmy is told to get a real story and of course, “Don’t call me Chief!

The next day, Jimmy is driving through a dense fog in the country and happens upon a spaceship. (It could happen.) He then spots Superman and Perry boarding, so he, of course, bolts through the door just as the rocketship is taking off, only to discover that it’s actually Bizarro #1 and a Bizarro Perry, that the imperfect Superman has just created to replace the retiring editor of the Daily HTRAE (“Earth” spelled backward) on Bizarro World. The ship, of course, is to protect un-super Bizarro Perry from the perils of space travel.

This imperfect Perry wants to hire Jimmy to be a reporter and the lad refuses, but is persuaded by Bizarro #1 who threatens to throw him off the ship. Jimmy reluctantly accepts and soon they’re arriving at the square-shaped Bizarro world where everything is opposite of Earth.

Jimmy takes in the scenery and is slightly unnerved at all the strange things he sees, like tax collectors paying citizens with coal and even spotting a Bizarro Krypto flying around.

As he continues to try to get his bearings in this wacky environment, Bizarro Perry assigns him to collect 3 big scoops for a prize. Soon Jimmy sees several Bizarro Supermen setting fire to a movie theater. He pulls the fire alarm and when the other super Bizarro’s show up with gasoline to accelerate it, he learns that a fire is no big deal on a planet that has a rain shower every 4 hours.

So his story is ridiculed by Editor White, particularly when the competing paper, the Daily Noose has a front page story about the marshmallow toast at the burning theater.

Later, still searching for scoops, Olsen notes a Bizarro Mxyzptlk in jail. He then comes across a Bizarro Superman breaking into prison with help from other duplicate Supermen. Unfortunately this isn’t a worthy story, either, according to Bizarro Perry and to rub salt into the wound the competition again got the real scoop when the Bizarro accomplices were arrested for sweeping dirt to cover up the break-in tunnel. The reason it was newsworthy? They broke the Bizarro code by making something perfectly neat.

Bizarro Lois Lane keeps encouraging Jimmy, while feeling sympathetic for his ugliness, but he can’t catch a break and is worried he’ll never escape this nuthouse.

Jimmy thinks he’s onto something at last when an alien invasion strikes the Bizarro world. Bizarro forces go to meet the enemy and their weapons are no match for their invulnerability, but when the Bizarro Krypto arrives, they are distracted and then surrender, ensuring their victory. The confused combatants watch while the Bizarro forces bring them gold, food and other “junk.” Suspecting some sort of trap, the invaders beat a hasty retreat off this backward world.

Jimmy writes up the story, but it is again rejected because he missed the important angle of Krypto attacking one of the invaders under the rival headline “Dog Bites Man.” Jimmy is about to give up when Perry announces that Lois will put in a good word with her father, the publisher, and he’ll get the big prize anyway. An overjoyed Jimmy imagines it will mean he can leave the Bizarro World, but things take another unexpected twist when he learns the big prize is Lois’ hand in marriage. The Bizarro brothers won’t take no for an answer, so Jimmy frets the night away, trying to figure a way out before the next day’s nuptials.

The next day, when the ceremony reaches that critical point of asking if anyone objects, someone speaks up. It turns out to be a Bizarro Jimmy Olsen, who professes his desire to marry Lois. As it turns out, Jimmy made a Bizarro duplicate of himself and best of all, Jimmy is “punished” by being exiled back to Earth.

In the final panel, Superman’s Pal couldn’t be more content to be back at the Daily Planet, being abused by the genuine Perry White.

These Bizarro tales are just fun flights of fancy and this little 12-pager was particularly interesting by virtue of being the first appearance of a Bizarro Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. I enjoyed it and give it a 7 on the rating scale.

The Silver Lantern is your go to source for all the wonderful material from this great era in DC comics history. You’re invited to do your part in being a part of this by sending comments, questions or idea of your own to my handy e-mail: professor_the@hotmail.com. We’re always interested in hearing from you and hope you’ll continue to make this a regular destination during your web time.

The first of June will bring a fresh review here, so come on by and always remember…

Long live the Silver Age!



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