A Tribute to the of

I was recently visiting my LCS (local comic shop, as Iím sure you readers are aware) and spent a little time perusing the back issue boxes when I stumbled across a couple of covers that had long intrigued me. Of all things they were from the surprisingly successful ďSupermanís Pal, Jimmy OlsenĒ run and specifically a character that I always kind of liked, despite it being less than original and furthermore one that has seen scant coverage here at the dear old Silver Lantern.

Itís issue #111 from June of 1968 and while Jimmy has had many personas in the Silver Age, his actual shot at being a superhero is when he consumes the elastic serum that turns him into the highly stretchable Elastic Lad, who first appeared in Jimmy Olsen #31 in 1958, the co-creation of Otto Binder and Curt Swan (Lois Lane saw action as Elastic Lass in issue 23, [02/61] of her book). He even managed to pull off honorary membership in the Legion of Superheroes in issue #72, October, 1963. Note that Neal Adams cover on issue #111 (with Gaspar Saladino letters) where he is in the wrestling ring (why do they call a square arena for boxing or wrestling a ring?) taking on the Ugly Superman.

This one is particularly interesting because itís the backup story, but thatís not the interesting part. According to my go-to source, the Grand Comic Database, the tale is a reprint from Jimmy Olsen #54 (July 1961) and it has 4 added pages, going from an original 7.67 pages (how they determined .67 pages is a little beyond me) to 11.67 pages. Therefore, the original credits are to Robert Bernstein on the script with Curt Swan and John Forte doing the art details, but the additional 4 pages are credited to E. Nelson Bridwell for scripting and George Klein inking the extra 4 pages. The new art was inserted between Jimmy's defeat of "The Bee" and the "Ugly Superman" taking a swig of the Elastic Serum on page 6. Here are the new page 6, page 7, page 8, page 9 and page 10.

So, without further, ado, letís look into this revamped tale titled ďElastic Ladís Wrestling Match!Ē that somehow made the cover:

Things begin at the Daily Planet where young Olsen is learning Jiu Jitsu from a book. Anxious to try out his new skills, he asks Clark Kent if he can try a new hold on him, promising not to hurt the reporter. Clark agrees, but first removes his glasses. Fortunately, Jimmy doesnít seem to recognize that without his spectacles, Clark looks suspiciously like Superman.

Of course Clark allows himself to be thrown and Jimmy explains heíll be covering some wrestling matches at the Metropolis arena this afternoon and reasoned that a little wrestling knowledge would be helpful. Kent reveals that heíll be near the arena himself at 5 p.m. at the nearby county fair when Superman is scheduled to be shot out of a cannon wearing a lead blindfold and then he will try to land in a narrow hole in the ground.

Soon, Olsen is off to the arena and the announcer reveals that promoter Duke McKone is putting up $5,000.00 to the man who can last one hour against his wrestlers. The featured wrestler, the portly Blubber Ben, is on deck to take on all comers and the initial matchup pits him against Mac the Martian, sporting a mask resembling a space creature. Right off the bat, Ben knocks the false teeth of the Martian right out of his head. Jimmy remarks to his seatmate that this is a fixed match. Jimmy reinforces his theory by getting hold of the teeth and finding that theyíre cheap ivory.

Next up is Totem Tom, who seems to have his hair torn out by Ben, but Jimmy notes itís merely a wig. Jimmy has seen enough and decides to take matters into his own hands with this rigged wrestling. Taking a cab back to his apartment, he changes into his Elastic Lad leotard, which may possibly be the most boring costume ever conceived: Purple with green trunks and with ďElastic LadĒ in block letters on the front and back.

He consumes some of his elastic serum that grants him his stretching abilities, courtesy of Professor Potter and heads for the arena by elongating his legs and taking giant strides. Jimmy notes that his bottle of serum is old and weak with some of the elements having evaporated, necessitating his taking frequent swigs to maintain his stretchability.

Once he arrives back at the ring, with a sweatshirt concealing his torso, he offers to take over where the recently defeated Tiger Tom has left off. McKone allows Jimmy to enter the ring, but decides to pull Blubber Ben and replace him with the Abominable Snowman, who appears to have icy breath, but Jimmy knows itís merely an insulated bag of dry ice in his mouth.

Despite his elasticity, Jimmy soon finds himself in a full nelson, but decides to stretch his right hand up to one of the uppermost seats where Lucy Lane is sipping on a soft drink. Helping himself to a couple of her ice cubes, he runs one down the Snowmanís back and goes for the pin.

As the clock ticks by, Jimmy continues to drink from his bottle while defeating the Gladiator, the Bee, Tumbler Ted, the Antlered Avenger (complete with red nose) and Goliath, taking full advantage of his stretching powers and imagination, using unique moves like stretching his tongue out to envelop the Bee, creating a prison with his extended fingers for Tumber Ted and wrapping up the Antlered Avenger with his body stretched and flattened out into a ribbon complete with a large bow.

McKone is nervously watching the clock and seeing his $5,000.00 purse in jeopardy when decides to give his next wrestler, the Ugly Superman, an edge by switching an ordinary water bottle for the elastic serum, which he gives to his wrestler.

Jimmy soon loses his powers and realizes the fix is in, but heís not beaten yet. Since heís intimately familiar with how the elastic serum works, he takes advantage, beginning with stretching the Ugly Supermanís nose out far enough to use as a jump rope and using other tricks and gimmicks trying to reach the one hour mark so he can score the money for charity and teach McKone a lesson.

Right when it looks like all is lost, Jimmy tosses the serum bottle as far as he can, causing the Ugly Superman to stretch up to catch it. What the wrestler does not realize is that itís 5 p.m. and Jimmy has counted on the fact that Supermanís stunt is taking place and his trajectory should take him over the arena. It turns out Olsen is right and the force of Superman speeding by causes his ugly doppelganger to be knocked back down where Jimmy is waiting to pin him to the mat and win the purse.

Silly? Oh, you betcha. Fun? Yeah, I think so. Again, the idea of a hero who can stretch goes clear back to Jack Coleís Plastic Man and has been further plumbed by the competition with Reed Richards and then the Elongated Man as well, but I guess the shtick has some legs. I think Iíll rate this one a 6 on the 10-point scale. Jimmy Olsen was comic relief for the most part and not everyoneís cup of tea, but his magazine ran a pretty impressive 163 issues over nearly 20 years, so it must have been enjoyed by others besides me.

That wraps up this edition of the Silver Age Sage, but never fear, there will be more and in the interim, the offer stands to have your voice heard. Send a note with any questions or comments to my regularly monitored e-mail: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Do join us again for the next installment on December 15th andÖ

Long live the Silver Age!

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