A Tribute to the of

Welcome back, readers, to another installment of our ongoing feature here at the dear ol’ Silver Lantern. I am sorry to report that since the last effort, I got word, ironically, that Carl Gafford, or simply Gaff, as many knew him, had passed away. I say ironically, because of course we talked a little about him and his work with the Woodchucks last time around and at least on a couple of occasions, he assisted me with projects, so while I was barely acquainted with him, it was still a sad revelation when Bob Smith [Sage #265] mentioned it on his Facebook feed a short while back.

And, while I’d promised a new interview this time, it is still being edited, so I guess I shouldn’t make predictions until I have them in hand. Hopefully next time.

Meanwhile, as is so often the case, an intriguing cover caught my eye and so I’ve decided to take a look at an old Jimmy Olsen tale from 1964 for this edition of the Silver Age Sage. It’s issue #77 with a publication date of June 1964 and an on-sale date of April 9 of 1964 with Mort Weisinger in the editor’s chair with Curt Swan and George Klein providing illustration, both cover and interior and Ira Schnapp cover lettering. The writer of “The Colossus of Metropolis!” is unknown, but any time there is any kind of a crossover, in this case an interesting transformation of Jimmy into the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Colossal Boy (Olsen seemed to be forever transforming into something or other, eh? I mean, just look at the cover to the 80-page Giant #104) I just find it irresistible. So, let’s check it out, shall we?

The splash page is equally intriguing with a surprise appearance by Titano, the Super Ape, who just happens to be equipped with Green Kryptonite vision if his simple stature isn’t enough. Hmmm. That’s another story I still need to review here at some point. Titano…

Anyway, Titano’s abilities seem to be sidelining the Man of Steel, so it’s up to cub reporter Jimmy Olsen to take on the skyscraper-sized menace. Can he do it? We shall see.

Things begin quietly enough, with Jimmy freshly back from vacation where he’s discovered that his pal, Superman, has thoughtfully modified Jimmy’s apartment with a secreted storage area for his many souvenirs of his adventures. Olsen quickly takes advantage, arranging his memorabilia in the new secure hideaway, to include duplicate costumes from the Legion of Super-Heroes that he'd been presented with after his honorary membership back in issue #72 and his collection of super chemicals, including an underwater breathing solution courtesy of mermaid Lori Lemaris that provides 24 hours of undersea survival and Colossal Boy’s enlarging compound and of course the elastic fluid that enables Jimmy to temporarily become Elastic Lad.

As he hangs up photos of his lady friends, he’s reminded that Lucy Lane, who he’s pined for endlessly, is arriving on the plane where she’s a flight attendant later in the day and has promised him a date. Time to turn on the charm, Jimbo.

Soon at the Metropolis airport, that very plane is landing and is faced with a fantastic sight. It’s Titano, the Super Ape, standing on the runway. Lucy recognizes the massive creature and quickly explains in a brief flashback sequence that her sister Lois Lane had been visiting an Army rocket range in her role as a radio correspondent. The Army is about to send up a satellite with a rocket delivery system and the chimpanzee, Toto, is to be the passenger.

Wouldn’t you know that shortly after launch there was a meteor collision right near the satellite between a meteor composed of uranium and one of Kryptonite. When Toto returns to Earth, he quickly grows to massive size and in the finest King Kong fashion, holds Lois in his huge paw. She dubs him Titano and continues to broadcast on her mobile walkie-talkie in hopes that Superman will come to her rescue. Our hero does arrive, but that’s when Titano’s other new ability manifests itself when he successfully shoots the Man of Tomorrow down with his Kryptonite vision.

It soon becomes apparent that despite his menacing persona, Titano merely wants to enjoy himself and is soon playing with railcars for his amusement. Later they successfully lure him into a custom-built super cage and get him to don some special lead-lensed glasses so that Supes can safely transport him through the time barrier into the prehistoric past and the age of dinosaurs where he’ll be no threat to mankind.

As Lucy finishes up her story, a huge paw breaks through the fuselage and plucks her from the aircraft. Just then, Jimmy arrives on the scene and realizes that Titano must have mistaken Lucy for her sister Lois and he immediately uses his signal watch to summon Superman. Upon arrival, our hero discovers that he’s no more effective against the Kryptonite rays than the last time and plummets from the skies. Jimmy decides it’s up to him and rushes back to his apartment, donning the Colossal Boy costume and ingesting some of the enlarging compound. He also notes a man-sized puppet among his souvenirs that may prove useful.

Once giant-sized Jimmy finds Titano, he brings the mannequin into play, placing it down at street level in view of Titano and hoping the imitative monkey will follow suit with Lucy Lane. Titano does so, but unfortunately for Jimmy, places Lucy on top of a towering smokestack. The simian then grabs a tanker truck trailer filled with ice cream custard (because of course, that’s how it’s transported, right? In bulk? Really? Okay, this is a Jimmy Olsen story…) and proceeds to pin Jimmy down and grab a nearby helicopter rotor blade to imitate the barber he’d spotted and “shave” Olsen. Jimmy breaks free before things can proceed any further and leads the ape to a nearby beach, but playful Titano just tries to dunk Jimmy and their struggles are making waves, so back ashore.

Jimmy’s next ploy is to grab some enormous metal rings from an advertising sign to try and secure the ape. Meanwhile the police arrive and deploy some gas to incapacitate Titano. Olsen takes the opportunity to retrieve Lucy, but he seems to develop a mean streak and allows her to dangle from his index finger as he taunts her: “Lucy, you’ve kept me dangling on a string for years. Now it’s my turn! Ha, ha! I could give you the brush-off with a mere twitch of my finger!

Just then, Superman arrives and orders Jimmy to put her down. Olsen says he was just joking and then, just when you thought things hadn’t got weird enough, a massive spacecraft arrives with Allura, the beautiful ruler of a world of giants, who is crazy for Jimmy piloting. She had just happened to be in the neighborhood and saw what was going on via her handy monitor. “Now that you’re my size, you can marry me. I’ve never gotten over you!” Apparently, their prior encounter was in issue #64. Olsen seems to be good with the idea, reasoning that as a colossus, he cannot possibly marry Lucy. But, before a date can be set, the enlarging compound wears off (didn’t see that coming, did you?) and so a heartbroken Allura decides she’ll simply go home.

Before departure, however, she offers her assistance with the awakening Titano. She leads him onto her vessel and just so happens to have a wig that allows her to impersonate Lois Lane, the woman Titano is smitten with. On her world, the giant monkey will fit right in.

To wrap things up, the final panel shows Jimmy visiting the famed Fortress of Solitude and he and Superman observe Titano with a new lady love, so other than Jimmy being jilted by Lucy due to his earlier stunt, all’s well that ends well with this little 9-pager.

I had nearly forgotten how silly and yet fun these Jimmy Olsen stories could be. A bit formulaic and foolish, perhaps, but classic Silver Age goofiness and isn’t that what this particular series was all about? I liked the integration of the different elements, like Jimmy’s association with the Legion and the guest shots by Lucy Lane and bringing in Allura and mining some of Jimmy’s previous adventures, so I’ll give this one a solid 6. Not a classic, by any means, but good clean fun.

Hopefully come the 15th of August, I’ll have that new interview for you, but meanwhile, your feedback is requested. Drop a line any time to: professor_the@hotmail.com.

As they say on the ads, we’ll keep the light on and until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!

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