Why Jimmy Olsen Can't Have Money

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The cover to Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #154 is one in a series of Silver Age covers following the theme of Superman screwing over Jimmy when it comes to money.

As is usually the case with Jimmy Olsen covers, Superman and Jimmy are not acting at all like pals. The two are at odds, which is par for the course.

In truth--or as true as a fictional comic book about an alien with superhuman abilities who poses as a newspaper reporter when he's not saving the world and his tag along buddy who can't seem to figure out the alien and the reporter are two different people because one of them wears glasses and doesn't have a cape can be--the actual story has nothing to do with this image other than some cash falling into the water.

The story begins with Jimmy Olsen having been in a car accident with Doris Sutton, "the richest heiress in America... the female Fort Knox." What's funny is that while this comic was made in 1972, given the similarities of their names and descriptions, if she popped up in a current Superman book, most people would assume Doris Sutton was a newly created caricature of Paris Hilton.

Anyway, Jimmy gets offended when Doris offers to pay for the damages to his van... which isn't actually his van, but in a round about way hers. Jimmy is driving the Galaxy Communications van for work, a company for which Sutton is a majority shareholder. So, in effect, the $2000 she offers him is just a tax-free gift straight into his pocket.

Jimmy don't play that though, giving her a lecture about how she ran the red light and could have killed him and can't solve all her problems with money. What everyone seems to overlook is her chauffeur was the one who ran the red light, so Jimmy's righteous anger is a bit misdirected. Especially when it boils over into his beating up her boyfriend.Who would have thoughtJimmy Olsen would put more priority on learning martial arts than ninjas?

Jimmy drives away and Paris circa '72 is intrigued by the one man she's ever come across who wasn't reduced to a babbling idiot by her looks and money and devises a scheme to... umm... I'm not really sure what the point was. In a way, it's kind of like she's going to play both Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy's roles from Trading Places.

The first thing she does is call Jimmy's boss and have him fire the nominee "for this year's Pulitzer Prize." With credentials like that, you might expect Jimmy to go across the street and be snatched up by a competing paper with a significant boost in pay, but instead he opts to mope around his apartment.For the sake of review, this puts "wrongful termination" just below "cockroaches crawling on your sandwich" on the Jimmy Olsen crisis scale, but still above "being kidnapped and locked in a basement with a vicious dog."

I'm curious what he thinks Superman is going to do for him. Use his x-ray vision to look through the walls of buildings for businesses that might be hiring? Use his superbreath to blow the want ads into Jimmy's hands? Punch the economy out of recession, creating a better job market? Given that this is Silver Age Superman, that last one isn't out of the question, though the improvement would be legally required to be called a "super employment outlook."

With Jimmy so depressed he can't bring himself to do anything but stare longingly at the glossy 8x10 of Supes on his dresser and wish he had the nerve to call and tell him how much he needs him, Doris springs her plan, leaving what appears to be a gift-wrapped solid gold rocket car outside his apartment.When he gets inside, Doris pops up from the backseat, meaning she had herself giftwrapped inside the car and has probably been laying in there for at least three hours. That, people, is commitment to a scheme... even if I still don't really understand the point of said scheme.

Doris admits she's a spoiled brat, but blames it on the fact everyone always fawns over her and gives her whatever she wants. She thanks Jimmy for telling her off, gives him a kiss, and hires him to be her financial advisor, making sure her money gets put to good use. She puts him up in a penthouse with a personalized helicopter and takes him clothes shopping with fifty grand, but Jimmy saves some of the cash for better use than another tailor-made tuxedo.In the days that follow, Jimmy writes tens of millions of dollars in checks to various charitable organizations.

But the job and the checks are all part of Doris's scam! To repay Jimmy for scoffing at her and her money, Doris set him up with a job where he'll learn to love being rich--having a waiter serve him dinner in his dining room, swimming in his private swimming pool--so she can crush him by taking it all away.

The plan hinges on Jimmy proposing marriage, an act she's so certain will take place, she's bet on it with the French boyfriend from the beginning of the story. If Jimmy doesn't propose by noon of the 30th of the month, she has to marry Frenchie.

So the 30th rolls around and Jimmy goes down to the harbor around eleven in the morning where Doris assumes he's planning to buy a yacht because "all that money is finally going to his head." She and Frenchie hurry down to see whether she can squeeze a last minute proposal out of her dupe. At 11:59, she offers to buy him a yacht for their honeymoon, but Jimmy doesn't propose.

Having lost the bet, Doris switches into full-on-bitch mode and tells Jimmy what a fool he's been. All his checks have remained uncashed and in a briefcase for her to rub in his face when he finally proposed. She opens the briefcase, but it's full of blank slips of paper and Frenchie is making an escape in a speedboat.

Frenchie conned Doris by replacing the ink in the pen used to fill out the check recipiants with disappearing ink, allowing him to write in his own name and cash them later. Jimmy and Doris chase him and sink his boat, dumping millions of dollars in cash into the water, constituting a "cockroach-level event" and prompting Jimmy to use his Superman signaling watch.Having her millions saved, Doris suddenly stops being a bitch. Jimmy explains he was at the harbor not to buy a yacht but to buy an old fashioned paddlewheel steamer so the "folks from the slums could go on excursions to get away from the city's heat in the summer."

In the end, Doris is left only with more money than God, and not the love of Jimmy Olsen. Though considering the final frame, I'm not certain Jimmy's love was really available to Doris... or anyone with a vagina for that matter.I'm still not sure what the scheme was. She wanted to convince Jimmy that money is fun to have? What does showing him all the uncashed checks he made out to charity accomplish other than proving you're a bitch who's not above screwing over orphans and cancer patients to insult a guy who didn't take a thousand dollar handout? And when you go out of your way to convince him you like him because he's the one person who doesn't care about your assets, how would a marriage proposal be proof all he cares about is money?

On the other side, I just have to say if I beat up my boss's boss's spouse or significant other, I'd probably expect to be fired, so Jimmy really made his own bed there.

This story, despite being on the cover, was actually the back up. Tomorrow, I'll review what stupid crap happens when Jimmy Olsen becomes a viking.

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