The Worst Office Picnic Ever

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Chris has a theory about Jimmy Olsen's purpose in the DC Universe. Superman keeps Jimmy by his side to remind him why Earthlings need him around. Anytime Superman starts to think about leaving the planet and looking for other Kyrptonian survivors or exploring the universe for scientific research or using his powers to defend other worlds, Jimmy Olsen eats a danish full of radioactive waste and becomes a giant green tapir, thus reminding Superman that if he ever left Earth for more than a week, he'd return to find a cinder.

On that note, when the Daily Planet has a staff picnic at the beach, how does Jimmy Olsen go about trying to impress the girls? By bringing along a laser gun and nearly killing everyone!Reminded once again why the world needs him, Superman prevents the Daily Planet's Leisure and Food section contributors from being crushed by a tree and admonishes Jimmy for horseplay. Jimmy's date... whu-huh? Jimmy got a date? What kind of capacity for pity must you have to accept an offer of a date with Jimmy Olsen? Anyway, Jimmy's date, Meg, gives him a dressing down as well. Jimmy's defense: "I was only clowning!"

Jimmy, now on "everybody's drop dead list" goes off for a stroll in the woods, which is really a self-pity party. Poor Jimmy. Why can't people appreciate the comedy of the office waterboy nearly crushing a half-dozen people? Take solace, young man, that most great artists aren't appreciated until after they die.

On his walk, he comes across a cave and inside finds the skeletal remains of a viking.Stop for a moment and put yourself in Jimmy's shoes. You've just happened across thousand year old relics, perfectly preserved. What would you do?

A. Contact the archaeology department of the local college.
B. Dig around for valuables.
C. Check the surrounding environment for hidden cameras and/or Ashton Kutcher becasue this looks a little too posed... too perfect.


If you picked any of those reasonable responses, you are incorrect. I asked you to put yourself in Jimmy Olsen's shoes! Therefore, the only obvious answer is:

D. Desecrate the corpse and try on the armor so you can run around playing viking.Oh... well, when you put it that way those priceless antiquities are pretty much your birthright, so feel free to fuck around with 'em all you want.

As soon as he puts on the viking armor, Jimmy swoons like a Southern belle with "the vapors." When he comes to, he's been transported a thousand years into the past and is surrounded by a clan of vikings calling him Olsen the Red, their leader. At least that's what he thinks. In actuality, Jimmy is hallucinating the whole thing while his Daily Planet coworkers try to figure out why how they can "forget" to invite the Olsen kid to the next outing.They may also be wondering why Superman is still hanging out at their picnic a half hour after saving them from the falling tree considering he's not a employee of the Daily Planet. Maybe he just loves potato salad. You know who else loves potato salad? Clark Kent. Hey, where is Clark? Still hiding from the falling tree, I guess.

Superman decides Jimmy's mental disturbance is out of his league--and considering this is Silver Age Superman, that's saying something. Normally, Silver Age Superman would just make up some pseudoscience and use his x-ray vision to to realign the faulty synapses in Jimmy's brain, but this time he opts to go get a psychiatrist, leaving a bunch of his friends alone with a delusional kid wielding a big ass sword.

Of course, you have to ask yourself, what kind of psychologist jumps into Superman's arms at a moment's notice when he hears the local newspaper's functionally retarded copyboy vandalized one of the greatest archaeological finds of the century and now thinks he's a viking? I'll give you a hint. It's not the good kind.This comic set the field of clinical psychiatry back eight years. (It could have been more, but seriously, how much impact do you really expect a Jimmy Olsen comic to have.) The only worse advice that guy could have given would be "we must drill into his skull and release the demons living in his brain" and, actually, I'm not sure that advice is worse.

For that matter, the doctor's advice is wrong because while Jimmy is seeing his coworkers as vikings and frightened rabbits as vicious, attacking bears, his thought bubbles continue to show he knows he's not really Olsen the Red, but feels a sense of obligation to play the role for "these people [who] depend on [him] for courage and leadership." His mind doesn't really start to go until everyone starts playing along, putting all their lives in the hands of the guy they call when the mimeograph needs more ink and they don't want to get their fingers dirty.

The newspaper staff takes the doc's advice to heart. Olsen the Red orders his followers to cut down trees, saw them into planks, and build a ship to sail home. With Superman doing all the work, the ship gets built in an hour or so. All the city's top journalists climb aboard, and not once did anyone question the intelligence of this plan... which sheds a little light on why when the White House says we're going to invade Iraq in retaliation for the actions of Saudi terrorists, the press goes along with it. Hell, in this case, they even row the fucking boat like Ben-Hur while Jimmy rants like a madman... because he is a madman.Jimmy's personal Amistad finally reaches a harbor in Metropolis, which Jimmy dubs Olsen-Land. Superman's hope that seeing the Metropolis skyline might shock Jimmy back to sanity doesn't come to fruition and, in fact, things get even worse when Jimmy spots an ogre and attacks it.Now the entire staff of a major metropolitan newspaper is staring death in the face because the guy who's job is to keep their coffee warm and as urine-free as possible has smashed the alien-superhero-made viking ship they just rowed from a relaxing picnic into a commercial harbor with cargo worth untold thousands to millions of dollars because he's wearing armor he stole from a millennium-old corpse and thinks he's a Norse warrior king.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

Fortunately, everyone makes their way safely to shore except... oh, goddammit... Jimmy Olsen.

When I was describing this comic to Chris, he jokingly asked, "Do you think Superman ever just thinks of drowning Jimmy Olsen and being done with it?"

"Funny you should ask," I replied.In an effort to "save" Jimmy and protect his secret identity, Superman drags his pal to a watery (potential) grave. Oh, and Clark there is a fine line between "pretending" to drag someone down and dragging them head first about fifteen feet underwater, and you've not only crossed it, you've dragged it head first underwater and sliced it to ribbons with your fingernail. Clark wanted to save Jimmy and preserve his identity, but which takes priority if he can only accomplish one of those goals? Well, he's sure as hell not risking his identity while pulling a half-conscious half-wit underwater, is he?

Jimmy, now recovered and unable to remember anything after donning the armor, helps Clark to shore, making him a big damn hero. Which raises the question if I set your house on fire and drag you out to the sidewalk, how big a reward should I get?

Inside the helmet, Jimmy notices some runes engraved around the rim.Yes, Jimmy Olsen, the boy who likely has a seatbelt on his toilet, the kid who can't figure out why blasting a tree with a laser cannon at a friendly picnic made him an outcast, the guy whose standing order wherever he goes is "try not to fuck this up too bad," learned to read ancient Norse text in his one visit to Scandinavia ten years ago and has retained enough of it to read witchcraft curse warnings.

Clark, however, doesn't buy the curse story since Jimmy continued to hallucinate after the helmet was damaged. Instead, he discovers it was the laser gun's "damaged feedback controls [that] affected Jimmy's brain as long as it was near him." There's that Superpsuedoscience I was looking for!Actually, Clark it was just one page ago when he said, "Last thing I remember, I was putting on a suit of armor I found in a cave... and then I found myself swimming!" You and Meg and the others had to inform him that he'd "dreamed [he] was a viking," so he'd already forgotten "his adventure as Olsen the Red" before the shipping company could even begin a half-hearted salvage attempt for those crates.

Of course in the end, Jimmy, having damaged the viking helmet and dumped to the bottom of Metropolis Harbor the rest of the relics that made it unblemished through a thousand years in a dank cave, still doesn't feel any obligation to share the helmet with a museum or even a history professor, but rather keeps it as an ornament for his desk.

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