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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Superman Adopted Jimmy Olsen and Then Began Tormenting Him

All August I spotlighted strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.

The feature comes to a close with Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #30, where Superman adopts Jimmy Olsen and then treats him terribly, including burning a gift Jimmy gave him right in front of Jimmy. What gives, Superman?

Honestly, the story by Otto Binder (with art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley) does not make much sense, but it is still awesome!

Right off the bat, the comic has issues, as in “since when has Superman considered Jimmy like a son?”

But shut up! You’re getting in the way of the awesomeness with your complaints about the illogic of the story!

So now Superman adopts Jimmy…

Does it matter how strong you are when you’re swinging a twig? I love how Superman actually rented a house for this idea. How exactly is this supposed to work for Clark Kent? Still, I love Jimmy’s exuberance. Not enough guys shout “Wheee!” when they are happy.

The story takes a turn, though, when Superman takes Jimmy to his fortress of solitude…

Superman begins to treat Jimmy like crap.

But Jimmy is determined to make this work!!!

Dayum. By the way, Jimmy’s face on that last panel looks like it belongs in a book about child abuse. Swan did a little TOO good of a job with the facial features there.

Anyhow, since we all know Superman is not actually, you know, INSANE, we learn what his motivations were (while not insane, his motivations are idiotic)…

You just have to love the fact that Superman doesn’t even give a problem a second thought before his mind goes right to, “I know! I’ll do an elaborate ruse!” He’s gone the ruse route for so long he doesn’t know how to solve problems any other way, not even giving it a few more seconds’ thought to determine if the problem actually exists in the first place!

What a classic issue.

And a fine ending to I Love Ya But You’re Strange…for now!


So many fails here.

1) The whole idea that Jimmy, a young man, needs a father figure. Or that getting one at this late date would alleviate the pain of being an orphan.

2) Superman’s Fortress monuments to his own achievements, which no one but a few close friends ever sees. What’s up with his incessant need for self-glorification? I see an Alan Moore story explaining the real reason for Superman’s apparent vanity.

3) The Electronic Oracle’s son/sun confusion. Really? You didn’t think of handling homonyms when you programmed your computer, Supes? Or using screen or printed messages as well as auditory ones?

4) As you noted, the sheer stupidity of Superman’s ploy. “I kept the prediction to myself to avoid worrying you! Instead, I cruelly rejected you several times so you’d worry about THAT! You might be shattered by this abusive treatment, but you wouldn’t be mildly upset about the prediction!”

How about this instead? “Jimmy, I have to revoke the adoption for technical reasons. I can’t tell you why, but the reasons have nothing to do with you. Believe me when I say I’ll always love you like a son.” Accompanied with a big warm hug and a kiss on the forehead.

Whew! Between the panel in which Jimmy is lying on the bed and GRIPPING that sheet and the fact that he’s STILL Superman’s “boy pal”……hmmmmm, kinda makes you wonder….”not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

om wondered if this super man story would be on this list. for not only does the story make superman turn out to not be good father material but he puts jimmy through all that because some machine said super man would destroy his own son. then in the end jimmy buys the reason why super man was a dick to him. and both are pals still. interesting way to end this series.

This story made me giggle like crazy. Great choice.

More proof of the Weisinger Superman is a Narcissist theory. Excessive game-playing in the form of ruses, and the “idealization-devaluation-discard” cycle, which is a staple of narcissists. First they build you up during a honeymoon period, then they inexplicably tear you down out of nowhere, never apologizing or acting grateful for anything, then discarding you.

omg, never mind the super-dickery, the physics in that story are worse than the physics in the 2009 Trek movie!

an atomic match?! to light a sun?! and i thought red goo creating black holes out of supernovas was bad…

and Superman’s strong enough to smash a star and push another one around, without getting incinerated?!

oh brother….

Good point, Fury. Pushing a giant ball of gas and plasma…how does that work, exactly?

Could’ve been worse.

Jimmy could’ve been adopted by Batman.

@Jase: I actually love the angle in the Young Justice toon that Batman is the caring father who’s always willing to shoot hoops with Dick when he’s having a bad day, whereas Superman is the deadbeat dad who won’t even look Conner in the eye.

Anyhow, the cover of this one is probably my favorite out of the entire Superdickery archive. I loved how they used it in Batman: TB&TB recently, too.

“He’s turned into a total di–”
“different person!”

Could’ve been worse.

Jimmy could’ve been adopted by Batman.

Why would that be worse? Batman seems to be good at raising young men actually.

I just love the fact that the secret room has a big label reading “Secret Room.”

1. Wasn’t the usual excuse for a hero keeping a secret identity that it was to protect his family & loved ones from danger? “It would be dangerous for me to marry you Lois, but Jimmy, you can be my son!”

2. Would this make Jimmy’s last name Superman? “The name’s Superman, Jimmy Superman!”

In a letter column the editor mentioned that this story was a favorite of readers of the time.

In a later issue Jimmy went back in time & became baby Kal-El’s babysitter & Superman remembered that, which combined with this story gives Supes & Jimmy a very strange relationship.

This story would have been better had the Secret Room bit led to a more explicit “Bluebeard” reference.

“How many young adult males have you “adopted”, Superman? And why don’t any of them have their heads?”

And Superman should know that May 17 to June 17, inclusive, is a 32 day trial period…

So, just so Jimmy isn’t sad at a father/son picnic that he shouldn’t bother going to, Superman’s going to upend his life to adopt Jimmy?

See, most of these stories were “your Comics Code at work”! God forbid that kids see that bad guys are bad. Instead, see that the people you love have to create nonsensical conflicts just to move the story along. Oh, and to keep things going, they’ve got to be real dicks about stuff. Ay yi yi.

This story is filled with so much hilarity; I really wish Superman comics were still like this. If we have 2 Superman monthly comics (Action comics and Superman) why can’t one be primarily driven by humor?

Superman’s Asteroid would be a good name for a band.

How old is Jimmy? I thought he was too old to be adopted. Also, for some reason, I find it funny that the judge said “Great Scott”.

Superman was such a massive tool. How the hell did he become so popular?

It’s no wonder Luthor went nuts… coming in 2nd place to that ass!

I guess Supe’s was out saving the world or something when that stupid machine warned him about The Crisis or Doomsday.

I think I like Supes better when he’s acting like a dick.

…holy cow…just bad…

“Great Scott!” Who the heck is Scott?

Richard: It’s not certain where the expression comes from. Some people think it refers to Winfield Scott, US general-in-chief at the start of the Civil War, often referred to as “Old Fuss and Feathers,” and there’s some evidence of it being used that way during his lifetime.

But there are other theories, including that it’s a corruption of the German “Grüß Gott!” or that it entered popular usage through A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, in which it refers to writer Sir Walter Scott.

When he says he’s gonna take him back to show him why he treated him poorly it reminds me of the time machine/rape sketch from Upright Citizens Brigade. The art is great I kinda want to buy these.

Superman knows you have to be strict with these kids. Plus, he’s putting down Jimmy Olsen so it’s funny.

Dan Whitworth – And what about the big sign outside the house that reads, “Superman and Son.” Y’know, in case any super-villains aren’t sure where they live?

The Electronic Oracle – So never wrong that it is never used or referred to again. Also, never wrong except this time as just because something is named after Superman, doesn’t make it his.

Oh, and of course the real tragedy of this story is that Jimmy Olsen is no longer Superman’s son. Not the race of alien people who must have all died out because Superman doesn’t know you can’t light a sun with an atomic match. (Who knew? Why else do they even *make* atomic matches…?) Sure, Supeman found a young, hot star (Emma Stone…?) to push in place of the dead son but by then…? Any aliens not frozen to death had to be thinking, “We’re good, Superman. Lucky for us, there’s no residual gravitational or temperature affects of pushing a star past our planet.”

Funny how Superman would adopt Jimmy Olsen while letting his own cousin rot in an orphanage.

***Whew! Between the panel in which Jimmy is lying on the bed and GRIPPING that sheet and the fact that he’s STILL Superman’s “boy pal”……hmmmmm, kinda makes you wonder….”not that there’s anything wrong with that.”***

Or as Superman would put it, “If I catch you in here again, it’ll go hard with you.”

Peter T McDermott

September 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm

“Give me a pack of Newports.” “Atomic Matches with that sir?”

“2. Would this make Jimmy’s last name Superman? “The name’s Superman, Jimmy Superman!””

Jimmy Superman? Meet Batman Jones!

**** “2. Would this make Jimmy’s last name Superman? “The name’s Superman, Jimmy Superman!””

Jimmy Superman? Meet Batman Jones!***

Then they could get married in Vermont and he would be Batman Superman. Batman Jones-Superman would be equally awesome.

This is the same question I have about God and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: Why have a room with knowledge of Superman’s secret identity in the FIRST place, let alone where it can be a temptation?

Probably the same reason many households with young children continue to have matches somewhere around, never mind the equation of kids + matches = potential fire disaster. Some may ask why have matches in the first place.

I’ve always wondered just how young Jimmy was suppossed to be in these early stories. Some, like this, make it sound like he’s about 15-16 years old but if he was a minor he should still be living at the orphanage instead of having his own apartment. If he’s 18-19, he’s hardly a ‘boy’ anymore, really. But it could just be the culture of the 50’s; you’re a ‘boy’ or ‘kid’ until you’re in your thirties.

Even following the ridiculous premise of keeping from adopting Jimmy to keep from destroying him (as a never before, and never again seen computer predicted)…. Rather than cancelling the adoption himself and explaining why, he torments and mentally abuses Jimmy so that Jimmy (rather than superman) will cancel the adoption, then he’ll explain why…..

Just imagine if Superman adopted Batman Jones. Hi, I’m Batman Superman!

This story is like the perfect storm of nonsense. There is nothing here that isn’t a howler.

I was not aware that collateral estoppel applied in foster court. Or that you could get a 30-day trial adoption without ever once informing the child or getting his consent. Or that anyone could write the words “Superman’s Asteroid” and not collapse into a giggling fit.

Why does the home of Superman & Son appear to be annexed to a much larger house? And Superman is friggin’ RENTING?! Jeez if Superman can’t afford to buy, who can? HE’S SO DAMN RICH HE FEEDS DIAMONDS TO HIS PETS!!

“Those are the giant tools I used…” Okay, he’s just fucking with Jimmy now. At what point was a cyclopean hand drill necessary?

Wait, there is ONE part of the story that makes sense. Although this is the only time Jimmy is ever depicted as an orphan, at least it might explain why he only owns one set of clothes. Plus a parka and some ugly pajamas. Oh wait, no it doesn’t. Not at all.

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