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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Jimmy Olsen Spanked Superman

Every week, I will spotlight 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. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Charlie Ward, we take a look at the story of just why Superman decided to make Jimmy Olsen his “pal”…because as it turns out, Jimmy was Superman’s babysitter back on Krypton! Confused? Well, read on to see what the deal was…

Charlie actually brought up the story from a different context besides just “what a strange comic,” choosing instead to note the oddity of how the story decided to give the origin of how Superman came to choose Jimmy Olsen of all people to be his pal. As Charlie I think correctly notes, it is an explanation that no one really was curious about. I mean, Superman works with Jimmy Olsen as Clark Kent, so why would it be hard to believe he’d be pals with him?

Anyhow, the third story in 1959’s Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #36, by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Ray Burnley, opens with Jimmy Olsen hanging out with some friends when Superman stops by to give Jimmy a new souvenir (he loved giving Jimmy souvenirs). His friends are all, “Man, how the hell did THAT dude end up becoming Superman’s pal?” leading Jimmy to a flashback sequence where he tells the story of how he became Superman’s pal. He did so by first becoming Superman’s BABYSITTER!

It all started when Jimmy first came to Metropolis…

Gotta love Metropolis that there is enough crazy stuff going on that that dude’s classified ad didn’t seem THAT weird. So Jimmy ends up on Krypton. Luckily for him, they were doing a sort of science fiction type convention where people were cosplaying as Earthlings, so no one noticed Jimmy (while some of the Kryptonians were dressed up as Earthlings because they were legitimately interested in Earth, some not-so-hot women dressed up as Earthlings just because they wanted to make the nerdy guys who liked Earth a lot to think that they were really hot and then to buy them stuff. Because that is clearly how things work everywhere).

As noted in an old Abandoned An’ Forsaked, back then, Superman got most of his powers from the gravity of Earth. Anyhow, so, of course, Jimmy ends up becoming Superman’s babysitter.

Which, of course, involves eventually having to spank baby Kal-El…

And then making sure Kal-El escapes to Earth…

I love that the time travel guy will only pay you for his dangerous experiment if it works.

Anyhow, this is why Superman showed up and gave Jimmy the signal watch and asked him to be his pal…

Back in the present, Superman gives Jimmy the souvenir and ends the story on a really weird note (of all the things to say to a guy right before you fly out the window)…

That was a strange comic book story! But a fun one!

As someone noted back when I featured this other story (perhaps it was buttler?), this story definitely serves as a bizarre counterpart to the story of how Superman once adopted Jimmy Olsen (only to then torment him into trying to make Jimmy stop the adoption).

Thanks for the suggestion, Charlie Ward! If YOU have a suggestion for a story that you’d like to see featured here, feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. I’m not going to use all the suggestions, but if you send me one I like, I will definitely use it!


“I’m going to kill this dog before I risk my son’s life. Now, stranger, go babysit him.”

If Krypton hadn’t exploded, Children’s Services would be all over Jor-El.

is baby superman wearing a helmet?and trust there kid to stranger they just met?

Ha ha! I love that we’re used to these stories being so “strange” that you don’t need to comment on baby Kal-El dressing like Superman, complete with a cape. Did they give some explanation for that?

“Jim-My Ol-Sen… from out-of-town… and you have no home or board…

“Finally, somebody to watch my baby for a while! Glad that worked out.”

and trust there kid to stranger they just met?

No wonder they couldn’t keep their planet from exploding!

Too bad there was no room on that time travel device to same Jor-El or Lara.
There was…?

… while some of the Kryptonians were dressed up as Earthlings because they were legitimately interested in Earth, some not-so-hot women dressed up as Earthlings just because they wanted to make the nerdy guys who liked Earth a lot to think that they were really hot and then to buy them stuff. Because that is clearly how things work everywhere.

Bravo, Mr. Cronin. That may be the funniest thing I’ve read this month.

I was just going to say that, Dean. You’re a beautiful man, Brian.

so kryptonans just hire strangers to watch their children and is Jor-el using krypto to test the rocket?

No wonder Superman turned out to be such a dick.

“Quiet or Papa Spank!”

“Krypton citizens are supplied free things by the government”


“Krypton citizens are supplied free things by the government”

This is how Cal Ellis, the Superman of Earth 23, was elected president.

And just like that, Superman gives Jimmy the Daisy BB gun he always wanted for Christmas. And samples of every kind of Kryptonite that he displays on a bookshelf.

I’m just amused by the time travel guy. He’s so irresponsible it’s fantastic.

“You look like a guy who could travel time. Hop in! Oh, and you may end up on another planet or something. Have fun!”

That’s what I was thinking. Why didn’t Jimmy risk taking Jor-El and Lara with him in the time machine?

Jimmy’s “Destiny couldn’t be changed!” isn’t an excuse. As far as Jimmy knows, he’s been creating “destiny”. He’s the reason the ship could be finished, and he’s the reason Kal-El was able to be on the ship. And saving them wouldn’t have changed intervening 20 years, anyway. So Jimmy knows he’s essential to history playing out, and capable of a last second rescue that wouldn’t really contradict history. But he doesn’t even make the attempt to save them.

Lois always wondered why Superman made her wear the red wig for their “naughty” nights.

And why, whenever the spankings didn’t seem to “get the job done”, Superman suddenly “heard Jimmy’s signal watch”.

Poor Lois.

And Ian ftw.

Did I miss how Krypto was back after being shot into space?
And how was it Jimmy could fly?

Yep, CB, that’s all explained in the pages posted. We see Jimmy get an anti-gravity belt, and Krypto’s rocket has just returned to Krypton from a test flight when first we see it; it’s not being shot off into space.

There are amazing. Keep ‘em coming please!

In addition to all the questions raised by previous commenters, how is Krypto around to help catch Kal-El after being sent away on his doomed flight?

And how does “It seems Krypton citizens are supplied free things by the government! It won’t be stealing if I [non-Krypton citizen] take a belt and suit.” make any sort of sense?

I mean, certain charming goofiness in the stories in this series is to be expected, but many have such a complete disregard for internal logic that I can’t believe it didn’t bother the readers at the time. And yes, I know the target audience was kids,but I know I would feel patronized throughout even as a kid – all up to the dubious ending moral. (Being someone’s pal “as a reward”? Great life lesson there.)

Obviously, though, the Professor’s surname should have clued us in that the whole plot of the comic was some kind of drug-induced hallucination.

Re: Krypto. There are words in the comic, not just pictures. He’s not being sent away anywhere just yet.

figured that on krypton super man would be a normal baby that jimmy would having the red sun effect him be able to displine him. and surprised after jimmy went back superman did not lose that memory . not to mention that jimmy did not out of really making this story crazy try and get laura and jor el to enter the time machine with him and escape krypton

buttler, it’s true that I missed the caption about the rocket returning (as well as your previous post regarding Krypto due to not having refreshed my browser, sorry). Although, to be fair, the dialogue below and especially the artwork sure make it look as the rocket’s taking off rather than landing.

And it means that Superman’s dad must have sent the pup’s spaceship at some point between “We can all escape!” and the total planetary destruction “only moments later”. Possible of course, but still pretty sloppy as far as continuity goes.

Oh yeah, for sure, they were all kinds of sloppy about continuity back then by today’s standards; they clearly weren’t really thinking about fans cross-referencing with other stories. So indeed it really doesn’t address how the heck Krypto got here. And it’s also true that the rocket totally looks like it’s taking off, despite the caption to the contrary.

“You see, you’re going to be my pal!”

Sounds like prison talk to me.


Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Ray Burnley!!! BLAM!!!

The very first JO story i ever read, in superman annual 5.The book that made me a dc silver age fan.

Ethan, “Did they give some explanation for that?”

Ha, it was the early DC Silver Age, there really weren’t any explanations for anything…and when they were they weren’t very good…I love reading this kind of stuff…The Many Transformations of Jimmy Olson trade is one of my favorites.

That scientist is clearly a fraud- he obviously stole a Time-Sphere from visiting members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. To this day, they’re probably wandering around arguing about where they parked. :)

Shouldn’t Jimmy have been instantly crushed by Krypton’s gravity?

Damn, this is a funny thread. But now we know the real reason Krypton blew up: God destroyed it because it was a socialist dystopia. Which pretty much tells us where Obama was really born, I think.
The timing for Krypto doesn’t make any sense: If the main ship was ready to go, why would Jor-El have to send up a test rocket? But I must say, as a kid this stuff really didn’t bother me much: I didn’t read this one but hey, it had a trip back to Krypton, cool stuff about what Krypton was like, Jimmy saving Kal-El …what could be cooler?
That being said, no way is Jimmy changing history if he lets Jor-El and Lara go with him. The planet still blows up, and them escaping doesn’t interfere with that (unless Jimmy drops them off in Kansas to raise their kid).
Interestingly (or not) there’s another time trip to Krypton in JO 101, where he does try to avert the planet’s destruction.
Hmm, Kansas. When was that identified as the location of Smallville?

“Ha ha! I love that we’re used to these stories being so “strange” that you don’t need to comment on baby Kal-El dressing like Superman, complete with a cape. Did they give some explanation for that?”

I believe they described that as a playsuit.

So Jor-El and Lara couldn’t escape their dying planet because THEIR ROCKET WASN’T FUELED?! That’s pretty depressing. Then again, they WERE rock-stupid, so no big loss. They aren’t the least bit surprised to be eavesdropped on by a man in a government-surplus flying belt (you know, the kind they give out for free to fat people at those horrible Earth cosplay street fairs). And Jor-El doesn’t hesitate to mention that the planet is doomed to his BABYSITTER, so maybe the Science Police were right to be on his case. Then again, at least he had the sense to test his wacky device on the family dog instead of a redhead hired through a classified ad.

The whole story revolves around that spanking, but I guess back then spankings were like cigarettes, they just didn’t know they were bad for kids. I’m pretty sure they knew that following corporal punishment with an ice cream treat was pretty f’d up. “Sorry about the beating, Tommy. Have an Oreo! Now I’m going to give you an Indian burn.”

I was SHOCKED to discover that Jimmy originally got his job through connections instead of his raw, undeniable talent for whatever the hell it is he does. But since he can evidently read and speak Kryptonese fluently, I’ll overlook that. However, the fact that Lois Lane published a picture book kind of lowers my image of her.

But for all its flaws this is the first comic book story I’ve seen that acknowledges how moving through time would also necessarily entail moving through SPACE due to planetary and stellar motion. Props to the guy who shoehorned that little fact into the story about how horseplay by ginger ruffians caused the Krypton Council to rescind their free-flying-belts-for-fatties program.

The best thing about reading these is that Brian Cronin finds some excellent oddities from the past and (usually but not always, especially not about Lois) makes some insightful or at least fun comments on each page.

The worst thing about reading these is the comments section, where an uncomfortably large number of people seem to denigrate anything which does not easily conform to their narrow cultural lens as irrational, lacking in logical consistency, or as bizarre. Not the majority of people who post, but a large enough number of make reading the comments section a reason to feel embarrassed about the increasing level of cluelessness and narrow mindedness.

For example, anyone who bothered to take a class on economics would easily recognize this vision of Krypton as a post-scarcity society, the sort of utopia often fantasized about throughout the 20th century. It’s not an obscure idea or a difficult one to grasp. Thus, Krypton not only provides many necessities for free to its citizens but would happily provide them to any visitor since they have so much more than they could possibly imagine using — a classic post-scarcity society. Anyone who has watched any of the Star Trek series from the 1960s original through to the 1990s Voyager has also seen a post-scarcity utopia, in which the Enterprise crew happily provide free food and clothing and medicine to anyone who happens to visit.

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