Hip-Happy Hero: Jimmy Olsen
It was pretty much inevitable that transformation-prone Jimmy Olsen would eventually end up as a big ‘ol tubb.
1. How’d He Get So Big?
Well, it’s like this: Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter, is visiting the lab of Professor Potter, omniscientific genius and weird situation generator for the Superman family. The professor isn’t at home, but is kindly assistant Dr Rance is perfectly willing to give Jimmy a tour and a drink.
Big oops: that wasn’t a soda pop at all! No, Jimmy has managed to absent-mindedly drain a full bottle of thyroid-stimulating vitamin formula without noticing that it didn’t tast the least bit like wild cherry.
But never fear - after all, as Jimmy points out, the formula was designed to work on ANIMALS, not HUMANS.
No, wait. How does biology work again?
2. What Were The Social Implications?
Jimmy Olsen might hold the record for most indignities suffered while temporarily fat. Firstly, there’s the issue of clothing:
He has to wear a barrel until Perry White can dig up something that might fit his expanded girth,
And then all that Perry can dig up is an old Santa Claus suit. It’s like drawing a big line under the fact that the poor kid is so globular. To his credit, though, Jimmy tries to lead his life as normal until Professor Potter can cook up some antidote to his crazy drug. To that end, he accompanies Clark on an assignment to see how… planes… fly.
Please note: a) engine trouble! and b) those people contentedly enjoying their pool while a gaggle of sad children watch them are really big jerks.
As a result of a), everybody bails out of the plane, which is when the next indignity kicks in: big fat Jimmy is too heavy for his parachute. Happily, Superman is available to steer the poor heavy bastard into the b) pool, though the jerky inhabitants of such just can’t resist getting in a few digs while he’s doing so.
At least there’s a happy epilogue.
Finally, Jimmy heads to the circus, where he becomes embroiled in the sordid lived of Mr and Mrs Montaine, the Fattest Couple in the World. Willing to do anything to keep the coveted Fat Couple position at a traveling carnival (and who wouldn’t? I’m sure that they were living in the lap of luxury), Mrs Montaine throws herself at Jimmy to keep him from replacing her too-thin husband. Having a forced date with a large woman isn’t the half of Jimmy’s troubles, however:
Lucy Lane, that most fickle of love interests, doesn’t even give Jimmy the opportunity to explain his predicament. All that matters is that he’s been thrown over by the fat lady - Mrs. Olsen’s boy sure can pick ‘em, hey?
3. Well, How Did He Lose the Weight?
Skip that, all he did was wait for that antidote I mentioned - he didn’t even drink it on-panel, for heaven’s sake. No, the conclusion of this story was not made interesting by the slimming of Jimmy, but rather by the revelation of why Dr Rance had fattened Jimmy up in the first place.
Yep, it was all a complicated scheme to smuggle 300 pounds of stolen jewelry, hinging on the fact that a Maharajah owed Jimmy his weight in riches. How do you plan something like that? How do you coordinate the mad science, the unlikely generosity from foreign dignitaries, the fickle nature of the lab assistant job market? Most importantly, how do you do all of that and then get caught out on the detail that the devoutly Hindu Maharajah wouldn’t go around gorging himself on beef and booze?
Hip-Happy Hero: Lois Lane
Wouldn’t you know it but Lois Lane suffered a very similar fat (er, fate) in her own magazine:
And Superman was an ass to her for the whole issue.
1. How’d She Get So Big?
Actually, it’s a pretty similar story:
Slightly mad scientist, this time working on plant growth. Accidental exposure to, in this case, a ray. Slightly more justified optimism about the ray’s efficacy on humans.
Surprise morning fatness…
2. What Were The Social Implications?
Lois doesn’t get too much flak from regular folks - actually, there are a series of really nice fat ladies in this issue, the ones in the car above being my favourite - but since this is the old-school, obsessed with marrying Superman Lois, she basically worries about keeping her problems from him in every single panel.
This is only exacerbated by the fact that Superman keeps going out of his way to mention how fat she is. Note that he has no complaints about carrying two ladies and a compact car in his other hand, although I guess that there's no reason that he couldn't have shamed them a bit off-panel.
"Gee, these European imports sure are solid - felt like I was carrying a tank! OR WAS THAT YOU TWO?"
No amount of diet or exercise seems to have any effect on Lois' weight. Desperate, she heads to the fair in order to forget her troubles:
Man, what is it with carnies and fat people? Lois isn't exactly huge - does this guy yell that at every largish person who walks by? Does he think that it's charming? I'll bet that he makes off-colour jokes at weddings and then hits on the bride.
The carnival trip isn't just an excuse to showcase the failings of Metropolis society, however. It's also the place where the truth comes out.
Y'see, earlier in the week Lois had witnessed a crime but the criminal was so nondescript that she couldn't give the police a useful description of him. She had resolved to watch for him in her day-to-day activities. Evidently, he had made a similar vow, yet was stymied by the fact that Lois was unrecognizably fat.
Because Superman had made her fat to disguise her! Yup, he'd caused the growth ray to shine on Lois and blown her up like a balloon, and then taken the opportunity to make a lot of jokes at her expense. Hey, it's Truth, Justice and the American Way. Nobody ever said anything about Not Taunting Fatties. but don't worry, Lois gets her revenge: faced with impending ray-based thinnification, she makes Superman take her out to dinner and just pigs the hell out.
YEAH! Take that, Superjerk!
It's a fact: Hip-Happy Means Plump!