Hip-Happy Heroes Part 5: Hip-Happy Supporting Cast!

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!

Review of Showcase Presents, By Johnathan

Showcase Presents has lately been presenting some pretty awesome stuff, in the form of 500+ page reprints featuring comics of the 60s and 70s and I've been doing my part by buying a whole lot of them. It's time, I think, to pony up some reviews.

Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man

This was the first of these black-and-white beauties to cross my path and I was pretty glad that it had. It featured Ralph Dibny's start as a rival/partner to the Flash, followed by his marriage to Sue Dearborn and their subsequent travels around the world. Ralph's a very atypical 60s DC hero in that his identity is known to the world (and in that he's married instead of being in an extended engagement or flirtation). He and Sue encounter all manner of mysteries while being socialites, some of which are quite charming. Ralph also hits people with a disturbing array of pliable body parts. These early stories are a great illustration of the fact that even though the Elongated Man may have the same power as Mr. Fantastic or Plastic Man, the way that he uses it is all his own.


Showcase Presents: Superman Volumes 1 and 2

This is some pretty great Silver age ridiculousness right here. You've got Superman obsessing over his secret identity, kryptonite simply everywhere, more mermaids than you can shake a stick at, Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Clark Kent looking like Steven Colbert and plenty of aliens. Plus Volume 1 was one of the first of these bad boys out and so only cost $9.99.


Showcase Presents: Superman Family

This reads pretty similarly to just plain Superman, only with more Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy: a) has lots of different jobs. b) foils lots of gangsters. c) occasionally betrays/ is betrayed by Superman for dramatic effect. d) frequently develops superpowers - in one of the coolest stories he uses some of Superman's trophies to put together a super-powered crime fighting suit, then develops a 'best-buddies' relationship with a paper boy (who collects souvenirs of his exploits and summons him via a signal-pen).


Showcase Presents: Green Lantern

Another $9.99 wonder. With this one I got an interesting look at just how different comic book series used to be from one another. The Elongated Man dealt with really intimate little mysteries, while Superman lived in a world that hovered between soft sci-fi and fantasy, genre-wise. Green Lantern was by no means hard sci-fi but it drew from some of its conventions (and of those of the classic space opera) to create a comic that took itself a bit more seriously. Some good, solid, fun comic yarns here.

Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold

Bob Haney writes Batman and guest. This was a terrific read, with lots of Haney lunacy. The guests included Metamorpho (good), Plastic Man (dismal), The Metal Men (terrific - everyone goes to a robot convention) and Deadman (two times!). The best issue involved Batman having Wonder Woman and Batgirl pretend to fall in love with him as part of a plat to catch Copperhead, then when the time came to nab him they really had, such is the power of the Bat-charisma. Copperhead escaped in the kerfuffle, but was nabbed later on. Duh.


Showcase Presents: Justice League of America, Volumes 1 and 2

Good solid Silver Age fun. The JLA whomp some aliens, Starro the Conquerer, more aliens, Dr. Light, and some aliens. Snapper Carr is surprisingly endearing, J'onn J'onzz is surprisingly pudgy. He also tends to use his "Martian Breath" almost to the exclusion of all of his many other powers, possibly to distinguish him from Superman.


Showcase Presents: Teen Titans

Another Bob Haney masterwork, featuring the sidekicks of various Justice League members. The Titans answer calls for help from teenagers across the world and so end up dealing with giant monsters, inter-dimensional invasions and submarine pirates. Also notable is Haney's mastery of contemporary slang (assuming that sixties-teens used 'fab', 'ginchy' and 'gear' in every other sentence) and creative use of nicknames (Kid Flash = 'Twinkletoes', Aqualad = 'Gill Head', Wonder Girl = 'Wonder Chick'). All this and the Mad Mod!


Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes

My thoughts on this topic are already known.


Showcase Presents: Metamorpho the Element Man

Bob Haney strikes again! This time out he's penning the adventures of Rex Mason, whose brush with an ancient meteor/artifact gives him a hideous appearance and the ability to change into any element found in the human body. This one's got great art, as well as my favourite Silver Age supporting cast: Simon Stagg, Rex's boss, famous scientist and so close to being a super-villain that his private security forces dress like Cobra Commander; his daughter Sapphire Stagg, Rex's fiance; Java, a formerly-frozen Neanderthal given a modern brain by Stagg - Java's in love with Sapphire and occasionally tries to bump Metamorpho off but is a colossal coward and so never succeeds; and Urania Blackwell, the Element Girl, Metamorpho's female counterpart. One sad thing: Metamorpho, like Aztek, had his comic canceled before its time and so you'll never learn just who it was that was plotting against the Element Man toward the end of his series.


Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger

I'm still reading this one, but so far it's great. The basic format involves a supernatural setup, followed by the appearance of both the Phantom Stranger and Dr. Thirteen, the Ghost-Breaker to lend a hand. The two squabble over the existence of the supernatural, then tell stories to illustrate their points. Then they solve the mystery. At the end of the story the Phantom Stranger disappears, which really ticks off Dr. Thirteen, and it seems to be cumulative, because in the last story I read he pretty much just punched the Phantom Stranger in the face as soon as he showed up. Also notable: four teenagers keep showing up and their names are Spartacus, Attila, Wild Rose and Mister Square.


Well, that's it for now. I'll almost certainly be getting more of these things and when I do I'll write about it on the Internet. I'm so cool.