Jimmy Olsen

I was reading a story reprinted from World's Finest back during the Robin-Olsen pairing, and it made me wonder: just how old was Jimmy supposed to be? He was dating an adult woman, but was also an honorary member of the Legion Of Superheroes, which means he could not have been older than 19 (unless there were different rules for honorary members I'm not aware of, you had to be a teen to join). However, one would assume from his solo adventures that he was in his early 20's.  Presumably he had at least graduated High School. So just how old was he supposed to be?

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  • Since he was living alone, driving, almost getting married, working fulltime yet still could be called "Elastic Lad", I'm assuming that the Silver Age Jimmy was probably over 18 yet under 21.

    IIRC, he was made an honorary member because he helped the Legion before (Rao knows how!) and because he could gain powers as Elastic Lad. His age was never a factor.

  • In those days newspapers referred to anyone (or at least any male) between 18 and 25 as a "youth", so calling him a "lad" may have just been a reflection of the times in which the books were written.

  • I believe in one of the 80-PAGE GIANTS it was stated that Jimmy was 21. I'm going purely on memory here, though.

  • Ah, there goes my Silver-Age emergency signal!  I don't hear that as often as I used to.


    I can address your comments, Randy, by working backwards.


    The "Jimmy Olsen's Pen Pals" letter column of Jimmy Olsen # 74 (Jan., 1964) published the following accusation from Frederic Young, of Tujunga, California:


    You made a big goof in "The World of Doomed Olsens" [from Jimmy Olsen # 72 (Oct., 1963)].  You allowed Jimmy to join the Legion of Super-Heroes despite the fact that he is 21 years old.  You clearly stated in ACTION COMICS # 276 that nobody could join the Legion if they were over 18 years of age.  Squirm out of this, if you can.


    Mort Weisinger had no trouble putting Mr. Young in his place.  Ye Olde Editor replied:


    Jimmy was made an HONORARY member, which means that all the regular club rules are waived.  For example, last year our Congress made Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States, despite the fact that Churchill does not meet any of the eligibility requirements for citizenship in the U.S.



    All well and good, but the question is---how does (did) Mr. Young know that Jimmy Olsen was twenty-one years old?  Well, ol' Fred must have been a loyal reader of the Jimster's magazine, because the answer to that appeared in the story "Jimmy Olsen's Wildest Nightmare", from Jimmy Olsen # 61 (Jun., 1962).  The matter of Jimmy's age is addressed there.  Not just addressed---you can't miss it!


    The caption on the splash panel announces:


    Today's the day!  Today, Jimmy Olsen is twenty-one!  Today, Jimmy Olsen is a man!!---officially, that is.  Unofficially, Jimmy is still the same, slightly whacky youngster he's always been!


    Just to make sure the readers got it, the caption to the opening panel of the story proper reads:


    Morning over Metropolis---and it is the dawn of a very special day for Jimmy Olsen . . . .


    And Jimmy is apparently talking to himself, because while undertaking his morning ablution, his dialogue reads:


    "Today is my birthday . . . I've got one special present I'm looking forward to---Superman promised to give me a Jimmy Olsen robot when I'm twenty-one---and today's the day!"


    Hope this helps.

  • Brilliant.

    Robin Olsen said:

    Commander and Company, I direct your attention to the Stupid Comics Blog. There, in the Superheroes section, you'll find a take on a Jimmy Olsen story called, "Jimmy Olsen, Robot F----r. Best line? "Say, honey, can you pass the salt?" "Sure, here's some salt, Robot F----r." Hilarious.

  • In "The Robot Jimmy Olsen" in SPJO #35 (Mar 59), Supes brings Jimmy a robot he's making for him for his 21st birthday. As so often happens with these things, Jim tries on the suit, gets it stuck on him just as Superman (wait for it) gets called away on an emergency, leaving the robot with Jim. Mayhem, of course, ensued.

    In the end, Superman took the robot away until Jim's 21st birthday, and Jim calculates that's "dozens of months" away. So he can't have been more than 19 at that point.

    -- MSA

  • Interesting stuff. All I can add is that when Jimmy first appeared in the Golden Age (1941), he was a copy boy -- and an actual boy (he looked to be 10-12). He got promoted to cub reporter when he stowed away in a criminal's car trunk to get a story. He presumably aged fairly normally after that, so that he was at his Silver Age age by the time his own title debuted in 1954. 

    Interestingly, Jimmy first appeared on The Adventures of Superman radio show, and was added to the comics (or the generic office boy in Action Comics #6 was given his name) as a result. I've read in various places that the Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen title was a result of Jack Larsen's popularity on The Adventures of Superman TV show. He seems to be more an outgrowth of other media than the comics themselves!

  • Hmm... could be.

    The 1st episode of the TV series, "Superman On Earth", aired September 19, 1952.  I also checked, Jack Larson's Jimmy was not in the earlier SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN (1951), and when it was edited into the TV series, became the ONLY 2 episodes Jimmy did not appear in.

    The 1st issue of SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN had a Sep-Oct 1954 cover date.

    Don't you love the internet?

    I'm not surprised Jimmy first appeared on the radio show. Similarly, I've read the Vicki Vale first appeared in the serial BATMAN AND ROBIN (1948).  When I found this out, it explained why the Vicki in the movie was exactly like the one in the comics. It was the other way around!  Comics always seem to have an easier time following movies than the other way around. (I think it's a relfection of the general contempt for comics in the other media.)  That serial, by the way, also featured Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon, in my view, the one actor who looked EXACTLY like the character from the comics.

  • And worse than that, the half a torso robot doll predates OMAC and the world to come's Lucy by only, say a dozen yrs or so(Who says there are no new ideas in comics?)...

    dy Forsdyke said:


    Robin Olsen said:

    Commander and Company, I direct your attention to the Stupid Comics Blog. There, in the Superheroes section, you'll find a take on a Jimmy Olsen story called, "Jimmy Olsen, Robot F----r. Best line? "Say, honey, can you pass the salt?" "Sure, here's some salt, Robot F----r." Hilarious.

  • I love it when people say Jimmy was immature and egotistical. Everyone knew him as "SUPERMAN'S PAL" and he had his own fan club. That's not exactly normal. There was even a bounty on him by the Superman Revenge Squad. Batman, of all people, trusted him with his secret identity!

    Sorry, Jimmy was acting in response to the madness surrounding him, it was his defense mechanism. Behaving normally would have gotten him killed so "wacky" worked for him.

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