16
Feb
12

kirbsday: will the REAL don rickles panic?!?

Last time in Jimmy Olsen 139: to secure a contract with Don Rickles, malicious media mogul Morgan Edge sends an eccentric employee, Rickles look-alike name-alike act-alike Goody Rickles, into a deathtrap managed by Inter-Gang underboss Ugly Mannheim.

“don’t ask! just buy it!”

Boy, you said it, Kirby!  Whew.  Okay, so basically, Clark’s trapped in space, zooming toward Apokolips…

…But is rescued by Lightray, a supporting character in The New Gods.  I guess this is nice, but given Clark’s secret identity it’s hard to imagine he was ever truly in danger.

Note that the collage is in color, unlike some of the previous efforts from a few months ago.  I’m not sure if this represents Kirby and the publisher discovering some new production technique, or just throwing a bit more care into the usual process, but by this point in late ’71 the photo-collages are starting to look a bit more vivid.

The Golden Guardian charges off after Ugly Mannheim and his Inter-Gang hoods, and beats an antidote to the pyro-granulate poison out of them…

And Jimmy and Goody Rickles make their way via the subway to Morgan Edge for medical help.

Meanwhile the real Don Rickles has shown up at Morgan Edge’s office, to the surprisingly demonstrative delight of the staff:

As Don and Edge sit down to iron out a contract, we get the inevitable collision…

The sudden onset of echolalia and echopraxia unnerves Don so much he’s got to sit down, even as Goody and Jimmy plead for their lives:

Morgan Edge calls the bomb squad, but is more concerned about his office furniture.  The Guardian saves them with the antidote, but Clark opens a boom tube right behind Don’s chair…

Finally, Don Rickles realizes that the only way he can escape the madhouse that is Galaxy Broadcasting is via the bomb squad:

and here we are again

So, although last issue was kind of inexplicable, Kirby manages to wrap the storyline up pretty well.  It works as a madcap action-comedy, and it’s a nice change of pace in a story about Black Racers, concentration camps at Disneyland, and mass hysteria.  There’s no denying it’s bizarre, and maybe the jokes could have been a little sharper, but hey: writing and drawing two issues a month.

These plots involving Morgan Edge remind me a little bit of some classic J. Jonah Jameson gags in the early days of the Spider-Man comic.  Way back when, Jameson wasn’t simply content to denounce Spidey: he wanted to defeat him by proxy, so he paid mad scientists to create killer robots, scorpion-men, and fishbowl-headed vigilantes to take the kid out.  Naturally, not only does Spider-Man win, but Jameson suffers a humiliating comeuppance.  (I can never get enough of the Scorpion-comes-after-Jameson storyline.)  Yet Kirby doesn’t humanize Edge with Jameson’s preening buffoonery: Edge is all coldblooded psychopathy.  I wonder whether any of these portrayals owe anything to longtime Marvel publisher (and Stan’s uncle) Martin Goodman–as a family member, Stan could have afforded a humorous wink at Goodman’s sharp business practices that would have been livelihood-threatening to employees like Kirby.

In the letters column this issue, readers grapple with the DNA Project.

The trouble with people like Randy Hiteshaw is that they aren’t privy to the classified documents that would explain how keeping hundreds of microscopic naked Jimmy Olsens in little white underpants is vital to winning the Cold War.

i am going to rationalize you, goody rickles, if it’s the last thing I do

One of the things I love to hate about comics fandom is the seemingly irresistible compulsion to rationalize everything.  Any loose plot thread or inexplicable occurrence must be harmonized with established continuity.  You see this with DC Comics all the time: in the mid-80’s they thought their setting’s history had gotten too complex, so they junked most of it with the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  But ever since then, they’ve had to revise stuff left dangling in the aftermath in Zero Hour and 52 and Final Crisis and the New 52 relaunch.
I generally think these efforts are unnecessary and quixotic. but dang it, even I give into temptation sometimes.
Weird things about Goody Rickles:
  • Named after Don Rickles
  • Looks exactly like Don Rickles
  • Acts like Don Rickles would if Rickles were written by Jack Kirby
  • Dresses in a super hero / New Genesis style costume with a big zero on the chest
  • When he meets Don Rickles, Don ends up reflexively repeating Goody’s words and body language

This leads to one and only one conclusion: Don Rickles is a robotic “follower” unit as seen in Mister Miracle 2.  Goody is a native of New Genesis, High-Father’s court fool, dispatched to Earth and toiling away at the nerve center of a major metropolitan newspaper to keep an ear open in the aftermath of “The Pact!” (see New Gods #7, coming in like… 12 weeks) or maybe “Himon!” (again, weeks away).

Being a show-off entertainer, Rickles builds himself a follower and sends it off to Hollywood, where it becomes famous.  He names it “Don” as a mock-lordly title.  Due to signal interference from Doctor Bedlam (who employs a similar animate-technology) or perhaps the Overlord device used by Granny Goodness (one of Goody’s relatives?), Don Rickles starts operating independently and forgets its true nature.

Goody, meanwhile, stays in character like Edgar in King Lear.  The minute he suspects Inter-Gang involvement at Galaxy, he bursts in on Morgan Edge and harasses him for an investigatory assignment.  He tries to steer Kent and Jimmy away from the dimension-trap, and is heartbroken when Kent disregards his warning and seemingly dies.  Once he’s been booby-trapped with pyro-granulate, Goody makes a beeline to Morgan Edge, hoping the crisis will blow Edge’s cover and force Darkseid’s network to reveal itself.  Goody Rickles: unsung champion of the Life Equation. 

Well, I’ve wasted my morning!  Jeez, comics….


2 Responses to “kirbsday: will the REAL don rickles panic?!?”


  1. February 17, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Just picked up on the cheap and read vol 1 of Kirby’s Jimmy Olson stories (along with the two b&w Mr. Miracle collections). It’s pretty disturbing just how casually Superman absconds with Jimmy’s DNA samples without consent so that the Project can create all those Olson clones. I guess Supers hadn’t completely moved past his Superdickery phase just yet.

  2. February 17, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Yeah, the whole thing is a bit weird to begin with, and made even weirder by Kirby’s seeming obliviousness to some of the ethical issues involved. I’m prepared to cut the guy a whole lot of slack, but that seems excessive.

    Yet the DNA Project does tie into ideas of predestination and free will and the whole nature versus nurture debate running through the entirety of the Fourth World saga, and I hope to blog about those topics in the weeks to come. I’m not sure Kirby had settled on any answers to those big questions, but you can tell he’s really worked up about those topics.

    I would like to think that, had the Fourth World Saga continued, Superman would have gradually realized the dangers posed by the Project–I mean, he’s almost literally fighting its mirror image every issue for a while there!–and rejected it and all it implied. That might be wishful thinking on my part!


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