Monday, November 23, 2015

The Name Is Olsen. James Olsen

The comic book industry was always alert to popular trends, including the 1960s superspy craze inspired by the success of James Bond 007.
Marvel Comics offered us Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, with his nemesis Hydra. Charlton turned Sarge Steel from a private eye into a special agent. Tower Comics crossed superheroes with spies in THUNDER Agents. Even Archie Andrews pitched in as the Man from RIVERDALE.
And DC gave us a guy named Olsen.
James Olsen.
“Now, you can probably see the problem here already,” the Silver Age blog observed. “James Bond was suave, cultured, handsome and the epitome of cool. Whereas Jimmy was naive, unsophisticated, homely and as square as the Bizarro World.
“The story (from Jimmy Olsen 89, Dec. 1965) starts with Jimmy and Lucy on a date to see a movie featuring ‘Jamison Baird, Agent .003.’ As was common in the DC universe, things were changed just enough to avoid lawsuits, although it seems a bit odd in this case. DC had published a story featuring James Bond only a few years earlier (Showcase 43).” Agent Double-Five (the number of letters in his name) returned in Jimmy Olsen 92, along with his seemingly superfluous gadgets. After all, Jimmy had long possessed the one special device that would be the envy of any secret agent — his Superman signal watch.

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