Showcase Presents Superman Family

Showcase Presents Superman Family is a big slab of wacky old comics. Don’t read it all at once if you value your sanity, but for browsing, it’s lots of fun.

The book reprints in black and white the first 22 issues of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, each of which contained three short stories starring the plucky cub reporter. Most of the stories are written by Otto Binder with art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley. These craftsmen weren’t out to create great art, but they provided entertaining escapist adventure.

Showcase Presents Superman Family cover
Showcase Presents
Superman Family
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In his quest for the story, Jimmy rushes into dangerous situations, chasing criminals and testing new inventions, all the while knowing that his buddy Superman is looking out for him. His special watch emits a ultrasonic “secret Superman SOS signal” to alert his pal when he’s danger. Even with this extra edge, Jimmy is noticeably reckless, disregarding safety when he’s on the beat. Thankfully, he’s got the smarts and the guts to pull through. Even when Superman’s not around, he can hold his own in a fight, often working towards his own rescue, and he solves mysteries by placing together clues he’s observed. He’s a master of disguise and a technological wizard when he needs to be.

He’s also much too curious for his own good. When he discovers a previously overlooked oddity in his collection of Superman souvenirs, he decides to try drinking an unidentified potion just in case it gives him superpowers. His foolhardiness makes for entertaining stories, even if they sometimes turn out to be nothing but dreams or hoaxes. In just some of the tales here, he’s mistaken for a boy king; raises a baby dinosaur; diets to become a jockey; becomes a jungle boy, a marble champion, or a clown; and gains, at various times, the temporary powers of x-ray vision, invisibility, super speed, and invulnerability. It’s all a bit much for just one lucky boy, and sometimes he’s the butt of the joke, but Jimmy also helps out his buddy, trying to cover for an absent Superman to raise workers’ morale or rescuing him from Kryptonite.

Also included are the first Lois Lane solo story from the 1944 Superman #28 and the three Lois Lane stories from Showcase #9.

5 Responses to “Showcase Presents Superman Family”

  1. David Oakes Says:

    Shouldn’t that be “*Because of* this extra edge, Jimmy is noticeably reckless…”?

    Since there is certainly enough material (and more!) for both a full Jimmy Olsen TPB as well as one for Lois, any reason why they would drop her in this way? (Or for that matter, why they would use the “Superman Family” title for Jimmy, when it is a book in and of itself, all ready for TPB treatment?)

  2. Dan Coyle Says:

    I’m about halfway through this and I find it fascinating. More entertaining than the Superman Showcase, actually, probably because the inspired lunacy kind of runs out with Supes proper but Jimmy Olsen can get into any sort of wackjob adventure. Marbles! Jungle boy! Invisibility!

    I can’t decide if Superman is simply a well-meaning father figure to Jimmy or a manipulative, sociopathic prankster. Probably a little bit of both.

  3. Dan Coyle Says:

    Man, I just read “Jimmy Olsen’s Super-Illusions”, where after Jimmy Olsen accidentally takes a picture of Clark changing into Superman, so Superman spends the whole next day doing crazy things (Like flipping a house and moving inanimate objects) and making it look like only Jimmy can see them, so at the end of the day when Jimmy develops the film, when he sees Clark he’ll think it’s all another hallucination… and when Jimmy wakes up the morning after that, Superman has switched his negatives with blanks so Jimmy will think the previous day is all a dream.

    Wow. Superman IS a dick.

  4. Johanna Says:

    David, I suspect that the mostly-Jimmy focus is just an artifact of the publishing dates.

    Or maybe they think a Lois solo wouldn’t sell.

  5. James kosmicki Says:

    I’m pretty positive that it’s about the publishing dates. DC didn’t have faith in the 50’s in Lois being able to pull her own weight in her own series. Notice that Jimmy (being a kid himself) was assumed to have natural appeal to the audience and started with his own series. This really wasn’t done very often back then. Almost every strip was tried out somewhere first.

    Lois, being a superhero related book but focused on a female lead, was obviously considered a bigger risk, and thus not only was Lois’ series held back, but she had to prove her sales-worthiness in Showcase first.

    I’ve read in the past that the main reason these characters were even considered for solo series was the popularity of the Superman TV show that emphasized the characters. One can only imagine that DC figured there were no older Superman readers angling for a Perry White solo series.

    I’m guessing that Volume 2 will still be a bit Jimmy focused in the early going, but by the middle it will balance out more to half Lois and half Jimmy. eventually the Supergirl stories should be included too, if they are truly doing the strips that became the Superman Family book in the 70’s. but those were all backup strips until she kicked the Legion out of Adventure IIRC.




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