“Presently, the market-place is rocking …”
I came across this glorously silly Jimmy Olsen story in Chris Sims’ Comics Alliance essay The 10 Most Insane Jimmy Olsen Moments of All Time. For some reason the caption shown here stuck in my mind, and that evening I produced a bit of doggerel to go with it.
The story, written by Leo Dorfman and drawn by George Papp, dates from Mort Weisinger’s reign editing the Superman books. This was what comics fans now call the “Silver Age”, a delightfully daft and innocent era of Superman’s adventures, which looks all the more charming when set against the torture porn and rape fantasies superhero comics routinely traffic in today.
The plot of The Red-Headed Beatle of 1,000 BC, briefly, is this:
A traveller from the future turns up at Jimmy Olsen’s apartment, introduces himself as Kasmir and tells Jimmy he’s a policeman from the future.
The Legion of Superheroes (of which Jimmy is a honorary member) has lent Kasmir a time bubble, he explains, so he can collect Jimmy and the two of them can carry out a vital mission into the past.
Jimmy agrees to go along, but Kasmir turns out to be a crook, who needed our hero only to teach him how to operate the time bubble’s controls. He strands Jimmy in the Holy Land of the Old Testament, where he’s forced to earn his keep by selling home-made Beatle wigs and performing Beatles-style songs in the marketplace to an enthusiastic dancing crowd.
It’s this scene which provides the issue’s Curt Swan cover. “That catchy drum beat!” one passing Hebrew babe declares. “I can’t keep my own feet from twitching!”
Eventually, the teenage Samson (who Jimmy’s befriended) punches Kasmir out and Superman turns up to take Jimmy back to present day Metropolis. “You’ve really started a ‘Beatle’ fad here, Jimmy,” Superman says. “You seem to be as popular as Ringo, the Beatle drummer!”
Sims has more details, including scans of the cover and several more key panels. That link again is: The 10 Most Insane Jimmy Olsen Moments of All Time.