Monday, June 15, 2020

Action Comics #568

Action Comics #568 (June 1985)
“The Amazing Matchmaker of Metropolis”
Cover Art: Howard Bender and Jerry Ordway (signed)
Writer: Craig Boldman
Art: Howard Bender and Alex Nino

Another "Jimmy Olsen tries to find Superman a girl-friend" story review by Emsley Wyatt

At the end of my review of “The Girl of Steel” I made mention of another story in which Jimmy Olsen attempts to play matchmaker.  This is that story. 

Our story opens with Superman flying Jimmy to get a story, based on a request from the Legion of Super-Heroes.  A thief has stolen some advanced technology from the 30th Century and, of course, he decides to flee to the very time and place that is Superman’s home location.  Smart; Jimmy even notices that.

The Legion has even given Superman the exact time and location of the thief’s arrival so he’s waiting when the thief pops into the present. It’s in the middle of a golf course, no less.

After a (very) brief battle Superman subdues the thief and he and Jimmy exchange a few golf puns.
Superman takes off, breaking the time barrier to return the thief to the 30th Century.  But the thief drops a case. (Plunk.)
Jimmy is destined to be disappointed as “Fifi” has other plans.  She breaks their date to pal around with an old (male) friend who happens to be in town. So Jimmy hangs out at home, in his holey socks, puzzling over the thirtieth-century gadget and listening to some Bruce Springsteen.  (Note album cover in lower right corner of panel.) And what’s up with those penguins on his coffee table?
The device gives Jimmy a mental message to go to a certain location and when he does……
…he meets Jennifer Crocker.  And Jimmy’s dream girl has red hair and freckles.  Kind of narcissistic, don’t you think? Jimmy and Jenny walk off together while a mysterious stranger watches.  (Additional penguins are visible on the top of the taxi and the sign to the left of Jimmy reads “Opus,” which was the name of the penguin in the “Bloom County” cartoon strip.  What is up with this?)  

Jimmy decides to go into business finding dream dates for people, giving both Lois and Clark a “free sample.”  Jimmy takes Lois to a seedy diner and points out a scruffy man with a beard.  (Check the smirk on Clark’s face here.) 
But the scruffy man takes off the fake beard and reveals himself to be a handsome undercover police officer.

Meanwhile, that mysterious stranger continues to observe.  

Lois has met her dream guy, now Clark’s turn has come.  He tries to beg off but Jimmy is too quick with the gadget.
Clark finds a mousy librarian but still finds her kind of cute.  But as they leave the library Clark spots an emergency situation in the air.  He makes an excuse, but so does Mindy.
Who is this flying woman?  (It is noteworthy that just as in the proto-Supergirl story the first super-activity Superman and his would-be partner undertake together is the rescue of a troubled aircraft.)
She’s Nova-Woman, that’s who, AKA Mindy the librarian.  And she and Superman seem to be in deep, deep love! 

Later, Clark and Mindy meet up with Jimmy and Lois and their dream dates. But then Jimmy excuses himself....
He confronts the mysterious stranger who has been following him...! 
The stranger turns out to be Shvaughn Erin, the Legion liaison with the Science Police, which makes this story possibly the one with the most tenuous connection to the Legion that I’ve ever encountered.
At first, I wondered if this story was a plug for the Science Police comic, but that didn’t come along until thirteen years later. Officer Erin tells Jimmy that his “Love Finder” is actually a “Thought-Actualizer, a device that takes your thoughts and creates them as solid objects. Think of it as a sort of bargain-basement Miracle Machine.   So Shvaughn takes the case containing the device, hops into her time bubble, and takes off for the 30th Century.  The machine constructs (i.e. the dream dates) vanish leaving Jimmy, Lois, and Clark with broken hearts.  Even Superman did not see this ending coming.
And back at the Daily Planet our three reporters seek solace in working late and mooning over their lost loves.

I enjoyed this story a lot.  It was tightly written, there were very few panels that were unnecessary, which is why I’ve “reprinted” virtually the entire thing.  The art was passable.  The story had, despite its 1985 publication date, a lot of “Silver Age” sensibilities.  I liked Nova Woman.  I liked the fact that even Superman was so love-struck that he didn’t realize what was going on and that it was Jimmy who spotted Shvaughn.  Heck, I even liked the penguins.  

I did see a bit of a plot hole, though.   If Jimmy or Lois heard about Nova Woman, they might have added two and two and realized that Clark was Superman.  

So what did you think?


  1. Jimmy seems like kind of a narcissist. His dream girl looks like he does during one of his drag--I mean "disguise" stories.

    Not that Nova-woman's too off the mark for Superman, either. It might be a stretch, but I wonder if her name's a shout-out to the imaginary story where he lost his powers and tried to go it as a street level hero named Nova.

  2. I thought alarm bells should have been ringing for the characters, Superman at least, when Nova Woman so conveniently appeared--a super being he never heard of before---out of no where for him.