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OK, cover, I’ll bite – Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #110

May 14, 2010

I’ll admit the cover poses a good question – how exactly does Superman get a haircut?  I mean, that’s one of those dumb topics that comic fans debate far too long over beers late at night.  How does his hair get cut, wouldn’t he blow a hole in the back of the toilet every time he took a leak, etc.  I can remember the John Byrne Man of Steel reboot showing how Supes shaved – he used a mirror and fried off his stubble with his heat vision.  That makes sense, I suppose, but I don’t know if that would work so well in the scalp area.

So what answer does this issue have to offer?  I mean, that’s why people would have bought it, right?  It wouldn’t fail to follow through, would it? 

Would it?

Well, we’re given a cop-out.  Apparently Superman’s hair and fingernails don’t grow when he’s on Earth – he could only get a buzzcut or a manicure if he traveled to a world with a red sun.  So the cover tricked me.  It tricked us.  It pulled the old switcheroo, promising one thing and delivering another.

Damn you, comic book!

This “answer” comes in the back-up feature, where Superman responds to mail from his fans.  This story, a reprint (with modifications) from issue #35, is sort of entertaining – a crook has laced several return envelopes with kryptonite, and every time Superman licks one of them, he grows progressively weaker.  Except he doesn’t actually lick them, he only pretends to do so in order to draw out his enemy.  The story’s a bit silly, but then I think back to the anthrax mailings back in ’01, and it doesn’t seem to be such a light-hearted flight of fancy.  From what I can pull off the net, Otto Binder and Curt Swan handled the original creative chores on this tale, but I’m still curious to know what the modifications were for the reprint in this issue.  Maybe some more digging is in order.

The lead story, written by Jim Shooter with art from Swan, deals with Jimmy Olsen’s past lives.  I was less than impressed with it, and I’ll leave it at that.  If you can’t say anything nice…

One last note on the cover – as you can see, it’s an “infinity” cover, from no less a talent than Neal Adams.  I remember covers like this used to drive me nuts as a kid.  I mean, I’d get my face right up next to it so I could get a close look and see how small the image could get.  I did everything but place the picture under a microscope.  I just had to know how far the artist was able to take it.  In this instance Adams is able to bring things to the second level effectively – it falls apart with the cover that’s within the cover that’s within the cover.  If that makes any sort of sense.

Postscript – There has to be a story out there about how Superman gets a haircut – there’s probably a bunch of them, but right now I can’t recall any and I’m too tired to hunt them down.  Feel free to pepper me with examples in the comments section if you’re so inclined.

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