JIMMY OLSEN #111 June 1968
Neal Adams original artist
"Elastic Lad's Wrestling Match" (a/k/a "Elastic Lad Wrestles The Ugly Superman") originally appeared in the July 1961 issue of JIMMY OLSEN, #54, just coincidentally the first one I ever bought. Seven years later, the same story--sorta--turned up in what well might've been the last issue of the celebrated cub reporter's comic that I ever purchased. Huh--fancy that?...
Oh, I didn't plunk my pennies down for number one one one in '68, mind you. Growing into my mid-teens, I'd abandoned the entire Superman Family line of titles at the end of 1966 because I'd come to the inescapable conclusion that they were all, well, SILLY. REALLY silly. I was receiving enough negative peer pressure regarding my funnybook buying proclivities, so I felt that dropping editor Mort Weisinger's line would show my commitment to maturity. Yeah, right. But in reality, the once fresh Mort Mythos was getting a bit tired and a lot labored as the sixties came to a close, and, in retrospect, I made a wise and informed decision. I didn't rejoin the Man of Steel until Weisinger retired and Julie Schwartz took the helm in 1971. I'm reasonably certain I didn't miss many classic stories, but I did miss a passel of stunning Neal Adams covers by avoiding that period. So, come the eighties, I found myself haunting the bargain boxes at numerous comic conventions, and that's where I ferreted out this particular prize. (Was it the final OLSEN? Can't say for sure, but hey, the possibility made for a snappy opening, y'know?...)

Jimmy's showdown with the unattractive wrestler in the red and blue suit--a character introduced earlier in the pages of Lois Lane's magazine--didn't even warrant the cover slot the first time around. That privilege went to Jimmy in his role as "The King of the Giant Ants"!! (... Don't ask...) Having had plenty of time to mull things over, the editorial decision to belatedly spotlight this tale on the book's cover was made, and all that needed to be done was recruit the newly hired whiz kid penciller to provide a suitable illustration. Comics scholars look back on Adams earliest days in the business and reflect on his Deadman, Batman, and maybe even his Spectre work, but what a lot of folks tend to forget is that Neal churned out an inordinate amount of front page grabbers for Weisinger as his nascent DC assignments. This is just one example of many, one that I find to be playful and to the point. Gang, I didn't grow up with these Super Adams illos, but that doesn't keep me from lovin' 'em!!

The story? By Weisinger's wacky standards, nothing special. Jimmy realizes that a charity wrestling event is being staged (NO!?!), and to teach the promoter a lesson, he assumes his Elastic Lad persona to take on all comers, the last of which--UG SM-- swigs from his serum bottle in an attempt to turn the tables on our insipid--er, INTREPID-- hero. In a convoluted finale that makes my head hurt just to think about it, the Ugly Superman is defeated--unknowingly--by the Handsome Superman, and Jimmy has his moment of justice over the fellow who had the audacity--audacity, I tell you!!--to even CONSIDER fixing the fine sport of wrestling!!

One final note of interest. First time around, this tale clocked in at a mere 8 pages, one of three stories included in JIMMY OLSEN #54. When it sprang forth in #111, it had expanded to 12 pages, one of a mere two episodes offered in that later issue. How was this seemingly magical feat accomplished? Well, luckily, since artists Curt Swan and George Klein were still on staff, four extra pages were seamlessly added to the original. Back in '61, Elastic Jimmy faced off against The Abominable Snowman, The Gladiator, and The Bee in addition to the Ugster. In '68, he found Tumbler Ted, Rudy The Reindeer, and Mr. Goliath added to his already crowded dance card. While these fellows didn't improve the story any, their addition seemed somehow totally appropriate. After all, what adventure BETTER to s-t-r-e-t-c-h than an Elastic Lad one?...