Jimmy Olsen was born and raised in Metropolis. Olsen believed that his parents had died in a train wreck when he was a boy, and he practically raised himself. He was later reunited with his still-living father, archaeologist Mark Olsen. As a teenager, he began working as a stock boy at Metropolis' most prestigious media center, the Daily Planet. Early in his tenure, he met the Planet's star reporters, Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Within a short time, Jimmy's eagerness and likeable nature earned him a position as the newspaper's ace photographer. Although Jimmy was a talented photographer, his lifelong dream was to become an investigative reporter like Clark and Lois. He was known to storm the offices of the Daily Planet's managing editor, Perry White, begging for field work, but Perry was often reluctant to send the youth on assignments he felt were outside of Jimmy's capabilities. Jimmy's penchant for referring to Perry by the nickname "Chief" did little to endear the older man to his cause.
Jimmy's life changed forever, however, the day he met Metropolis' chosen hero, Superman. What Jimmy never realized, was that Superman was also his mild-mannered co-worker, Clark Kent. As Superman, Clark recognized the boy's dedication to his dream and kept a close eye over him. Superman became Jimmy Olsen's idol and he proudly referred to himself as "Superman's Pal".
As Jimmy began volunteering for more and more dangerous assignments, Superman came to realize that Jimmy's life would always be in a state of great peril. In order to keep a closer eye on him, Superman provided Jimmy with a special signal watch capable of broadcasting a high-pitched S.O.S. signal – a signal that operated on a frequency that only Superman's ultra-acute hearing could perceive. Whenever Jimmy found himself in over his head (which was often), he merely pressed a switch on his wristwatch and Superman could hear the signal from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, Jimmy would often abuse this wondrous piece of technology, and was known to summon Superman for extremely frivolous matters.
As the years passed, Jimmy made a notable career for himself as a cub reporter. He developed his own investigative crime kit, complete with costumes, props, wigs, and an array of useful if albeit strange devices such as his fountain pen air-gun. He maintained a private disguise kit on board the Daily Planet's "Flying Newsroom" helicopter. Whenever Jimmy needed to get somewhere in a hurry, he would merely call upon the Newsroom's resident pilot, Jumbo Jones, and have him fly off on another mysterious adventure.
The many lives of Jimmy Olsen
Jimmy Olsen is also no stranger to the life of a super-powered human being. Throughout the span of his career, Jimmy has been exposed to many situations wherein he developed super-powers or other bizarre abnormalities. Typically these traits endured for very brief periods of time, and ultimately Jimmy would find himself returning to normal.
One day, Jimmy discovered a bottle of green, phosphorescent liquid which was contained inside of a large chest that Superman had brought back with him from outer space. Fearing that the contents may be composed of Green Kryptonite, Jimmy opened the bottle outside of Superman's immediate presence. While attempting to dispose of the fluid, Jimmy tripped and accidentally spilled it all over himself. The strange liquid altered the boy's body chemistry granting him amazing powers of elasticity. He immediately set upon finding a cure, and joined a carnival side-show in the hopes of that he might one day return to normal. After several misadventures, Jimmy discovered that exposure to Kryptonite could permanently cure him of his stretching abilities. However, this would not be the only time that Jimmy would find himself using the name, Elastic Lad. Lana Lang's uncle, Professor Phineas Potter created a special stretching serum, which when imbibed, would grant the consumer fantastic stretching abilities. Jimmy and Clark Kent both accidentally drank the formula, and Jimmy became Elastic Lad once again. The effects of Potter's formula were only temporary, however, and before long, Jimmy resumed his normal physical shape. On one occasion, Jimmy traveled to the 30th century where he used Professor Potter's formula to become Elastic Lad once again. As Elastic Lad, Jimmy applied for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes. Although he never became an active member of the team, the Legion considered him an honorary Legionnaire.
Lois Lane briefly named herself Elastic Lass after this.
Jimmy Olsen once drank a mysterious potion that Superman had acquired during one of his many missions. The potion transformed Jimmy into a werewolf, similar to the creature once portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1941 Universal Pictures film, The Wolf Man. On the three nights of the full moon, Jimmy transformed into a canine brute, and only the kiss of a beautiful woman could restore him back to normal. He tried desperately to find someone who could aid him, but all of the local girls were too shocked by Jimmy's gruesome appearance to come near him. Finally, Superman enlisted the aid of his cousin, Supergirl. Supergirl gave Jimmy a kiss, which successfully cured him of his lycanthropy.
Jimmy Olsen was walking down the beach when he discovered a strange Atlantean sea chest that had washed up on the sand. Inspecting its contents, he found an elaborate device capable of enlarging other objects. While inspecting the enlarging ray, the device activates generating a beam of energy that strikes a nearby turtle. The ray ricocheted off of the turtle's back, striking Jimmy. Strangely enough, the turtle's body acted as a filter, and when the beam struck Jimmy, it transformed him into a giant Turtle Man. With the mental acuity of a turtle, Jimmy went on a rampage throughout Metropolis, destroying a massive suspension bridge in the process. Superman attempted to subdue him, and used the same shrinking ray that Brainiac once used to shrink the bottle city of Kandor, to return Jimmy to normal size.
Several years later, the Kandorian criminal known as Than Ol developed a way to enlarge himself and escape from the bottle city. Accompanied by a squad of henchmen, he succeeded in turning public opinion against Superman, and the citizens of Kandor believed that their trusted friend was in fact, a criminal. In order to quash Than Ol's insurrection, Superman and Jimmy Olsen had to go under cover as the vigilantes known as Nightwing and Flamebird. While Superman's identity was an obvious homage to his friend, Batman, Jimmy patterned himself after Batman's teen partner, Robin. The two crime-fighters succeeded in stopping the threat of Than Ol and preserving Superman's sterling reputation amongst the citizens of Kandor.
DNA Project, Intergang and Mister Action
Later in his career, Jimmy gained enough self-confidence and assertiveness to become more of an equal to Clark Kent and Lois Lane. By the time that he made the acquaintance of the second Newsboy Legion he was no longer feeling the need to call Superman for help very often at all. It was then that he got involved in the schemes of Intergang and learned of the DNA Project.
On the average, Jimmy does not possess any superhuman capabilities. However, his many misadventures have frequently found him in circumstances where he would spontaneously develop super-abilities. These powers have always been temporary, and usually disappeared within a twenty-four hour period. Some of these powers include the following:
- X-Ray Vision
- Superhuman Speed
- Cosmic Brain
- Prehensile Hair
- Size Alteration
- Energy Projection
- Alien Physiology
- Molecular Reconstruction: He once had Element Lad's powers.
- Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, The average Kryptonian possesses the potential for the following power set:
- Solar Energy Absorption: Under optimal conditions, this is the main source of their super powers as they are contingent upon exposure to solar radiation from a yellow sun star system. Their biological make up includes a number of organs which lack analogues in humans and whose functions are unknown. It is believed that between one or more of these and their bio-cellular matrix, "yellow" solar energy is stored for later use. This allows for the use of these powers to fade when yellow solar radiation is not available instead of immediate failure.
- Heat Vision: Kryptonians can, as a conscious act, fire beams of intense heat at a target by looking at it. Typically, the power is seen as two beams of red light emanating from the eyes. These beams can be made invisible, allowing the power to be undetectable. The maximum temperature of their heat vision is said to be around that of a nuclear detonation. They can also consciously determine the area affected, down to the microscopic level.
- Super-Hearing: Kryptonian hearing is sensitive enough to hear any sound at any volume or pitch. With skill, practice, and concentration, they can block out ambient sounds to focus on a specific source or frequency. As such, they can identify a person by their heartbeat, or pick out a single voice in an entire city.
- Enhanced Vision: Kryptonian vision processes the entire electromagnetic spectrum as well as allowing vast control over selective perception and focus.
This umbrella ability includes the following:
- Electromagnetic Spectrum Vision: Kryptonians can see well into most of the electromagnetic spectrum. They can see and identify radio and television signals as well as all other broadcast or transmitted frequencies. Using this ability, they can avoid detection by radar or satellite monitoring methods. This also allows them to see the aura generated by living thing.
- Telescopic Vision: This is the ability to see something at a great distance, without violating the laws of physics. Though limited, the exact extent of the ability is undetermined. In function, it is similar to the zoom lens on a camera.
- X-Ray Vision: This is the ability to see through any volume of matter except lead. Kryptonians can see things behind a solid, opaque object as if it were not there. They can focus this ability to "peel back" layers of an object, allowing hidden image or inner workings to be observed. The exact type of energy perceived—such as x-rays, cosmic rays, or some other energy invisible to normal humans—is unclear. This ability perceives an ambient energy source though, it does not involve the eye projecting a concentrated, possibly toxic, beam to be reflected back from objects.
- Microscopic Vision: This is the ability to see extremely small objects and images down to the atomic level.
- Infrared Vision: Kryptonians can see with better acuity in darkness, and to a degree in total darkness.
- Flight: Kryptonians are able to manipulate graviton particles, in an unknown and apparently unconscious manner, to defy the forces of gravity. Under one Earth gravity, they are capable of speeds of multi-Mach speeds in Earth's atmosphere. Their control of their flight is very precise and they can perform aerobatic feats such as hovering, flying backwards and even lifting great weights while flying.
- Invulnerability: The bodies of Kryptonians are nigh-invulnerable to extreme energy forces. In addition, their immune systems protects them from toxins and diseases. The most common explanations for this rely on the presences of a super-dense molecular structure, a supercharged bio-electric aura which acts as an invisible force field, or a combination of the two. A byproduct of the aura is that items close to the skin share their invulnerability. Using clothing as an example, loose fitting fabric would tend to shred or burn in adverse conditions, but skin tight outfits would not.
- Superhuman Stamina: Kryptonians have the ability to maintain continuous strenuous physical action for an indefinite period of time. In theory they have unlimited stamina as their enhanced nourishment is produced from the yellow solar energy their cells process, which also provides the majority of the power for their superhuman abilities. However, their base physical structures do need to process food stuffs and they have a psychological need to eat and drink just as Earth humans do. They also require sleep on occasion so that they can dream. They can also hold their breath for an indefinite period of time.
- Superhuman Strength: A Kryptonian develops enhanced physical strength after absorbing a sufficient amount of yellow solar radiation. This radiation interacts with the greater than human density, resilience and biological efficiency of their musculature to trigger superhuman levels. While the exact magnitude of their strength is unknown, it is generally accepted that it is sufficient to lift 100,000 tons or more. The specific range is unknown as a their strength, like their other powers, may fluctuate over time. Their strength is also more an act of conscious will on energy fields than actual physical strength. It is this act of conscious will that enables them to perform physical feats that are beyond the mere application force, such as moving a mountain top without said rock crumbling under its own mass. At full power, their normal strength levels are well into the multi-megaton range.
- Superhuman Speed: Kryptonians are able to move at incredible speeds by sheer force of will. They can match most other speedsters in super-fast movements, reactions, and processes. They can use this power to disarm opponents without heightened reflexes, catch bullets or shrapnel or cross vast distances in seconds.
This also confers:
- Super-Breath: Kryptonians are able to create hurricane force winds by exhaling air from their lungs. They can chill the air as it leaves their lungs to freeze targets in a variation sometimes called "freeze" or "arctic breath". They can also reverse the process and pull large volumes of air or vapor into their lungs.
- Longevity: Kryptonians can live longer than regular humans, remaining at their prime as long as they was under the exposure of the "yellow" sun.
- Vulnerability to Kryptonite
- Vulnerability to Magic
Although Jimmy often appears as incompetent or aloof, he is actually quite skilled in a wide range of fields. These include the following:
- Athletics: In high school, he was an expert pole vaulter. In later years, he was a skilled bowler.
- Aviation: Jimmy Olsen has shown proficiency as a helicopter pilot when in the body of Congorilla.
- Driving: This includes being an experienced race car driver.
- Multilingualism: He is also fluent in Kryptonese, a language he learned during his visit to the bottle city of Kandor.
- Photography: His primary profession
- Jimmy Olsen's Signal Watch: A wristwatch equipped with an electronic device that would emit a high-pitch whine that only someone with enhanced hearing could perceive. Whenever Superman heard the distinctive pitch of Jimmy's watch, he knew that his pal was in trouble. Jimmy became overly dependent on the watch, and began to abuse it, calling for Superman's aid for mundane manners. Superman admonished Jimmy for this practice, and as such, Jimmy has since restricted the amount of times that he uses to watch to call for help.
- Jimmy Olsen's Camera: Over the years, Jimmy has used a wide variety of cameras for his work as a photographer. He has a great eye for almost impossible shots at even more impossible angles, and is usually Lois and Perry's first choice to get the job done.
Jimmy is also a very adept disguise artist and has used various disguises over the years, utilizing various outfits, and fake facial applications such as wigs and facial hair.
In addition, Jimmy has utilized various high tech gadgets over the years, some of these include:
- Wild Dream Potion: A potion Superman brought back for Jimmy from an alien world. Drinking it he was subject to deep sleep and wild dreams in which he thought the potion granted him with the gift of flight.
- Compressed Air Pen: Jimmy occasionally used a specially made pen that could fire a jet of compressed air with sufficient force of a punch being thrown by a prizefighter.
- Superman Armor: Jimmy once wore a suit of armor resembling the Man of Steel, however when he ended up getting trapped inside it, he decided not to use it again.
- Invisibility Belt: Invented by Lex Luthor, it rendered the wearer invisible, however, it would eventually rob them of their vision as well. When Superman defeated Luthor, he gave the belt to Jimmy who used it to trip up a crook who was trying to escape a police dragnet.
- The Missile of Steel: When Superman was busy in a mission in outer space, he gave Jimmy a radio-controlled robot of himself that could mimic all his super-powers. Jimmy used the robot to defend Metropolis so criminals wouldn't get away with crimes in Superman's absence.
- Liar Pills: Pills given to him by Superman for his souvenir collection, these pills would make someone compulsively lie for three hours straight. Jimmy once took these pills so that he would not accidentally reveal Superman's secret identity. Ironically, since he didn't believe that Clark Kent was Superman, he inadvertently revealed Superman's secret identity when he thought he was lying.
- 50th Century technology: When Jimmy was accidentally transported to the 50th Century, the people there believed that Jimmy was Superman. In order to combat John Smyth's book proclaiming that Superman was a hoax, Jimmy was endowed with devices to mimic Superman's powers including strength pills, invisible shield, picket x-ray, a telescopic manacle, and atomic pellets. These items were left in the future.
- Riddle Reporter: A robot that Superman brought back from another planet, this robot secretly followed Jimmy's orders to get super scoops in the guise of the Riddle Reporter. The robot eventually deactivated when it's power source malfunctioned.
- Mechanical Double: Invented by Dr. Saxon, this robot duplicate of Jimmy Olsen was given to Jimmy to test out the technology. When a crooks bullets caused the robots sense of right and wrong to malfunction the robot caused trouble in Jimmy's life before it was ultimately stopped by Superman and destroyed by Jimmy.
- Wonder Lad Costume: When Superman was on his monthly patrol of the Earth, Jimmy decided to deal with the growing crime element in Metropolis. He went into action as "Wonder Lad" using a specially made indestructible suit of armor that Superman brought from another planet and a jet pack to give him flight. The indestructible suddenly crumbled one day, ending his career abruptly.
- Space Jewel: A jewel that would boost one's mental facilities 1,000 fold. Jimmy unknowingly put this on a turban that Jimmy was convinced would cause good luck. The jewel being the true source of his good fortune. Superman would secretly confiscate this jewel in order to maintain his secret identity.
- Thunderbird Wings: Were ancient Egyptian wings that supposedly made it able for someone to fly. Jimmy would attempt to use them, forcing Superman to secretly help them operate so Jimmy won't hurt himself. Eventually, Superman would blow the wings away so Jimmy would stop using them.
- The Amazing Spectacles of Dr. X: A pair of goggles that would show it's wearer visions of the future. Jimmy wore them for a time when viewing a partial image of the future shows that he would drown. After he learned it was an act for a safety film, he abandoned the goggles.
- The Amazing Camera: When Jimmy's camera was accidentally exposed to energies from one of Professor Potter's failed experiments, it gained the ability to pull in small objects into it that could be taken out of the camera later (such as Perry White's dentures, Clark Kent's glasses and a diamond) This camera was eventually smashed during a scuffle with a criminal that sought to exploit its abilities.
- Robot Suit: A suit of armor that could imitate Superman's various super-powers that he built for Jimmy's 21st birthday. Jimmy used the suit briefly to test out its powers, Superman had since taken it back until Jimmy turns 21.
- Robot Duplicate: When laid up with a foot injury, Jimmy be given a robot modeled after him that was built by Superman. The robot could be controlled remotely by Jimmy via a control device. It was invulnerable to harm from fire, and being struck by lightning, it was also waterproof. The robot was eventually returned to Superman after Jimmy's foot healed up.
- Flying Newsroom: Jimmy Olsen made use of any means of transportation available to him. These vehicles ranged from racing cars, to helicopters, to bicycles. He also made use of the Daily Planet's Flying Newsroom, piloted by his good friend Jumbo Jones.
- This version of Jimmy Olsen, including all history and corresponding appearances, was erased from existence following the collapse of the original Multiverse in the 1985–86 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series. Even though versions of the character may have since appeared, this information does not apply to those versions.
- Like many people, Jimmy Olsen is reincarnated, and has lived before in different bodies. Olsen's previous lives include Sparticus and Marco Polo.
- Although Jimmy Olsen was a life-long bachelor, he was at one point married to an ape in a ceremony officiated by Superman. However, the marriage was not legally recognized in the United States and is considered annulled.
- Jimmy has a scar on the inner side of his right leg where he cut himself as a child.
- 785 Appearances of James Olsen (Earth-One)
- 40 Images featuring James Olsen (Earth-One)
- 42 Quotations by or about James Olsen (Earth-One)
- Character Gallery: James Olsen (Earth-One)
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #159
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #163
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #157
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #163
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #21
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #91
- ↑ Superman (Kellogg's) #1
- ↑ Superman Family #176
- ↑ Superman Family #183
- ↑ Action Comics #449
- ↑ Superman #352
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #123
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #128
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #31
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #37
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72
- ↑ Superman #158
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #155
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #99
- ↑ Superman Family #194
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
- ↑ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #163
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #1
- ↑ Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #1
- ↑ Superman #121
Daily Planet Staff member
Superman Family member
Legion of Super-Heroes member