“The Three Magic Wishes: The Girl Of Steel!”
Script: Otto Binder
Art: Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye
DC Comics, 1958
by Chris Sims
Given that we’re in that hazy, post-holiday time of year, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been thinking of making a few resolutions. Longtime QEOC readers might recall from previous discussions that last year, I swore off jokes about the gay subtext—or in some cases, you know, text—between Batman and Robin, because honestly, it’s been done to death at this point.
And believe me, that one hasn’t been easy, but for this year, I’m setting even more of a challenge: No more gay jokes about Superman and Jimmy Olsen.
Which means I really need to get this column knocked out before January.
And that brings us to this week’s selection: “The Three Magic Wishes,” from Superman #123, which was handily reprinted in DC’s recent Showcase Presents Supergirl collection, for those of you wanting to follow along.
The whole thing starts off with Lois Lane falling out of a helicopter—as was her lot in life, it seems, since she can’t pop down to the corner for a cup of coffee without finding herself in mortal peril—and being rescued by Superman, to whom she promptly proposes.
For those of you unfamiliar with Superman in the Silver Age, allow me to assure you: This kind of thing happens all the time. And not to belabor the point here, Lois, but if you’re a successful, attractive woman who spends every day asking a guy to marry you and he always response with a shaky, furtive responses about how you don’t quite have what he needs, and then he wanders off to pine for his ex, who wasn’t plagued with anything resembling female genitalia, then there might be something else going on here.
But anyway, Lois’s problems, as they so often were, are beside the point here. What matters is that Jimmy overhears Superman’s dodge and, with the customary altruism that marks him as the greatest sidekick in comics, mentions that if he had a magic wish, he’d wish for a girl who could keep up with the Man of Steel. And at this point, you can probably see where this is headed.
Yes, with the customary laws that govern comics written by Otto Binder, Jimmy’s able to get his hands on the rod he wanted the very next day! Huh. Yeah, I probably could’ve phrased that better. What I mean to say is that Superman rescues a trapped archaeologist and, after Supes asks him to give Jimmy a souvenir as a thank-you present, the ersatz Indiana Jones swings by Casa Olsen with an “ancient totem,” represented here by a nice stout piece of wood that you can rub to make your wishes come true.
Man. That’s almost as bad as the first time I tried to explain it.
Needless to say, Jimmy—completely forgetting every appearance he’s had in comics up to this point—assumes that it’s all just superstition, but gives it a shot anyway, and out pops the prototype Supergirl.
And no sooner has she appeared than she flies off to help Superman, who responds to her presence with mild bewilderment and hesitation, which was pretty much his default mood from 1954-1968. Seriously, though, when she mentions that she comes from a wish that Jimmy made and he responds with “Well, I must thank him for his unselfish thought,” you can practically hear the guy’s teeth grinding.
So, now that Superman’s got a female companion created by magic to be absolutely perfect for him, you might be wondering how that works out.
Answer: Not so good, and I swear to you that I’m not making this up just for the sake of innuendo, but it all comes to a head when Superman gets upset when she does a bad job blowing.
Blowing out a fire, I mean, because their super-breath combines and blows the roof off of a nearby warehouse. But come on, man. I mean... come on.
Needless to say, Superman responds to Supergirl’s flubs—which include her inadvertently revealing his identity to Lois—by being a total jerk and chastising her to the point where she ends up sacrificing her own life to save his, and asks Jimmy to undo the wish because she can’t bear to live any longer as a disappointment to Superman.
And of course, things are returned to the status quo by the end, with Superman dashing back into the closet—I mean, restoring his secret identity—by doing the unthinkable and proposing to Lois as Clark Kent, which, seeing as it’s unthinkable that Clark could ever want to marry an actual real-live girl, puts the curtain firmly back in place.
So! Unrequited love, suicide pacts, and euthenasia! Enjoy the happy ending, kids of the fifties!
Chris Sims doesn’t usually get that depressing when he writes about comics at his own blog, The ISB, but don’t worry: it all works out okay in the end.
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