Friday, August 23, 2019

Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #2

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #2 came out this week and was another delightful hodge podge of Silvr Age silliness, Mr. Action mystery, and Metropolic history and politics.

I am really amazed at how effortlessly writer Matt Fraction and artist Steve Lieber are able to weave all the different tones and styles into one book and have it not read like a muddled mess. From the Olsen ancestry to solving his own murder to being ostracized by his family to being a horse and hanging out with Comet, Jimmy is everywhere and everything. And that's just how it should be.

Despite some of the darker or seedier storylines though, the predominant feeling here is fun ... or maybe joy. I found myself smiling throughout the entire read, a different feeling (it seems) than those who read Alfred getting his head turned backwards by Bane in Batman. Frankly, I think comic needs more joy. And this book delivers.

I also think it is a wonderful companion book to the Lois maxi-series also coming out. Lois is all noir and shadows and heaviness. This is light and silly and sweet.

Hopefully this leads to a monthly, or a new super-anthology, or even an annual special. But Fraction and Lieber have the Olsen pistons pumping. There are still 10 issues of this and already I want more.

On to the book.

Once again this issue we head back in time to the colonies before Metropolis was barely a camp. It seemed that Luthais Alexander, an ancestor of Lex Luthor, had killed Joachim Olsson, an ancestor of Jimmy. During a dispute over ownership of a land parcel, Olsson was tossed over a cliff.

Well it turns out Olsson survived. And more importantly, as he surmised, the land was heavy with gold. Walking into the camp, Olson declares that he is alive ... and more importantly rich.

I forget exactly when the wealth of the Olsen clan was established. I remember first seeing it in the New 52. But this background, especially the feud with the Luthors adds a nice spice to Jimmy's history.

That feud is still being played out today.

Jimmy's older brother Julian is fighting Lex's overall takeover of Metropolis. Julian's attack plan is basically financial. It looks like he wants to outspend Lex.

And he isn't happy that Jimmy's hijinx inadvertently set back the Olsen plans all the time. After all, Julian was trying to save the Monarch of Metropolis, a huge lion statue Lex wanted demolished. And Jimmy, as giant turtle boy, did the demolishing on his own.

This was my best scene in the book. It is clear that Julian looks down at Jimmy's career and thinks nothing of his sibling. Here Jimmy tosses his Pulitzer prize to Julian only to have his brother not even try to catch it. That prestigious award is below his view. And that transition from background to nothingness conveys Julian's outlook on Jimmy's life perfectly. He thinks Jimmy is nothing.

And then a little back story on that Pulitzer.

Jimmy won it for a great pic of Luthor being arrested, an angry Luthor glowering down to the camera, a shot of someone haughty, someone who thought they were above everyone, brought low.

Turns out the shot was an accident, taken when Jimmy tripped over his own shoelaces.

Does that mean Jimmy is lucky? Blessed? Good and lucky?

But it is charming that Jimmy fell into a Pulitzer.

I don't know if Julian is hiding something more nefarious.

But his goal is to keep Metropolis' history intact. He doesn't want Lex to strip Metropolis of its charm and become simply Luthor-ville. And the Monarch of Metropolis statue was part of that history. Now Jimmy's accident has destroyed that small piece. And Lex is ready to pounce, turning that area into a train station.

So those are good goals ... I think.

Interesting that from above Metropolis looks like a lion's head.

After that, we get a different chapter. Jimmy on the roof of the Planet interviewing Superman.

Throughout the story, Superman shows some of his more unusual abilities (bending his thumb behind his hand, for example) as well as flying off to do some rescuing.

But the charm here is the easy friendship between the two. Jimmy apologizes for keeping Superman away from his duties. But Superman says that hanging with Jimmy is the only fun he gets to have. It is a peek into why Jimmy is Superman's pal. He is a respite from the worries of being the world's biggest hero. That smile and appreciation on Superman's face was great.

While the Pulitzer was my favorite scene, this was my favorite panel.

And, like last issue, we see that Jimmy gets into his own adventures. With little or no explanation, we get panels of Jimmy's other adventures. There is one of him in camouflaged combat fatigues, a little bloody, with Lois and Clark. That shows the serious side of his job. In-depth reporting.

We also get a lot of serious Silver Age stuff. Check out horse Jimmy running with Comet! And getting busy with an alien!

I love it! I want these stories! Fraction is such a tease!

Unfortunately, the story is still Jimmy crashing into the Monarch. Lex, whose family made the Monarch, thanks Jimmy for doing his work for him.

I love the Planet headline. And trust me, you want to magnify that page and read the text of the article.


But we end where last issue ended.

Jimmy is holed up in Gotham. He is searching for his killer. And he is trying to solve the bigger mystery ... who is behind all the death and destruction associated with him.

Seriously, this book reads like three book of three different tones. But as I said, it is all Jimmy and it all works.

I hope every Superman fan is grabbing this because it the perfect dessert item after the heaviness of the main titles and Lois' relevant solo title.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Great review. Like last time, I’m pretty sure some of these one-panel stories did happen back in the Silver and Bronze Age. Homework!

That Daily Planet headline was the one off-note in the issue... it’s really tacky, more New York Post than Metropolis Daily Planet. Plus, Jimmy is a member of the Planet family, they would be kinder.

A new anthology to follow the Lois and Jimmy series is a great idea, Superman Family 2.0. Stick Supergirl in there too!

Anonymous said...

I would love it if Supergirl made a guest appearance in this mini, if it was somehow, the Bronze Age Suprgirl that would be...the crowning touch.