Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Review: Jimmy Olsen #3

I have been loving the new Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen book, a hodge podge of brief stories, flashbacks, Silver Age wackiness, and a mystery. The whole seems to be greater than the parts. You could read each 2 -4 page story separately but there is some resonance when you read them all in one sitting.

That said, I wonder if I am the perfect audience for such a book. Does a book like this, just north of weird, just west of silly, cater to the masses?

Frankly, I don't care.

In this day and age of Year(s) of the Villain, I need a little pure fun and legitimate story-telling to keep me invested. And writer Matt Fraction and artists Steve Lieber are just producing magic. I outright love this book. It is just the perfect melange of everything Jimmy Olsen.

On to Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #3.

One of the ongoing stories is looking back at the beginning of the Luthor/Olsen feud, although back then it was the Alexander/Olssen feud.

Rather than hanging Luthais Alexander, Joachim Olssen decides a better humiliation is to tar and feather the Luthor ancestor. What would the DC universe look like if Lex's ancestor was offed and no Lex happened? Fascinating to think.

But knowing the current Luthor and his narcissism, tar and feathering is a great move.

Of course, part of that story runs into the present. Luthor wants to own all of Metropolis. He has set up the demolition of the giant lion statue that the Olsen's built.

And now, inside that statue, is an unknown time capsule which includes a mysterious photo and the amber monocle Joachim used in the first story.

Unlike Lex, I like mysteries. Not enough here for me muse on. But the idea of centuries of Luthor/Olsen hatred is a nice wrinkle.

That statue was destroyed when Jimmy was mutated into a giant turtle and crashed into it from space.

Now we learn that the turtle serum was purposefully given by one of the satellite scientists who was being forced to do it.

But there is no honor among thieves and often times loose ends need to be cut off.

In a nice panel of vertical panels we see that scientist discover his brakes are cut and see him fly off the road. Very Luthor, no?

As I said, this series is strange.

So in the middle of all this Jimmy-ness, we get a two page story of a porcupine-person attacking his lawyer.

Now old readers know that Jimmy has a porcupine transformation in his Silver Age past. So I am sure this crime will swing towards Jimmy.

But it stands out for it's 'why is this here' nature.

The other thing about these little vignettes is that it is hard to follow linearly. We know Jimmy is in Gotham currently (I think). So when there is a Daily Planet adventure where Jimmy is shrunk down subatomic to cover an energy experiment, I have to assume it is in the past. But will this impact the current story or not? Maybe it doesn't matter.

I love Clark in this book with his country boy 'aw shuck'ness. Wondering how a T Rex could be in politics is pure Clark.

In that experiment, the scientist leading the experiment gets sucked into a mini-black hole.

I did think it was a little morbid for the Planet crew to be yucking it up about the guy's death. And even weirder to have the face in the clouds. NIce how the birds spell out Dr. Mantel's name.

But then we flash forward to the more current storyline.

We know that the world thinks Jimmy dead. We know he is hiding in Gotham investigating his on murder.

Now we know how that happens. Jimmy bought a sort of LMD to be a decoy. And before he can even set the thing up (with Metamorpho for some reason), it is shot.

Jimmy is 'killed' so why not take advantage to figure it out.

In classic Jimmy, he adopts a new identity.

I will say Timmy Olsen feels a bit 'hiding in plain sight'.

But the best part of this is how he tosses his Superman watch in his 'grave'. And says to Superman (knowing Supes is listening) that he knows not having the watch is dangerous but he needs to go it alone.

And finally we seem to have caught up to the present.

Jimmy, exhausted and looking to Lois for help, reveals that his investigation all points to Luthor being behind the murder.

Wow ...

That's a lot of story, a lot of vignettes, a lot of ideas ... and it all somehow comes together and gels.

I love this book.

But what do others think?

Overall grade: B+


Elias said...

This book is a Hoot!! Jimmy hasn't been half so well & entertainingly written since the Empire Days of Jack Kirby. I'm rotten glad its a miniseries but this level of wit and creativity could never be sustained in an ongoing...its playful anarchic spirit stands in stark contrast to the grim sad storyline Supergirl has just passed thru. Shows you what happens when the creative like their character and want to do right by them. I'd love to see Kara shoe-horned into this series however briefly...if only to renew the fitful Jimmc-Supergirl sorta-maybe-pseudo-romance :)


Anonymous said...

Amusing if disjointed. An interesting way to structure a story. I do find the silver age style scene intros more heavy handed than funny, and once a book would suffice. Once every 2-3 ages is too much. In fact I regret to say that I decided to drop the book after this issue. I rarely drop anything and needed to cut back, forcing myself really, so something had to go. I am keeping Lois Lane in the rotation though. I enjoy its mood much more.


Anonymous said...

But yes, I should add, I agree it's a hoot. Have to make hard choices sometimes.


Martin Gray said...

Fab review.

I don’t think the original Luthor was tarred and feathered because Joachim thought it a better punishment, but because of the threat of an eternal feud.

I liked this but not as much as previous issues - it felt just that but too bitty, and the introductions, which have previously been jokey, descended into the real of annoying self-indulgence.

And when are we getting some Lucy Lane? Every Jimmy Olsen series needs Lucy Lane. Then again, the rocket scientist’s killer looks to be a woman...

It was fun to see Rex Mason again after his cameo in the first issue; maybe they’ve become pals because he and Jimmy tend towards transformations?

I hope there’s a really good reason for Jimmy to put the signal watch in the grave, the old ‘I have to do this alone’ bit is always stupid, especially so when someone is actively targeting you for death. Perhaps he thinks the clone isn’t actually dead? The Jimmy clone is a nice callback to the Kirby days.

Rob S. said...

I'm just dying to know about the dinosaur mayor. Is he really a dinosaur? Was he a dinosaur when he was elected, or did he turn into a dinosaur later? I can't wait to meet him!

DJK said...

I was really thrown by how cheerful Clark and Lois were about the professors death. I wonder if this was some sort of clue or just Fraction's idea of being whacky.