Friday, October 18, 2019

Review: Jimmy Olsen #4

We are in another year of the villain. We have the Batman Who Laughs corrupting the best of all heroes. We have Perpetua and a mutated Lex Luthor leading an entire universe to Doom. It all seems so dark and dreary.

And then there is the wacky, laughy, crazy Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen by writer Matt Fraction and artist Steve Lieber.

Everything seems right again.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #4 came out this week and was another wonderful chapter in this story. Like prior issues, this is a series of vignettes. But unlike the last, these are all in some sort of linear order showing how Mr. Action's life has sort of unraveled. Bound by the framing technique of Jimmy divulging all to Lois in an effort to figure things out, we see how Jimmy has come to the conclusion that Lex Luthor 'killed' him. Brilliant.

Perhaps best of all is the new 'Timmy Olsen' persona, a hit and run, provocative, sort of YouTube personality reporter who basically is causing trouble in Gotham. For someone who wants to keep a low profile, Jimmy ... ahem 'Timmy' ... isn't exactly hiding. All of Timmy's antics made me laugh.

As for art, Steve Lieber is on his A game this issue. We start with the Citizen Kane homage cover. Then we have several interesting panel choices and page layouts which really give a sort of Madman feel to the proceedings. It echoes the addled Jimmy perfectly. Kudos.

Another winner! A wonderful palate cleanser!

On to the book!

 As I said, 'Timmy Olsen' is posting videos of all the craziness he is unleashing on Gotham. He starts with a group of people dressed as Joker handing out ice cream in an effort to lure out Batman. That ends with Batman punching Timmy in the face (hence to black eyes and bandaid).

But the shenanigans are pure comic perfection. A revolving door at the Arkham Gate? Hilarious. Yelling that Bruce Wayne is Batman? Gut-busting.

Even worse, in this day and age of social media 'influencers', Timmy gets more hits than Jimmy did!

I still don't know if Jimmy thinks he's is fooling anyone.

Once Lois hears what Timmy has been up to, she reviews Jimmy's 'crazy board', his insane effort to wring order from the chaos of his life. And it all leads to Lex Luthor. (I do love how Lois uses the term sociogram. It reminds me of learning vocabulary then I read comics as a kid.)

I love love love the first panel, a sort of look at Lois and Jimmy from behind the wall of the crazy board, like its a two way mirror. That's clever.

 I guess Lois smoking is a thing now. She is constantly trying to light up in Jimmy's room and he keeps telling her to stop.

She even pulls out (ugh) a vape pen.

I love the top panel with the 'vapepow' sound effect. And I also love Jimmy admonishing Lois for doing a teen thing.

 Meanwhile we see the trail of events which has led to Jimmy being on the run.

He is accused of a crime he didn't commit and arrested. That set-up occurs when Superman is off planet.

And then the corrupt cop who put him in cuffs gets his just desserts, killed by the mysterious woman who paid him to throw Jimmy in jail.

It is very Adrian Veidt, every loose end being snipped so they cannot be traced.

But who is she? And why go after Jimmy.

 Meanwhile, Timmy's antics continue to become more and more irritating and buzz worthy! He definitely is poking the Batman.

From stealing the Batmobile's wheel to recreating the Death In The Family 900 number, he really is rubbing the wrong man's rhubarb.

But these are brilliant. The classic Jingle Bells rewrite? The awkward 'vote to kill Robin' event?

 It seems like Jimmy has totally figured it out. The person who makes out the most from the destruction of the Monarch statue is Lex.

And so he has set up Jimmy and has eliminated all involved.

This is another brilliant panel, Jimmy inserting himself into the crazy board (maybe because he is acting crazy). He even uses the 8x10 glossy to out himself there. But by having him stand 'in front of' the board in the panel, we see he isn't actually on the board. Love this.

Really, Lieber shines here.

 Thankfully Lois is there. This could all just be chaos.

She points out that Jimmy had a theory and came to a conclusion first and then fit the clues to that answer. Jimmy has anchoring bias ... just like me!

 Unfortunately, Lois isn't the only person Jimmy has told his Lex theory to.

He has told it to Lex as well, flying Lex's helicopter and spilling the beans.

It doesn't make any sense of course. Lex loves to see his enemies squirm as he crushes them with impunity. Why would he kill Jimmy when it is better to see the aftermath. And so he denies the theory.

That makes sense.

But if not Lex ... who? Another mystery to solve!

And that isn't the only person Jimmy is trying to tell. The book ends with Jimmy flashing the Super-Signal onto the Gotham sky. (Remember, he buried his signal watch.)

I am sure Batman is going to love that.


This was too much fun. I love how the plot was pushed forward with more backstory and clues revealed. But I love the wacky Silver Age shenanigans of Timmy Olsen. And I love the Jimmy and Lois interaction.

I hope this book somehow gets continued in some fashion. Maybe a two time a year special? A Superman Family anthology?

Hope everyone is reading this!

Overall grade: A


William Ashley Vaughan said...

This was worth reading just for the actual revolving door being donated to Arkham. I also loved Luthor being stuck with having to pilot his own helicopter or crash.

Martin Gray said...

At first I hoped that mysterious woman was Lucy Lane, but it looks like it’s actually Miss Tessmacher.

Great review. And how fab to see Superman fighting mid-Sixties rejects, Pocketbook Pete and the Annihilator!

‘It was Manhunter!’ Could this be the Leviathan identity ‘reveal’ underline?

Your reference to the jingle bells bit had me confused as in the UK we don’t ever sing beyond ’jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin flew away...’. I’d assumed it was the post-Crisis Jason Todd origin being referenced, but then again, maybe that’s why Max Allen Collins gave us that nonsense.

The Frying Graysons. The Phantom Swinger... brilliance. It was a fantastic issue overall, the best yet, with the cleverest of the cleverness being the climb across the Crazy Board.

Anonymous said...

Legion #3:

I suppose Damian can stay in the future as long as he wants, and so can Jon for that matter, since they can return to whatever moment they want. Otherwise, what happens to Damian's Teen Titans?

Now, you can't very well show Jon and Damian returning whenever they want, unless you keep them continuously in all the books!

Jon to Lois: "Hi Mom, I'm back."
Lois: "You left?"
Jon: "Oh, wait just a second."
Jon to the Legion: "Hi, I'm back."
The Legion: "You left?"

Action #1019:

What, no Batman Who Laughs?

Batman/Superman #6:

I guess Commissioner Gordon's codename will be Sky Tyrant, since Donna Troy is Deathbringer, and we know who the others are. Interesting name. How come everyone gets a new name except Kara?

The September sales are out, with fused numbers including variant card stock covers at again. They are trending up.

T. N.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that last comment was meant for the January solicits post, and I'll repost it there.

Rob S. said...

My favorite gag? Gotham's hottest singles bar being called "The Futility Belt."