Monday, June 27, 2022

Bullet Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's Boss Perry White

Every so often, the comic world gives me a complete treat, a wonderful reminder of why I love the medium.

In 2020, creators Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber delivered a masterpiece with their Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen maxi-series, a book which swerved into the insanity of comics while also somehow embracing continuity. I was tickled pink and demanded a sequel.

Last week, a creative sequel of a sort, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's Boss Perry White #1 came out. Included in it is a 7 page Perry White story by Fraction and Lieber, a snack of a story which completely recaptures the elan of the Olsen series. Now $4.99 for a 7 page story is a hefty price tag but brilliance comes at a cost. And DC does a good job of trying to support the price tag by including reprints of key Perry stories over the years, from the Bronze Age through to Bendis' run on Action. 

But the real magic is the new material. Set in the same Metropolis as the Olsen story (the giant lion statue prominently displayed in a panel), it gives us a little peek into Perry's mind while also giving us that wry humor that this wizened comic reader loves. Lieber's art is clean and cool and captures the feel of the universe especially on a 2 page spread showing different headlines that the Planet has emblazoned above the fold.

Hard to not give everything away in a review so I am holding back the ultimate solution and an absolutely brilliant closing page to the story. 

I'll only say that if you enjoyed the Jimmy Olsen book, you need to get this. And if you haven't read the Jimmy Olsen book you need to.

On to the particulars.

Perry talks about his career from beginning to present.

We see the young Perry (then Pericles!) beam over his first byline.

I love that it is something as inconsequential as a dog race being canceled due to rain. But heck, when you are breaking in a byline is a byline.

And Pericles! Seems fitting that Perry is named after a great Greek general and orator.

But Perry talks about how mundane the news has been in Metropolis for a while. I mean how new can another 'Superman saves us' story be?

This is the page of this story. It simply captures the insanity of the Bronze Age. Superman fighting Vartox Titano, and Terra Man! A moon eyed Krypto holding Mxyzptlk in his mouth (is Krypto giant? Or Mxy tiny?) Bizarro flying away with a bridal-garbed Jimmy!

The cherry on top are the headlines which seem to show Perry's waning excitement over the super-heroics being played out. Sure we see "Superman saves ..." and 'Superman protects ..."

"Area Man Saves Area." That is hilarious.

"Area Dog Good Boy." Amazing.

And "Bizarro Wins (Loses)". Brilliant.

How can you not love this page. And Lieber unfolds it all wonderfully.

But then the mini-plot unfolds.

Once when Superman was away, aliens invaded and were ultimately thwarted.

Luthor convinces the city to give him money to build an anti-alien robot defense force ... should Superman be away again and aliens invade again. They will be programmed not to harm humans.

Seems like a good idea. But making a deal with Luthor is like making a wish with the monkey's paw. 

I love the cool, smug look Lieber gives him here.

Well, guess what. Superman is an alien.

And Luthor unleashes his K-powered robots onto the city's hero. 

I am glad Perry calls out just how gullible the city was to give Luthor the cash to kill their hero.

If you realize that one of the defaults on the robots is that they can't harm humans, you can probably intuit how Superman gets saved.

As much as I love the two page glorious spread, it was this panel that I mulled over even more. Superman being saved is news ... and new.

I love that grin on Perry's face. You can tell he is thrilled and happy and almost giddy about the ultimate headline (you'll need to buy the book to see it). But you can tell just from Lieber's work that this story and that edition of the Planet is reminding him why he is in this line of work.

I love it.

One last thing.

I love the back cover copy and the fact it is in black and white giving it the feel of a old time newspaper.

Now I want more of these one shots. Can we get Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's Ex-Girlfriend Lucy Lane next??

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

I agree, the next story is great, almost as good as the Bronze Age reprints. I’m so old.

A Lucy Lane book is a fab idea!

Martin Gray said...

Forgot to say, in that panel with Perry’s first story (one of three in the issue!), his words should have been the focus of the inset close-up, not some stuff about fungibles… I know Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow, but blimey!

H said...

Kinda disappointing that they only went as far back as the Bronze Age with reprints. I think there was only one Perry White-focused story in the Golden Age but the Silver Age was full of great ones. Some of them even inspired sequels/remakes from the Bronze Age and beyond.

I'm pretty sure I said this back when you were reviewing Jimmy Olsen but these never really seemed to click for me. It's a modern take on a very different way of writing and reading comics. Very few writers seem to be able to buy into the concept in the way it needs to be for it to work.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

Loved this. The ending was perfect. It gives you an idea just how old I am when I say that I bought the original issues the Bronze Age reprints were in when they came out. I still have both issues. I didn't have the Perry White/Wildcat story, but seeing two such streetwise characters get together and compare notes was a joy.

Anonymous said...

Can we get Fraction and Lieber on a Supergirl mini, “Supergirl: How I spent my Summer Vacation”, three issues devoted to her summer internship at the Daily Planet...tell me you wouldn’t buy that book!
I don’t even care if its in or out of continuity, set in 1966 or today...just do it!

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

Why nit have a Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’s Other Super Pal Supergirl comic??

Anonymous said...

Three Issues, June (theme “School’s Out”), July (Theme “A Good Old Fashioned Metropolis Independence Day”), August (Theme “The Dog Daze of Summer”). I am already saving up for the TPB and DC will never ever do it :)