Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Action Comics #895 - Jimmy Olsen Second Feature

The Jimmy Olsen Second Feature in Action Comics has been one of the better back-up features that I have read in books from my pull list. And, since Nick Spencer is taking over Supergirl in a couple of months, I must admit I have been reading this story with more than usual scrutiny.

The first chapter was a home run, capturing some of the trippier aspects of Silver Age Olsen adventures while adding a 21st century edge and pretty crisp dialogue. The second chapter wasn't as fantastic but was still very good, suffering only in comparison to the opening volley. This entry in Action Comics #895 is closer to the excellence seen in the first chapter. It also gives us a quick peek into Spencer's ideas on Supergirl.

One thing about Jimmy is that he is pretty malleable as a character. In recent years we have seen James Robinson try to make him into a gritty 'Mr. Action' type, willing to do some dirty work to get the job done, willing to risk his life to uncover the truth. Sterling Gates also had him as a 'Mr. Action' but working more in the light of day, willing to risk his life for others. J. Michael Straczynski had him a crusader for the story, willing to risk his life for the ultimate news picture in Superman Earth One. Her in Action, this is a much breezier version of Jimmy, still in the middle of a lot of action, but using his brains and armed with a witty comeback. Surprisingly, all the versions work for me. I don't know who 'my' Jimmy Olsen is, having grown up with variations of these versions.

Last issue, Jimmy discovered that the party the visiting aliens are hoping to throw will raze the surface of the planet. He comes up with a brilliant idea ... make Metropolis seem completely boring and therefore make the aliens look elsewhere.

So after a night of partying, the aliens wake up in the 'quietest big city in the galaxy'.

Steel fishing? Superboy sacking out in a hammock? Brilliant.

My only complaint here is putting the glasses on Supergirl. Wouldn't that look a bit too much like Linda Lang? I don't know if Kara would want to endanger her secret identity on a billboard.

And, thanks to the power of social media, Jimmy convinces the entire city to go along on the gag. Even the bars agree to close. Metropolis appears to be dry except on weekends.

Implausible? Completely. But Jimmy always had hare-brained schemes like this work in the Silver Age.

The aliens are shown more of the 'usual' fun stuff that Metropolis has to offer. For example, they head to a poetry reading by Perry White. Perry recites some of his own dreadful verse about the loss of love. It is pretty amusing. I love the shocked look on the aliens' faces.

And to seal the deal, Jimmy invites Supergirl to show the alien princess a good time.

I really like RB Silva's take on Supergirl here. There is a hint of Renato Guedes' Kara here and that is high praise.

The princess thinks a young hip superhero taking her shopping will save her from the ennui. But Supergirl takes her to the Yarn Barn.

This short scene really gives us an idea of what Spencer thinks of Supergirl. His Kara actually likes the Yarn Barn; she likes to knit. And Jimmy could care less knowing how exciting and awesome Supergirl is.

We have seen that Supergirl paints, plays the guitar, collects souvenirs. It didn't shock or disappoint to hear she also knits. And that seems pretty consistent with the Supergirl that Gates and Igle wrote. She's crafty, artsy.

This little scene added to the optimism I was feeling going into Spencer's run with Supergirl.

Convinced that Earth is dull, the aliens pack up and leave.

Somehow Jimmy has pulled it off.

Of course, the aliens will now raze someone else's planet ... but we won't worry about that. That planet's Jimmy can figure out how to save them.

Feeling good about himself for the first time in a while, Jimmy is deflated when Chloe says the victory really belongs to her. She is the one who sent out the message to the populace. Besides, it doesn't change how she currently feels about him. They are still on the outs.

Every time Jimmy thinks he is out of the doldrums, someone pulls him back in.

But Lois has the answer! She'll set him up. Lois looks a bit too crazed here.

I have to say, I enjoyed this part of the Jimmy story a lot. The idea that all of Metropolis would play along is preposterous but it did have a certain throwback appeal. In a world where Jimmy is captured in a techno-genie bottle (as he was at the outset of this story), he could convince a whole city to act dull. Spencer's Jimmy is smart and sly and I like that. Perry's poetry was awful! And I like that too.

And I loved the little slice of Supergirl we saw here.

Again, I think this is supposed to be a fun story, light and fluffy and in some ways silly.

RB Silva's work is solid throughout this and works very well with the bright color palette. And I thought he did a great job with Supergirl. Only that Lois panel was off.

Overall grade: A


valerie21601 said...

Well the look on Lois's face does remind of the look "friends" and some family give me when they try to set me up on the "dreaded" blind date disasters!!! More than a few times I saw them smile (close to how this Lois did) way too much with a wide eyed look.

I wonder if Jimmy is going to descend into blind date hell and Lois is going to be the friend who keeps trying to find you the right one?

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"My only complaint here is putting the glasses on Supergirl. Wouldn't that look a bit too much like Linda Lang?"

Whoa, that billboard is a total WIN! Supergirl reading a book? Gee, I wonder if Nick Spencer was inspired by a certain library display. :D :D :D

"Only that Lois panel was off."

Indeed, I expect her to be wielding an axe or a chainsaw with that expression.

Anonymous said...

Knitting eh?
Everyone in the "Super Family" gets an elaborate handmade scarf, every single Christmas.
Oh well, beats the hell out of scrapbooking or boy chasing.

John Feer

Dr. Thinker said...

Looks like Supergirl comic is good hand!

Kandou Erik said...

Lois looks like she's going to EAT Jimmy!

Egad, that Jimmy Olsen story stunk. Seriously, I didn't imagine it -- just a year ago Jimmy Olsen was actually cool! That little girl he saved while riding a motorcycle said so.

Anj said...

Egad, that Jimmy Olsen story stunk. Seriously, I didn't imagine it -- just a year ago Jimmy Olsen was actually cool! That little girl he saved while riding a motorcycle said so.

Thanks for the post.

I can completely understand your feelings because it sounds like you have a much more solidified idea of who Jimmy should be. And this version doesn't jibe with that.

I think I enjoyed it more because I don't have a ideal 'Jimmy' in my head.

And I have been on your end of the argument about Supergirl a lot. I know the Kara I want and don't enjoy reading other concepts of her.