Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Jimmy Olsen One-Shot

The Jimmy Olsen second feature, written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by R.B. Silva, originally ran in the early chapters of Paul Cornell's Action Comics run. When the 'Second Feature' idea was scuttled to drop down prices, the end of the Olsen story seemed destined for the dustbin. We had read the first 4 days of 'Jimmy Olsen's Big Week' and I wondered if we would ever see the last three days.

Kudos to DC for realizing this was a fun and offbeat story that deserved to have it's ending delivered. And even more interesting was DC's decision to put the whole story into an oversized Jimmy Olsen one-shot, reprinting the opening chapters for those who missed out.

Sure it's also a business decision. Nick Spencer is a hot name in comics right now so why not make an oversized issue with a $5.99 cover price. People will come. Add to that a spectacular Amanda Conner cover and you've got a winner.

The thing that I enjoyed about this story was the fantastical elements that Olsen careens through. Spencer did a great job here getting the feeling of those crazy Jimmy Olsen stories of the Silver Age without making it seem old or silly. The fact that Jimmy is able to simple roll from one event to the next shows that this is his life, Action Reporter with a few wrinkles here and there.

For me though, I think this worked better as a short featurette every month instead of one massive story. Part of that is Nick Spencer's witty and timely dialogue. In short spurts, it is clever and funny. In a long narrative it becomes almost unbelievable. No one without a script can be that clever all the time. To use a food metaphor, this was like cheesecake. One slice is delicious and great. But if you try to eat three slices it becomes too heavy ... too rich ... too much.

As I reviewed the opening chapters here earlier, I'll concentrate on the new chapters. Remember the story left off with a 5th dimension young imp paying boatloads of money to have a date with Jimmy and then tries to get him to marry her.

At the altar, Jimmy tries to get Superman to help him by triggering his signal watch only to have his bride-to-be tell him that he is Superman, or co-Superman at least.

Suddenly Jimmy is in a world where he is on top.

As co-Superman he is saving lives. He is also the Daily Planet's top reporter. Sebastien Mallory is in jail. And Chloe seems to regret having broken up with him. It is a true fantasy world even if Jimmy can't remember how he got there.

There are some cute lines in here like Jimmy talking about writing about himself as co-Superman 'not in a Livejournal-braggy' way.

As he tries to figure out what is going on, Jimmy finds a letter from Maggie Mxyz.....

Turns out that despite her initial crush, she isn't madly in love with Olsen and doesn't want to marry him. But as he is such a nice guy, she set up this magical world so he could see that even all this greatness wouldn't matter without the right person ... without Chloe. Jimmy can stay there as long as he wants. But he can leave any time he wants by running back into the bathroom he ran into when he tried to escape Maggie before.

Again, nice little references by Spencer here calling this world 'It's a Wonderful When Harry Met Sally', a mash-up of Capra and Reiner. He also has Maggie quote the Beatles. All this makes sense to Jimmy who ends this adventure by yelling heroically 'I gotta go to the bathroom.' That was perhaps my favorite moment of the new material. That's funny.

On day six, Jimmy realizes he needs to win back Chloe and that means intervening in her date on Sebastien Mallory's orbiting apartment. For that he needs help. And so he goes to Natasha Irons to outfit the ancient concept of the Daily Planet's Flying Newsroom as a spaceship.

Again, this is just a panel to highlight some of Spencer's pop culture tweaks. Jimmy describes Natasha's speed as 'Meet Joe Black' slow, 'Cold Mountain' slow and 'The English Patient' slow.

I do like that Jimmy has seemed to shake the doldrums off, determined to win back his love.

I also liked that it turns out that Chloe isn't attracted to Mallory at all, instead going on dates to try to uncover what he is up to. And like any good investigative reporter, she is able to uncover his plot.

Mallory is behind the development of the Superman video game we see Jimmy playing in the first chapter. Loaded with subliminal messages, the game is addictive to the masses. But more importantly, their play clogs the internet, slowing everything down. Only LexCorp will have free-flowing web info ... for a price of course.

Chloe responds that as a dastardly villain move it could use more giant squid. Almost comes off her tongue too quick, no?

Luckily our hero is charging in to save the day. I wish I could figure out what song he is humming her. But the expression on his face is priceless.

Unfortunately, the flying newsroom has no shields. A few missiles later and Jimmy is floating in space.

Fortune favors the bold though. Jimmy has the remote controls for the Dalwythian ship from days two and three and is able to call it to him for a rescue.

This was another of my favorite moments in the book. Earlier, the aliens had crashed the ship into the Daily Planet leaving it hanging out. The repairmen thought it would be cheaper to push it into the globe and fix the globe rather than arrange to remove the ship entirely. Perry White thinks it will make a nice anecdote for school tours, 'what's inside the planet', until it crashes outwards. His deadpan and underwhelmed response 'I hate kids anyways' is perfect for Perry.

Picked up by the alien ship, Jimmy careens into Mallory's satellite in order to 'rescue' Chloe only to discover that she has already beat up Sebastien and hog tied him with duct tape. I like how she says she's 'no Poison Ivy'.

When told of Sebastien's plot, Jimmy says it 'needs more Anti-Monitor'. Again, funny and cute. But too cute? Too 'just on the tip of his tongue'?

But much like defeating the Dalwythians meant making Metropolis boring, Jimmy knows that the way to get people off the game is to make it boring as well. And man ... he does just that.

But that is also saving the world while 'sitting around in underwear playing video games', the very reason Chloe gave him for breaking up. Nice irony and very well played. This was yet another very good moment in this book.

Ugh, seriously, who would play a Superman game and pick the Alpha Centurion level?? I am cringing.

With Mallory's plan crushed, the only thing left to do is try to win back Chloe. And while he mends some of the earlier damage, Chloe wants to take it slow for now.

This comic is crazy, wacky, and fast-paced. It's funny and topical and witty. And it seems to channel all the good energy from the early Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen comics. R.B. Silva's art is the perfect fit here, detailed and stylish. This really was a fun read and I highly recommend it.

I just think the next time I read it, I'll do it over the course of a week myself. One day at a time. Because if taken in large doses, I wonder if it would read as 'too clever' which I know sounds like when Salieri said Mozart's work had too many notes. Uh oh ... now maybe I am being too clever.

Overall grade: A


TalOs said...

The very cute cover by Amanda Conner, Supergirl whispering her confession for secretly liking to knit to Jimmy and Jimmy as "Co-Superman" had to be the highlights for me! B-D

"Luckily our hero is charging in to save the day. I wish I could figure out what song he is humming here. But the expression on his face is priceless."

Isn't Jimmy humming parts of the "Superman March" (a.k.a. main theme song to Richard Donner's Superman movies' franchise) itself? :-/

PS: Anj - slightly off topic here but have you as of late been having posters sending you e-mails in regards to posts not appearing on your blog after being submitted via the use of either Nintendos' Wii or Playstations' PS3 systems? :-/ (I only ask due to my recent posts apparently only going through/appearing thanks to the kind usage of a friend's laptop y'see.)

drawmein said...

I miss the Alpha Centurion! :-D

Anj said...

Talos .. the Superman theme makes perfect sense! Can't believe I didn't try that.

No word about the Wii people. I did see some comments of yours were accidentally logged as SPAM and put them onto the blog.

Martin Gray said...

I've heard the same 'too scripted' criticism levelled at Chloe on Smallville. And while heaven knows, I've no love for that show, I'll take cleverer-than-life dialogue over the banal anytime.

Anj said...

I know Mart. Be careful what I wish for.

I enjoyed it a lot, trust me.

Anonymous said...

I'd pay good money for a one-off story in which Jimmy goes on a date with Kara Zor El.
This has mad phat hilarity written all over me on this!

John Feer

Timbotron said...

Hey now! I actually really liked the Alpha Centurion, he had a great character concept!

I was just happy to see him mentioned at all, although putting him next to that snoozer Mon-El doesn't help!

Of course, I'm someone who got Stuart Immonen to do a Centurion sketch, so that shows how messed up I am...

Lucho said...

This was an amazing issue.
Jimmy is singing the Superman Theme by John Williams. Just great!

DC stupid bunch of morons let Spencer go to Marvel.