Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Action Comics #893 – Jimmy Olsen Back Up Preview

Nick Spencer is the Image darling who has recently been courted by DC. He’s been tapped to write a Jimmy Olsen back up in Action Comics and next week shows the debut of this feature in issue #893. It’s been getting a fair degree of press due to the DCU debut of Chloe Sullivan (the intrepid reporter from television’s Smallville) and DC, in their infinite wisdom, have given the first instalment of this storyline out for free on their iApp. I read it and simply have to report it all to you, it’s a very strong debut.

Jimmy Olsen – Action Comics #893 Back Up
Written by Nick Spencer
Pencils by RB Silva
Inks by Dym
Colours by Dave McCaig

Jimmy Olsen is Superman’s best friend. He’s got the watch to signal danger, and he’s got the freckles across the face to match the red hair, and he hasn’t had an ongoing title for some time. But when he did it was once written by Jack Kirby, so you know he’s worthy. I was super pumped to read Spencer’s take on the character and this is interesting because I don’t actually pick up any DCU titles, yet. I had even previously mentioned that I would prefer to be able to digitally access this comic, and I would pay for the pleasure to do so. Now, I get the chance to take a sample for free.

The story opens on Jimmy recounting the time he was a genie. He shows how he was held captive but that he always felt safe because he had his Kryptonian friend always close by. It’s an effective and simple set up to show that Jimmy’s entourage rolls deep, and he knows about more than just the regular stuff.

The segue flows us into Jimmy being dumped by his latest girlfriend, Chloe Sullivan. It’s almost like watching Jason Lee get dumped Mallrats as Chloe complains about Jimmy’s slacker ways, but doesn’t quite call him callow. We get enough conversation that we understand the history alluded to between these two but most importantly you understand that this is all set up. There is tension and conflict here that needs to fuel more instalments and I believe it will. These two characters work well together, though in this scene I can’t quite see why the hot blonde would be with Jimmy but I’m sure he’ll prove himself, to me and her.

The final scene, and the fact Spencer squeezes three major scenes into ten pages is praise worthy, is set in the club as Jimmy’s mates try to cheer him up. They want him to pick up, they want his pseudo-celebrity to count for something, but all Jimmy wants to do is mope. He’s not exactly stoked with the way everything is going but it all goes worse when Sebastien Mallory, all-round Lexcorp stooge and douche bag, fronts up in the club. And he has Chloe on his arm.

Chloe is only doing a story on him but Mallory acts like it’s their third date, and with the fast paced day they’ve had it almost is. It’s also reminiscent of Mallrats with this goon playing the Affleck role of testosterone fuelled pig and general competition for the girl. It might be slightly borrowed but it still works. Jimmy has his quest, his goal and prize, and there’s only the splash page of an alien invasion at the end to stand in his way.

The fact that Spencer paces these pages to ebb and flow and make it all feel like a full sized comic is a spectacular display of efficiency as a writer. Each page is packed and there are personal moments aplenty as we watch Jimmy’s world quickly establish in front of us. We know exactly where he is right now and we see where he wants to go.

My favourite part of the entire thing was the little stuff Spencer sneaks into the story. The genie is a surprisingly comedic foil for Jimmy’s first scene. He places one word masterfully (“Obviously.”) and I laughed out loud. The ridiculous nature is played up with great tone. There’s one Jimmy moment, right after the break up, that sounds a lot like a Larry David voice. There’s a Back To The Future quote as well as a Patrick Bateman namedrop. There are more than enough fantastic moments in this back up feature to make it great.

The end of this intro leads towards a very cool premise that Spencer will continue to explore in the next instalments. I’m sure the DCU will actually continue to be the same after this story is finished but I know my views of Spencer, and Jimmy Olsen, won’t be. This story is pretty damn brilliant and if they offer it solo as a download I’ll pick it up guaranteed…but I can’t make the same claim for just getting the comic. A full comic of Paul Cornell’s Action Comics isn’t exactly up my alley and so the purchase might now weigh up. I can only hope DC gives me the option.

Silva’s art suits the story quite well because it’s not over the top superhero style, it’s not bombastic, but it does get the characters to act quite well. Most importantly, Silva makes Jimmy a cheeky character that you want to follow throughout the story and watch grow.

Oh, and each reader would do well to linger on the first panel and really look at what it means. It’s not a scandalous tease for what’s to come but it does give you some frame of reference for where Jimmy will go.

Verdict – Must Read. There’s nothing about this story I didn’t like and there’s plenty I flat out loved. In fact, I haven’t wholeheartedly enjoyed a comic like this in a long time. It’s fun, it funny, it’s well written, and it’s absolutely captivating. You won’t enjoy a back up feature more than this 10 pages of dynamite fun. It’s a slacker comic for slackers and that’s something comics have been sorely missing.

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JoeUser said...

For those who don't know, Chloe Sullivan is from the Smallville TV show, and they've been saying they would bring her into the comics for a while now.

Anonymous said...

Great review ryan and really makes me want to read that story. On the other hand the action comics by cornell are really great you are missing a lot by not reading it and I think you should give it the chance. I mean there are folks who did read titans for the ravager backup!


Ivan said...

Whatever reminds me of Smallville is not a good thing in my book. But the premise does look interesting.

Anonymous said...

Paul Cornell not up your alley? Tbh, i thought you would have been won over by his captain Britain work. Other than that, he's also just as much a up and comer as Nick Spencer but maybe his TV background makes him seem like the Next JMS?

Which seems impossible as Spencer so far hasn't have any of his stuff delayed ever.

twobitspecialist said...

Are we supposed to hate on Smallville now?

Anonymous said...

I do not hate Smallville. It is cheesy as hell (if that's possible) but that show is the only chance that the fans of the DC universe have had to see the characters coming to life. It is not great but it has a lot of followers and if it is hated it is just loved too so much to continue 10 seasons!


Anonymous said...

@twobit. . Stop trying to cause a fight . Yeah he did wonders on MI13 ryan

Ivan said...

I do hate Smallville. It's never a bad time to hate on Smallville.

Tom Welling said...

I love Smallville.
But somehow we will continue to coexist.

Anonymous said...

come on, give somo love to Smallville! = P


twobitspecialist said...

Anon7 - I know you won't believe me, but it was an honest question. If it sounded like I was trying to start a fight, I apologize.

will said...

wait your asking someone what to hate?

twobitspecialist said...

@Will - Yes.

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