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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #665

Superman #665

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 25, 2007

Cover date: September 2007

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Rick Leonardi
Inker: Andre Parks

"The Superman Family - Jimmy: A Countdown Dossier Special"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Jimmy hawks papers out on the front stoop of the Daily Planet several years ago. Perry notices his persistence and buys a paper, admiring the boy's tenacity.

Clark, meanwhile, slips away to deal with goons with positron guns that he makes short work of, who threaten him with "The Ten," who they indicate will take revenge on him for stopping their attack.

Lois scoops Clark.

Lamenting, Clark goes to Ma and Pa and they indicate he might find solace in a friend who can know his secret and be a source of confidence.

Perry reassigns Clark away from The Ten for missing the story Lois scooped him on. They head through the building, and again run into Jimmy, who tells Perry that he helps out around the Daily Planet for extra cash. Perry tells Clark to look into Jimmy.

At his desk, Clark looks through the building to where Jimmy was and finds a lot of living implements. Realizing Jimmy is hopeless, Clark grabs Perry and goes to the rescue, only to find him gone. As Superman, he finds Jimmy and puts him in touch with Kent and Perry, who take him to dinner, per Dick Tracy in the film.

Jimmy recalls is parents, one of whom disappeared into (assumingly) Gorilla City, his mother, and the father, who left him in the care of an older woman who Jimmy saw murdered for extortion money for The Ten.

After telling the story of his escape, they leave the diner to take Jimmy to the police station to prepare to testify. Hoods appear, snatch Jimmy, and haul him off to a warehouse. Superman follows after saving Perry from gunshots as Clark, and finds himself squaring off against The Ten.

They suck him down with a gravity generator that has the power of a black hole. A man in a giant mechanical suit steps into the generator, telling Superman that it can be set not to work on a given person. He starts beating Superman, but Jimmy smashes the machine and Superman prevails.

Clark becomes Jimmy's friend, as does Superman, and Perry offers him a copy boy position at the Daily Planet.

4Story - 4: I'm going high on this one, though honestly it's between a 3 and a 4, because I don't want to give the impression that I don't like Busiek or his work, and I've given low ratings of late. Honestly, I find his writing quite tight with some rare exception, and enjoy it technically.

The major issue I have with Busiek's run is a lack of compelling concepts. Subjekt-17, Khyrana, Arion, and others... these run-of-the-mill and one-note villains don't sit with me well at all. When he takes on loftier concepts and steps out of the Silver Age, one issue tale mentality, into arc-centric, well written plays at theme and character arc, even when it involves a character like Arion, with Camelot Falls, it shines. Secret Identity is another example.

Here, we have Jimmy's origin, if you will. It's packed full of great supporting cast action. The dialogue can get stilted and stereotypical at times with Perry, and awfully stilted between Supes and his stock villains this issue, but generally speaking, it's all pretty sincere and well put.

The major issue, and the reason that this issue goes down a few points, is again, that consistent lack of a regular and/or compelling nemesis. "The Ten" is about as scary as a silent but deadly fart on a commuter train. Yeah, someone might notice it was you, but generally, you're probably safe. Particularly if you're Superman.

The black hole generator that works on Supes but not on the world around him or the guy in the suit is the obvious place to needle, particularly with Jimmy getting near it, but that's not the problem. The problem is you have guys in suits with no motivation or character pounding on Superman arbitrarily and having him hand them their collective butts without any compelling action. At the panel in San Diego someone asked Busiek, to boos, "When is there gonna be any action?"

And I don't mean more Rannian Xuri-cannons, bosons, anti-higgs. I mean Superman and Luthor squaring off. I mean Brainiac. I mean Parasite, Toyman, Metallo, Doomsday, anybody of any real strength. Prankster's close, but that's only occasionally, like Y.

I felt sorry for the guy, because it's a damned fair question after more than a year.

The story is not related to Countdown in any way, and is a crappy, shameless tie-in in that respect. Beyond the fact that Jimmy is IN Countdown. But that makes Countdown a Superman tie-in, does it not?

There's also a typo, which, though a human error, still irks me, given the sheer number of editors around DC. "He'll taking over lead on... "

On a character level, I enjoyed it. On a plot level, it mostly failed for the villain and succeeded for Jimmy. That evens out at about 3-4 for me. Better than it has been lately, but still not kicking me senseless and taking off the back of my head.

3Art - 3: It didn't hurt me to look at it, but nothing really jumped out at me, either. It reminded me of the Khyrana issue, and I'm purposefully not looking back at that issue to see if it's the same artist to be fair to the feeling I have in that respect, because I'd delete this paragraph otherwise. It's kind of like Bogdanove, but without a looseness and a comfort factor. It was very stressed. Jimmy, Perry, and Superman tend to work, however, and it wasn't a loss in any respect. It just lacked some big culmination or major beats, I guess. A very talky story, which the artist can't be totally blamed for.

It seemed rushed, I believe, would be the problem. Maybe for fill-in potential, maybe it's just the artist's style. I dunno.

1Cover Art - 1: Talking? Check.

Schlocky concept? Check.

Shameless Countdown plug? Check.

Deference to a Silver Age cover schema that was ALWAYS cheesy? Check.

Odd character poses? Check.

Jimmy's watch not a Superman signal watch? Oops check.

1 of 5? Big check.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2007

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