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Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #1 Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #1

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 15, 2008

Cover date: December 2008

"From a Cub to a Wolf"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Jesus Mereno, Leno Carvalho, Steve Scott
Inker: Jesus Mereno, Nelson Periera, Kevin Stokes

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Jimmy Olsen rides his motorcycle through the desert in media res, seeking to explain the threat he's facing.

We flashback to several scenes with his friends at a bar, a girl who dumps him.

At the Daily Planet, Jimmy is sent for drinks. Clark accompanies him, hearing Jimmy mutter about a story he's working on. He tells Clark about how after the fight with Atlas he found a picture of the strange man who stood in mid-air, and remembered him as the Brother, Jonathan Drew, of a woman killed by the mob.

Clark advises Jimmy to take a leave of absence and investigate. Perry gives Jimmy two weeks.

He finds a man named Dr. Stone who isn't surprised to see a reporter. Stone begins to tell the story of Codename: Assassin. Assassin wonders why he can't read Jimmy's mind.

As Stone hands Jimmy the file, Codename: Assassin appears and starts to chase Jimmy. Jimmy escapes somehow and then examines Assassin's file. Assassin, despondent at his sister's death, was involved in an accident as he tried to gain powers, gaining the ability to walk on air and telepathically kill. Assassin went to work for suits, and Stone took notes, leading to Cadmus.

Jimmy investigates, and learns that Assassin has killed the entire Newsboy Legion.

He finds Dubbilex in the remains of Cadmus. Dubbilex explains that Cadmus has been taken over by the army. Codename: Assassin, as Drew, was their head of security briefly.

Turns out the first Guardian attempted to understand what was going on with all of the tests being done to him, and found Drew after defeating a swath of soldiers, along with what appeared to be a clone of himself, or a clone of someone (it's unclear).

Drew kills the original Guardian, in the past.

Dubbilex explains that the Guardian we know was one of many, and that clones all die within a few years of their creation. He tells Jimmy to find the original Guardian in a place called "Warpath." Dubbilex then reveals that he's dying, and has been since Jimmy came in, and slumps, dead.

Jimmy then asserts that he didn't stop at his apartment (which is a contradiction, yes, but I'm summarizing it so you can pick which one you'd like to believe - Neal), because it had burned to the ground.

Assassin attacks Jimmy as he rides to Warpath, a haven for the super powered folk of Mexico. Jimmy recalls hearing Assassin say he can't read Jimmy's mind to himself as he hid from the villain. He jumps off a cliff and hides under water as Assassin looks for him, sure that all of the things he's been through has somehow changed his mind.

In Warpath Jimmy reads of Greg Saunders, the law in those parts. He follows Saunders after realizing that the law can't be maintained by one man, and sees Saunders on his bike outnumbered and then saved by the original Guardian, who Jimmy follows to his trailer.

Guardian tells him how he came to be exiled after introducing Jimmy to his daugher, and Jimmy rushes back to Metropolis. The story isn't elaborated upon, but Jimmy comes away with the knowledge that the government is planning on killing Superman.

3Story - 3: This was a fine read at times, and an utterly frustrating read at others. The fine read overwhelms the frustration, and I have to step back as a comic book geek and look at this in order to find the middle ground.

There are things in here that just didn't need to happen that bugged the heck out of me. When someone, or something dies in comics, there ought to be a reason. Not to point a finger in another direction at the elephant called Pa in the room here, but there's a rash of comics and a trend in comics to kill indiscriminately and without reason to shock. I know, that's real witty and obvious of me to say, right? But it's true.

Pa Kent might spur Superman to something, but is the comic world better without him? That's up for debate. It's debatable. Honestly, it is. I don't care to say where I stand on the issue, and I'm gonna keep it that way until I've sussed it out. I can't yet.

Blue Beetle? Ted Kord? Died for a reason. A catalyst for all of the events of Infinite Crisis, and a sacrifice to save the people around him. Fine death.

Dubbilex here, it can even be argued, is a fine death. He helps push Jimmy toward a killer.

But the Newsboys? Why? A random, arbitrary series of killings, wiping characters from the tableau for shock value. That irked me. It stuck out, it hurt, it was just another way for the writers to say, "Hey, you know? #@%$ the Byrne era." Okay. Fine. I get that. Or "We're taking the Byrne era and making it our own." Even that I can dig. But to take a series of characters and remove them without much reason other than what appears to be shock value kinda stinks. Did they die to forward the plot? Kind of.

But that's not the main issue for me, because honestly, they weren't touching the Newsboys anyway. That sounded bad.

What I'm getting at is that to remove them as an avenue, as a character, as an idea, is just like the Death of the New Gods. Why the heck kill all of them just to reintroduce them? Or arbitrarily? Why kill the Newsboys as victims when it could just as easily have been Cadmus echelon?

To get people like me frothing and paying attention, no doubt. Well, success. But I still disagree with the loss.

Fundamentally, this story is awesome on a character level. Jimmy is brilliant, and though the story is a bit indulgent at times with the girlfriend that undermines his new gal from The Shack that was never followed up on and the friends in the pub, it all serves the wheel in that it shows Jimmy as a poor schmuck who wants to be something more.

As a Jimmy Olsen story, this issue is one of the best I've read.

As a coherent and exciting plot, it fumbles and fails. I forgive bad plot for character 9/10 of the time, unless it's critically bad, like, Science Police a few issues coupled with random and arbitrary Atlas.

The plot, however, has holes bigger something hit with a bore cannon, and you're expected to forgive them because the character is admittedly tight. I mean, heck, the real man chained up in the bathroom line alone was grand enough to charge admission, even if Lombard is turning into Jeb.

But the name of the villain is STILL Codename: Assassin with an awful costume, and he's still a dude whose power is to fly and use telekinesis. There's nothing novel about him, despite the fact that this is half his story. A mob victim? Seriously? New ground, that.

Is pix a word? Online dictionary says it is, if informal. Odd aside.

Jimmy's "I escaped somehow" kind of sucks. Dude who can blow up elevators suddenly can't find one guy. Sketchy.

He can read minds, and kill with his minds, but uses guns?

Biggest flaw in the script? Jimmy explaining that he went to his apartment and collapsed for about four hours before looking at the Stone file, and then several pages later explaining that he avoided his apartment because it was burned to the ground, a direct internal contradiction. I noticed this because I had a note: "Uh, why didn't Assassin follow Jimmy home?"

Beyond that, there's another critical flaw here. Why would Dubbilex and the Newsboys not get in touch with Superman when all of this started to go down? It's a synaptic gap that can't be filled by nervousness or a desire to save something. It just says, "We're the Newsboys and Dubbilex, who people, you know, kinda dig, and we died to forward the plot."

Beyond that, they kill the original Guardian in a way that makes him look functionally retarded.

"Dude! You just fought through fifteen soldiers with guns! I have to kill you now!"

"You... you have A gun! Oh well. Might as well get it over with, then."

He doesn't move to defend himself, and goes out like a punk.

If the clones all die within years of creation, how did the Newsboys survive to be murdered? How is Dubbilex alive? That's an odd bit of continuity revision.

Jimmy is not upset that his apartment is burned down.

Why would the government want to kill Superman? I mean, early on in Supes' appearances, I'd understand that, but after saving the world so many times?

Beyond that, the story winds to the end without a payoff. We don't know what the secret organization is. He finally finds Guardian and Guardian spills the beans, but we see none of it, despite waiting so long to see what he has to say. THAT. SUCKS.

But overall, the characterization, like I said, was masterful, and for that I give it a fifty-fifty balance with all of the crap I mentioned above. A step up from the fledgling early Atlas story.

I believe this guy can tell an awesome character story. I think the problem here is that his plot sense is just absolutely eschewed in favor of the character. It's great that you can make us weep for a character, but you have to do it in a way that we understand how the heck he got in the flying car, if that makes sense. He can't just be sympathetic in a bar and then flying through the air without explanation, compelling all the while. While I have utter contempt for plot myself in most of my own constructions compared to character development, it's a necessity.

5Art - 5: The art rocked, through and through. Like Metropolis before it, it transformed the Superman world into Jimmy's world and did a great job showing the realities of his existence. It even managed to make Assassin, whose costume is utterly ridiculous, somewhat compelling when in action. It made the scenes tense and sharp.

All in all, really good work for a story that has so many ups and downs.

2Cover Art (Daily Planet) - 2: Hokey villain, words on the cover, Jimmy looking about twelve years of age, a complete opposite in tone from what's inside. The only redeeming quality is Jimmy, who looks awesome, but given that it's so ancillary to what's actually happening, and given what surrounds him, it isn't much of a reassurance.

2Cover Art (Motorcycle) - 2: It makes the scene depicted look rather plain by comparison. In the comic it's much more dramatic. On the cover, it should be the exact opposite, with the cover more exciting. Credit for the angle, but honestly, how can you make a plunge off a cliff with a dude shooting at you less cool?

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2008

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