THIS WEEK: We close the book on Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen and deal poorly with noir tropes in Strange Adventures #3.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. Content Warning: Brief mention of sexual assault. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #12
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Lieber and Fairbairn
I’m going to miss this series so very much. It has been the book I look forward to the most every month and one that I always can count on to cheer me up. Let me tell you, having a book like that this past year has been extremely important. The world is dark, and this year has been absolute hell, but at least I’ve had Fraction and Lieber to count on to bring some levity back into my life.
The series has been a raucous delight from beginning to end and despite its very unconventional storytelling style, it has told a very cohesive tale. This final issue served as an excellent coda to tie-up the remaining loose ends, and also served a grander purpose to the overall Superman line, with Jimmy using his new connections to save the Daily Planet and become its publisher.
While this issue isn’t as uproariously funny as some of the other issues of the series, it does a wonderful job of closing this chapter of Jimmy’s wild life. That’s not to say there are no laughs in the comic, I particularly loved Julian getting clocked with a croc and Dex-Starr relieving himself on the wall of the Olsen ancestral home. I hope we get another run of Jimmy’s antics in the future, but if this is it, it was a near-perfect series.
Strange Adventures #3
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
On the other end of the spectrum of books and how much I enjoy them is this absolute mess of a comic. I can almost tell what King is trying to do here, but as I said in the review of issue one, I think he is too close to the subject matter to really tell this story the way it needs to be told.
In particular, this issue really leaves us in a position where the Strange family are just downright awful people, and because I don’t believe for a minute that they’ll turn out to be the actual villains of the story, it just sits poorly with me. I especially dislike how Alanna is portrayed, as nothing more than a noir dame. She’s just here to fit a trope, and not to be anything like the character ever has been. Why would a woman who lived most of her life on a planet without tobacco be a chain smoker? Because she needs to be to fit her role in the story. She’s portrayed as spiteful and conniving, and smarter than Batman.
King also is trying to play a “both sides are in the wrong” kind of game. Sure Strange might be a war criminal with stolen valor, but Batman is totally the villain because he’s having the audacity to have someone investigate a murder and that someone has happened to ask about the Strange’s family. How dare he ask questions pertinent to an investigation.
The only saving grace of this book is that it sure is pretty. The Doc Shaner war-time sequences are bright and vivid and bring just enough dissonance from what’s going on to make it feel larger than life. And despite my misgivings about how these characters fit the noir theme, Gerads is perfect at conveying that atmosphere. But art alone is not enough to pick up a book, and I really don’t recommend this book going forward.
- Dark Nights: Death Metal #2 happened. That’s all I really have to say about it. The issue was mostly filler, with no major advancements in the plot other than the new Batmanhattan Who Laughs. Did have a really good moment with the Flashes though.
- Catwoman #23 is absolutely terrible. It’s edgy for the sake of being edgy, and just self-referential enough to be annoying. Murphy and Northcott‘s fans probably won’t even notice that they’re being made fun of by the Tambra Quartz character.
- Spurrier on Justice League is incredible. His Diana is an absolutely perfect version of the character, even if a couple of other characters are out character to provide the ethical conflict.
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