Lex Luthor takes on Gorilla Grodd and Jimmy Olsen goes solo in the latest issue of Action Comics.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Action Comics #893
Written By Paul Cornell and Nick Spencer
Artwork By Sean Chen, Wayne Faucher and RB Silva
Lex Luthor is a pro at breaking man's laws, but when he leads a raid on one of Gorilla Grodd's bases and breaks The Law of the Jungle - 'Don't Mess with Grodd' - can he make it out alive? Or will he become Grodd's latest meal? Plus, this issue kicks off an exciting new co-feature starring Jimmy Olsen by up-and-comers Nick Spencer (Existence 3.0, Morning Glories) and R.B. Silva (SECRET SIX)! Get ready for an entirely different look at Metropolis - courtesy of Superman's pal!
JMS' edict that his book be the only place Superman can appear is looking pretty foolish right now, the book is seriously delayed, and there hasn't been a comic with Superman actually in it for about 2 months now. But even as Big Blue walks across America being a hypocritical reactionary, Action Comics, his former home, is still going strong, under the custody of his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, and beginning with this issue, his 'Pal' Jimmy Olsen.
Doctor Who and Captain Britain & MI:13 writer (and Only Connect contestant) Paul Cornell has been telling a very interesting story with Lex Luthor. In the aftermath of Blackest Night, he is hunting for Black Lantern Rings and the power that comes with them. Alongside a team of geeks and his trusty Lois Lane-bot, Lex had been jetting across the world taking on a series of DC's other villains, including Mister Mind and Deathstroke. This chapter brings Lex to Africa, and pits him against another brilliant mind, Gorilla Grodd. It's a lot of fun seeing a villain take on others just as evil as him, as they really don't pull any punches. When you see what Grodd does with a Giant Spoon in this issue, he won't seem so ridiculous. Sean Chen, who steps in for Pete Woods for this issue, certainly adds to that, the guy can draw a mean Gorilla, as he demonstrated here (and in Salvation Run, where Grodd fought Monsieur Mallah, and it was awesome). I was disappointed when I found out Woods was away, but Chen is reliably excellent, and I would not be averse to him returning to Lex.
I have been really impressed with how Paul Cornell has written Lex and his intellect. I imagine it must be hard for writers to write geniuses like Lex or Brainiac 5 or Reed Richards, as even though they are undoubtedly intelligent people, they're not on that level of super-intelligence. Cornell expresses Lex's intelligence not with OTT science-speak, but just by his superior planning skills, he's always one step ahead of Mister Mind or Gorilla Grodd, and it's a lot of fun to actually root for someone like this for once.
Or is he actually one step ahead? At the end of this issue, something unexpected happens. Grodd shoots Lex, and actually kills him. Lex Luthor is dead! But as we all know, in comics, death is hardly permanent, and as has been publicised, Lex's incorporeal form meets up with Death Of The Endless from Sandman. I've never read Sandman, but I'm nevertheless very excited for the next issue, and how exactly Vertigo and Superman will mix, especially if Neil Gaiman is actually co-writing.
This issue features the first chapter of a new co-feature, written by Nick Silver of Morning Glories fame, and it's focused on the goofiest, silver-age character in comics, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. I'm a huge fan of Jimmy, I even read Chuck Austen's Superman: Metropolis maxi-series because it was about Jimmy, and I'm very excited to have him back on a regular basis. As I said, Jimmy's silver-age adventures were unbelievably goofy and insane, and in the more down-to-earth DCU we've had since Crisis, writers have struggled to make him work, but on the basis of this 10-pager, Nick Spencer has nailed it. This story is the perfect melding of the old Jimmy, and a new Jimmy. You've got him dressed as a Genie and using his Signal Watch, but you've also got new ideas, not least the comics debut of Chloe Sullivan from Smallville, and a new nemesis for Jimmy. Spencer's dialogue pops wonderfully, and he even manages to get in some sly meta-commentary when Chloe tells Jimmy that he used to be exciting. The artwork by RB Silva reminded me of Stuart Immonen, and there can be no higher praise. These 10-pages were just undiluted excellence, and I can't wait for more from this feature and Spencer at DC (THUNDER Agents). It certainly washed out the taste of Countdown.
Superman may be gone, but Action Comics has remained a very strong book. With Lex and Jimmy, who even needs Krypton's Last Hobo?
Review by: Niam Suggitt