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Joined: Nov 23, 2019

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Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen (2019) #5

Nov 23, 2019

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5 Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Steve Lieber Colourist:Nathan Fairbairn Letterer: Clayton Cowles Every issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy olsen is a masterpiece and this issue is no different. Be it the near-perfect script from Fraction, or the impeccable art from Lieber, this book has quickly become one of -if not the best - books on stands right now. (Warning: spoilers below) Script This issue is hilarious. Simple as that. Matt Fraction has managed to craft one of the most genuinely funny stories I have read all year, and a lot of that humour comes from his portrayal of batman. Yes, that's right, Batman. Fraction has managed to take a character possibly best known for his 'grittyness' and turn him into the funniest character in the issue. How does he do that exactly? By playing into the 'grittyness' and 'seriousness' of the character and throwing him into a world of comedy. Through this, Fraction creates a Batman that is so serious he believes he's living in a constant war ,and even attacks Olsen because he can't decide whether he's a soldier or an enemy. Other batman- related gags include: Batman believing he's hilarious, only to find out Alfred has been paying people to laugh at his jokes and Bruce revealing to a date that he's batman, only to immediately claim it's not true, it was simply one of his "hilarious jokes." This issue isn't just all comedy though. This is still, at its core, a mystery story and fraction doesn't forget that. Fraction progresses numerous plot threads that have been in place since issue one, but never allows the comedy to undercut the more serious nature of these plot threads. Fraction manages to have batman confess "he's also hilarious" while wearing a comedic arrow- through-the-head hat on one page, while having a dour funeral on the next without making either of them feel out of place, or undercutting their significance in any way. The Olson-luthais flashbacks continue this issue, and once again add to the history of metropolis, and further develop to the heated rivalry between the Luthor and olsen families which has been present since issue one. Before I move on from the script, there are two more aspects I would like to quickly talk about, these are: the vignettes, and the non linear structure of the story. The story is presented in a series of 2-4 page vignettes; I love the vignettes because it allows the jokes to be quick and to the point. The 2-4 page format allow the jokes to be delivered in an almost rapid- fire rate, which allows a set-up, a punchline and some fallout, then 'bang' you're on to the next joke or scene. It allows the jokes to be concise and to the point, without over staying their welcome. I would compare the non linear structure to why I love the non-linear structure in pulp fiction, or, to stay within the medium, to DC: The New Frontier. These stories use the non-linear structure to slow the pacing and allow the characters to gain some breathing room which jimmy Olsen does this perfectly. Jimmy Olsen #5 allows the characters to go off in strange directions without having to worry about tying into the next page because the narrative ties can be given later in the story or even in a later issue. Not only does this give the characters the freedom to move, it also adds another layer to the story as it let's you play detective and rearrange the all these individual vignettes until you have a complete, linear story. This is absolutely genius,because it mirrors the events that are taking place in the story with Jimmy-who is rearranging separate events until he finds the person who tried to assassinate him. Adding this new layer allows you to relate and identify with Jimmy in a way that is impossible is most other stories. Fantastic stuff, Fraction! Art Steve Lieber's art is beautiful. His clean, sharp lines create a perfectly simple, yet detailed book. No line is out of place ,nor are there more lines than what is necessary. Lieber's greatest talent, in my opinion, is his character's faces. Far too often I see artists draw the same face for multiple characters, but lieber doesnt do that, lieber gives every character their own distinct face, and manages to keep it consistent from panel-to-panel. What makes it even more impressive is he manages to make family members so similar ,yet never loses their individuality. You can see this when you look at the olsen/Olson family. Lieber manages to make every character look like their own person, yet thanks to small details, such as: giving each character the same amount freckles, or a similar nose, each character has that similar, yet different appearance that family members share. Nathan Fairbairn's colours go a long way to set the tone(s) of the story. Whenever the story is being comedic the colouring is brighter and really pops; but whenever the story tackles more serious subject matter, the colours are more muted and darker. Something that I noticed was how, during a rooftop vignette featuring Batman, Jimmy and Superman, fairbairn's colours are all muted and grimy -except for Superman. Superman is still colourful and bright. I like this because it shows the contrast between batman's 'dark' and 'dirty' world, and superman's 'cleaner', more 'bright' world, and how Superman doesnt quite fit in batman's world. To further add to this, clayton cowles does a fantastic thing in his lettering. Cowles presents Batman's dialogue in a separate font. Batman's font is more 'rugged' and 'edgier'. It's a great way to present the side of Batman Fraction is going for and it works with the script perfectly. In conclusion, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5 is a fantastic issue for a fantastic series. It has jokes, and gags, mystery and suspense and some truly great art. It's one of the best series currently on sale, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you're not reading it! Rating: 10/10

Excalibur (2019) #2

Nov 25, 2019

Excalibur #2 Writer:Tini Howard Artist:Marcus To Colour Artist: Erick Arciniega Letterer: VC's Cory Petit (Warning: Spoilers ahead!) After being crowned the new Captain Britain, Betsy Braddock, along with Gambit, Jubilee, Kate Pryde and a glowing, comatose Rogue, embark on a journey to Otherworld to free Betsy's Brother (the previous Captain Britain) Brian Braddock , and to find out just what is happening to Rogue. Meanwhile, Apocolypse is moving the group around, as if they were pieces on a chess board. Is Apocalypse up to something? Read on to find out. Script Before I begin, I want to say that I liked Excalibur #2. I liked it, but I didn't love it. Excalibur #2 does some good things, but it also does a lot of bad things. It's the bad things that really hold the book back from being as good as it should be. To prevent this review from being overly negative, I'll begin with the book's positives. I really like how Tini Howard writes Betsy. I like that she doesnt necessarily want to be Captain Britain,but realises that she has to in order to stop le Fey and save her Brother. These selfless acts make me care about Betsy, and gives me a reason to invest in the story. I also like Apocalypse's role in the book. He's like palpatine from the prequel trilogy- someone who has a plan and is able to manipulate the people around him to achieve his goals. Tini is playing Apocalypse's true goals close to her chest, and that mystery is one of most interesting things about the book for me. I'm sure the next few issues will really build this thread, and I hope it pays off when the penny drops. Another thing that I like is the world that this story is taking place in. I love the magic and fantasy elements, I love the mystical characters that appear, for example: the Monks that are invisible to all but Betsy. I love the feeling of not knowing who could appear next, and I hope this continues in future issues. With that said, let's move on to the stuff that I didn't like. For all the good that Betsy and Apocalypse bring to the book, I can't say the same for the other characters. I feel like Gambit has no real point of being there except to worry about Rogue. I know Rogue's his wife, but I still expect-within 22 pages-one of the 5 principle characters have something of importance to do. It's not a lot to ask for. Jubilee is similar; she doesn't do a lot other than feel sad over leaving her son. I mean, yeah, that subplot is directly tied to Apocoalypse and you witness some back and forth between them,but there still isnt a whole lot she does in the issue. However,going off the final page, that could likely change in upcoming issues, which is a good thing. Jumping back to Gambit real quick, he just lounges around complaining about Rogue's predicament for most of the issue. He doesn't impact the story at all. That's my main problem with the issue-about a third of the book is dead space. There is a ton of pages that could either be devoted to Apocalypse or Betsy;or even to scenes where Gambit and Jubilee impact the plot. But no, instead it's given to scenes that don't add anything.scenes that if were removed, wouldn't really detract from the story. Again, I would like to say that I liked the issue, it's just that Gambit and Jubilee make the book feel unfocused in places. If they had more to do plot wise, the issue would improve vastly, and the script would feel a lot tighter. Art Marcus To does a good job with the pencils this issue, and I especially love how he draws action. It's fun and engaging, and is definitely one of the highlights of the the issue. I also love his designs for all the different characters the group encounters. They build upon the mystical feel of the book perfectly, and gives it a rich, lived-in feel. Erick Arciniega does a fine job of colours too. I appreciate how he tweaks the colours depending on whether they're in reality or a dream. It's a nice touch that prevents the issue from becoming confusing. I also enjoyed Cory Petit's lettering. I enjoyed how he would change up the size or font of the onomatopoeia's depending on the context, for example: whenever there is an explosion the onomatopoeia is big and blocky, where as whenever there is a creaking or something unsettling, Petit makes the onomatopoeia rigid and sharp. It's a great addition that helps cement the atmosphere, that Tini, Marcus and Erick set. In conclusion, Excalibur #2 is a fun, but unfocused issue that moves the story forward,but leaves a few characters behind without much to do. Rating: 6/10

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