In which Jimmy appeals for help against the intergalactic tyrant who’s trying to steal the wife he doesn’t want…
… all heck breaks loose…
… and Lex Luthor makes Jimmy’s brother Julian sweat.
Recognise that big blue alien? Possibly not, because last time he appeared he looked like this.
It’s the big bruiser from the Superman vs Muhammad Ali comic back in the Seventies, but with a new look apparently inspired by Legion of Super-Heroes enemy Pulsar Stargrave.
One more issue. After this there’s just one more instalment of a maxi-series that’s been amazingly consistent in quality. Matt Fraction’s ongoing storyline about an assassination attempt on Jimmy may fade in and out of the spotlight as other nuttiness takes centre stage, but it’s never far away.
How Luthor thinks his new knowledge of Julian’s doings gives him an advantage in their lifelong feud has yet to be revealed, but I don’t doubt it will be good.
As for that authorial voice, a look back at the Pulsar Stargrave debut, Superboy #224, reveals that Fraction isn’t far off the hysterically hyperbolic scripting of Seventies Jim Shooter. Then again, the commentary on the big fight scene is pure Eighties Ambush Bug. I suppose it’s Fraction channeling all the silly superhero comics he ever read to create a confection that’s pure affection. If I had to come up with a term for this type of work, I’d go for ‘Hembeckian’ – it’s like one huge, kooky Fred Hembeck strip in which no corner of the DC Universe is too sacred to poke fun at.
Plus, Fraction improves the vocabulary – as a writer, like Jim and Julian’s sis, Janie – he’s good with synonyms.
The eleventh chapter climaxes with Jimmy showing a pleasing moment of insight about his world.
Illustrator Steve Lieber produces more splendidly storytelling, his open lines perfect for a piece as good-natured as this. He packs an admirable amount of content into each panel without the pages seeming over-packed. I especially like lawyer Jim’s white suit, Atticus Finch would be proud – thank you colourist Nathan Fairbairn. Gratitude, too, to Clayton Cowles, for another sharp performance, his letters always evoking the perfect pitch for characters. As for the Lieber/Fairbairn cover – presumably concocted with Fraction, editors Bixie Mathieu & Jessica Chen and the DC Production Department – it’s perfection, from Jimmy’s expression to the way the ‘Kevin’ cones interact with the logo.
One more issue. I’m going to miss this comic so much.