Feb
27

Downcounting – A Guide for the Perplexed: Gutting It Out pt. 2 – Jimmy Olsen

Posted by on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 at 09:00:10 PM

I’m only delaying the inevitable, putting off the Multiversal stuff. It was the focus of these past couple of months, very much to the expense of some of these other stories. But hey, now they’re all hurtling towards their epic conclusion of shit going down, so let’s check in on everyone’s favorite thirty year old cub reporter, Superman’s Pal…

Jimmy Olsen, Bugfucker!

Jimmy’s had a real rollercoaster of pointless cameos in Countdown. First he was tasked with investigating the shocking murder of Duela Dent, the Joker’s Daughter! Jimmy forgot about that almost immediately (although to be fair, so did the writers and editors) because he got attacked by Killer Croc while interviewing the Joker and discovered he had MYSTERIOUS SUPER POWERS! It almost immediately became clear that his powers only activated when he was in mortal danger, and that they were probably connected to the New Gods/Fourth World mythos. Jimmy took about twenty issues to do anything; first he made some disastrous attempts at superheroics, each time forgetting how his powers worked and having to get saved (or beaten up) by a parade of cameos. He also repeatedly stumbled upon a mysterious figure murdering New Gods! This led him to get examined by a bunch of other cameos who would reveal something about THE SOURCE or MOTHER BOXES or other Fourth World catchphrases that everyone pretended they were unfamiliar with. None of this accomplished a goddamn thing, and culminated in Puddle-Jimmy pitying himself in one of my favorite panels of the entire series:

Seriously, Jim Woodring’s Archie Double Digest!  I’d buy it.

Even without the production error, this is a great encapsulation of Jimmy’s story.After de-puddling himself, the Newsboy Legion show up just long enough for a cameo before Forager II shows up to tell Jimmy that his powers are — I hope you are sitting down — somehow connected to the New Gods! With steely resolve, Jimmy and Forager boom tubed to Apokalips to get to the bottom of this and were promptly beaten and captured off-panel. Jimmy spent a few issues working as a slave on Apokalips before one more continuity-busting cameo by Mister Miracle, who tossed him into a firepit and wandered off. A few issues later Jimmy emerged from the firepit looking like a cross between his Silver Age Turtle Boy persona and Marvel’s Apocalypse and once again expressing confusion while still managing to get those amazing unexplained plot-advancing “visions”!

Fortunately this vision leads him directly into the chamber where Forager is being held! After noting how “weirdly gorgeous” the bound insect lady is, Jimmy frees her and she immediately begins attempting to strangle the life out of him, shouting “JIMMY OLSEN MUST DIE!” I assume this is because that was one of the promo images for Countdown nearly a year ago, and they felt bad about it being completely irrelevant thus far. And bizarrely, despite this proclamation, his powers do not kick in as she throttles him at the end of CTFC issue 20. Luckily, by the time issue 19 rolls around, his clothes have disappeared again and he’s back to being Turtle Boy, and somehow having a Motherbox for eyes. This gets Forager to stop killing him (she claims she was in an “instinctive trance” that led her to want to kill Jimmy? I guess that is a thing) but before they have a chance for any reflection on how silly this all is, Fourth World D-lister Bernadeth shows up to attack them, commenting that Darkseid “looks favorably” on Jimmy. I assume this means that Darkseid is behind Jimmy’s crazy powers and he needs Jimmy alive because he’s got part of the Anti-Life Equation in him, but that’s being incredibly generous. Regardless, Jimmy’s crazy powers hurt Bernadeth, and she is a sadomasochist so she wants to bang Jimmy. I guess this might be foreshadowing, along with Jimmy’s second comment about how “beautiful” Forager is.

Jimmy’s eyes start Motherboxing again, and Forager portentously announces she “knows that pattern” in his eyes — but before addressing another piece of useless foreshadowing, Jimmy and Forager boom tube out of Apokalips, to leave Bernadeth to get got by the NEW GOD KILLA! Bernadeth, we hardly knew ye! No seriously, I know almost nothing about you.

Back on Earth, Jimmy realizes that he did it! He was the one that summoned the Boom Tube! Perhaps his powers have something to do with the Fourth World? Forager announces that the “pattern” in his eyes was in fact The Source! Wow! If they ever slowed down long enough to explain all this Kirby mythology, this might mean something to someone, somewhere! Forager admits she was just trying to “hunt” Jimmy and that he was nothing but “prey” to her, but then decides to give him a big ol’ kiss! LOVE IS IN THE AIR IN COUNTDOWN!

Merlin: the original Hairy!Jimmy and Forager spend the next ten issues sitting around his apartment naked, taking turns in the shower. I am not making this up. Eventually they decide that their best bet to figure everything out is to go to Apokalips, something they tried with zero success a few months ago but hey, now they are in love! But sometimes love ain’t just enough, and FTD Florist spokesman Merlin Olsen didn’t raise no fool! Perhaps deciding that the Jack Kirby Fourth World Useless Cameo Barrel’s bottom was not properly scraped, Jimmy decides to swing by The Habitat to try to pick up the Hairies! I mean, they don’t name them but come on, when have they ever explained why you’re supposed to be excited to see a guest star in Countdown? Like Kirby used to say, DON’T ASK, JUST BUY!

Going back to the “What were they thinking?” question, I think this should’ve been one of the more obvious slam-dunks of the Countdown story threads. Everyone knows who Jimmy Olsen is, but he’s kind of a cipher, and to flesh him out while also giving him a stab at superheroing ought to have been a pretty fun story everyone could enjoy. But somewhere along the line it got stuck in repetitive cameo festivals and frustrating allusions, and I guess they thought people’s innate nostalgia for Jack Kirby characters and love of mysteries would keep everyone happy. And let’s be honest, if Goody Rickels shows up in the last eight issues, all is forgiven! Otherwise…

Back soon with an update on everyone’s favorite desexualized lesbians, Holly and Harley!

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