Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen has been a breath of fresh air in the Superman line, if not all of DC in general. Coming from the team of Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber, the book about what can be generously called a second-tier DC character has been a needed story of lighthearted humor and clear and simple art, in a time when the company has brought out more and more dark, ‘gritty’ comics. The comic wears its influences on its sleeve: in many ways, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen reads like the lovechild of Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and for obvious reasons.
Building from the Bendis-centric Event Leviathan, the comic has followed the misadventures of Jimmy Olsen, as he’s crossed the planet and met a wide variety of new supporting characters incognito, all trying to discover just who it was that tried to had him killed. Moreover, it fleshes out Jimmy’s backstory, giving the Olsen family a long history in Metropolis, making them the heroic counterparts, so to speak, to the Luthors. It’s been a hilarious and heartwarming series that ought to be a perennial on bookstore shelves.
(It also all but completely glosses over the reveal waaaaaay back in Action Comics that Jimmy has both slept with, and ghosted on, Talia al Ghul, which is a bummer.)
Issue #12 is a perfect ending to the series. Where the last issue was the grand finale of the little subplots, this one solves the grand mystery behind the entirety of the story, as well as solving the issues with the Daily Planet raised over in Action Comics. Jimmy finds himself with more responsibility, but remains, at his core, the same person: the joie d’vie, the same love of adventure and ability to find himself way over his head, but solve his problems without just relying on Clark.
Some words have to be spent on Steve Lieber’s art, and Nathan Fairbairn’s colors. The art relies on simple, uncomplicated linework, and coloring that looks almost washed out. It gives the impression of comics from an older era, the same era from which Jimmy Olsen was so popular. This can’t be a coincidence, as the same titles on the sides of many of the pages draw from the same era, too.
Honestly, it’s almost a shame that the series has to end here. Jimmy could easily support a longer-running ongoing from this team, and the supporting characters introduced in this run ought to be recurring in the greater Superman world. It’s easy to see, now, why Jimmy Olsen was so popular back in the day.
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