June 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Comic Review: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?

Someone wants Jimmy Olsen dead? Well, he may be the best man to solve his own murder.

DC at one point decided to revive, sort of, two of their old “Superman Family’ titles as mini-series.  One was for Lois Lane.  That was written by Greg Rucka, who does a good job with strong women, and I was looking forward to it.  The other was Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and even with Matt Fraction writing and Steve Lieber drawing it, I wasn’t much interested in it because…c’mon, it’s Jimmy freakin’ Olsen.  Even when DC tried to pretend he was cool, he was never cool.

As it turned out, that Lois Lane story was kinda disappointing.  Maybe the Jimmy Olsen story, subtitled Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?, would succeed where the Lois Lane story failed.

Honestly, this one did succeed.  It succeeded because Fraction and Lieber realized that old Jimmy Olsen stories were, at their best, ridiculous things where Jimmy might gain random superpowers or deal with all the sorts of oddities that Silver Age DC heroes routinely messed with, and he was just a photographer.  Sure, some stories may have presented Jimmy as the equivalent to Robin to Superman’s Batman, but he was basically just a guy.

This story basically says all that ridiculous stuff still happens to Jimmy Olsen on a routine basis.  This is a story that opens with a special intro where Jimmy wakes up after a drunken bender in Gorilla City to find himself married to an interdimensional jewel thief and soon finds himself with a small house cat that routinely vomits firehose-style sprays of blood all over the place, more blood than could ever come out of an animal its size, and without killing the cat no less.  Where did the cat come from?  How does it do that?  Does it even have a name?  These questions aren’t answered, but over the course of the story, Jimmy just collects allies for a final battle of sorts, a battle made up of characters that many times appeared for a page or panel in a stray issue here or there.  And some of these characters are downright bizarre.

But there is a plot here, and it amounts to this:  Jimmy Olsen is rich.  An ancestor of his, an original settler in Metropolis, struck gold, and the Olsens actually rival the Luthors for wealth.  Jimmy himself has a trust fund he never touches, leaving the family finances to older brother Julian while older sister Janie is an avaunt garde playwright in Gotham City (yes, there is a Batman appearance).  Jimmy actually works for The Daily Planet for free, and his crazy stunts, sent out on the Planet‘s website, are so popular and are the only reason the newspaper stays afloat.  However, when one of Jimmy’s antics destroys a city landmark, various acquaintances meet untimely ends, and a body double is shot by a sniper, Jimmy realizes someone, possibly Lex Luthor, is out to get him.  He’ll have to pretend to be dead and investigate his own murder to get some answers.

Oh, and sure, he could ask Superman for help, but he also asked Superman to not get involved this time, mostly as Jimmy wanted to solve this one himself, leading to a good running gag where Superman makes it a point to not listen to people when the subject of Jimmy Olsen comes up.  Another good one involves what Lex Luthor does when he defeats someone.

But mostly, this is just a very self-aware series that says, hey, the old Jimmy Olsen stories were weird, so let’s have some fun with that while also actually adding to Jimmy’s own backstory, showing a little of why he is Superman’s Pal, and tossing in gorillas flying biplanes because why not?

This one was just a ton of fun.

9 out of 10 flimsy aliases.