Review: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #1

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #1
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Steve Lieber, Nathan Fairbairn, and Clayton Cowles 
Edited by Jessica Chen and Brian Cunningham
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: July 17, 2019

Jimmy Olsen is having a moment. Under the guide of Fraction and Lieber, Mr. Olsen is having a weird day that involves dying, turning into a turtle, work troubles, and it’s only the first issue!

You’re probably thinking about why a character like Jimmy Olsen would even be entertained enough to have a series to himself, much less for twelve issues. Fraction gives us a couple of reasons through breaking the entire #1 up into four smaller stories all coming together to establish why Jimmy is a surprising player in the realm of the Daily Planet and even Metropolis at large. Jimmy Olsen #1 takes all of the things that people assume about older era comics: craziness, superheroes, and comedy and puts them in a blender with 2019 sensibilities. From the opening story caption box filled to the brim with a quick recap/introduction of how the Olsen’s (Olsson’s) and Luthor’s (Luthias’s) go back generations without a Superman to unite them, it’s a lot to this issue.

Under the new era of Metropolis and Superman’s corner of the DCU with Bendis on Action Comics and characters like Lois getting her just due with a comic of her own, Jimmy’s title is a comedy rooted in the insanity of Metropolis and the normal man living in all of it taking full advantage of Jimmy’s specific place as “Superman’s Pal”. The zaniness of the title comes with the territory as the story gets to the heart of the matter with the latest in a long line of (hilarious) Jimmy focused adventures that are both costing and helping the Daily Planet in the same breath. Fraction isn’t new at turning over a fresh leaf for the most human of characters in extraordinary world’s, as his time on Hawkeye can tell you and Jimmy strikes the same vein with more hijinks! There’s something to be said about a book that has it’s first big splash page be the protagonist, who got turned into a humanoid turtle, being caught by Superman and can also discuss the finer methods of the protagonist’s purpose at their job in a realistic way. The writing properly balances the historical ties of Metropolis, it’s characters, and the absurdity of the world they populate to create something that blurs the lines and makes the series that much more of a joy to read.

What brings Fraction’s script together though is Lieber’s pencils coupled with Fairbairn’s colors. Lieber captures both the mundane look of the Daily Planet and the undoubtedly weird instances of Jimmy’s past exploits and everything in between. It’s a comic very much involved in the humans of Metropolis and the location of the city itself. Lieber plays with the situations that Jimmy finds himself in for small touches that push the boundaries of his clean-cut art that focuses in on conversations, showing off the visual gags in the process, and adds to Fraction’s writing that is fully aware of itself in a few places. Fairbairn’s colors perfectly balance the colliding world of Metropolis and its inhabitants. From the action-packed present-day story involving Jimmy and Superman crash landing with Cowles on lettering providing so many small touches to the feel of the issue. The lettering captures the many different eras of Jimmy’s history and even works in tandem with the writing from the captions to the sound effects that really POP! at you. The colorwork from Fairbairn is always careful to accentuate Jimmy’s own style alongside others in the panels so we’re always seeing his signature orange hair and even when the pages are quieter with characters talking to or yelling at our spunky hero, nothing gets lost with Lieber.

Jimmy Olsen is a hilarious comic that combines comedy, a long-standing character in Hero mythology that’s been dusted off for a modern-day shakeup that falls right in line with current happenings in Metropolis but through his eyes and understanding of the DCU. As a character that is literally on the ground floor of this world, the events that he goes through and have experienced are suppose to seem weirder than usual. Fraction’s take on a regular guy who inadvertently is keeping his place of employment afloat gives the title all of the leeways it needs to get into weird danger with gags aplenty in tow. With a writer that’s fleshing out Metropolis more so with a character that’s been there since (before) the beginning and a series that relishes in the craziness, combined with art that visually knows what it’s doing to incite comedy and the little things that’ll come back later, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen is definitely worth the price of admission.

The Verdict: 9.0/10

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