What’s this? Another review of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen? On a Batman site, no less?
Your eyes do not deceive you, dear reader, so continue reading as we present to you
The Batman News review of
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #6
As written by the guy who goes by “Jaymus Yawsley” in the comments
For those keeping score at home: yes, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen is still art. It’s as witty and snappy and irreverent and still reverential as ever, with brilliant writing, hilarious gags, and the most confident sense of tone you’re likely to find on the spinner rack.
I mean, if they still had spinner racks. #RIPspinnerracks
The previous issue devoted a large swath of its page count to an escalating prank war between Jimberly “Jimmy” Olsen and Batman, which contained such delights as “let’s fit as many Jokers as we can into a FroYo stand” and “Batman wearing one of those arrow through the head gag headpieces.” It was amazing and beautiful and, yes, art of the highest sort.
Issue 6 here doesn’t quite rise to the same level of brilliance as its immediate predecessor, but it’s still absolutely delightful and a strong entry for an incredibly strong series. The series’ genius is immediately evident on the cover, with the font most associated with The Dark Knight Returns being used for great comedic effect. I don’t know if it was letterer Clayton Cowles’ idea to do it– and it wouldn’t surprise me if so, given the brilliant lettering choices he makes throughout the issue– but props to whoever came up with that joke. Next time you read some Miller Dark Knight Batman, imagine that one of the chapters is titled “Prank the Dark Knight” and your experience is guaranteed* to be at least 37% more hilarious.
Rather than pick up where the prank war left off, most of this issue is devoted to various characters reacting to and investigating the assassination attempt on Jimmy, and the successful “assassination” of his animatronic body double thing. Sure, it’s less broad and more focused than any of the other issues so far, but that’s what makes it so fun: even with all these different vignettes and side-stories going on, Fraction and Lieber are still able to take the “simple” story idea of an assassination conspiracy and look at it from different angles. There’s no shortage of comedy, whether we’re checking in on Lex Luthor, Jimmy’s accidental wife from way back in Superman: Leviathan Rising, or Detective James “Not the Spectre” Corrigan III.
Oh, and Dex-Starr. Who Jimmy uses as a sort of hate-induced-vomit-spitting whip.
The number of different vignettes and the more focused approach make this issue fly by, almost to the point that it feels a little short and… “incomplete” isn’t the right word, but definitely a tad less substantive than the other issues thus far. Previous installments– while still having an overarching story– almost felt like little one-shots that could be read in any order. This issue, on the other hand, clearly follows the events from the preceding issue, even if they aren’t explicitly addressed or referenced for most of the story.
Plus, it has a “midway through the story” feel too, where the more freewheeling approach from before had to be reined in so the story could actually progress. Don’t think that I’m saying that this series doesn’t need 12 issues, because each installment is still packed with story and jokes and what have you. It’s just that if there were an issue that might make you think that there was a chance that the creative team was sort of possibly maybe spinning their wheels a bit, it might be this one. But only in comparison to the series itself.
If you can’t tell, I’m having a hard time saying anything bad about this book, because it’s been so fun and so genuinely good. Any detriments it has are being measured against Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, which has set such a high bar and precedent for excellence that even a “lesser” installment is still better than most any other book you’ll find on the stands.
I mentioned it last month, but this is such a hard book to summarize because, well, you’ll just end up wanting to talk about all the best jokes and gags. I will not fall victim to the temptation to do that, so I’ll be as broad as possible with my appreciation.
This is a comic book where an assassin remarks on the beauty of a butterfly, just before he pulls the trigger to slay his target.
It is also a comic where an interdimensional jewel thief cannot legally go through with a wedding because she is already (accidentally) married so she throws a tiara to the ground which sets off a smoke bomb so she can make a getaway in a cramped little shuttle so she can go and kill Jimberly “Jimmy” Olsen because he was supposed to get their (accidental) marriage annulled but didn’t because things have just been so crazy guys.
It is also also a comic where Metamorpho is in, like, two panels, but I’ll mention it because he’s my guy.
A comic where Superman and Lois Lane don’t believe Jimmy could get into that much trouble because, at worst, he gets into shenanigans.
Which is always just so much fun to say.
Yes, this book is silly and weird and all sorts crazy, while knowing exactly what type of tone it needs to aim for so it can effectively tell its story. It’s a book where Lex Luthor threatens an assassin, and is then grossed out by said assassin’s demise via cyanide tooth. It is a book where Batman appears on just a few pages, and even though it’s a fun scene, he’s not even the highlight of the issue.
And when Batman’s ultimate gag is legally changing Jimmy’s name to something worse than Jimberly, that’s saying something.
Because while Batman may always win, Superman’s pal is still Jimmy Olsen.
BONUS: There’s a hilarious variant cover from Ben Oliver.
- You enjoy art.
- And not just great illustrations, though this book has that.
- I mean capital ‘A’ Art.
- And also Dex-Starr.
Overall: A “lesser” issue of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen is still pretty much superior to everything else out there, and such is the case here. There’s just the slightest feeling that Fraction and Lieber tried to rein in the organized insanity so they could progress the plot, even just a little, which takes away just a teensy little bit of the book’s goofy charm. Not nearly enough to leave a lasting impression, mind you, but just enough to be noticeable. Still, this book has been nothing but great from the beginning, and when a hilarious cameo from Batman is only the third greatest thing in your issue, you know you’ve got solid gold there, chums.
*We cannot make such a guarantee.