Saturday, April 2, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Jimmy Olsen: One-Shot

GOOD THING: This story perfectly captures the utter insanity of the original Jimmy Olsen comics but filters it through the post-modern Sterling Silver Age viewpoint to create something that acknowledge the crazy past of DC Comics while vaunting it as something cool to be lived up to.

Why does this comic work so well? I think it's because Nick Spencer realizes two things that a lot of writers and comic fans don't.

First, that Jimmy Olsen is to Superman what Robin is to Batman. He is the avenue your average dorky comic-reading fanboy took into that world of Superman as a child. He's the younger, more foolish character that is probably what we'd be like if we were friends with Batman or Superman and were trying to help them out. This has become less important over the years as Jimmy and Dick Grayson were aged up and Jimmy was either made into an older action hero figure or a dorky boy hostage depending on who was writing Superman at the time.

Second, that Jimmy Olsen was the Peter Parker before Peter Parker. And never mind the photographer angle - I'm talking sheer dumb luck. Jimmy Olsen was a well-meaning trouble magnet and a total geek. And yet he still somehow managed to attract some very attractive women despite having continual girlfriend troubles. Really, the only difference between Peter and Jimmy is that Jimmy had to cope with all the super-villains and gangsters coming after him without the benefit of superpowers 90% of the time.

All of that comes into play in this book. Jimmy is the everyman. Sure, he knows a lot of famous and important people and he is exposed to fantastic wonders on a near daily basis. But deep down he's still the nerd who thinks bowties are cool that likes to stay at home and play video games in his underwear.

There's not really any one thing I can point at that makes this book amazing apart from that. It's all the little touches. Like Jimmy Olsen having a nemesis who is a junior executive at LexCorp who aspires to be the next Lex Luthor like Jimmy wants to be Superman. It's story ideas like Jimmy Olsen having to save the Earth from a group of hedonistic aliens by convincing them that Metropolis is the most boring city in the universe. And it's nods to the continuity like having Jimmy's current love interest be Chloe Sullivan - apparently an import from the Smallville TV show who was just brought into the mainstream DCU with this story.

BAD THING: Really, the only bad thing about this book is that thanks to it originally being published as a series of back-up strips in Action Comics and DC Comics apparently not realizing what they were sitting on until recently, Nick Spenser has been allowed to slip between the cracks and sign an exclusive contract with Marvel. So unless there's some kind of miracle, we're not going to see any more Jimmy Olsen stories like this.

The Final Verdict: Some are already calling this the best comic of 2010 or 2011, depending on whether or not you count this collection as an original work. Either way, I'm calling it a must read for anyone who loves good comics. We need more books like this.


  1. ... the Katamari Damacy bit.. total win.
    Nick Spenser? Is this the same guy who writes Morning Glories??? Cuz my friend is the artist on that and I'd hate to see him lose his gig.

  2. The same guy, yes.
    Apparently his "exclusive" contract with Marvel isn't that exclusive. He's allowed to continue his personal creations that are owned by someone else that he was working on before he became "exclusive" to Marvel.
    It's similar to how Mark Waid is now "exclusively" working for Marvel, even though he's still writing 2-3 books for Boom! Studios.

  3. And I don't think that's Katamari Damacy. He's humming the John Williams' Superman theme.
    Katamari Damacy would be...

  4. That would explain the blue/yellow/red musical notes.