Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #10 review

Mad as a box of frogs, that’s this mini-series. The plotting is all over the shop, jumping all over the place in time and space, the spotlight shifting constantly from person to person. One minute we’re with Jimmy’s brother Julian, the next we’re following failed super-villain Porcodillo… occasionally Jimmy himself is the focus.

The big news this time is that we find out who is – or at least, certainly seems to be – behind the recent assassination attempt on Jimmy. And it’s a real shock…. well, it had crossed my mind. And if I can guess something that seems settled by issue #10 of a 12-part series, it’s probably a feint.

The issue opens with Jimmy’s alien jewel thief accidental wife Jix stealing something as part of his online prank series and Perry White singularly unimpressed.

The bananas, though, proves extremely useful when it comes to fending off Jix’s angry father.

A flashback shows us just why Jimmy’s brother, Julian aka Mr Metropolis, was so keen to save the massive lion statue that was accidentally smashed by Jimmy in the first issue. We also learn that the Olsen family isn’t as well off as Julian believed, an awful lot of money having been paid out by Julian to cover Jim’s regular municipal disasters.

More recently, we see that Jimmy’s new pal the Porcodillo attended a meeting of bad guys with just one item on the agenda.

Is that Matt Fraction in panel two?

There’s so much going on in this comic that a review recap can’t begin to do it justice. Hopefully what I have said, and the art excerpts, have transmitted some of the flavour of writer Matt Fraction and artist Steve Lieber’s kaleidoscopic creation. The overarching ‘Who killed Jimmy? (Sort of)’ storyline is surrounded by lots of other bits of business involving memorable characters.

So, this issue makes it pretty clear Julian is out to off Jimmy for his money… but I’m putting my money on their impecunious playwright sister Janie. There’s a clue to… something… in the panels that follow the four above.

‘Us?’ Is Julian a dual personality? Does he simply think of himself as a Roman emperor? Or is Janie hiding under the desk?

I wouldn’t be surprised were Janie to be impersonating Julian at times; after all, we know Jimmy can convincingly pass as a lady – he’s been doing it since the Silver Age, so why wouldn’t his very theatrical sister be able to do a Light Lass?

All theories very welcome!

What I do know for certain is that this is really clever writing from Fraction, he’s approaching things with a light touch while giving us some truly emotional moments – the final page of this issue packs a particularly big punch.

That’s as much due to Lieber’s nuanced visuals as Fraction’s story – he’s giving us a classic Jimmy while updating his look for the 21st century, and always with facial expressions and body language to match the moment. And it’s not just Jimmy, everyone is brilliantly realised, from Julian – an older, slicker Jimmy with a larger nose – to permanently incredulous cop Jim Corrigan.

With creative colours by Nathan Fairbairn and characterful lettering by Clayton Cowles – who has to introduce six chapters – this is a great-looking comic. Lieber and Fairbairn’s cover is the latest in a series of winners; were I not already buying this run I’d pick this issue up purely on the strength of the Ninja Tot at the adult table.

Sadly, Ninja Tot’s not in the comic… but you should still buy it!

4 thoughts on “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #10 review

  1. I don’t want Julian to be the bad guy either but Fraction’s the writer that lobotomized Hawkeye and wrote Doctor Strange as a weird sexual predator because Clea was his disciple after having been his girlfriend. His character work is suspect…

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    1. Oh dear, I’d not heard that Dr Strange business…I never found the Clea romance creepy, they were allies in battle before he began to train her. It’s a workplace romance!

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      1. It was in the Defenders series that he did a trial run for undoing the series in the last issue that he repeated in Fear Itself. That misfire also included using Iron Fist because they needed a rich member and no one mentioned they already had Kyle Richmond to do that, a hero who appeared in more Defenders issues than Namor or maaaaybe Doctor Strange. His weird characterizations included calling Psylocke an example of diversity in the X-Men and got mad at my question for one of those CBR columns where I referred to Betsy as being a rich White woman wearing an Asian skin suit…

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  2. Oh dear, Betsy was not diverse, she was indeed a very privileged white toff in someone else’s skin. I’m glad they’ve got her and Kwannan back in their own bodies, or remade versions, or whatever.

    And Fear Itself was just pants.

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