This final issue may bag a footnote in comics history as the first DC title to acknowledge the Covid-19 quarantine. If there’s any justice, though, it will be remembered as the perfect conclusion to a simply wonderful maxi-series.
I’ve praised past issues a lot, and when you love chapters of a limited series, there’s always the fear that, at the last, the creators will fail stick the landing. Here, creators Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber not only conclude Jimmy’s big adventure in rare style, the comic practically does a victory lap.
The future of the Daily Planet? Signed.
The most unfraternal machinations of Julian Olsen? Sealed.
The playwriting career of Janie Olsen? Delivered.
The secret of Lex Luthor?
Hang on, Lex has a secret? He does indeed, and when that surprise comes it’s just what Jimmy needs to tie up all loose ends. Better still, it’s an earned reveal, set up by the early chapters of the series, and reinforced by dozens of Silver Age Superman Family stories. Nothing is settled off-panel, or waved away, or ignored – Fraction and Lieber complete their comic tapestry with fairness and finesse.
Author Fraction and artist Lieber really do play fair here, rewarding readers who have supported the series with multiple pay-offs, while setting up a new status quo for Metropolis which I dearly hope other creators won’t ignore or, worse, undo. Because Jimmy’s world is richer after this issue and it would be sad – and stupid – were Janie, Julian and their newfound pals Detective James Corrigan (‘no, the other one’) and Porcadillo despatched to comics limbo.
Fraction and Lieber eschew the multi-chapter format of the previous 11 issues for a full-length conclusion – everything comes together, so it’s one big, fun and fast ride. The dialogue is as accomplished as the seriously good plotting (think Paul Levitz on the Legion good), while Lieber’s visuals are a total treat. The visual characterisations of the players are pin-prick-precise, with comedic and dramatic beats nailed every time, while the background gags add to an already great experience. Whether the moment is mundane or mad, Lieber makes it work.
The sympathetic colouring of Nathan Fairbairn adds another level of storytelling, while Clayton Cowles again contributes hugely to this series’ visual personality. And editors Bixie Mathieu, Jessica Chen and Jamie S Rich also get my thanks for their work on the book.
This series has built on Jimmy’s hundreds of Silver and Bronze Age exploits, showing why the red-headed reporter – genius and goofball – has survived every reboot and revamp. And in the end? A moment with Superman that will make your heart sing.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen? He’s my pal too.