REVIEW: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #2

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #2 is here and boy this series has some unique flavours packed into it. Regarding tone you always know exactly what you are going to get but believe me when I say you never know what each turn of the page will bring.

This is most definitely reflected in the regular cover created by interior artist Steve Lieber. This cover depicts Jimmy attempting to escape the clutches of a plethora of DC Comics’ most famous faces. The cover really captures the ‘kookiness’ of the series along with its unpredictable nature. I’ve said many times that this series has a real silver age feel to it. This is totally emphasised on the cover as it is littered with characters created during that period of time. Even Bizarro is drawn to reflect his appearance during that era.

 supermans pal jimmy olsen 2

The variant created by Ben Oliver is a piece of art that would look right at home inside of the Tate Modern. It has such a surrealist quality to it and I love it. I love when art forms crossover especially with comics and this image really lends itself to that sensibility. Superman’s almost hidden emblem made out of clouds is a perfect touch to round out a gorgeous piece of art.

supermans pal jimmy olsen 2

Like with the previous issue, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #2 is compartmentalized into sections. Although to me, this issue feels much more like an annual or anniversary issue, as there are no discernible transitions between each section. Jimmy simply appears in a new locale with another character without any real explanation as to how they got there. This is most evident in how the issue begins as Jimmy appears to be back in Metropolis after only just being exiled to Gotham in the last issue. I love the text boxes that herald the arrival of each new section. They are so much fun and do a wonderful job of setting the scene. The language used is so lighthearted and full of whimsy. The different fonts used are very eye catching and really pop off the page.

One of this issues earliest sections chronicles the continuing exploits of Joachim Olsson – distant relative of Jimmy Olsen. Not much time is dedicated to this story line but it has got me mightily intrigued. You can really tell the creative team has plans to further mine this period in history, and expand on the characters just through the artwork alone as it is significantly grittier and more detailed. It marries up nicely to that period of time. I really like this title going back and revisiting the frontier era. This is a pivotal era in American history and it feels only right that it is tackled in a Superman family title. In my opinion, making Jimmy Olsen’s family an integral component in the formation of Metropolis has really added layers and depth to the character we already know and love.

Like I said earlier, we find Jimmy back in Metropolis engaging with his brother Julian. This whole segment is just crammed with character development as the reader learns about the relationship these two siblings have – along with finding out just what exactly makes Julian tick. We are even teased with information regarding their parents who I can honestly say I don’t know to much about. This exchange is full of passion and emotion. Its really intriguing to see Jimmy’s family dynamic mined like this. For most of us, our formative years and our standing within our family setting goes along way to inform the person that we become. I certainly get that feeling with Jimmy. I really enjoyed finding out about Jimmy’s Pulitzer win and the circumstances surrounding it during this exchange. This is quintessential silver age Jimmy at its finest. Even the dialogue is full of quirkiness and silver age lingo such as ‘silver bracelets’ to describe handcuffs.

As the issue moves on we find Jim atop The Daily Planet alongside his pal Superman, as the pair engage in some very playful and lighthearted hi-jinks to keep Jimmy out of trouble. This whole sequence felt very heartwarming and really highlighted Superman’s caring and playful side which we haven’t seen in some time. It also showed something that we rarely see – how much Superman needs Jimmy. I love seeing this side of Superman. Steve Lieber’s artwork really does the heavy lifting during this exchange. The facial expressions of our beloved characters really conveys the lighthearted nature of the scene. Its so nice to see Clark’s personality shine through especially considering all of his responsibilities. I love that Clark has this kind of relationship with someone other than Lois.

This section features some of the best artwork of the issue, as it features a gorgeous splash page that highlights the Metropolis’ skyline as well as a plethora of panels depicting Jimmy’s various exploits throughout the years. As the issue comes to a close I will admit that it ends in somewhat of a disjointed manner, as the reader witnesses Jimmy embark on a ‘Lois Lane’ style investigation that has really come out of nowhere. That being said, this is exactly the kind of thing I expect from this series. Always expect the unexpected.

Artist Steve Lieber’s artwork in this issue is very bold and striking. There is a very distinct style shift between the past and present day chronicled within these pages. For the majority of the issue set in the present, the line work is very crisp with detail almost effortlessly included. The artist, along with colourist Nathan Fairbairn seem to have a wonderful understanding whereby the artist really allows the colours to standout and do much of the heavy lifting. There is minimal background in some of the panels, which allows Fairbairn’s colours to flourish and make this series pop with bold colours.

Writer Matt Fraction continues to dive steadily into the background of Jimmy Olsen. I really enjoyed the dynamics between Jimmy and his brother Julian. I found their exchange to be very revealing. There is obviously a lot of raw emotions emanating from Julian, and I’m excited to see where they derived from. The dialogue throughout this whole issue continues to stay very lighthearted and jovial, even when things may not always be looking up for Jimmy. This makes Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen a real breath of fresh air as things have been very intense within the other Superman titles. I’m very much looking forward to the next one.

Haven’t picked up your copy of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #2 yet? You can purchase the standard cover by Steve Lieber here (UK), or here (US).

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