“…it means I can’t protect you here, Jimmy.”
“There’s a fussy Englishman in a black town car downstairs wearing an I’m With Stupid t-shirt over a tailcoat. He’ll drive you anywhere you want to go…”
“…as long as its out of Gotham.”
“…Oh, I had your name legally changed to ‘Jimphony.’ Like ‘symphony,’ but it starts with ‘Jim.'”
“Batman always wins, Jimphony. Remember that.”
“Goodbye.”Batman, after winning a prank war with Jimmy Olsen, Matt Fraction
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? is exactly the kind of comic I love to read. I explained it to my wife like this.
It’s complex, it rewards repeat reading, it’s drenched in history and in-jokes to comics’ deep past, the art does the storytelling, and it feels like there’s a hundred jokes on every page.
Basically, I don’t think I would ever give this to a first time comic book reader.
Jimmy Olsen, Daily Planet photographer and best pal buddy amigo to Superman, has found himself in some hot water. This hot water seems prepared a little differently than the other hot waters he’s been in, including being chased by a live T-Rex through the city, getting abandoned after his wedding in Gorilla City, falling to Earth from outer space as a gigantic Godzilla-esque turtle monster, and getting into a prank war with Batman (more on that later).
No. Someone wants him dead. And they’ve succeeded.
Now, on the run and forced to figure out who wants to kill Superman’s little buddy without the help of Superman, Olsen will pull every trick out of his field reporter hat to find the culprit and escape by the skin of his…
…hair? I don’t know. He gets into a prank war with Batman to try and lure the Dark Knight out of hiding to help him. That’s the kind of book this is and it’s brilliant!
Fraction, in what I believe was his first outing for DC in general, brings his ecstatic humor and quick zingers to the page. I wasn’t kidding when I said there could be a hundred jokes on the page, half flowing by with Fractions words, and you would never be able to tell. Every few pages a new chapter begins, complete with that kitschy style of openings 50s comics used to be known for:
The art on the book, done brilliantly by Steve Lieber and Nathan Fairbairn, carry the other half of those jokes. They mimic styles and appearances from across the DC Universe, to the bright, shining, almost obnoxious landscape of Metropolis to the dirty, dirty, ever so dirty you couldn’t believe someone would want to live there, Gotham City.
That’s not even including all the flashbacks, flash forwards, and lest we never forget, Gorilla City’s honeymoon sweet.
It’s a brilliant book, funny, and worth every minute you spend scouring the pages for the clues.
Thanks for reading,