Jimmy Olsen One Shot by Nick Spenser and Rob DeSilva
It generally takes a while for me to read a regular comic book. I tend to wait for the trade for most items, and other than a general interest in what Grant Morrison is doing with the Bat books in DC and seeing what is happening with Brubaker’s run on Captain America, I’m not reading many American comic books. So this is why it took me so long to read the Jimmy Olsen one shot issue that was published in May. I’m a little disappointed that many of the comics I end up liking seem to be limited runs or quickly canceled. Spenser’s Jimmy Olsen is a thoughtful updating of the character that keeps intact much of the Silver Age wackiness of the character. The Jimmy Olsen stories I’ve read the most were the ones where he hung out with the Legion of Superheroes, reprinted in those Archie Digest sized editions of superhero comics that came out in the 80s. So my main associations about Jimmy are:
1) He is the type of man who thinks a purple smoking jacket is really swank and has an illogical devotion to bowties
2) He is unlucky in love
3) He accepts being transformed into wacky alternate version of himself pretty easily
So when I saw the opening scene of this comic with Jimmy acting extremely nonchalant about being kidnapped by a mad scientist genie, I experienced a moment of happy recognition similar to the feeling I got when I saw Jimmy casually putting down a jet pack in the background of a panel from All-Star Superman. As one might expect someone whose best friend is the most powerful man on earth, being kidnapped by a angry genie is basically the equivalent of making a quick run down to the corner store for milk and newspapers for Jimmy. While he isn’t particularly concerned about hostile alien invasions, the things that get to Jimmy the most are the everyday struggles with his job and his girlfriend breaking up with him. This series took the opportunity to introduce Chloe Sullivan into the comic books, and while I’m not really familiar with the character on Smallville, she makes a good counterpoint for Jimmy. He’s traditional media, she does all her reporting on the Internet. He thinks he’s clever, she’s a little quicker than him.
Spenser’s dialogue is smart, one of Jimmy’s friends accuses him of “Cusacking all over our VIP table” when Jimmy is moping post-breakup. DeSilva’s art is attractive, and I enjoyed all the little cameos and references that were included in the series. What won me over as a comic book fan and a knitter was this:
I do not see why a destructive alien princess wouldn’t jump at the chance to shop at the Yarn Barn with Supergirl, but that is her loss. With all of the reboots and grim stuff going on in mainstream comic books today, it was nice to read a comic that was simply charming and well-executed. I’m sad that this didn’t turn into a regular series, but I will just hoard and reread this issue.