Thursday, January 27, 2011

Comic Buzz - Jimmy Olsen

Creative Team: Nick Spencer (W), RB Silva (A), Amanda Conner (C)
DC, one-shot, $5.99, 80 pages
March 30, 2011

When I heard that the talented Nick Spencer was going to be writing a Jimmy Olsen back-up in Action Comics I almost laughed. “Jimmy Olsen?” I thought, “Who wants to read about him?” And to further confuse me, Spencer was really excited about the whole thing. Jimmy wasn’t a character that I expected someone to be so committed to. I wouldn’t even call him a B-list character. In my mind he was more of a supporting character than anything. I know he’s been around for a long time and has a firm place within the Superman universe, but I didn’t figure the story would hold any interest for me.

Then I found out that Spencer would be introducing the wonderful Chloe Sullivan into the DCU in this story and I did a little dance. And suddenly I cared about the story and really wanted it to be good. But I still wasn’t willing to buy the comic only for the back-up story.

I was playing around with my iPod in Tokyo, one of the few places that I can get a Wi-Fi signal, and as I browsed the free comics on Comixology I noticed that I could read the first chapter of the Jimmy Olsen back-up story. I figured why the heck not since it was free and all. On the train ride back home I decided to give it a read through and was amazed by how great it was. The dialogue was fantastic and very, very funny. I found myself laughing quite a bit for such a short story and more than once had to lean over and share a line or two with my fiancĂ©. And by the end of the story I was really bummed out because I didn’t think that I would get to read the rest of the story.

But then I got some great news. As a result of DC canceling their back-up stories in all their books, in order to cut page count and price, the Jimmy Olsen story is no longer featured in Action Comics. But the seven part story had not finished yet. DC assured readers that the back-up stories would all find new homes somewhere and would be released. In March DC is releasing a one-shot that not only finishes the Jimmy Olsen story, but reprints the first four parts as well! So now I, and all of you, can enjoy this story in its entirety.

This is a rather long set up to explain what you should be buying, so I suppose I should touch at least a bit on why it’s so wonderful. The story is focused on Jimmy and while Superman is off on his walkabout he’s being a bit of a slacker. After his girlfriend, our wonderful Chloe, dumps him he finds out that she is doing a story about his rival, who happens to be a Lexcorp employee, and what a week in his life is like. This energizes Jimmy and motivates him to show that he can have a far more interesting week than the jerk who is now hitting on his ex. And he’s going to start by stopping a well timed alien invasion!

The story is lighthearted and fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. There have been so many crazy stories involving Jimmy Olsen and I feel like the tone of this reflects that. So if you’re against that sort of thing and like the darker more serious comics that seem to dominate the market at the moment this might not be for you. You are meant to have fun while reading it, and it may be a bit crazy and over the top, but Spencer’s ultimate goal is to put a smile on your face. The colors are bright and fun and some of the facial expressions are just priceless. There are some great little details thrown into the backgrounds that made me want to examine the pages on more than my tiny screen. As started before the dialogue is really good, which I’ve found is one of Spencer’s selling points. I haven’t read much of the character before, but I really felt like I understood his voice by the end of the issue. Jimmy is a normal person who is very comfortable in a super powered world and that gives us a different take on the DCU than we get in most books. I also thought Chloe was very well handled and love that she’s a decorated blog reporter, keeping her on the cutting edge of technology and letting her be a reporter while explaining why we’ve never really seen her at the Planet before.

Spencer’s love for the character is clear (he thinks of writing Jimmy as a dream project), and he apparently has more in mind for the character (apparently like a year’s worth of stories). So if this sells decently we might very well get more, and that’s always a good thing. I think it’s a good sign that DC has decided not only to release the end of the story, but the story in its entirety (not all of the back-ups are being given the same treatment). Clearly this story has generated some buzz and I’m sure I’m not the only one who missed out on the story and wanted to read it.

However, I’m always excited when you don’t really have to take my word for any recommendation. Everyone can read the first part of the story on the iPod/iPad/iPhone. It’s free and a decent way to preview these kinds of things. There is an interview about the story here

Remember, there probably isn't an option to "wait for trade" here (unless of course we get a bunch more Jimmy Olsen stories that can be collected together), so if this looks interesting tell your local comic shop to order you a copy or pick it up online while you can.


  1. How can we read the first chapter for free?

  2. If you download the app for ComiXology (its a free app), you can browse all the comics and download any of the free ones you want. I think they also have a website, but I haven't used it.