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Graphic Novel Review – Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?

Title: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?

Author: Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer)

Publisher: DC Comics (2020)

Age Rating: Teen

This title was originally released in 12 single issues from 2019 to 2020.

Although I completely dig this book, I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it issue to issue when it was released. There is one major reason for that. Check out the picture below:

These little voice-over-type blurbs appear A LOT in this book. At times, they appear two or three times in the span of six pages! They are meddlesome.

If I were reading this in single issues, I don’t think the blurbs would have felt so intrusive, but taking in 12 issues at once? It got to be a bit much. I did find out from my buddy Tim Davis, owner of Alternate Reality Comics on 111th and Kedzie in Chicago, that these blurbs are actually a nod to the Superman Family comics from the 60’s which contained these blurbs in order to intro each story. He showed me some…dang, they contained A TON of words.

That is my only criticism.

For Matt Fraction fans, this book does feel like the DC version of the Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon run he did over at Marvel. Of course with a DC spin and a heaping handful of weirdness and chaos. And as a fan of weirdness and chaos, the book spoke to me.

Basic premise: someone is trying to kill Jimmy Olsen, so he fakes his death and tries to figure out who is out to kill him…without the help of Superman. The story is a bit non-linear (so actually, having the entire trade rather than single monthly issues might help you keep track of what’s going on), so get ready for a bit of ol’ pep talk – “Ok, keep reading and this will all make sense eventually.”

The creative team blends well. Steve Leiber’s art and Nathan Fairbairn’s color complement the writing. Bright colors fill the pages, and even when we are in Gotham, character facial expressions, and witty quips constantly remind us that we are not in the traditional Gotham we have been raised to inhabit as readers. Even Batman gets to be the butt of a few jokes!

Where does this book belong, and whom would I give it to?

I’ll start with the classroom. I’d give this a PG-13 rating. But I’m not teaching with it. I might look at a page or two with a class to show the connection to the history with the blurbs, or use some of the jokes as an example of how to be funny in comics, but this book wants to be on the shelf, discovered and read by someone looking for that fun, witty DC book. Yes, I’d put it on my classroom/library shelf. I would also give it as a gift to the DC fan in my life that had not read it; they would love it!

Yep. Fun and flavorful! This one is a winner. Check it out!

Happy reading!

Eric

@comics_teacher IG/Twitter

mr.kallenborn@gmail.com