Writer: Matt Fraction
Artwork: Steve Lieber
Colours: Nathan Fairbairn
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 17th July 2019
The idea of Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber, who have been responsible for what I personally consider two of the funniest and most entertaining comics of the last decade (Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man, if you’re keeping score at home), collaborating on pretty much anything is more than enough to get me excited. So when I found out the pair were teaming up for a brand new series focusing on everyone’s favourite(ish) hapless superhero acquaintance Jimmy Olsen, I added it to my pull list quicker than you could say “super-duper!”
Based on the previews I’d seen on the lead-up to its release, as well as the brief taster we got in Superman: Leviathan Rising, I was expecting to absolutely love this. I mean, Fraction and Lieber’s track records pretty much speak for themselves, and the quirky style of comedy and visual gags seemed like the perfect fit for this fan-favourite supporting character. It’s probably no surprise then that the pairing absolutely knock this first issue out of the park, keeping the reader chuckling from start to finish at the increasingly absurd situations poor Jimmy seems to continually find himself getting into.
There are some absolute gems of comedy here, from Clark Kent’s cheesy wink to camera to those darned “window bats” (a double-hitter of reference that manages to be funny in isolation, but absolutely hilarious once the context is revealed), and Fraction and Lieber work together seamlessly to bring these moments to life. Lieber’s distinctive artistic style works perfectly to establish the tone of the series, with his aforementioned gift for visual comedy and hilarious character facial expressions nailing every damn line of Fraction’stypically strong script.
The pair adopt a fairly unconventional style of narrative that sees us starting with a brief history lesson of the significant role the Olsens (or Olssons) played in the birth and expansion of Metropolis, before leaping headlong (literally) into the action as a Jimmy attempts to jump from outer space and land on the ground without a parachute. Yeah, you heard me. Gotta keep those “Jimmy’s Pals” wish makers happy, right? The final pages also offer up some cracking possibilities as Jimmy finds himself temporarily relocated to a new-yet-familiar DC location, but with these two creators at the helm, I don’t think we could even begin to predict where this series is going.
Sure it’s a little absurd at times, and readers looking for a more straight-laced ‘superhero pal’ story are likely to be bitterly disappointed, but I absolutely defy anyone to make it all the way through this first issue without at least cracking a smile. Fraction and Lieber are about as perfectly suited a creative partnership as I can think of, and the way they continually play off each other here makes this nothing less than an absolute joy to read.