It’s a bizarre time proper now, people. Which makes it a completely excellent month for me to put in writing about Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.
Don’t get me unsuitable. I assumed lengthy and onerous about specializing in Superman once more this month as a result of he stands for precisely the type of factor persons are searching for proper now—hope. However the reality is, I believe all of you understand that already. You actually don’t want me to put in writing about it. However what chances are you’ll not understand—not less than, for those who’re not studying the sequence—is how effectively suited Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber’s totally kooky Jimmy Olsen title is for our instances.
A lot has been made about how the guide adapts the unique Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’s Silver Age shenanigans for the fashionable day, and that’s true. However to say that’s all of the guide is doing is to do it a disservice. The present Jimmy Olsen has its finger on at the moment’s pulse, even when its star character appears to be like and typically acts like he belongs in a 1950s sitcom. That’s notably clear on this month’s Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #9, from the very starting of the difficulty.
Jimmy’s story is informed via vignettes in Fraction and Lieber’s comedian, however that is the primary time they’ve ever taken the type of a Peanuts-like caricature. Peanuts debuted in 1950 and is about as sweetly nostalgic as popular culture will get today. But, Fraction and Lieber are utilizing it as a template to inform a really of-the-moment joke about capitalism whereas additionally giving us a transparent sense of the dynamic throughout the Olsen household.
Jimmy Olsen will get actually ridiculous, however there are some fairly insightful factors being made beneath all of it. And in difficulty #9, a type of factors is made by none aside from Floyd Belkin. In any other case referred to as… Arm-Fall-Off Boy.
It’s onerous to think about a DC character extra ridiculous than Arm-Fall-Off Boy. It is a character whose total raison d’être is to function a Legion of Tremendous-Heroes reject—somebody with an totally ineffective energy who doesn’t appear to pay attention to its pointlessness. And as if Floyd wasn’t already nutty sufficient, Fraction and Lieber have positioned him in a faux-inspirational story about overcoming his incapacity to experience curler coasters…and so they’ve launched his household. (If Butt-Fall-Off Geema Deb-Deb doesn’t get her personal sequence of backup comics, I’m going to be so very disenchanted.) But, this complete sequence truly strikes Jimmy’s story ahead, by revealing how the stress he’s below is beginning to influence his work. Maybe extra importantly, although, it means that for as a lot as we love inspirational tales, we’ve taken ones about human persistence and overcoming obstacles effectively previous the purpose of stupidity.
Jimmy’s framing it as a human tragedy that Arm-Fall-Off Boy can’t experience the curler coasters at a mediocre theme park. Nevertheless, contemplating all of the stuff occurring on the earth proper now, that’s nobody’s definition of a tragedy and it’s not even an fascinating human curiosity story. Actually, that is primarily what Perry White (with some assist from I.T. Mike) tells Jimmy precisely one web page later.
I imply, I really like that Perry makes the “fall-off-butts” reference, however he’s truly saying one thing fairly damning concerning the state of recent journalism. The one movies that Jimmy produces that folks need to see are those the place he nearly kills himself. It’s hardly something stunning to say that within the age of 24-hour-news cycles and each outlet preventing for clicks that information has develop into extra sensationalized. The extra surprising, weird or horrifying a narrative, the higher it does, and when on daily basis is a battle for relevance and profitability, it tracks that information shops would attempt to make as lots of their tales as sensational as potential. However that doesn’t imply it’s proper, which finally paints a fairly bleak image for the state of recent information—one thing alluded to in Perry’s last line on the web page.
The most effective issues about Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen is how casually the sequence goes round making factors like these. It’s not apparent and in-your-face about its messages, however richer which means may be present in almost each sequence for those who care to search for it. Contemplating what number of sequences every difficulty accommodates, that’s saying lots. (I haven’t even touched on difficulty #9’s sensible spy film satire, uplifting Porcadillo moments and surprising last revelation.) Better of all, it does all this whereas not shedding sight of the individual at its heart. That is nonetheless Jimmy’s story and after 9 points, we’re all invested in seeing how he’s going to get himself out of this mess he’s in and the way a lot crazier issues will get earlier than he does.
Which brings me again to my preliminary level. As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s a bizarre and fairly scary time on the earth proper now, and none of that is to in any approach make mild of that. But when we glance to our leisure for inspiration, I believe it’s value mentioning that issues have been bizarre and fairly scary for Jimmy Olsen since difficulty #1. Via curveball after curveball, he’s saved on going, making an attempt to make one of the best out of the disturbing state of affairs he’s discovered himself in for months now. For probably the most half, he’s finished all this with none assist from his pal Superman or some other super-powered particular person—Jimmy’s largely needed to depend on himself and his household. He’s had some stumbles, similar to anybody would, however when he’s fallen, he’s gotten again up.
I believe it’s a welcome and surprisingly related message proper now. Our challenges in the meanwhile could also be far completely different from the beautiful foolish ones that Jimmy faces, however that doesn’t imply we are able to’t face them the identical approach. If Jimmy can survive being was a lizard, getting run out of Gotham by Batman and discovering himself the goal of spurned alien royalty, perhaps we are able to get via what we’re dealing with as effectively. And even higher, I’m fairly positive we are able to do it with none of our butts falling off!
Tim Beedle covers films, TV and comics for DCComics.com, writes our month-to-month Superman column, “Tremendous Right here For…”, and is a daily contributor to the Sofa Membership, our weekly tv column. Search for him on Twitter at @Tim_Beedle.