We’re only on issue #4? Gosh, it feels like this series has been going on for ages. Anywho, Jimmy Olsen #4 picks up with our plucky hero still in Gotham trying to convince Lois Lane of a grand conspiracy involving Lex Luthor. Also, Jimmy, now Timmy, wreaks havoc across Gotham as an ambulance-chasing shock jock.
My opening statement isn’t an insult — I said that because Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber pack a ton into each issue. It’s exhausting to keep up, not only with each individual issue, but also trying to remember and tie everything back to previous installments. #4 is especially whirlwind-like since it recaps much of what happened earlier. Of course, that’s done via Jimmy with a “crazy board” a la Charlie from It’s Always Sunny….
While it doesn’t sound terribly exciting to have this issue’s gimmick be exposition via cork-board, Fraction and Lieber find ways around that, like spending the other half of the issue on Family Guy-esque cutaways to illustrate Jimmy’s cartoonish ranting. This allows the creative team to manspread out with gags ranging from Lex Luthor piloting a helicopter to noir-inspired meetings in parking garages. I complained about previous issues dragging on with unnecessary Joachim Olsen segments, but finally Fraction explains their inclusion and incorporates them in a meaningful way.
As previously mentioned, there’s a thread coming through that Jimmy, now Timmy, is reveling in his newfound identity and chasing hits to destructive ends. This is an interesting theme and character idea: seeing a darker side to Jimmy’s usual Chaotic Good. Maybe something lurks within that’s more neutral or…evil? Well, maybe that’s too strong, but he’s certainly acting selfish as Timmy. Unfortunately, Jimmy and Lois have to spell that out for us in dialogue. But since this series has a comedic tone, that’s more forgivable. Exposition is a big part of comedy after all. Hopefully they continue to work on this thread, since there’s so much potential here.
Steve Lieber isn’t handed a script with as much visual verve as other issues. But he’s such a fantastic artist, especially dealing with comedy, that he makes interior exposition scenes fly by. Yet, when he draws cutaway gags that require scope, he adds just the right amount of details to convince us of the scale but not enough to make the visual jokes unwieldy. Might I add that his character expressions in #4 are better than ever (just look at these preview pages).
Despite not having the referential power of #3, this issue simultaneously keeps the momentum and scatterbrain pacing racing along.