Review: ‘Jimmy Olsen’ #12 Is A Bittersweet Finale

by Tony Thornley

Over the past year(ish), we’ve come to see the best possible take on one of the most enduring supporting characters in comics. It’s a definitive take on the character that every writer who writes him from this point on should refer to, and with Jimmy Olsen #12 it comes to a bittersweet end.

With the main plot mostly wrapped up last issue, what ground is left for this finale to cover? A lot, apparently, as Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, Nathan Fairbairn and Clayton Cowles show us.

Jimmy and Janie Olsen return home after their adventures together. Their brother Julian has squandered the family fortune, and very nearly ruined the family legacy. However, an unreal twist of fate and genetics will change Jimmy and the Olsens forever…

That summary makes this issue sound incredibly somber and solemn, but make no mistake, this is absolutely the same series we’ve been following for the last year. It’s irreverent and funny. However, it makes sure to take stock in the journey the character has taken, which is a very smart move by Fraction. It doesn’t push Jimmy back into any status quo. In fact, future solicits show that the huge revelations and changes that happen in this issue are going to be the status quo of the Superman titles to come. It’s a great legacy for what has been the best title DC has published in the past year.

The issue also looks great. Lieber and Fairbairn’s work has been a highlight, and this issue is no exception. They make even the quiet moments engaging. Lieber’s cartooning makes the absurd seem normal but not mundane. I’ve also said for years that he has the best sense of timing in comics, and that’s still true here. Fairbairn’s colors are lively, using bright pops of color to emphasize important moments, and keeping it in the background for moments that are more quiet.

Cowles has been a quiet partner for much of the series, and his letters make a huge difference in the story. He’s able to tell and joke and set a mood. His shifting fonts with the chapter bumpers helps set up the jokes that Fraction tells. It’s some of the best letter work I’ve seen in a comic and I haven’t mentioned it enough.

I hope to see this team in any sort of follow-up – DC Universe, creator owned, whatever- because they’ve really done amazing work here. It won’t be soon enough by the next time they work together.

Jimmy Olsen #12 is available now from DC Comics.

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