Sunday, May 19, 2019

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen by Jack KirbySuperman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen by Jack Kirby by Jack Kirby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen by Jack Kirby collects issues #133-139 and #141-148, all written and drawn by Jack Kirby.

When Jack Kirby left Marvel in 1969, his intent was to create the Fourth World at DC. In addition to the New Gods, Mister Miracle, and Forever People, he decided to take on DC's lowest selling title at time time, Jimmy Olsen.

Right out of the gate, this feels like the Fantastic Four without the Fantastic Four. Jimmy Olsen and Superman team up with the Newsboy Legion and go up against clones, bikers, monsters, the minions of Darkseid, and Scots.

I don't normally care that much for Superman of this era but Kirby uses him sparingly and he feels more like a Silver Age Marvel character than an invulnerable planet mover. He's more like Jimmy Olsen's sidekick in this book. Kirby brings the Newsboy Legion and the Golden Guardian back from mothballs and weaves them into the Fourth World saga, albeit as sons of the originals and a clone, respectively.

The influence of this run is surprising. I had no idea Project Cadmus was based on a Jack Kirby concept. The Newsboy Legion and the Golden Guardian were brought back into the fold in the 1990s as well. Darkseid makes his first appearance, although it's just as a behind the scenes manipulator.

The plots are pretty simplistic and Kirby's dialog is as clunky as Stan Lee's but the stories are pure fun in a dynamic Jack Kirby sort of way. There are giant machines, Kirby dots, aliens, monsters, and science fiction concepts like clones. Jimmy and the Newsies get shrunk, visit other dimensions, and bicker the entire time, much like the Fantastic Four did in their early days. I would say the art in the Fourth World books is Jack Kirby in his prime. I just wish Mike Royer inked the entire thing instead of Vicious Vince Colletta.

While his writing isn't the best, Jack Kirby's run on Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen is a bombastic thrill ride embodying the Kirby spirit. Four out of five stars.

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