Over the past 30 or so years I have literally read hundreds of comics starring Superman, and you know, I can't think of a single Jimmy Olsen story that stands out among them all. I think Jimmy's fine, and he's part of the mythos, but I've never seen Jimmy as being much more than a very, very minor player in Superman scheme. Clark sort of acts as his mentor, Lois treats him like a dutiful kid sibling, and he's as close to a sidekick as Superman gets, except this sidekick is always getting into trouble and needs Big Blue to bail him out. I don't ever recall Jimmy being fleshed out much outside of his role at the Daily Planet. I seem to recall at one time he dated Lois' sister who got turned into Bizarro or something. Okay, I don't really recall. There was another time I may or may not recall Jimmy drank some of Elongated Man's gingold stuff and reacted badly... but again, that was just a story where Jimmy does some dumb shit and Superman bails him out. Hell of a character trait.
So beyond the signal watch, red hair, freckles, and bow tie, there's not much to Jimmy Olsen. In the New 52 Jimmy seems to be a contemporary of Clark's, rather than his junior, which should be a step up, but they're still trying to establish Superman, never mind his supporting cast, not that I'm really paying attention (see 365 Comics #52). But just prior to the Flashpoint reboot, while experimenting with the new $3.99 price point by way of 10-page back-up features, Jimmy Olson finally came to life. And I missed it.
You bet I missed it, because I didn't care. OH! So they're introducing a character from that TV show I barely like (yet secretly really enjoy... see 365 Comics #37 and #9), I didn't really care. So Jimmy Olsen is starring in an ongoing story for the first time in decades, yeah, cared even less. But good words were coming out that back-up feature, this Nick Spencer guy... really talented. Everyone was saying so... well, maybe not everyone, but still the reaction was really strong. It was on my radar, and I decided to trade wait.
Nick Spencer's become one of my favourite writers. He finds a very human angle to surreal characters. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was my first exposure to him, then Ultimate X-Men, then Morning Glories, and now a whole bunch of other stuff. He's good and worth following. But I'm still endlessly curious about that Jimmy Olsen run. Why is it not in trade?
I was cruising the "free comics" in Comixology and found this free preview of Action #893 (the full first Jimmy Olsen 10-page backup), and it's every bit as good as I'd been led to believe. Jimmy, still Superman's pal, but now he's got a supporting cast of his own, a nemesis, a maybe girlfriend, and both major swagger and a lack of self-esteem. Spencer cuts to the root of Jimmy Olsen, a man empowered by being a pal to the mightiest being on Earth while at the same time left lacking his own identity without him. Brilliant. It's everything I expect out of a Nick Spencer story, and far, far more than I ever expected out of Jimmy Olsen.
I want that trade.