Jimmy Olsen: Idiot Savant or Just Plain Idiot?

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One of the biggest plotlines hyped by DC for Countdown has been the death of Jimmy Olsen. *Gasp!* goes the crowd, “You can’t off one of comicdom’s greatest characters!” But after reading this issue, I agree with the Joker – Jimmy Olsen MUST die!

01countdown50cover.jpgI really have nothing against Jimmy Olsen, he seems like a somewhat likeable fellow who can take some good photos and has a sweet gig at the Daily Planet. But beyond that, what do we really know about Jimmy-boy? Sure he’s Superman’s pal and all, but he’s also kind of a dork and when you get right down to it he isn’t the Everyman character readers are supposed to identify with.

Jimmy takes up the bulk of this week’s issue and it kicks off with Jimbo hot on the trail of the Red Hood to ask him some questions regarding the death of the Joker’s Daughter. Of course Jimmy is from Metropolis and doesn’t know his way around Manhattan, so he gets a little help from his pal Superman hanging out in geosynchronous orbit high above the planet. Using his handy-dandy wrist communicator, Superman leads Jimmy right to Jason Todd’s location, even helping with a little B&E.

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This sequence is actually pretty cool, but as soon as Jimmy finds The Red Hood and begins to snap photos of him taking down a gang of thugs the story loses all credibility.

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Notice anything wrong? Let me point it out to you – IT’S CALLED A SECRET IDENTITY FOR A REASON! I’ve probably read the dozen or so relevant issues of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and nowhere in my memory has Jimmy ever been made privy to sensitive information like the secret identity of any superhero, yet here he starts spilling the info that the Red Hood is Jason Todd and “More recently he posed as another one of Batman’s former protégé’s, the first Robin named Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Nightwing.”

So in other words, Jimmy knows Nightwing is Dick Grayson, and Red Hood is Jason Todd, but is too stupid to put two and two together to figure out Batman is really Bruce Wayne, or that his “Pal” is really Clark Kent? I would expect the writers not to make such a huge blunder like this, but then again, DC Continuity Guru Mark Waid isn’t working on this title.

Oh wait it gets better.

Jimmy actually believes The Joker’s Daughter is really the daughter of one Crazy McKooKoo Head currently caged up at Arkham Asylum. When Jimmy questions “Mister Todd” on the death of the Joker’s Daughter, Jason tell him everything he knows (Stinky did it), yet Jimmy can’t understand why an alien would kill this minor nobody cares character from the DCU. It’s a pretty crazy time as Jason puts it, and he knows exactly who Jimmy should talk to in order to understand crazy. Yes, Crazy McKooKoo Head himself, the Joker.

As readers, we know Jason was murdered by The Joker (you did read Death in the Family from the reading list last week didn’t ya?), and we know Jason used to be the sidekick to Batman. Since Jimmy is Superman’s Pal, a moniker that has caused a lot of problems over the year for the redhead, isn’t sending Jimmy to the crazy house just asking for trouble? Almost like Jason is doing this on purpose?

The other thing that puzzles the bejeebus out of me is why on Earth-X would Jimmy believe Duela Dent is really the daughter of the Clown Prince of Crime, especially with the name Dent. DENT as in Harvey Two-Face. Duh! The more I think about this stupid turn of events and the writers expecting us to believe this little misunderstanding by Jimmy the angrier I get. The logic just isn’t there, and I bet if I questioned an eight-year old his little brain would pop.

When Jimmy does get to Arkham and breaks the news to the Joker, pasty face can’t believe how stupid Jimmy is either.

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This is the best panel in the entire issue by the way and it pretty much sums up what we are all thinking about Jimbo.

When the Joker breaks the news to Jimmy that he doesn’t even have a daughter, Jimmy begins to walk off in disgust. Remember dear reader, Jimmy is in the loony bin where all sorts of criminally insane people are kept. While Jimmy tries to call Lois about the story being a bust, he fails to notice the noise and brouhaha as Killer Croc breaks free of his restraints and lunges at Jimmy, because… well… Jimmy probably tastes like chicken.

If next week we actually see Jimmy go the way of Osiris, then I have high hopes for the series, and would help explain the Emo Superman image from months ago. Although if Jimmy does get eaten by a hungry crocodile man, I think it might raise a red flag with “concerned citizens”.

After last week’s review, readers seem to really hope the story about Mary Batson and her return to the Marvel family is a great one. This week we find Mary hanging out at Madame Xanadu’s Hokus & Pokus Occult Curioso hoping to get a lead on Freddie Freeman. Madame X tells Mary is told Freddie is no where to be found. Makes me wonder if maybe Mary wasn’t asking the right question. Would the result be any different if Mary had asked Madame Xanadu to find Captain Marvel or Captain Marvel Jr. (depending on when Countdown and Trials of Shazam! take place in continuity)? Or perhaps Mary should ask Madame X how she can be both in a coma for a year and in 52 at the same time. Is Countdown taking place on a different Earth, or should we just say it was an after effect of Superboy Prime Punch!? Oh my head is hurting worse than a Slurpee Brain Freeze!

Since Mary’s story is called Seduction of the Innocent and we have seen Eclipso/Jean Loring reaching out a hand, we know the dark side is scanning the young lady over carefully.

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Stay out of Gotham? Could it be because the Spectre has taken up residence there, or the Rock of Eternity is still so far out of whack Billy hasn’t gotten everything under control? That is going to be an interesting story to follow throughout the next year.

Which brings me to one of the biggest complaints I am going to have for this entire run; I mentioned it last week, but it is abundantly clear this week – you are going to need to read many other current issues to get the larger picture. 52 was great in that it was a self contained story that had very little spillover into the other titles. This isn’t so with Countdown.

If you haven’t been reading the most excellent JSA/JLA Lighting Saga crossover currently going on then you are missing out on a bit of retro fun with the Legion of Superheroes, the Justice Society, and the Justice League of America that hasn’t been seen since the final days of Crisis on Infinite Earths. This week we are presented with the fight scene from Justice League of America #8 where Karate Kid uses his impressive Wipe On/Wipe Off skills on The goddamn Batman!. I don’t mind this alternate look at the fight, but it does bring into question how closely timed all the tie in issues are going to be. DC is treading in some awfully deep waters here and one miscalculation in how everything ties together could cause Countdown to Final Crisis (oops, did I just spoil something?) to wind up in the exact same situation as Marvel’s Civil War and related books. In this case JLA #8 arrived almost two weeks ago if memory serves, which means the events occurring in this week’s issue are quite dated, and by the time the Lightning Saga ends, it will be far behind Countdown.

Likewise, the Flash Rogues gallery falls into the exact same situation. This week we see the bad guys hanging out and snorting up the coke with a bevy of women-with-loose-morals. Trickster and Piper are still under the microscope as to where their loyalties lie, and when the Mirror Master shows up, he tells everyone of a meeting where the duo can prove their loyalties.

Again, if you have read Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #12, you know exactly where this portion of the story is headed. What we are seeing in the pages of Countdown is the buildup to the current Flash arc and presumably the aftermath, because we all know Bart Allen won’t be kept down.

If Countdown is going to tie in with the rest of the DCU this closely, there are certainly going to be major questions raised, like where does the Amazon’s Attack storyline fit into all of this, when are we going to see some of the other Multiverse worlds, and most importantly, who will Stinky kill next? I’m sure some of this will be answered in time, but after this second installment, my faith in this weekly series has become quite shaky.

The Good

  • The art is very nice
  • I don’t mind this title tying in closely with the rest of the DCU

The Bad

  • Jimmy is really stupid
  • I had higher hopes from Dini, Palmiotii, and Gray
  • No Stinky this week (sad face)
  • New readers might have a problem with this title tying in closely with the rest of the DCU

What you should probably read:

  • Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen
  • Doorway to Nightmare (1978)
  • Arkham Asylum
  • Day of Vengeance TPB
  • Tales of the Unexpected (second series) #1-#8
  • JSA/JLA – The Lightning Saga (current)
  • Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #9 – #13

I absolutely love the cover by Andy Kubert. If I were rich enough to afford some original artwork, this is the piece I would hang in my son’s room to give him nightmares and keep him in line (hint: I will be able to afford original artwork when people start buying ad space – reasonably priced of course). Likewise, the inner pencils by Jim Calafiore are very well done, but even the art isn’t able to save an installment that ends up causing more headaches and questions than we should probably have in issue two of the series. Readers know I’m a big fan of Paul Dini, but there were so many “errors” in how Jimmy Olsen is written that in the end, I can only give Countdown #50 a measly 1.5 Stars out of 5.

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Parting Shot

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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19 Comments

  1. May 23, 2007 at 4:31 pm — Reply

    Actually, Stephen, The RIDDLER’s Arkham name is Crazy McKooKooHead. The Joker is “Wackjob O’Loonytune Von Homicidalmaniac.”

  2. May 23, 2007 at 4:38 pm — Reply

    Uh, Jimmy? That smell of human flesh wafting around the back of your neck is actually trying to tell you something…nope, guess you are that dumb to not hear a Twenty Foot Lizard Man bound towards you while you’re on a cell phone, nor the foreboding laughter of a certified lunatic.

    By the by, does Joker have the smile that Morrison gave him in this issue?

  3. davek
    May 23, 2007 at 4:38 pm — Reply

    What was it before he changed it?

  4. May 23, 2007 at 4:51 pm — Reply

    Matt: That totally explains everything!
    Salieri totally gets the point – how stupid of a sequence. Although, perhaps Jimmy has a secret handicap that we don’t know about, in which case I feel bad for making fun of those with challenges.

  5. Mark I.
    May 23, 2007 at 4:51 pm — Reply

    (maybe this won’t stuff up the Spam-o-Meter…different email address…)

    What the hell? No really, WHAT THE HELL??? Jimmy Olsen knowing Todd and Grayson’s ID’s is very amateur night. How does anyone who writes comics for a living make that mistake? Sorry, that’s very jarring. It’d be like Spider-Man…I mean Daredevil…I mean Iron Man…I mean…

    Wait, does anyone in the Marvel Universe even have a secret identity anymore?

  6. May 23, 2007 at 4:58 pm — Reply

    Nope. They don’t like all those silly “superhero” aspects clogging up their war and nudie books at Marvel. :)

  7. May 23, 2007 at 5:02 pm — Reply

    Heh, Mark…last time I heard someone say ‘Amateur Night’, it was the Joker.

  8. Brent F.
    May 23, 2007 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    I think Jimmy Olsen is perhaps another example of what the Monitors are attempting to fix.

  9. May 23, 2007 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    Wait, does anyone in the Marvel Universe even have a secret identity anymore?

    Only those who didn’t register.

  10. Obsessive Geek
    May 23, 2007 at 5:17 pm — Reply

    Yeah, actually, Jimmy knowing Dicky’s Secret ID – and Batman’s for that matter – is totally consistent with this obsessive need to return everything to pre-Crisis (the original and only one deserving to be called simply Crisis) status. In the Silver Age, Jimmy knew that Bruce and Dick were Batman and Robin. Or at least that Dick was Robin. ‘s true!

  11. May 23, 2007 at 5:20 pm — Reply

    OG: Thanks for pointing out the Silver Age connection – however it still brings up the question, how could yJimmy know Dick was Robin, and NOT figure out Bruce was Batman?

  12. May 23, 2007 at 5:24 pm — Reply

    Mark: the whole secret identity issue is a big deal with me as this article points out.
    http://www.majorspoilers.com/archives/4.htm

  13. Mark I.
    May 23, 2007 at 5:57 pm — Reply

    So…we’re returning to the Silver Age Jimmy who knows the ID’s of the Robins who didn’t exist in the Silver Age, while Lois and Clark are still married, and Batman is acting like late 70s early 80s serious-but-not-bitter-and-paranoid-with-fifty-foot-cape Batman, except he’s got the modern suit, and Batman & Superman met the Metal Men, but DIDN’T meet the Metal Men, and Franklin Richards is still 8 years old.

    Piece of cake.

    So who has the worst-kept secret identity… Comics Batman or Movie Spider-Man?

  14. Mark I.
    May 23, 2007 at 6:12 pm — Reply

    Maybe I’m the last person to guess this it, but maybe not…

    Is Joker going to be one of the “keys to the universe” because he’s able to decipher the nooks and crannies of the cut-and-pasted post-52 continuity with his SUPER CRAZY POWER? Like during the ol’ Marvel vs. DC thing, when he recognized and remembered Spider-Man right off the bat (no pun intended) when Spider-Man had absolutely no clue who the Joker was or where he came from?

    That might be interesting. Or stupid. I’ll check back in 49 weeks, I guess.

  15. Brent F.
    May 23, 2007 at 6:14 pm — Reply

    Comics Spider-Man, since the entire world knows who he is now.

  16. May 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm — Reply

    Even worse than Jimmy knowing everyone’s secret ID is the fact that Superman lead him to the Red Hood – a vigilante who KILLS people – and didn’t bother to haul his ass off to Ryker’s Island.

    Three letters: W-T-F?!

  17. Brent F.
    May 23, 2007 at 8:03 pm — Reply

    Batman’s probably asked everyone to let him handle the Jason Todd thing since he no doubt feels partially responsible. Also, Jimmy Olsen and Superman wouldn’t have to worry about Jason trying to kill him unless Jimmy was a bad guy.

  18. Baal
    May 23, 2007 at 8:39 pm — Reply

    Let me try the Mary Marvel Timeline Thing (TM): Yes, she was in 52 and the day after fell from the sky and managed to not die. Time passed then Countdown 51 happened. Questions?

  19. May 23, 2007 at 8:55 pm — Reply

    Well, that makes sense, save for the fact that her fall was depicted on panel in Infinite Crisis BEFORE the One Year Gap, and THEN she appeared in 52.

    Did she fall AGAIN?

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