Inspired largely by the impossibly perfect All-Star Superman by Morrison and Quitely, all though there are bits of basically every continuity peppered in here.
In other news, "Reefer Madness" has surpassed "Dr. Horrible" as my current favorite musical. I'm sorry, Kristen Bell is too damn cute.
"Jimmy Olsen's Blues."
In the time since he'd begun his whirlwind affair with Lucy Lane, Jimmy had gotten used to her flirting with other men in front of him. He had gotten used to her sending robots to test his faithfulness every Valentine's Day. He was even used to her leaving parties his press pass had gotten her into in the arms of foreign ski champions.
But nothing could have prepared him for the phone call he received that morning.
"He's more 'interesting' than me!" Jimmy repeated in disbelief. "That's insane."
He exhaled sharply.
"No, I think it's cool that he was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 1998," Jimmy agreed. "I do."
He crashed against his wall with a resounding "thump."
"I, however, have been into space..."
He slumped down slowly to the floor.
"Where I fought back an army of super-criminals from the Future..."
He rested his head in his hands.
"With my best friend Superman."
Jimmy let the phone slip out of his hands and fall to the ground.
She'd already hung up on him anyway.
A scant few hours later found Jimmy sitting on a bench in Centennial Park, raging against fate. "She said he was 'more interesting' than me. Can you believe that? 'More interesting.' What does that even mean?"
The Newsboy Legion's own Big Words treated his friend and occasional leader to sympathetic shake of the head. "Craziness," he agreed.
"I mean, I've been inside the Fortress of Solitude!" Jimmy bemoaned. "He let me in! You know who else has been in there?"
"I have absolutely no idea," Big Words replied honestly.
"Lois and Batman!" Jimmy shouted. "And that's it!"
Big Words placed a hand lightly on Jimmy's shoulder. "Jimmy, I'm your closest friend, and if I've learned one thing in the years since I was cloned from my father, it's that regular guys like us just don't stand a chance out there."
"I guess..." Jimmy sighed.
Big Words continued. "I mean, with over three million and a half metahumans running around out there... good and evil... do you think anyone's going to notice you just because you've been turned into a giant turtle?"
"You would think so, wouldn't you?" Jimmy said.
"I'm telling you," Big Words reiterated, "we just can't compete in a world where everyone's a challenger of the unknown."
Big Words turned to face Jimmy. "I'm sorry, was that your Signal Watch or mine?"
Jimmy shook his head. "I had mine set to vibrate."
Big Words held up a finger. "I gotta take this."
"Uh-huh... yes... no, I'm free... absolutely, no problem." Big Words severed the connection and turned back to Jimmy. "Hey, we're going on an adventure in the secret city of dinosaurs five thousand feet underground in our way-out Whiz Wagon. Wanna come with?"
Jimmy shook his head. "Nah, I'm good."
Big Words looked doubtful but decided to let it lie. "Okay, hang on to yourself, Jimmy."
Jimmy nodded. "You, too."
Big Words keyed in the precise sequence on his Signal Watch and vanished into the ether, most likely to emerge somewhere deep within Project Cadmus.
"God, why am I not good enough for her?" Jimmy asked himself. "I mean, I'm a decent guy, at least classifiable as 'geek cute,' good paying job, I've been to Phantom Zone... what does it take these days? Hi, Mr. Luthor," he added offhand.
"Olsen," Luthor grunted eloquently, barely allowing himself to be distracted from the elaborate series of commands he was rapidly tapping into his LexPhone (tm).
Jimmy was struck by a thought. "Hi, Mr. Luthor," he said, running up to the super-criminal mastermind, "you're the Smartest Man in the World, right?"
"Smartest, Richest, Most Arrested, Master of Seventeen Different Tantric Arts..." Luthor prattled, still not pausing or facing Olsen. "...well, we could be here all day, but, yes, I am more than qualified to solve whatever minuscule, idiotic problem you could possibly have, through psychological, pharmaceutical, or techno-organic means."
"Um, cool," Jimmy replied, eyebrows arched. "So, I guess you've had all kinds of girls, right?"
Luthor sighed, itself an action of sublime thuggishness. "Olsen, I have no interest in hearing about whatever infection you've come down with. Give all the relevant information to my assistant and she'll provide you with a peppermint-flavored strip that can be applied directly to the tongue. You'll spend the rest of your life paying the sur-charge, but it should eliminate all symptoms."
"No, no," Jimmy waved his arms, "it's nothing like that."
"I was just wondering, how do you get girls to like you?" Jimmy asked. "I mean, beyond winning the Pulitzer Prize for Photography five times before turning twenty-five, 'cos that's surprisingly kind of a dead-end."
Luthor pursed his lips, but kept right on tapping commands. "I trust you're speaking of Lucy Lane."
"Yeah," Jimmy replied, shocked. "How did you know?"
Luthor didn't sigh this time, but you could see the temptation was there. "You're the second closest male friend of my greatest enemy and I'm the Smartest Man in the World. I know you've been dating Lucy Lane off and on for three years now, that your LexPod is currently loaded entirely with live bootlegs of the Toasters, and that you had your first orgasm at age twelve while thinking about the girl who sat in front of you in Sixth Period English... and that you never excavated the courage to talk to that girl."
Jimmy blinked. "You think he's better friends with Batman than he is with me?"
Luthor somehow snorted with Olympian poise. "Please!"
"It's just..." Jimmy said, forcefully steering himself back on track. "It's always like this, you know? I think things are going really well... that she really likes me, she's really interested in me this time, and all that petty stuff she did before is really over... you know?"
Luthor allowed himself a sideways glance at the pathetically exposed young man for exactly one half second. It was not especially sympathetic.
Jimmy looked down and sighed. "And then she does it again!" He turned to look back at Luthor. "Why are girls like that, Mr. Luthor?"
Luthor seemed to be reaching an important stage in whatever it was he was doing on his LexPhone, as his fingers were now moving faster than Jimmy's eyes could follow. "First off, Olsen, I think if you'll take the time to look, you'll find that not all women will run around on a man, not even one like you. In fact, some of them will cling to you with such canine devotion that no matter how clearly you indicate that its time for them to move on, they will continued to hover over you until you are finally forced deal with them as you would a dog in the street."
And here he actually did turn to face Jimmy, but it slowed the speed in which he entering his commands not a bit. "Don't bother looking for the evidence, it's not there to be found."
"Well, obviously," Jimmy granted.
"Your problem," Luthor said, returning his attention to the LexPhone, "is that you're dedicating all of your time and energy to an impossible task. You're young, energetic, and not entirely stupid... instead of wasting your time trying to getting Lucy Lane to commit to you, you could be making real headway in your chosen career."
He shook his head in frank contempt. "Honestly, with your experience, your supposed talent, and your Middle American name recognition, you could easily be the youngest Editor-in-Chief of any major newspaper in the country, and yet here you are still a 'cub reporter' at the Daily Planet with more experience dealing with the sublime than half the Justice League. Does this make sense to you, Olsen?"
"Um... no," Jimmy admitted.
"Then stop wasting your time on a goal you're never going to achieve and find a more useful outlet for your energies," Luthor instructed sagely.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Luthor cursed loudly and threw his phone to the ground.
"What's the problem?" Jimmy asked, not really caring.
Luthor scowled. "Your friend Superman just threw my entire army of Kryptonite-powered Lexbots into the heart of the Sun."
Jimmy nodded with sympathy he didn't really feel. "That'll happen."
"I'll get him next time, though!" Luthor swore, then stormed confidently away.
Jimmy watched him go, then let out a sigh.
After a few hours of wondering around Metropolis feeling sorry for himself, Jimmy finally found himself sitting on the roof on Daily Planet, legs dangling over the edge, LexPod now full of something good and mopey.
Lucy was somewhere down there in the vast Art Deco cityscape, probably having the time of her life with her new boyfriend the washed-up actor, cherishing each time he was recognized on the street for his role in yet another turgid, decade-old teen sex romp.
Because of various complicated accidents over the years, Jimmy was worshipped on eight different world in three different universes, but this was the first time he really doubted his faith.
Then, as if on cue, a booming voice from above called out his name.
Jimmy turned up despondently. "Hey, Superman."
"Are you okay, Jimmy?" the Man of Tomorrow asked with the kind of concern that nearly brought Jimmy to tears. "I heard your Walkman from three miles away and I thought you might be feeling a little down."
The list of things Jimmy had seen Superman accomplish included regularly averting comets, drinking whole oceans, and performing major surgery for free... the whole list whole be as tall as Jimmy and the building he was standing on, even if it was written in a font so small only Superman himself could read it... but this was one time Jimmy honestly didn't think his legendary Pal would be any help.
"It's nothing," Jimmy said simply.
"You know," Superman said with such simple honesty that Jimmy couldn't help but put his faith in it, "you'll probably feel better talking about than you would bottling it up."
Jimmy shook his head. "No, I have been talking about it... that's kind of the problem."
"Well, I can't promise I'll be any more helpful," Superman said humbly, "but I'm always happy to listen."
And Jimmy realized that if there was one person who could help, it was Superman. He would listen to Jimmy and understand, he would say something simple and brilliant and pure that would put it all in perspective, possibly punctuated with a trip to the Dawn of Time. Superman could actually help him through this.
After all, he was Superman.
"Yeah, okay," Jimmy agreed.
The Last Son of Krypton smiled beneficently.
"See, it all started..." Jimmy began.
And then there was a tiny sound, like a pin-drop in the distance and Superman's smile collapsed.
"What was that?" Jimmy asked.
"Don't worry about that," Superman assured him distractedly, "I'm here to listen to your problem."
"No, it seems really important," Jimmy persisted. "What was that?"
"I'll take care of it, but right now I'm here for you," the Man of Steel assured him.
"Superman, what was that sound?" Jimmy demanded. "It really seems like you should be taking care of it."
"It's... a problem at the JLA Watch Tower," Superman admitted.
"I really want to help you, Jimmy," Superman swore, "but this could involve Brainiac or Darkseid or Starro the Conqueror, and..."
"No, it's okay," Jimmy waved him off. "I was just on my way home anyway."
Superman turned to fly off, then shot Jimmy one last glance. "Are you sure?"
And with that the Strange Visitor From Another Planet flew off to save the Universe from itself yet again.
Jimmy lowered his head and turned and started back towards the exit, stopping only when a freak rip in time and space opened three steps in front of the door.
"Jimmy, the Legion needs you," Saturn Girl beckoned from the other side. "Grab your Flight Ring and get ready for far-flung adventure and excitement in the Thirty-First Century..."
"Look," Jimmy cut her off, "is it okay if I just sit this one out? This really doesn't feel like the kind of thing I can handle tonight."
Saturn Girl froze for a moment.
"Are you sure?" she asked finally.
"Okay," she said doubtfully. "See you later."
And then the freak rip in time and space irised shut, leaving no evidence behind that it had ever existed.
Jimmy took it in stride.
When he got to his apartment, he found her already there, sitting on the floor outside his door. Her position clearly indicated she'd there for a while.
"Hey," he called.
She turned he head up to face him. He supposed she looked a little worse for her journey and her hair was a different color, but he was surprised by how little that (and everything else) seemed to matter. "Jimmy, I..."
He looked into her eyes and knew in a moment exactly what she'd gone through. He thought about all the extraordinary people he'd met with that day and how many more he hadn't even had a chance to talk to. "It's okay," he said, waving her off.
She cocked her head in disbelief. "Wait... what?"
"I mean, probably I should be angry or whatever, but... but the bottom line is I can't help the way I feel about you," Jimmy said, turning the key and opening his door. "Well, Luthor could probably give me a mint that would do the job and make my breath smell like New Car, but the price would be ridiculous, so..." He shrugged. "I'm better off skipping that part, right?"
She continued to look at him in disbelief for a moment or two.
"Are you coming in or not?" he asked as though it were nothing.
"No... seriously," she asked, incredibly confused, "we're just moving on?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Seems like something kind of small to get stuck on in a world with flying cats and dogs from outer space."
"You're a strange man, Jimmy Olsen," she finally said.
"My other apartment's in the Bottle City of Kandor, I don't need you to tell me that," he joked ushering her in.
And Mr. Action prevails...