Medini is one of Superman’s very first super-powered villains, possibly the first. The Ultra-Humanite came before him, but was mostly human with cool technology at this point. Medini is also one of, if not the, earliest non-white characters to appear in Superman. I put it to you that these historical accomplishments mean that Mednini deserves to make a comeback.
For the record, Medini is a hypnotist who appeared in a single story back in Action Comics #25 way back in 1940. Although he does have actual mental powers, he is also a scam artist, getting people to come use his supposed services and actually hypnotizing them into doing crimes for him that they later don’t remember. It would have been a perfect scheme if not for that meddling Superman.
Worth noting: for a non-white character created in 1940, Medini is somehow manages to not be a racial caricature. His powers and turban do kind of suggest an “oriental mystic” sort, but I get the impression he is playing into that image for his scheme. And, incidentally, I actually kind of love his yellow and green suit/turban/gloves look. We never learn where he’s from, but there’s no accent and he’s not drawn as a subhuman creature. He could easily be a surprisingly decent depiction of a South Asian or Middle Eastern guy for that era.
If I said that Terra-Man was a C-lister I want moved up to the A-list, poor Medini is an F-lister I want moved all the way up to the B-list. Seems unlikely, but I think there’s a way to do it.
I figure that the Superman books need a solid cast of recurring C and B-list villains. They aren’t the type who get big arcs or imperil the world or anything, but they can be there for a fun standalone plot now and then. That’s where Medini should be.
Give me an issue where Medini hypnotizes all of Metropolis so they forget how to use computers until they pay his ransom. Give me an issue where Medini hypnotizes Metallo into beating up other villains while Medini gambles on the winners. Give me an issue where Medini hypnotizes Jimmy so he thinks he’s a fugitive and he flees unnecessarily. Just give me an issue with Medini.
The classic sitcom staple of a family made up of spooky weirdos. As would be expected from me, this show is much darker than the usual.
The woman now known as Mummy Spookerson was pregnant in the 1930s, when a demon-worshipping cult member murdered her and her husband. While her husband’s body was chopped up and used in an occult ritual, the woman was mummified and her remains left hidden in a crypt. Whatever sinister purpose the cult originally had for the remains body was forgotten when they were all slaughtered by the demons they summoned. Ten years ago, the mummified corpse woke up. Uncertain what to do with her mysteriously returned life, she just decided to get back to living. She took ownership of the mansion the cult once owned, gave birth to the twins she’d been carrying, and got a job working at a grocery store nearby, where she is now the night manager.
Mummy’s husband was dissected and most of body parts ended up who knows where. His skull, however, sat safely in the cult’s mansion. When Mummy’s woke up, some mystical energies present in the mansion allowed the husband’s spirit to animate the skull. The couple was reunited, and now Deady is a stay-at-home father of the twins. Still, even ten years later, he has trouble corporealizing, so he’s a bit clumsy.
Sally is fascinated by the supernatural, so it is good luck for her that she’s growing up in a cultist mansion with a library of books on occult rituals and artifacts. She’s has trouble behaving in school, and frequently tries to use mystical short cuts to make her life easier, which only gets her into more trouble.
Billy is nerdier than his sister, so he prefers to make his occult dabblings more scientific in nature. He wants to discover things that aren’t in the books in the library. New things. And he wants to be famous for it. He’s got a big ego, and is trying very hard to live up to it.
Uncle is not actually the uncle of the Spookerson family, he’s a cousin, some times removed or whatever, who happens to actually be named Uncle. He was lonely when he was the only surviving member of his family, so when the Spookerson family popped up again, he was happy to join them. He now dotes on the twins and helps them with their various rituals and experiments.
Mr. Curtis lives next to the Spookersons’ mansion, and he is a paranormal investigator. He makes internet videos in which he hunts for ghosts and monsters. He has no idea that there is anything strange about the Spookersons. He thinks Mummy is a burn victim, and has been too embarrassed to ever bring up her late husband. And he thinks all children are strange monsters, so he takes no especial notice of the twins. As far as he can tell, they’re just a normal family. This infuriates the demon once worshipped by the cult, because it is constantly sending messages to Mr. Curtis, trying to get him to kill Mummy so it can be freed from the otherworldly prison where it is trapped. Mr. Curtis is just completely oblivious to the demonic messages.
As a child, I enjoyed the Addams Family (both the movies and the original show), but I have not seen any version of the Munsters. Still, I doubt that that show had the in-depth exploration of the supernatural I’d be trying for here.
If there are any two members of Superman’s supporting cast who I don’t think need a lot of thinking to make them work, it’s Lois Lane and Perry White. I think that, though they are underused by the comics, at least the place they occupy is the place where they ought to be. Lois Lane is an intrepid reporter who cares more about truth and justice than her own safety. Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet newspaper is a stubborn crusader for justice who seethes with anger towards injustice. These two are the reason that Clark Kent, who could easily have a job basically anywhere he wants, wants to work for the Daily Planet.
A common take these days is that Perry is more of a father figure to Lois than her own father. I consider this the correct take. I’ll get more into General Sam Lane and the rest of the Lane family in some future post, but Perry definitely sees a lot of himself in Lois Lane and nurtures her career for that reason. I have not read a lot of YA fiction just yet, so I can’t be sure how they stack up to the usual fare, but I will unequivocally recommend the Lois Lane novels by Gwenda Bond as a great look into the dynamics of Lois’s relationship with her father versus that with Perry. I think they should be required reading for people writing those characters.
Now, Perry definitely wants his paper to be doing the right thing, to go after the bad guys and make the world better, but he also has to worry about sales and advertisers and whatnot (I think it’s best for his character if this pressure is forced upon him by higher-ups like Franklin Stern or Morgan Edge, characters I will cover in the future). He’s an idealist, but is upset by the realities of his job.
Then Superman and Clark Kent come along. Clark gives Perry a second Lois, basically. Yet another reporter doing the kind of work that Perry wants to do. Superman gives Perry something even better: sales. When Superman gives exclusive interviews to the Planet staff, I read that as his way of helping out the paper that puts so much focus on investigative reporting in Metropolis. If an audience wants to read about Superman, Superman is going to direct that audience to the paper that most deserves it.
And Lois Lane is absolutely the only acceptable romantic interest for Clark. Anyone who prefers Wonder Woman or some other even dumber choice just needs to give up.