Jimmy Olsember II Roundup

Hey, last month I did the #JimmyOlsember thing on twitter again. But I don’t do content that isn’t ultimately intended to go on this site, so now I shall bring it back here.

2 December:


Some people would be fazed by being transformed into a fire elemental, but Jimmy’s on a hot streak and knows he’ll get a column out of it. (Don’t worry, his watch is fireproof.)

4 December:


That time Jimmy got turned into a pickle he didn’t make a big deal out of it.

6 December:


Jimmy is going undercover on the miniature monster planet Transilvane, to get a story but also to justify to Ron Troupe how much money he spent on neck bolts last year.

8 December:


The bad news: Jimmy’s mission to Transilvane has gone off the rails. The good news: He won the election!

10 December:


Well, Jimmy’s physical form has been completely devoured by tiny machines and his consciousness now resides in a cloud of nanobots. Still, he can’t miss today’s meeting, or the Chief will really get angry.

12 December:


Jim’s evil side has been released by a transporter accident and is now running around as a supervillain! But Lex Luthor won’t take kindly to a new crook moving in on his turf.

14 December:


I think we can all agree that the Mr. Action Arctic Assault Action variant costume is more just an excuse to sell a different action figure and will probably never actually be used.

18 December:


And now Jim is a puppet who has control of one of Ron Troupe’s hands. Let’s hope this can somehow help him investigate that counterfeit toy ring.

20 December:


Mxyzptlk needs a human to represent him in court to fight all those parking tickets, so it’s a good thing he can infuse Jimmy with the Spirit of Justice.

22 December:


Naturally, Jimmy isn’t allowed to participate in the Metropolis Underground Supervillain Fighting Tournament, but who anyway, this new Boxing Mummy seems to be taking the lead.

30 December:


The Wicked Warlock cursed Jimmy to become a pumpkinheaded monster! Honestly, it’s the kind of thing Jimmy doesn’t even notice anymore.

31 December:


Jimmy accidentally mixed some fountain of youth water into his werewolf serum. Oh well, now this literal cub reporter can get that interview with Krypto he wanted.

Superman Cast: Lee Family Update

Several years ago, I did a post about the Lee Family, a group of semi-recurring characters who I liked and wanted to see more of. As I have noted extensively on this site, a book called Superman Smashes the Klan came along and retold the 1940s radio story in which they debuted. I’m a big fan of that book and highly recommend it to all Superman fans.

But that radio show wasn’t the only appearance of the characters, I argued. Tommy Lee had also shown up as Clark Kent’s roommate in some Bronze Age stories. I didn’t know then if this was coincidence or not, but this year I decided I might as well get to the bottom of it. I sent an email to Bob Rozakis, the writer of the stories that introduced the comics version of Tommy, and got this reply: “Clark’s college roommate Tommy Lee was named after one of my college friends.” This proves that the 1980s Tommy and his family and their similarities to the 1940s versions wasn’t an homage, it was pure coincidence.

This just makes me all the more certain that these characters need to come back. On a rational level, I can understand that with the thousands of Superman stories told over decades, such coincidences are bound to happen just because of the sheer numbers. I don’t actually believe that the ideas of these characters is destined by the universe to break through and just needs our help to get it to be permanent. And while I may not actually believe it, I’ll gladly pretend to believe it if it helps me justify bringing these characters back.

As I said in the previous post the woman named Lee who served on Metropolis’s “SCU” police force in some 90s comics was a potential post-Crisis version of Tommy’s sister (then unnamed, now known as Lan-Shin “Roberta” Lee). The Lan-Shin of Superman Smashes the Klan is an inquisitive and adventurous young woman, traits that could easily be remade into the traits of a police detective. And I’ll also note that the connection between the SCU Lee and Tommy’s unnamed sister came to me in a dream. Another sign that the ideas are trying to manifest on their own.

I admit that apart from Rozakis’s input, this update is just me reiterating what I already felt. But I still feel it, so why not reiterate? Bring the Lee family back to the Superman franchise. It’s the only way to shut me up about it.

The Most Misused Names on Superman and Lois

The television show Superman and Lois has recently finished its first season. It’s not often I try to keep up with a piece of live-action superhero media as it comes out, but this show, and its cousin Supergirl, are obviously things I feel required to keep up on. But that’s okay, because it’s been mostly decent.

But one thing this show does that I’ve seen in too many adaptations of stuff from comics: it uses names from the source material in ways of which I do not approve.

Here’s what they did wrong (Full of Spoilers):

Captain Luthor

For the first couple episodes there is a man identified to the audience as Captain Luthor, whom we’re led to believe is the Lex Luthor of an alternate universe. Eventually, this is revealed to be false. He’s actually the John Henry Irons (aka Steel) from an alternate universe.

This is the most forgivable misuse of a name on this list, in part because I genuinely think the show’s creators named the character without knowing where the show was doing. I genuinely believe they did some rewriting and that Luthor was original what he appeared to be. I can understand wanting to change if you think something will work better, but I think they missed a storytelling opportunity here. As far as I can remember, none of the characters are ever led to believe that Irons is Lex. It’s fully a trick played on the audience, never used within the story.

Even so, the reason I find it so easy to forgive is that the Steel reveal was just great. One of the high points of the season.

Morgan Edge

The use of Morgan Edge as a name on this show is another trick played on the audience, because the character began as he’d appear in comics and went WILDLY different places.

In a way I was pleased, because I was worried that Morgan’s presence meant that they’d be bringing in Darkseid, and as I’ve said, I don’t care for Darkseid in my Superman stuff. But, as I’ve also said before, I prefer Morgan Edge when he’s just a supporting cast member who happens to be a jerk businessman, not a supervillain. That’s not what they did here either.

Nat Irons

In the show, there’s an alternate universe in which John Irons and Lois Lane had a daughter named Natalie (I don’t remember catching her surname). In the comics, John Irons has a niece named Natasha. Both go by Nat.

The thing is, I love Natasha. The existence of Natalie on this show almost certainly guarantees that Natasha will not appear. And that’s a dang shame.

Dabney Donovan

And then the worst of all these nominative crimes! They gave the name Dabney Donovan to a normal run-of-the-mill superscientist who was perfectly pleasant, cooperated with authority, and was utterly normal.

Dabney Donovan in the comics is the kind of unhinged loose cannon of science that he created a miniature planet! That had horns! And he hid it in a cemetery! And created life on it that he raised with horror movies! AND THAT IS JUST HIS FIRST APPEARANCE!

At no point should anyone involved in this show have said “We have a scientist here, we could throw in a name from the comics” and landed on Dabney Donovan. Call him Emil Hamilton if you want to phone it in. Call him Harold Vekko if you want to be more obscure. Call him Bernard Klein maybe. Call him Professor Pepperwinkle if you need to. But don’t waste Dabney Donovan on this minor character.

Look, television people. I can promise you that an appropriate name exists within the Superman franchise for anything you’ve got cooked up. I can name those characters for you. Just ask me before you cast Dabney Donovan as the kind of scientist who WOULDN’T create a horned horror planet.

A Deffense of Lois Lane, Chronick Mispeller

There is a running gag in Superman media that Lois Lane is bad at spelling. It seems to me that the momentum of this gag is 99% referencing Superman: The Movie, which seems to be the first place it came up. In that instance, it was a moment in which Perry White quickly glances over an article that Lois has handed him. “There’s only one ‘p’ in rapist,” Perry says. The scene continues and Jimmy Olsen mutters “Told you one ‘p’.” It’s a little bit, but it’s good. The joke is less that Lois has misspelled the word and more that the article is apparently so dark.

There have been similar scenes crafted where the juxtaposition of macabre article content and a spelling error has been used to amuse. But sometimes, especially in media that are geared more toward younger viewers, the spelling error on its own is enough for the joke. And sometimes, over time, it has come to just be a part of Lois’s characterization, regardless of joke context. She’s just a bad speller. It even comes up in Gwenda Bond’s Lois novels, which are a favourite of mine.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned in any other Superman Thoughts post, but I’m currently attempting to get caught up on all the Superman podcasts out there. It’s an exhausting task, but I’m working at it. A couple times people on podcasts have noticed the Lois Spells Bad runner and they’ve said they don’t like it. I don’t want to put words into their mouths, but I think they feel that this is something that makes Lois look dumb. I don’t feel that way. I’ve always thought that Lois is just so passionate about getting her story out, she doesn’t stop to check her spelling. That feels right to me. My ideal Lois Lane is absolutely a person who doesn’t let arbitrary things like rules get between her and the truth.

Morgan Edge Can Just Be Some Jerk

Morgan Edge was introduced in the 70s as the new boss of Superman and friends but then after a while it was revealed he was a servant of Darkseid, a big bad alien supervillain. But here’s the thing: After that reveal, they did a further reveal in which we learned that that Morgan Edge had been a clone and there was a real Morgan Edge who could come back and be the new boss of Superman and friends and who stuck around for the better part of a decade in that role. But why, one might ask, did they bother with that second reveal?

That question is most likely to be posed by people who are only familiar with other iterations of Edge. For example, in the “post-Crisis” era the story was almost identical: Edge was a businessman who had ties to Darkseid, Superman stopped him and the even went further into supervillainy. On shows like Smallville and Supergirl, he’s just a generic businessman with ties to the mob. To people who know Morgan only from these depictions, he’s bound to seem like a boring character.

And I want to be clear, I like it when Superman opposes criminal businessmen. That’s my ideal setup. The list of villains I’d use in a Superman run easily has a dozen of them. But Morgan Edge isn’t one of them, because in the 70s and 80s, after the clone reveal, Morgan Edge stopped being a villain and became a supporting cast member. Someone on the creative staff realized that Edge added an element to the setup. He was a capitalist jerk, but he could also have some depth. We got to learn about his life, and he could present viewpoints that weren’t the same as everyone else, but which didn’t need to end in a fight scene. They did the clone thing so that they could have him around again.

So what’s my point? I guess it’s just that I wish they’d bring him back for that purpose. I’ve said that journalism would play a bigger role in the Superman books if I were in charge and I think it’d be great to have the WGBS news team out there as supporting cast members outside of the main Planet cast, and Edge would be a part of that. That’s it.

I suppose that really this is just me continuing my exclamation that superhero comics need to put more effort into their supporting casts. Is that so much to ask?