First Half of Jimmy Olsember

This Month I decided that I am celebrating Superman’s Pal on Twitter with the hashtag #JimmyOlsember.

But I gotta be putting something on this site, so here is the same content in a different place:

1 December:

RHINOCEROMAN JIMMY

Today Jim woke up as a Rhinoceroman. Everyone is telling him he’s always been a Rhinoceroman and to quit kidding around.

2 December:

BIGFOOT JIMMY

An accident during a time-travel mission turned Jimmy into a bigfoot and Superman is too busy fighting Muto to deal with it right now.

3 December:

KELEX JIMMY

Jimmy accidentally swapped minds with the Kryptonian robot Kelex. Kelex is seriously considering banning Jim from the Fortress of Solitude.

5 December:

TWOHEADED JIMMY

Jimmy managed to get Superman’s for a day, but was immediately exposed to Red K which made him lose those powers but gain an extra head and limbs. It happens.

7 December:

AMPHIBIOID JIMMY

Dabney Donovan has turned Jimmy into an amphibioid. Luckily his watch is waterproof.

8 December:

POPE JIMMY

Jim found a magic ring that causes everyone to think he’s Pope James Bartholomew II. I guess someone has to be Pope. Might as well be Jimmy.

10 December:

POINTILLISM JIMMY

Gzptlsnz was not impressed when Jim gave her a painting he’d done, so she is teaching him about art by turning him into a living pointillist piece.

13 December:

SEAGULL JIMMY

After accidentally ingesting several beakers of Professor Potter’s Seagull Serum, Jim is trying to make the best of it by keeping an eye on Boss Moxie’s warehouses by the docks.

Superman’s Doorman, Frank

Back in the 70s and 80s, the doorman at 344 Clinton St. (Clark Kent’s apartment building) was a minor recurring character in the Superman titles. He was named Frank. He was never a major player, but his recurring presence added an element of verisimilitude that made Metropolis seem like a real place. But then, when the franchise was revamped in 1986, Frank was dropped. Even on the occasions when a doorman was seen, it wasn’t him. I contend that this is a shame.

What I’m here to address, however, is the matter of Frank’s name. On the Internet, one can find him listed as Frank Morris or as Frank Johnson. Well how did the Internet mess that up? Well, it’s a mistake that comes from the comics. For a long time Frank was never given a surname. The earliest I can find of him having one is Superman #360, which was June 1981. He was Frank Morris there. It was a single off-hand reference in a story that wasn’t even about Frank. That was upended by Superman Family #215 (February 1982) in which Frank gives his full name as Franklin Pierce Jackson. That story is actually about Frank reveals that he’s a retired baseball player who was keeping his identity quiet for personal reasons. So maybe he was using Frank Morris as an alias? Well, maybe, but we only ever learned the Morris surname from a narrative caption, not a character in the story, so you think it’d be a fact given from an omniscient viewpoint. No, clearly Morris was never an alias, it was just that the writer of the Superman Family story didn’t know about the Morris naming. The latter story even has Clark explicitly note that he’d never bothered to learn Frank’s name. Anyway, the Jackson name is the one that stuck (It was used in Superman #413 in 1985, for example). So I’d say Jackson is pretty clearly the one that counts.

So why did they get rid of a nice guy like Frank? Well, I have my suspicions, which I can not prove, that maybe it was an overcorrection for fear of being perceived as racist. “The one black guy in here is the doorman?” they might have thought. Well, sure. If Frank Jackson was the only representative of black people in the franchise, I’d agree that was unfortunate. But I’d also say that the solution isn’t to cut Frank out, it’s to add more roles for black people (and that is better in the books now than it was back in Frank’s day). After all, I don’t think there’s shame in being a doorman. Working class people deserve to be represented in stories as well as anyone else. I for one, would be happy to see Frank back at his post.

Also, it’s worth noting that the era that ignored Frank Jackson was also the era that introduced Franklin Stern as the publisher of the Daily Planet. I’m not going to pretend I know why, but it seems like the name “Franklin” was very popular for token black characters. I’d guess it’s a name that they thought sounded black, but not so black as to scare anybody. You had Franklin from Peanuts, and Roosevelt Franklin from Sesame Street, and the latter led to Franklin Delano Bluth. Anyway, Superman has outdone them all by having two Black Franklins. Take that, everybody else.

Loophole: Yet Another Supercrook

Loophole, aka Deacon Dickson, is similar to my take on Stasis, in that he is an aging guy who seems like he is turning to villainy as a way to feel young and powerful (and, of course, “show them all”). But where I decided that Stasis is pathetic and kind of sympathetic, Loophole is a slimy asshole.

Probably having the most appearances of any of the crooks I am analyzing lately, Loophole invented a device that allows him to slip through solid matter. Using this for crimes, he would often bring along young women as his “sidekick” and if that doesn’t sound like the behaviour of a man trying desperately to deny his aging, I don’t know what does.

Instinctively, I feel like Loophole would hate being part of a team. He’s got something to prove. He uses henchmen. Unless he is the leader, he would be unhappy. With that in mind, I’d cast him not as a member of the supervillain team I’ve been building up, but as a rival.

Blindspot: An Invisible Loser

Blindspot, in his two appearances, was kind of a comically inept hitman with a suit that allowed him to turn invisible. I would alter that just a little, making him a comically inept robber with the ability to turn invisible. It is easier to be sympathetic for the guy if he isn’t actively trying to kill people.

And I would want him to be at least a bit sympathetic. If I could again draw on a criminal’s powers to infer their personality, I would cast Blindspot in the role of the ignored and unrespected crook who feels as invisible as he can turn. He would probably overreach himself trying to prove his value to the team and would fail a lot of the time. He gives the rest of these losers someone they can mock to feel good about themselves.

It is worth noting that Blindspot was of Chinese descent (or at least he was Asian and capable of hiding out unnoticed in Chinatown). He was never given a civilian name, so if I were given my druthers he would be Henry Wong, after a Chinese crook who appeared in an episode of the 50s Adventures of Superman show. I can see no reason not to do it, and it works as to remind that diversity in superhero stories isn’t as strange as certain complainers think it is. There was also a Wong family who appeared in issue Superman #54 in the 40s. They were not criminals, though. But maybe they’re Henry’s family. Why not?

Stasis: A Go-Nowhere Supervillain

Stasis is probably the least justifiable of the villains whose return I am calling for in this batch. He appeared only once, in a minor Superboy story and there isn’t much to say about him. He had invented a helmet that allowed him to put people into stasis (basically a non-ice freeze ray). He was beaten when he was tricked into freezing too many people and he was unable to maintain his concentration.

Everything else I see in the character is something I am putting there on my own. But I will make my case.

I see Stasis as the most pathetic of the supercrook group I am building. I picture him as a middle-aged guy whose turn to supervillainy is probably part of a mid-life crisis. I assume I got that because he was an adult fighting teenaged Clark in that Superboy story.

After that, I look to his powers as an indicator of his personality. Would he be someone who holds people back when they want to change or improve their lives? Nah. I already have Toxus for that. Instead, let’s take a method that works with the mid-life crisis idea and say he is the one who wants to change his circumstances, but he’s unable. Oh, sweet irony. Probably, when he got into villainy, he paid his helmet with money borrowed from the Laugher. Now every unsuccessful heist digs him in deeper. And he probably has substance abuse problems too. He would sign up every time Toxus convinces him they will have a big score, but showy crimes never get him anything but trouble. And one can only make so much by freezing convenience store clerks and robbing cash registers while you know Superman is busy fighting the Galactic Golem uptown.