There’s some news regarding Superman that PDRs will find extremely interesting. This is news important enough that I have knocked today’s scheduled Superman Thoughts post down the line and have to address this now, the day I found out about it. Superman Smashes The Klan is coming.
A story about the Clan of the Fiery Cross radio show! I have wanted this forever.
And apparently it’s news from February, so I am clearly bad at Superman Thinkin’. Here is a news story from the fifth of February announcing this book will come to exist in 2019. Here is a Superman Thoughts posts I scheduled in April in which I lamented that the Clan of the Fiery Cross had not been remade. Clearly, I am not good at keeping up on these things.
I don’t think this is a remake of the Clan story from. From what few scraps I have gathered in the hours since I first learned about this, I think it’s going to be a meta-textual piece about a child who hears the radio serial and how it relates to her life as a Chinese immigrant. That’s great. I’m on board. After all, that means I get this story AND I still get to clamor for a proper remake of the story.
What I am saying is: I am happy this is happening.
Anyway, In another post I have scheduled for next month or so, I talk about how I’d love a standalone book based on the radio show and using the character designs from the Fleischer cartoons. Look at that image up there and tell me it isn’t awesome. Anyway, when that posts finally comes up, keep in mind that I didn’t know about this.
Look, I don’t have a lot to say about this one. This one time, a story was just casually mentioning adventures that Superman had that we didn’t get to read about. One of those adventures, detailed only in this single panel, was the War of the Brain Worlds. That is a better name than 90% of movies released in the last decade. Someone needs to tell this story, please.
Hey everybody, meet Douglas Giddings, Superman’s lawyer.
I’m not going to pretend that Douglas Giddings is an important part of the Superman Mythos and that his not being in the supporting cast is hurting things and he must be brought back, but I think he’s a neat idea and I could probably get a quick Superman Thoughts thing out of him.
Giddings made only one appearance, in the pre-Crisis era when it felt like the books were trying to use up their spare ideas before the 80s reboot of Superman. A backup story in Action Comics #581 gives us a day in the life of Superman’s lawyer. Like Jimmy Olsen, Giddings has been given a special watch by Superman. While Jimmy’s watch allows the kid to get in touch with Superman, Giddings’s watch tells him when Superman is coming to meet about legal matters. They talk about things like television stations using the rights to Superman’s image, to advertisers trying to mooch off his reputation. Then crimes happen and Superman races away to save the day, with Giddings riding his motorcycle there to capture footage of the events. The story implies that Giddings has been working behind the scenes with Superman for a long time, even if we never heard about it and never will again.
I like the idea that, when Clark made the move from vigilante to respectable superhero, he lawyered up to keep everything above board. Maybe there’s some story in which Superman saved Giddings, who then volunteered to help the hero out. We’ll never know, but I think there’s some ground that could be covered there, if someone ever wanted to.
(Fact: Nobody but me wants to.)
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.
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.