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?

General Zod Is All The Super-Jerk We Need

It’s a vastly overdone story idea: What if Superman was actually a jerk. It’s also very unnecessary considering that you’ve got a Jerk Superman already built into the lore. That is exactly the best possible use for General Zod.

Zod is a great mirror to Clark. What if Superman was the type who saw his powers as something that places him over other people? What if he thought that violence was the best way to solve problems? What if you had a Might Makes Right Superman? That right there is General Zod.

And like Superman, Zod comes with a whole family of his own. His wife Ursa may not directly parallel Lois in any real way, but just being a superhuman like her husband is a contrast to Lois. I bet there’s a plot to be mined from Lois and Ursa having to team up to save their husbands or something. Lois could show her that brute force isn’t the only way. And Zod and Ursa’s son Lor-Zod is a natural foil to Jon Kent, Lois and Clark’s son, the current Superboy. Given the chance I’d find a way to have Jon and Lor-Zod going to school together.

The Eradicator has been teamed up with the House of Zod in recent years. It’s probably not how I would have done it, but even that can parallel the Superman family. These days Eradicator is Zod’s Steel (or maybe his Kelex?). And Zod’s other soldiers, like Non or Faora, are basically his equivalents to Conner and Kara and so on.

Nothing I’m saying here is extremely revelatory. Mostly I think the books get what to do with Zod and friends. They may not do it exactly how I want, but nobody is getting is exceptionally wrong either. Given control of the franchise, I’d probably keep them out of the Phantom Zone and give them a base on an asteroid or something. They could commute to Earth and to other planets regularly, without needing a thing about breaking out to begin each plot. Let’s just have them all around when we need them. If nothing else, maybe it’d allow writers to go to the “Superman-Turns-Bad” well quite so often.

Bloodsport: Superman’s Gun-Havingest Villain

Bloodsport is a relatively minor Superman villain. Actually, Bloodsport is three relatively minor Superman villains. We’re going to ignore the second Bloodsport for now (I’ll possibly do a whole post on him in the future), but the first and third are very similar, so I’ll talk about them today.

Bloodsport’s deal is that he is a militaristic type who can summon any gun he can imagine to appear in his hands. It isn’t easy being a gun-themed villain when your protagonist enemy has this whole iconic thing where he’s bulletproof. Good thing Bloodsport can whip up weird sci-fi guns.

The first Bloodsport was named Michael DuBois and the third never really got a real name. They both looked the same, being black men whose costumes were mostly just red bandana mask things. The thing is that the DuBois version of the character was written off fairly early and I suspect that part of the reason for that was that he was given an overly complicated backstory I don’t even feel like getting into right now, but which limited his use in stories. The third Bloodsport took the right tack for the character: He’s just a mercenary villain who shows up now and then when such a villain is needed. If it were up to me, we’d cut the chaff and we’d have Bloodsport be Michael DuBois and he’d just be a mercenary type villain. Well guess what! That’s how the Supergirl show went with it when they had him show up! Well done, Supergirl show.

But the Supergirl show did not let him have his powers. Without being able to summon guns, there just isn’t much to Bloodsport. But then, I’m not thrilled with how those powers have existed in the comics either. In his first appearance, Bloodsport’s weapons were teleported in from a stash somewhere far away (Luthor owned it, I think). In spite of DuBois’s claims above, if the weapons exist before he summons them, he can’t really summon ANY weapon he can imagine. They have to already exist. And also, that first appearance showed how Superman was easily able to counter the teleportation anyway. Bloodsport, as he is, doesn’t seem like much of a threat. I’ll now fix that:

First, I’d cut the teleportation angle. My Bloodsport would instead have nanotechnology coursing through his bloodstream that he can control to grow weapons at will. The first way this improves the character is that it justifies the word “Blood” appearing in his terribly generic mercenary villain name. But also, this way we actually could make the claim that any weapon he can come up with on the fly. And, I gotta be honest, if we’re going to have one Superman’s few black villains be a gun-toting guy, we should at least have him be a skillful and imaginative designer of weapons.

Anyway, here’s some cool weapons Bloodsport could use:

  • A sniper rifle where the red light is capable of making a weak spot in a Kryptonian’s skin red-sun radiation-style.
  • Like a flamethrower, but instead of fire it shoots molten lead that could harden on Superman’s face obscuring his x-ray vision.
  • Bullets full of werewolf serum that turn Jimmy Olsen into a werewolf if he gets to much as scratched.
  • A gun that fires a weighted chain to attach to victims and pull them off a roof so Superman has to abandon a chase to save them.

And so on. You know the drill.

Weaknesses are Superman’s Kryptonite

Let’s say you’re writing a Superman story and you want to make it seem like Superman is in danger. One of the most persistent complaints about the character is that “He’s too powerful!” and “He can do anything!” Basically, the idea here is that he has no weaknesses, so it’s unbelievable that he could be threatened. The thing is though, Superman has weaknesses. Hell, everybody knows he has at least one weakness. His most famous weakness is so well known that we actually use it as a term for weaknesses that anyone has. Next to saying that something is your “Achilles Heel”, saying something is your “kryptonite” is probably the most well known way of describing a weakness without just using the word “weakness”.

But if you have to work kryptonite into every story, you end up repeating yourself every month, which means things grow stale. It’s good then that kryptonite isn’t actually Superman’s only weakness. The second most often cited weakness of Superman, by those in the know anyway, would be “magic”. Now, if a stage magician were to walk up to Superman and pop a flash paper thing in his face, that wouldn’t hurt him. No, it’s “real” magic that can hurt Superman. Essentially, if something can defy the laws of physics, nobody is going to deny that that could hurt Superman. That’s handy for characters like Mr. Mxyzptlk to befuddle our hero. So that’s another weakness, but still, he’s pretty overpowered, though, right?

Well, it turns out that if someone, or something, is strong enough, they can just beat the heck out of Superman. Really. That happens a lot for such an “overpowered” character. Look at the whole Doomsday thing. You know, that time Superman was beat so badly by some alien monster that he was declared dead. That was just some alien that happened to be strong enough to take on Superman. No magic or kryptonite involved. Other such monsters can and do exist in Superman’s world. You want Superman to feel threatened in a story? Throw some monster in there. Bam, he’s threatened.

But apart from that Superman is still overpowered, right? He can fly, he can shoot lasers from his eyes, he can see through walls, and more. What kind of villains are supposed to compete with that? Well, here is where I will remind you that Superman’s gallery of villains includes about a dozen people with the exact same set of powers that he has. The Phantom Zone is full of other Kryptonians who’d just so happen to love to kill the guy. Some, like General Zod, have Superman’s powers plus the tactical skills of a military leader. Some, like Faora, have Superman’s powers plus extensive training in martial arts. Some, like Nam-Ek, have Superman’s powers plus other mutations that actually make them more powerful. Some, like Jax-Ur, have Superman’s powers plus a scientific mind that could probably come up with clever ways to use those powers like Clark regularly does. They are at least Clark’s equal in powers and they outnumber him on top of that.

Furthermore! There’s all the other supervillains with powers. Bizarro has as many powers as Superman, but with bizarre twists. Parasite can drain Superman’s own powers at a touch, weakening the hero while buffing himself. The Cyborg Superman can whip up whatever technological nonsense you want to use that week. Toyman or Prankster can design any kind of wacky scenario in which Superman is threatened by some weird doomsday device. The list goes on.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think every Superman story should be about villains. I prefer to see him in stories that aren’t about who wins fights. But let’s suppose you want to tell such a story. And you don’t want it to be one where Lois or Jimmy or Ron or even Metropolis as a whole is in danger. You want to make it seem like Superman himself is threatened by a supervillain. But you don’t want the villain to have Kryptonite, or magic, or to be particularly strong, or have any interesting powers or to create an interesting scenario. In that case, I would suggest you just make Superman say “Man, it’s strange, but I’m feeling really weak right now.”

Yeah, that would be bad writing, but it sounds to me like you’re aiming for a bad story, y’know?