So let's talk about the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club for a minute.
I love Jimmy Olsen, and I will go to bat for him as being one of the single greatest comic book characters of all time, but even I am occasionally mystified by the fact that in the canon of the Silver Age, he had a worldwide fan club whose members thrilled to his every adventure, purely by virtue of just being Some Guy Who Knew Superman. I mean, Lois had a fan club, too, but that makes sense. She's an ace reporter and a go-getter. But I've read a lot of Jimmy Olsen comics in my day, and I don't know that I've ever seen any indication that he's actually any good at his job.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club isn't that it exists, but that it once inadvertently caused Jimmy, Superman, and Supergirl to screw up so bad that it took a dozen tiny Supermen to fix it.
Getting super-powers can be a tricky bit of business. Sure, you could always wait for a magic space ring to just literally fall out of the sky, and if you're confident in your ability to be a protagonist and not just a background character, I suppose you could always try to fall into a nuclear reactor and hope you get a new costume out of the deal, or train yourself to be a world-class karate detective, but if you can't afford a rocket car to go with it, you might just end up wasting your time.
Or you could just wait for "Wizard" Holton, Criminal Scientist, to show up and offer you a big Box of Super-Powers that you can wear on your back. All things considered, that's probably the best way to go.
Q: I need a Comet the Super-Horse primer. What's his deal, Chris? -- @MagiknKitty5evr
A: All right, you might want to buckle up for this one, because Comet the Super-Horse is way more complicated than you might expect, even by the standards of the Silver Age. He has a history that literally covers thousands of years in both directions, and provided what are unquestionably some of the most inexplicable and occasionally uncomfortable moments in the 78-year history of DC Comics.
So here's where we start: His name's not actually Comet, he's not actually a horse, and if we're being honest with each other, he's only some definitions of "super."
Q: Composite Superman: good idea or great idea? -- @aleams
So here's the thing: There's a certain kind of brilliance in comics that comes from simplicity. It's the kind of brilliance that you see in a character like Superman, where you know what he's about just by looking at him, where you only need to explain the minor details that make up his personality, because the broad strokes of who he is and what he does are right there from the very first time you see him. Composite Superman, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of that. He's counterintuitive, weirdly designed and completely ridiculous --- and somehow, some way, that's exactly what makes him great.
Most of the time, when you see Superman and Batman fighting --- and boy howdy have we seen Superman and Batman fighting --- it's over some kind of ideological difference. It's a conflict that always seems to have its roots in mistrust between the ideas that those two characters represent, that extremely relatable conflict between a super-powered alien and a normal, regular, non-powered human who only has a billion dollars, a weaponized meteorite, and a rocket car to level the playing field.
But for me, that's only part of the story. I think if we just go a little deeper, we'll find that there's one major source of conflict between Superman and Batman that you almost never hear about.
This week the fans of DC's TV shows finally get to see the live-action comic book crossover that we've all been waiting for, as Melissa Benoist's Supergirl on CBS gets a visit from a new friend from another reality when The CW's The Flash, played by Grant Gustin, makes his first appearance on her show.
We're beyond excited to see what happens when these two DC heroes team-up on the screen, because it looks like the story could capture all the joy of superheroics that sometimes gets lost in other adaptations of the genre. To mark the occasion, we've put together a list of some of Supergirl's best team-up stories in comics, featuring Egyptian queens, unrequited loves, and many, many Draculas.
Batman and Superman are hitting the big screen this week with the promise that they'll v each other harder than anyone has ever been v-ed before. But if you're looking for a comic that features some of the best examples of those two heroes going at it, I can highly recommend digging through a back issue bin to find yourself a copy of World's Finest Comics #197. It's an extra-sized issue that's crammed full of one story after another where Superman and Batman find themselves fighting against each other.
But even though all three of the stories in that issue are basically stone-cold classics, the best one by far is the one where Batman --- a grim, gritty, ruthless Batman --- lures Superman out to another planet so that he can lock him up in a jail cell and beat him with a laser whip whenever he doesn't obey. And it might just be the weirdest story about those two characters fighting that I've ever seen.
Many readers have their own personal vision of popular characters; an artist whose rendition is the version they default to in their imagination. For Spider-Man, for example, some might think of Steve Ditko's version; some John Romita's (Senior or Junior); some Todd McFarlane's. But sometimes an artist makes such an indelible impression upon a character that their work becomes the definitive take, the Platonic ideal of that character that lives in all of our minds' eyes. When it comes to Superman, if you're looking for an iconic and definitive vision, no one can touch Curt Swan. Not by a country mile.
Promo comics are amazing. Since they're created for a wide audience that goes far beyond the normal readership, they always feature characters who have been boiled down to their most basic, accessible forms, but they're always at least two steps removed from what they should probably be doing. I mean, even if you boil them down to their most essential elements, the Justice League probably shouldn't be relying on a guy with a really nice drill to help them defeat a supervillain, and Batman doesn't usually fight crime by helping a small child overcome his allergies.
But that's part of what makes them great, and it only gets better when you're not exactly sure what's being promoted until you're about halfway through the comic. So today, I invite you to join me for 1992's Batman: A Word to the Wise, in which the Caped Crusader is called upon to extoll the virtues of literacy, a department store, and --- if I'm reading this correctly --- the entire nation of Canada.
Every February, I like to throw a bit of a spotlight on some of the more romantic pieces of superhero comics, but with Superman, that's pretty hard to do. I mean, sure, he'd eventually settle down with Lois Lane in one of the better romance stories in comics history, but for a long stretch of his history, he did everything he could to avoid letting anybody put a ring on it. Whether it was Lois, Lana, Lori, Lyla, or even Marybelle, the hillbilly whose lack of double-L initials should've disqualified her from contention well before she was carried over the Marryin' Rock, that dude was simply --- and famously --- not interested.
What you might not know, however, is why. It turns out that Superman wasn't just trying to protect his girlfriends from those who might use them to strike at him; it was that all this time, he was still carrying a torch for his first crush: Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt --- and the fact that she died in 30 BCE didn't stop them from dating for a week when he was fifteen.
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