Hello. I’m Alex Jaffe, better known in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion. My personal mission: to take on any question you have about the DC Universe—no matter how strange, granular, or obscure—and satisfy your curiosity. As a faithful steward of the truth, I offer my time in this monthly column to address these inquiries. If you’d like to submit a question of your own, you can stop by my virtual office over in the DC Community at any time to state your case. I’ll do my best to address them all to the best of my ability.
Let’s get some answers!
Say That We’re Sweethearts Again
Why aren’t there more appearances of Harley Quinn’s singing voice?
“Why” is always a difficult question to answer… I suppose because comics are primarily a visual medium, as opposed to an auditory one? Because there aren’t many superhero-themed musicals, as attempts to cross those genres over thus far require great effort and have yet to set the world on fire? It’s philosophical, at this point. Maybe an easier question to answer is why you’re asking this in the first place. What makes Harley Quinn seem like a singer?
Apart from a whispered performance of “Hush, Little Baby” in the video game Batman: Arkham City, Harley Quinn has two big musical numbers. The first was in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harlequinade,” where Harley, as performed by the role’s originator Arleen Sorkin, performs “Say That We’re Sweethearts Again”—a novelty song composed in 1943 for comedian-singer Virginia O’Brien. It’s the sort of dark comedy perfect for Harley, about just wanting to be loved by a partner who only offers sadism. And it’s one from a tradition of musical comedy Sorkin herself originated from, with a history of musical comedy herself on the cabaret circuit before Paul Dini brought her to life in Gotham City. So even though this is the first time we’re hearing Harley sing, Sorkin immediately makes it feel like that’s always been part of who Harley Quinn is.
Harley follows up that performance in the 2017 animated film Batman and Harley Quinn, this time as played by a far less demure and beaten down Melissa Rauch. A rendition of the ’70s power pop ballad “Hanging on the Telephone,” first popularized by Blondie, serves as a benchmark for how far she’s come in her independence since “Harlequinade,” as the fear she once felt gives way to rage.
If you’re really determined to hear Harley on the mic again, though, I can at least direct you to some of the music releases of her voice actors over the years. Consider the 2013 single “Take My Hand,” by Sorkin’s successor in the role, Tara Strong. Or even the 2000s solo discography of Grey DeLisle-Griffin, who voiced Harley in LEGO Batman: The Videogame. Just don’t ask for a song from the Injustice movie’s Harley, Gillian Jacobs. She may carry a giant mallet, but she is up front about the fact that she cannot carry a tune.
Everything’s Better with Monkeys
One of the episodes of The Adventures of Superman centers around an organ grinder’s monkey dressed in a Superman shirt and cape. Is this where the idea for Supermonkey came from, or did the show copy him from the comics?
Here’s the secret of the 1950s Adventures of Superman TV series: it wasn’t really an adaptation of the comics at all. Adventures of Superman took its cues from the radio serial by the same name, which had captured the nation’s radio dials in the previous decade. Apart from Superman himself, Lois, Jimmy, Perry White and Kryptonite—the last three of which can actually be traced back to the radio, as opposed to the comics—there wasn’t very much overlap between the adventures of Superman on page and stage. Any other parallelism can usually be chalked up to coincidence. And that goes double when it comes to monkeys. In the mid-20th century, apes and chimps were showing up practically everywhere in popular culture, from comics to movies to television, and were hardly confined to Superman. One ape doesn’t necessarily indicate the borrowing of another. Pretty much the entirety of pop culture was going ape at the same time.
That said, I can answer for you which came first. The season one Adventures of Superman episode “The Monkey Mystery” first aired in October, 1952. Beppo the Supermonkey first appeared in Superboy #76, which was published in 1959. By then, Adventures of Superman was already off the air, and had gone through a number of changes in between so that it little resembled its first season origins. The creation of Beppo can be more accurately traced back to Otto Binder, writer of Superboy #76, who had already amassed a catalog of “funny animal” characters when he brought the chimp into Superman’s world—most notably Tawky Tawny, talking tiger and best friend to the original Shazam.
What About Bob?
Whatever happened to Bob Rozakis?
Bob Rozakis, DC’s “Answer Man” who ran a column very much like this one in the 1970s, is alive and well, thank the stars. Rozakis wrote hundreds of stories for DC over a 25-year period, though he stopped in 1990 in a great effort to usher the company into the 21st century in his capacity as executive director of DC’s production department until 1998. At that point, Bob transitioned back into freelance comic book work and consultation for other organizations looking to break into comics—with clients such as the US Postal Service, the United Nations, Con Edison, and the San Francisco Giants.
In 2003, Bob Rozakis announced his retirement from the comic book industry, and has gone on to write a number of books of his own, including The Secret History of AA Comics, an alternate history novel about what might have happened to DC itself if co-founder M.C. Gaines had never sold his shares when it was just getting started. Today, Bob Rozakis teaches at John Hopkins University and Farmingdale State College, and still updates his own blog where he can be found reminiscing on his years at DC, showing off his grandkids, or relaxing poolside.
Mogo a Go-Go
I’ve got a question I’ve been wondering about for a while—has Mogo ever used constructs in combat? It’s possible he has, and I am just totally forgetting, but I feel like all I’ve seen him use is just pure energy attacks. I do remember him creating constructs to help other Lanterns (like with recreating Kilowog’s family). I was just wondering, especially since it seems like he would have some very interesting ones, since he’s a planet after all.
As a living planet, Mogo is a unique entity amongst the Green Lantern Corps. As such, so too is Mogo’s relationship to its ring unique. When called to battle or to protect itself, Mogo is known at times to emit bright green light, blast powerful rays of force and construct defensive walls, as all Green Lanterns can, albeit on a much larger scale. But as more creative constructs go, Mogo’s go-to move is creating likenesses of other people—like in the Kilowog example you mentioned. The first construct we see Mogo build was in 1990’s Mister Miracle #14, a tentacle-headed representative of sorts constructed to represent Mogo’s interests speaks with humanoid visitors on their level. This ability is expanded upon beginning in 2005’s Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, where Mogo demonstrates the ability to conjure the image of significant figures from one’s past to inspire the Corps and bolster their will. Twice, this ability is corrupted: first, in 2007’s Green Lantern Corps #10, when Despotellis infects Mogo to turn the Corps against itself, and later, in 2011’s War of the Green Lanterns, when a Krona-controlled Mogo uses that same ability to distract the Green Lanterns in the midst of battle.
But Mogo’s most frequent use of its Green Lantern ring isn’t hard light constructs, as with other Lanterns, but the ability it grants the planet to completely control itself. With the power of the ring, Mogo is able to shift its land masses, control all the native life on its surface, move about the universe, and most formidably, increase its gravitational pull so that no enemy can escape its grasp. Whether these powers were something Mogo could do innately or relied upon the ring to facilitate was a matter of scholarly debate for some time, but was settled in the 2015 Green Lantern: Godhead story, as Mogo became dormant once Highfather had taken its ring.
And while Mogo doesn’t use its ring in the traditional sense, it’s important to remember that every Green Lantern ring shares a special connection with Mogo. More than just a secret weapon or backup base of operations, Mogo’s greatest duty to the corps is its guidance of every ring in the universe upon the death of its owner to find a new bearer worthy of its power. Those rings don’t just fly themselves.
Got something that's keeping you up nights? If you have a question about the DC Universe that you'd love to get answered, you can head on over to the DC Community and ask it here.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.