Supporting Characters Week, Day Five: 365 Reasons and the Order of the Phoenix.
Before you read today's entry, you might want to take a look at yesterday's, because I updated it with yet another totally awesome image.
It was brought up in the column and comment thread the other day that Superman's supporting cast has been completely neglected in recent years. The same thing is true of Spider-Man (though Peter David is doing his best to reverse the trend). The receiver of today's spotlight has made off better than some forgotten members of Spidey's cast, but he could always use more love. We're going to give it to him.
25. J. Jonah Jameson
Too bad, JJ! You can't hide from my spotlight!
Jolly Jonah Jameson is probably the most fascinating character Lee and Ditko introduced into the Spider-Mythos. Yeah, Jameson has been used as a one-note character countless times, but much like our good friend Bibbo, Jonah has a soft, nougaty center that peeks out every once in a while to remind us of why he's a great character.
Jonah first appeared as the publisher of NOW Magazine, but his position as the editor-in-chief and publisher of the Daily Bugle quickly became far more important. Later, he'd resign as editor and just stay as publisher, and recent years probably messed around with that some more. He's still at the Bugle, though; I'm certain of that.
Yeah, okay. I don't follow Spidey books. I'm not much of a Spidey fan. But I think Jonah is cool, and I will tell you why.
(That one's clickable.)
If Stan Lee was a jerk, he'd be J. Jonah Jameson. That's basically how the character started, and why Stan always said he'd have loved to play Jonah on film sometime. Jonah is a surly, gruff, and hard-nosed newspaperman. The Hitler 'stache gives it away. (Yes. I mistyped earlier and put "Hither." I suppose some ladies love the 'stache. I mean, it's the most famous mustache in comics. Up yours, Tony Stark.)
At his core, though, Jonah is a man of integrity. He absolutely loves journalism and demands that the truth take first priority over all. Well, except when it comes to Spider-Man, or covering his own ass with his involvement in the creation of the Scorpion (he admitted to that one later, though), the Spider-Slayers, and the Human Fly. Hey, nobody's perfect.
The reason Jonah hates Spidey is because Jonah has a thing against masks (unless they're worn by, oh, Captain America or almost anyone who isn't Spider-Man, apparently). This is because his first wife was killed by a masked man. Still-- Jonah has been able, on some occasions, to acknowledge the good deeds Spidey's done. They've also teamed up together in buddy-cop-like situations. (He hates Spider-Man even more at the moment, but, you know, the current stories aren't very good. We shall speak of them no more.)
He's against vigilantism, so he's surely Pro-Registration. (Except for that. We spake of that. But no more!). He's all for civil rights. He's sometimes a decent guy. Also, Ed Asner voiced him in the cartoon, and that's awesome.
Beneath the crusty exterior beats the heart of a relatively honorable man. He'd die to protect his loved ones and those he finds trustworthy. He's no Perry White, but I think he's more interesting.
In the movies, JJ is played by JK Simmons, who perfectly captures the character. Even if he appears to be mostly two-dimensional, there are a few moments where you see the true kind of man he is.
(Click to make it really frickin' huge.)
So that's what I've got to say about JJ. Sometimes he's been used very well in the comics, and sometimes, not so much. Let's hope for some good portrayals in the future, when things aren't being beaten to death by the plot hammer.