Minorities in cartoons: Franklin Stern and Morgan Edge

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This week’s “minorities in cartoons” entry is two entries in one: Franklin Stern and Morgan Edge, both recurring characters in Superman comics.

Background

Franklin Stern first appeared in “Superman: The Man of Steel” #27 in 1993, and was created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove.

Morgan Edge, in his original incarnation, first appeared in “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen” #133 in 1970. His current version first appeared in “Superman” (volume 3) #1 in 2011. Edge was originally created by Jack Kirby.

At various points, both Edge and Stern have been owners of the “Daily Planet,” the newspaper that employs Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and their editor Perry White.

Franklin Stern

Franklin Stern
“Action Comics” #700 (June 1994). Art by Jackson Guice.

Franklin Stern was shown as the owner of the “Planet” in 1990s comics, and was considered a fair-minded owner. Stern was also shown as being friends with Perry White.

Stern, however, didn’t get much of a presence in comics after the 90s, per various changes in the Superman stories. This included ownership of the “Planet” shifting from Stern to Lex Luthor (long story) to Bruce Wayne (another long story) to (per the 2011 reboot) Morgan Edge again.

A flashback in 1995’s “Superman: The Man of Steel” #47 shows that Stern first met Perry White during the 1960s. The two succeeded in defeating a white supremacist group in the south. Said group was performing genetic experiments in an attempt to create a race of “supermen.”

In other media, Stern made an appearance in an episode of 1990s series “Lois and Clark.” There, he was played by actor James Earl Jones. Stern also appeared in the 2000s series “Smallville,” where he was shown as the editor-in-chief of the “Planet” (with Perry as a reporter).

Morgan Edge

Morgan Edge
“Superman” (vol. 3) #1 (November 2011). Art by George Perez.

Originally Caucasian, Morgan Edge was first shown in comics between 1971 and 1986 as the owner of the “Daily Planet,” which his conglomerate, Galaxy Communications (owners of the Galaxy Broadcasting System television network and its Metropolis affiliate WGBS), had purchased. Edge subsequently moved WGBS’ studios into the “Planet” building and made Clark Kent the evening news anchor for the station.

An early plotline had Edge seemingly working for the powerful evil supervillain Darkseid, but it turned out to be a clone of Edge.

Edge was revealed as being Jewish (and had changed his name from “Morris Edelstein”) in a story in “Action Comics” #468 in 1977.

During the “post-Crisis” era of the late 80s through 2011, Edge re-appeared, but not as the “Planet””s owner. He was also shown as truly evil, working with Darkseid via Intergang, a Metropolis organized crime gang with access to weapons/tech from Darkseid’s world.

With the 2011 reboot, however, Edge was remade as African-American, with his original motif as the CEO of Galaxy restored. Edge is shown in the first rebooted issue of “Superman” as once more buying the “Daily Planet” and merging it with Galaxy. Here, Galaxy is shown as a modern media conglomerate akin to Time Warner, but somewhat sensationalist. Early in the New 52 reboot, Edge promotes Lois Lane to a supervisory desk job. Meanwhile, Clark refuses to work for Galaxy’s TV division, and stays with the “Planet.”

There’s no indication (so far) whether or not Edge in the New 52 is still Jewish.

(Updated 11/15/16)

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