This week the cast of Superman welcomed a familiar friend to comics in the pages of Action Comics #893. Chloe Sullivan, a fan favorite from the long running WB series Smallville, made her first official appearance in the DC Universe in the brand new Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen back up feature! Although the character, naturally, had to be tweaked radically from Smallville continuity, Chloe Sullivan’s presence is a welcomed addition to the ever expanding DC cast of characters.
When Smallvillemade its debut in 2001, Chloe Sullivan, played by actress Allison Mack, was one of the few characters on the program that was created for the show. Originally conceivedas a Lois Lane archetype, due to the fact that the teenage Clark Kent had not yet met his future love interest, Chloe was the spunky school newspaper editor who held a torch for Clark Kent. Unfortunately for Chloe, Clark only had eyes for Lana Lang. Continuously unlucky in love, Chloe’s role changed when Sam Jones III, who portrayed Pete Ross, left the series. Without a friend who knew that Clark had super powers, a hole was left in Clark’s world because he didn’t have a friend to talk to, thus the writers had Chloe discover the truth about Clark’s alien origins and powersn. Soon Chloe became Clark Kent’s best friend and constant confident. Later, when Lois Lane was introduced to the series as Chloe’s older cousin, the relationship between Lois and Clark eclipsed Chloe’s role, thus the writers brought Jimmy Olsen into the series establishing him as a romantic foil for Chloe, who she eventually married and divorced in later seasons. Now in it’s tenth and final season, Chloe Sullivan is the only character, besides Clark Kent, who remains from the original cast. Although Smallville “jumped the shark” years ago, Chloe Sullivan still remains to be one of the show’s most endearing characters and even at the worst of times, has been one of the reasons many die-hard Smallville fans continue to watch the show .
In a story by Nick Spencer, Chloe Sullivan is introduced into the DC Universe with little explanation and no origin, but considering most Superman fans have already known her for ten years, little introduction is really needed. Cleverly, artist RB Silva designed the comic book version of Chloe Sullivan to resemble Allison Mack, making her instantly recognizable to Superman fans. Introduced while dumping an apathetic Jimmy Olsen, who has lost his “spark” since Superman left Metropolis, Chloe Sullivan is a reporter for news web-site Metropolis where she writes an award winning column called “A Week With…” in which she spends a week with various important people in Metropolis. Jimmy seems unphased by getting dumped by Chloe, until he runs into her with his “rival” Max Malloray, a LexCorp CEO who Chloe is covering for her column. Bitten by the green eyed monster, and suddenly realizing what he lost, Jimmy Olsen exclaims that he’ll prove that he is still “Mr. Action,” he promises to prove his worth to Chloe…but to find out how you need to go and buy the book. I don’t want to give too much away fan boys!
Possibly one of the most anticipated introductions to the Superman universe in years, this is actually the second attempt by the DC writers to bring Chloe to comics. It was originally announced in 2007 that writer Kurt Busiek planned to introduce Chloe in his run on Superman. His plans were to introduce Chloe as a Daily Planet intern from Smallville who was the younger sister of someone Clark Kent went to school with. However, due to unexplained legal issues, Busiek’s plans were halted and he was unable to use the character. It looked like Chloe Sullivan would be exclusive to television forever. However, with Smallville about to leave the airwaves, its natural that DC Comics would want to continue the adventures of one of the program’s most popular characters, and thankfully for Chloe Sullivan fans, the issues from 2007 have finally been ironed out and Chloe Sullivan is now in the proper DC Universe…and it’s about time!
Of course this is not the first time that the DC Universe have brought characters from it’s other media based spin offs into the comic books. In fact, Jimmy Olsen, as well as Superman’s boss Perry White, originally were introduced to the world in 1940 via the Superman radio program and would not make their first appearance in the comics until Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster incorporated them into issues of Action Comics and Superman in 1941. Jimmy Olsen and Perry White’s popularity were sealed when both characters were included in the first Superman films in 1948 starring Kirk Alyn, and of course The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves in 1951. Oddly enough, when George Reeves committed suicide (or did he…but that’s another story) actor Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen, was considered for a spin off series called The Adventures of Jimmy Olsen but the series never came to be.
The question of who came first, the TV Batgirl of the comic book Batgirl, is a strange grey area much like the “chicken of the egg” debate. Although she first appeared in comics in 1966, she was created upon the urging of television producer William Dozier who wanted to add the character into the third season of the classic Batman TV series, starring Adam West, in an attempt to raise sagging ratings. Pitching the idea for the character to DC editor Julius Schwartz Dozier sold the idea of a Barbara Gordon Batgirl, who would replace the earlier Betty Kane version, and the job of creating the character went to writer Gardner F. Fox and artist Carmine Infantino. When Barbara Gordon finally made her comic appearance in Detective Comics #359, months before Yvonne Craig first appeared on television as the character, the episodes were already in production before the comic book hit the stands. Batgirl quickly became a fan favorite both on television and in comics, but the TV Batman was cancelled the next year. Yet the character of Batgirl would continue to grow and eventually evolve into the wheel chair bound Oracle and has been reborn by two different heroines, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. Batgirl remains to be a fan favorite and one of the most popular DC heroines of all time.
Possibly the most popular crossover character in the last twenty years has been endearing Batman “bad girl” Harley Quinn who made her first appearance in the Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. Lovingly created by Paul Dini, the character quickly gained a cult following larger then anyone could have ever imagined. When Dini and partner Bruce Timm revealed Harley Quinn’s origins in Mad Love, a Batman:TAS continuity comic book story, the one shot was one of DC’s biggest successes of the year, selling out immediately and winning the 1994 Eisner Award for “Best Single Story.” Eventually DC introduced Harley Quinn to the proper DC Universe in 1999 in a one shot written by Dini and sporting a cover by fan favorite Alex Ross. In the years that followed Harley Quinn has had her own short lived comic series, was voted within the top 50 of IGN Entertainment’s top 100 Comic Book Villains and was even spun off as the villain in the short lived television series Birds of Prey! Harley Quinn has become as much as a DC mainstay as Batman himself and is one of the most beloved comic creations of all time!
These are only the most popular cross over characters that have made their way to the DC Universe. Campy Superfriends sidekicks the Wonder Twins found their official appearance in comics in 1995 in the pages of the short lived Justine League spin off series Extreme Justice. In 2006 the team of Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison and Greg Rucka brought Isis, from the popular 70’s TV series spun off from The Adventures of Shazam, to the pages of 52. In 2006 Geoff Johns brought a number of characters from television and film productions to the DC Universe, including Superman II Phantom Zone villains Ursa and Non into the pages of Action Comics and the Superfriend’s kid sidekicks Wendy and Marvin to Teen Titans. Most recently 60’s TV Batman villain King Tut, originally played by the rotund Victor Bueno, finally made his official comic book debut in 2009 in a three issue arch of Batman Confidential by Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis. Although physically different and darker from the original version of the character, Weir and DeFilippis kept the basic origins and concept of the popular television character. DC Comics recognizes its deep history beyond the pages of its comic books, and proves that it is dedicated to honoring the characters of the past, preserving them into the comic universe.
If the popularity of Chloe Sullivan’s fanbase from Smallville is any indication, the character is sure to have a long life as a fan favorite in the pages of DC Comics. The addition of Chloe Sullivan to the DC Universe is a welcomed event, which will hopefully be embraced by readers, continuing the spunky blonde reporters adventures for years to come.