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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #25

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

Jonah 3.jpg

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.

Jonah 2.jpg

(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.

Jonah robot.jpg

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.

Jonah 1.jpg

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.

Jonah played by JK Simmons.jpg

(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.

Here is the Wiki on Jonah. Man, I love Wikipedia.


There’s a Jameson X-Men appearance at around the time Onslaught was happening that made me like the character much more.

JJJ’s fun, but he’d nowhere without Betty Brant.

JJJ. Greatest supporting character ever. (When done right. There’s been very few folks post Stan and Gerry Conway who really grock Jonah’s character and can do good JJJ dialouge.

Bendis’ take in the otherwise good Ultimate Spider-man is especially off. Oh wait. Not speaking of. Sorry.

I just found this column for the first time. I can’t imagine the amount of work it must take to do one of these every day. Thanks for putting in the effort and giving us something interesting to read.

“There’s a Jameson X-Men appearance at around the time Onslaught was happening that made me like the character much more.”

I remember that one. Uncanny 345 or 346. Great issue, even if it was a Spider-Man comic masquerading as an X-Men comic. And Joe Mad drew a pretty neat Spidey.

The Hither ‘stache? What’s that? Does it cry “Come Hither” to the ladies????

I actually liked Busiek’s take on JJJ in Marvels. That was some great characterization; from humble beginings as scoop reporter to Bugle main man, he never gave up his thurst for news.

Also, the ‘tasche is classic. If he someone from Marvel made him shave that, I’d quit reading Marvel.

Poor JJ, yet another victim of Joe Quesada’s no smoking policy.

I remember the Uncanny issue Philip is referring to.

It was not only the best J. Jonah Jameson issue in, like, ten years, it was one of the best issue of SPIDER-MAN, period, of the time.

And it was in an issue of freakin’ Uncanny X-Men.

The Hither ’stache? What’s that? Does it cry “Come Hither” to the ladies????

Yes. It does. And some of the gentlemen. You know you love the ‘stache!

Bloody typo’s.

I love that moment in an early Lee/Ditko issue where Jameson admits that the reason he hates Spider-Man so much is that he’s just jealous. It was a scene that suddenly made Jonah seem all the more petty…and yet, all the more human.

Actually, Bendis is behind one of my favourite recent (well, in the past 5 years or so) uses of Jonah, the issue of Alias where he hires Jessica Jones to find out Spider-Man’s secret identity and Jessica scams him out of his money. That it’s all written in transcript form with illustrations makes it even funnier, somehow.

And as much as J.K. Simmons rocks as JJJ in the Spider-Man movies (and he does. He stole every scene he was in during Spider-Man 2), for me THE DEFINITIVE J. Jonah Jameson will always be the one voiced by Paul Kligman in the ’60s animated cartoon.

“The statue of Prometheus is on the Empire State Building!?! PAR-KER!!! Get over there and get me some pictures!”

No mention of the excellent characterization this character got in “Marvels” ? For shame!

I’ve never read Marvels.

I might get around to it one day, but I doubt it.

Actually, Bendis has done some really good stuff with Jonah. He did a couple story lines in Alias that were both excellent. I thought the story with Jessica and the Spider Women had some strong Jonah moments. Also used him to good effect in The Pulse continuation.

All you Bendis JJJ fans… Have you ever read Stan’s (read: The REAL) J. Jonah Jameson. I got no problem with the characterization… Hell, I almost never have problems with characterization in Bendis’ books.

But, IMO, THE single most important aspect of Jonah is the way he talks. He’s the most dialouge-intensive/important character in comics. If you can’t make him talk like Jonah Jameson ’cause all your characters talk with exactly the same speech patterns in exactly the same rhythm, it’s not a Good JJJ.

I enjoyed his cameo on THE SIMPSONS. “Okay, poems about Spider-Man!”

The whole Bugle office actually has some good supporting characters in it. Robbie Robertson who acts as Jameson’s conscience when he steps out of line. Jonah trusting him if to let him br the only one able to do that. Ben Urich as the ultimate reporter with his ethics as his single handicap. Even Kat Farrell has some probabilities as the young up-and-comer. With Jessica Jones thrown in since ‘The Pulse’ you could have a great series in that office.

Kinda like Gotham Central but with reporters in stead of cops. So it’ll probably die too soon anyway…

Have to admit that not being a marvel fan, I haven’t really read a huge amound of spider-man, but JJJ has always frustrated me, maybe because he’s the kind of person I really hate meeting in real life – one that won’t admit they are wrong even after being hit over the head repeatedly with irrefutable evidence.
More annoying than endearing.
I did love the way he was portrayed in the films though.

I loved JJJ’s appearances in the Frank Miller Daredevils. It was the first time I’d seen him as more than a 2-dimensional caricature. I *think* that’s where he made a speech about the power behind the press. (“5 million readers… It can depose presidents.”)

I think Bendis wrote a great JJJ scene in Daredevil, when he screams at his reporters about getting scooped on DD’s identity.

Speaking of Daredevil, are we going to see an entry for Foggy Nelson?

All right, Bill, I was hoping you would do JJJ! Sweet! As for good Jonah stories, there was a good one from the early 80’s (I think) by Roger Stern and Frank Miller where Spidey teams up with the Punisher to stop Dr. Octopus from poisoning the ink in the Bugle. There’s a bunch of scenes of Jonah and Robbie debating over what to put on the front page and eventually realizing they can’t run the story because if people are afraid the ink is poisoned, nobody will want to read the Bugle.

But yeah, the classic Stan Lee-written Jonah is the best. He’s got some great scenes in that first battle with Electro, where Peter faked some pictures “proving” that Spider-Man and Electro are the same person. When Jonah finds out he was tricked, he’s sobbing and saying “I’m ruined!”. Then he discovers the pictures Peter took of the big Spidey/’Lectro battle and he’s all smiles again. Kind of bipolar, now that I think about it.

Oh, and that early issue of Dan Slott’s She-Hulk is pretty funny, where JJ goes on trial for slander against Spider-Man. And he ends up having to wear a chicken suit!

I also loved JJJ’s appearances in Dan Slott’s SHE-HULK. From him getting sued by Spider-Man to JJJ’s interaction with his daughter in-law, some funny moments of just how much of a d**khead he was.
I’d like to see a JJJ/Mitchell Royce crossover.

I think my favorite JJJ moments are from the Ditko-drawn Spider-Slayer stories like the above-shown #25. The image of JJJ’s maniacally gleeful face on the Spider-Slayer robot (which, for no frickin’ reason whatsoever, displays the *face* of its controller, which I love) as it chases Spidey all over town, is just a thing of comics beauty.

I also loved him during the Onslaught saga, where he’s starring at the TV with Graydon Creed on it, and he’s talking to Robbie about conviction. And then he stops, has another look at it, and you can just see the ideas forming in his head… (FYI, he knew something wasn’t right about Creed… he’s Sabretooth and Mystique’s son)

And when Peter unmasks himself in Civil War, and JJJ faints. Priceless.

I think Spider-Man’s the best superhero ever created. To the point where I don’t understand how someone can like superheroes but have no interest in Spider-Man, seeing as how he is the peak accomplishment of tghe whole genre.

Spider-Man is awesome. I so wish someone could get Ditko to do one last Spidey story, scripted by Ditko and inked by Romita.

I dearly loved how the first Spider-Man movie got JJJ’s personality exactly right; when the Green Goblin wanted the name of the photographer who took the Spider-Man pictures, Jonah refused to tell, even though his life was obviously in danger. God Damn It, this was a matter of journalistic integrity! You don’t name your sources! Jameson is a world-class jerk at times, but, at his core, he has professional standards.

Now you’re getting to the really good ones! J Jonah Jameson is a wonderful supporting character – heck, I’d go so far as to say that he’s actually a lead, a fully rounded personality that (through no fault of his own) just happens to occupy a supporting role in Spiderman’s adventures. That’s why he always steals the scene. He’s a type A, alpha male kind of guy.

Despite being a big Superman fan, I agree with you that JJJ is a better character than Perry White. Perry is more an archetypal editor/father figure, but Jonah is a person. Jameson just feels real, maybe because Stan Lee did put so much of his own personality into the character. If you took away the Daily Planet and the cigars and put Perry in another setting, there wouldn’t be much to make him unique. By contrast, JJJ is the same in Manhattan as he would be in Afghanistan or on the Moon. Cast him as a cabbie instead of an editor, and that personality would still shine through.

I’m sorry. I have a question. I have read this entire post and I still have no idea what “The Order of the Phoenix” is. It is the title of the post, right? Did I miss it? Can I get an explanation? Thanks.

It’s a reference to a Harry Potter book title, Roel.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Stan Lee is a jerk…
…and he would make a good JJJ (although J.K. Simmons couldn’t be anymore spot on). Here’s why…
Just like “Jolly” Jonah, “Lyin'” Stan will steal peoples ideas, claim them as his own, and then fire them if they try to defend themselves. They both can be depended upon to twist a story to suit their needs. As well, they’ll shake your hand and call you “friend’, then stab you in the back as soon as you turn around.
Yep…Stan even admitted in the Spider-Man 2 extras disk that he wanted to play JJJ.
‘Nuff said.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 10:23 am

Yes Spiderman had the best supporting cast in the 60’s and 70’s:
J.J.J. (cool initials!)
Gwen Stacy
Captain Stacy
Flash Thompson
Harry Osborn
Betty Brant.

When I read J.J.J. dialogues in a comic book, I always hear the voice of the guy who played him in the 60’s tv animated series.

JJ’s reaction to Spidey’s unmasking should make the Cool Moments list. Hilarious!


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