Day 77: Dubbilex!

C’mon, let’s be real for a minute: you have got to admit that Dubbilex is one of Jack’s coolest characters!

Yep, it’s that “weird and wonderful” Dubbilex, fave D.N.Alien of Superman and this writer alike, who radiates a kinda androgynous vibe in demeanor, mixed with an intellectual poise not unlike Mr. Spock, and a whole lot of Lucifer in his appearance! And mere words can’t explain why the horned, granite-colored researcher at The Project, with kinetic abilities and “E.P.S.,” dressed in the white-&-purple tunic, is just so awesome (but, rest assured, I’ll try… cuz that’s my job!); I mean you just gotta dig this hep cat!

It’s during Superman’s guided tour of The Project when Jimmy Olsen first meets Dubbilex, just as the Man of Steel’s pal is starting to wrap his brain around the notion of “Normals,” “Step-Ups” and… “Aliens”??? Jimmy is incredulous, asking his companion, “Do you mean The Project can actually grow ‘Non-Humans’?” Superman explains, “The human cell has been subjected to a wide range of conditions — and has yielded some strange developments!”

“Oh, come, now!” the skeptical reporter scoffs. “I’m just not ready to come face to face with campy bug-eyed monsters!” Superman rejoins, “No! But we do have Dubbilex!” Jimmy then says, “Dubbilex! I’d like to meet any guy with a name like that!” Superman replies, “You shall!” and he turns to a Project worker, who has his back to the pair, and hails, “What’s new, Dubbilex!” And, with that, in close-up, we encounter the devil-like, stony visage of one of the Fourth World’s oddest — and most endearing — cast members. “Hello, Superman! You bring another curiosity seeker, I see!” says the creature with reptilian eyes and yellow horns.

Understandably shocked, Jimmy blurts out, “Great day in the mornin’!” and recovers with “Er — pardon my outburst! I don’t mean to offend, but you sure live up to your notices!” Superman explains the strange analyst’s public relations role at the complex. “Dubbilex is resigned to being The Project’s ‘conversation piece!’ He’s seen by every visiting V.I.P.!” Dubbilex offers, “There was one senator who called me the ‘Man from Mars!’ But, despite my origin, I’m as native to Earth as you are, young fellow!”

The super-hero accounts for the bizarre handle: “He’s named Dubbilex because his powers are still unknown! However, he’s a great researcher!” (And Trippilex would just be rude! And what does he order at the bar? Dos Equis! Bada-boom! Rimshot, please! … Sorry, hard to resist!) With that, the cub reporter introduces himself. “My name’s Jimmy Olsen! And it’s a great privilege to meet you!” Dubbilex is gracious, replying, “Thank you! I consider any friend of Superman as one of mine!”

As they leave the D.N.Alien researcher, Jimmy says to his pal, “Well, can you beat that! — A resident alien! Are there any more of his kind here?” Superman answers, “None of Dubbilex’s species, but, other types have been grown!”

That’s the last we see of this great, intriguing new character, until nine months later, in Jimmy Olsen #144, when Superman and The Guardian arrive at the Cosmic Carousel discotheque, in the “Suicide Slum” of Metropolis, by invitation of their new friend Terry Dean. Darkseid’s agents, The San Diego Five String Mob (and Barriboy) are there posing as musicians. As the gorgeous Miss Dean fails to drag the Man of Steel onto the dance floor, another provocative figure “confronts and surprises Superman!!”

Terry exclaims, “Hey! We’ve got a ‘U.F.O.’ on the guest list! Far out! Who is he??” Superman yelps, “Galloping Krypton!! Dubbilex!!!” And as an onlooker observes, “Man! This guy is weirder than moon rocks!” Superman, after asking, “Dubbilex! My favorite D.N.Alien!!! What in blazes are you doing outside The ‘Project’?” learns that Dubbilex is conducting some “field research” and has discovered a tunnel leading from The Project to the disco, excavated by parties unknown. The San Diego Five String Mob (and Barriboy) try to thwart the investigation, render the club into shambles, and is pursued by Dubbilex. When Superman and Terry catch up in the tunnel, the D.N.Alien is using his latent powers to levitate the denizens of Apokolips in mid-air.

“Like, wow, Mister Dubbilex!!” cries Terry. “How did you get them up there — and keep them up!??” The strange man with the power is unsure. “Well, I-I don’t know — yet!! But it did give me a slight jolt!! I think I can do it again!!” says he, putting his hands to the sides of his head, “But this time I’ll get them down!!” (At this, Superman says to himself, “Dubbilex is a maturing cell!! He’s developing kinetic powers!!”) Then, the caption reads: “A bright flash of crackling energy leaps from Dubbilex to his captives!!!” And the “rascals” (and Barriboy) are freed (and Terry and the D.N.Alien have a nice repartee: “Mister Dubbilex!! You’re weird!!” and Dubbilex replies, “It seems you’re correct, Miss Dean!”) and suddenly a Boom Tube appears!

When the otherworlders jump into the Boom Tube and Dubbilex asks, “What is that thing? It looks like it extends for miles inside!!” Superman gives an odd reply, barking, “Don’t go near it! Let these kids go!! And don’t ask questions!” The Man of Steel thinks about his meeting with The Forever People, his aborted foray into a Boom Tube, and the Super-War with Apokolips. Dubbilex (mistakenly drawn without horns on this one page in JO #146, or do they retract after he exerts his ever-emerging abilities?) says, “A million dollars for your thoughts, Superman!!” At which, our hero retorts, “At the rate your powers are developing, you’ll get them for free, Dubbilex..!”

(I say “odd reply” because I had never previously considered that Superman hadn’t allowed The Project, certainly a lofty government agency, one he was closely allied and was himself privy to their closely-guarded secrets, into his confidence about the threat of Apokolips. I just assumed, I guess, that though no one, none of the good guys, knows the location of The Evil Factory, higher-ups at The Project were surely aware it was Apokolips intrigue that was wrecking havoc at the installation. While I realize this isn’t precluded as Dubbilex might not have the clearance for such potentially panic-inducing information… but still, why would Superman want to keep such a cosmic threat a secret from government allies?)

We next see the trio in Terry’s office, as Dubbilex is practicing his newly-acquired powers on the bodacious proprietor of the Cosmic Carousel. In the full-page splash (with the header caption: “And if you think the Evil Factory has a corner on the ‘weird events of the century,’ consider the situation of the other half of the ‘good guy’ team!! — Superman, the Guardian, and Dubbilex, the D.N.Alien who are enmeshed in a deepening mystery in the heart of Suicide Slum!!!”), a crackling glow of energy emanates from the D.N.Alien’s noggin to a floating Terry Dean. “It’s amazing, Dubbilex!!” says Superman, “Your developing powers are beginning to actively manifest themselves!” The ever-gracious Dubbilex replies, “With a beautiful volunteer like Miss Terry Dean — who knows what wonders I could perform?!”

The startled woman stammers as she is magically lifted from her chair and turned upside down, “I-I’m rising into the air — lifted by some unseen force!! Oh, wow!! This experience has some scary angles!” Dubbilex suggests, “Be calm, Miss Dean!! I’ll let you down as easily as I can!!” On standby, the Man of Steel cautions, “Careful! Careful! Here she comes! Good work, Dubbilex!! You’re able to control a most interesting faculty!!”

Safely landing, she gushes, “Gosh! That was exciting!! If I told my friends about it, they’d laugh me out of town!! Mister Dubbilex, you’re weird and wonderful!!!” But the one-of-a-kind genetically engineered being is concerned. “By your standards, Miss Dean!! But what are mine? What is emerging from this brain of mine??” Superman suggests, “It might be a form of E.S.P. — only ten times more potent!”

Suddenly The Guardian pokes his head out of a trap door leading to the tunnel and shares some interesting hearsay: “‘E.P.S.’ is more like it, Superman! ‘Extra-Physical Status!’ I’ve heard the geneticists at The ‘Project’ discussing it!!”

Alas, that’s all we hear of this intriguing new development and, just before we see the last of Dubbilex (and The Guardian and Terry Dean, for that matter) in Jack’s Fourth World epic, Superman ponders the Big Picture while the group ponders what forces built the tunnel. He thinks, “The point is that the war between New Genesis and Apokolips — now involve The ‘Project!'” Dubbilex suddenly turns to Superman and tells him, “I got that thought, Superman!! — It’s most interesting!! I’d like to know — more –” The Man of Steel asks patience and flies down the tunnel to take a ride to Supertown… but that’s another story…

Dubbilex has tons of potential and he most certainly was nicely played in the series. He possesses an inherent likability and wonderful oddness, and the fact Jack doesn’t travel down the obvious super-hero narrative route — to portray him as a forlorn and angst-ridden creature, the only one of his species — is delightfully refreshing. Despite his devilish looks and stoic demeanor, he fits in nice and cozy, like an old shoe, with the gang and with the entire Fourth World, and Dubbilex remains an unforgettable character! Double thumbs up!

1 thought on “Day 77: Dubbilex!

  1. Richard Bensam

    Yes, love that banter between Dubbliex and Terry Dean! Part of me wants to believe that if only Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen had lasted longer, we’d have seen the two on a date…

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