How the Monkees are a part of Superman’s world
When the Monkees first sang, “. . . we may be coming to your town,” who would’ve guessed they’d still make good on that promise 50 years later? I’ve been a Monkees fan for as long as I can remember, so I couldn’t be more excited that they’re playing the Mesa Arts Center this week, as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of their television show’s debut.
Considering the touchstone, the Internet has been flooded with Monkees trivia the last few months. Did you know that Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees on tour? Yes, yes, I did. Did you know that Mike Nesmith’s mom invented white-out? Yup. Did you know that Micky Dolenz was nearly cast as the Fonz on Happy Days? Sure did.
After 50 years of fandom, what don’t we know about the Monkees’ rich history in pop culture?
Well, here’s one for you: Did you know that the Monkees exist in the DC Universe?
It’s true! As a lifelong fan of both the Monkees and comic books, I’ve developed an airtight case that proves the Monkees TV show exists in the same universe as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The first two clues can be discovered in their television show.
In the season 1 episode of The Monkees called “The Audition,” the Monkees try and continually fail to reach an agent that once expressed an interest in their music. In one scene, they try to reach him via telephone but run out of change to complete the call. An anxious line forms at the phone booth, led by a well-dressed man fiddling his glasses. When he finally gets his turn, he enters the phone booth and pulls apart his dress shirt to reveal — it’s Superman! Whatever crisis is threatening Earth, Clark couldn’t think twice about his secret identity.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, anyone can wear a Superman suit under their clothes and leap off screen!” Then, consider this: in the season 2 episode of The Monkees called “The Monkees Blow Their Minds,” our heroes expose a mentalist that tries to upstage them for a 10-week club gig. During the auditions, who should turn around from his seat with his trademark “waugh waugh” but the Penguin (played by Burgess Meredith)! Why would ol’ Oswald Cobblepot frequent a night club audition, if not to scout for henchmen? Considering the Penguin’s future as a club owner in both the comics and on the TV show Gotham, the cameo is certainly in character!
If seeing two of DC’s most iconic characters in the Monkees’ adventures doesn’t convince you that those musical mavens exist that universe, perhaps I could persuade you with the Monkees appearing in a key DC Comics story. The next time you read Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, squint your eyes to catch the Monkeemen in several of the large superhero gatherings, particularly behind Red Robin. Yes, the Monkees occasionally donned their own tights and capes and called themselves the Monkeemen (or, once in their own Dell-published comic, the Super-Monkees), and Alex Ross craftily cinched my argument by including them here, among the other heroes of the DC Universe. How can you not be convinced?
Even if you deny the Monkees as inhabitants of the DC Universe, it is important to note that Alex Ross depicted them as youthful as ever, despite the age of Superman, Batman, and the other heroes in Kingdom Come. I think the point is clear: now, as we celebrate their 50th anniversary in music and television, the Monkees’ spirit is as timeless as ever. Whether they ever came to Batman’s town is debatable, but, this week, they’re coming to mine, and I think it’s super!
Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith of the Monkees are performing at the Mesa Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 15. Tickets are available at mesaartscenter.com.
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