Written by: Ron Bricker
Character sketches is a feature where the comics gurus of CC2K will select one obscure character from one of the world of comic's multiple universes and deal with what makes these characters worth checking out. Whether it be for comedy, history, their respective role in their universe, or for a good story you might not ever catch without us here at CC2K giving you that helping nudge.
Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen. Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane. Superman's dog Krypto. And of course, Superman's red-faced ex-boxer pal that idolizes him, Bibbo Bibbowski. Wait…who?
Chances are, you know Bibbo, even if you don't know his name.
His first appearance was in Adventures of Superman #428 in May of 1987, created by Jerry Ordway and Marv Wolfman. As of late, he hasn't been around too much, but in the 1990's he was a pretty big deal. Bibbo is a well meaning soul who really isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. He first meets the Man of Steel in a Suicide Slum bar that he frequents, the Ace O' Clubs, when Supes comes in searching for information. When Bibbo is able to buy the bar due to a stroke of luck with a lottery ticket, he gets to help those in Suicide Slum and do his part in Superman's crusade.
Like many of those touched by Superman, Bibbo did his part to pick up the slack when the Man of Steel was bested by Doomsday, by donning a makeshift disguise and using his boxing skills as defense.
The reason I love Bibbo is because he's so well intentioned but stupid that you have to love him. If you were to judge by his appearance, he looks like another average street thug of Metropolis, hanging out in a dive bar. It truly shows that the Man of Steel doesn't need his x-ray vision to see the true intentions of someone. I recall one of the first comics that I ever bought with my own money was Adventures of Superman #487, as seen below.
Superman in a Santa hat, Bibbo as "Sandy Claws" about to punch a child in the face, but resisting because Superman said so. It's heartwarming. But seriously, the character has plenty of potential that is sorely unrecognized, as I have no recollection of seeing him at all in recent comics. He has surfaced in other media, including Superman: The Animated Series, voiced by Brad Garret, in which he was portrayed as a sea captain that serves as Lois' source in the bay. And apparently, Bibbo is also portrayed by 1950's Jimmy Olsen actor Jack Larson in Superman Returns, credited as "Bo". I'm not going to confirm this, but the bar is also named the Ace O' Clubs. Go figure.
In any case, Bibbo has gotten shafted as of late, with no mention of where he has gone. With DC's new focus on Jimmy Olsen, I thought a character that was such good friends with Superman's pal might get a little more screen time, but alas, it was not to be. I know it may seem silly, but I truly feel there is so much untapped potential in this character that writers could play around with.
The problem lies in mainstream comics' reliance on epic stories and universe ending crises that the days of supporting characters like Bibbo may be gone. Does Superman still have time to stop by Suicide Slum and have a drink at Bibbo's bar? Really, Bibbo is just the surface. Even a character like Krypto, who had an entire issue of Superman devoted to him at one point that never saw the light of day due to larger scale story lines. The story focused on Krypto dealing with his owner at the time, Superboy's, death. A story like this is so important to these characters, and it's a real shame that the company doesn't seem to agree.
Regardless, Bibbo truly hasn't had his time to shine yet. I really recommend going back to the early 90's Superman books just to flip around and enjoy his Thing-like sentences, as his tough guy facade falls to the wayside while he helps hand out presents to children at an orphanage. As Bibbo says to Supes in AOS #487: "You should stop by the Ace O' Clubs sometimes…drinks're on me!"