"Help Me, My Aquatic Friends" Dept.

Jill Lepore, “The Sharpened Quill,” in the New Yorker last October:

Thomas Paine is, at best, a lesser Founder. In the comic-book version of history that serves as our national heritage, where the Founding Fathers are like the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends, Paine is Aquaman to Washington’s Superman and Jefferson’s Batman; we never find out how he got his superpowers, and he only shows up when they need someone who can swim.


  1. Jill Lepore reveals her ignorance of the Super Friends, for Aquaman was around all the goddamn time. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman. Pshaw, Jill Lepore! Pshaw!

  2. I had that thought too. In fact, Aquaman was probably around more than the other superfriends, because he only left the Hall of Justice (usually cadging a ride, Jeffwik style, from Wonder Woman – do you feel some affinity that makes you leap to his defense?) when they needed someone who could swim.

    And he was born with his powers, duh.

  3. AND ABIGAIL ADAMS IS WONDER WOMAN!!! They’re both the only woman on the scene. I can play this game too!

  4. Actually, I’d say that Franklin was Batman and Jefferson was Green Lantern. Cause Franklin was, I think, a bit more popular/well-known than Jefferson and if anyone would have a utility belt full of “wonderful toys” it would be Franklin.

  5. My founding father knowledge is a bit hazy, but who would you say would Zan and Jayna be?

  6. John: This layout is only temporary – just one of the default templates in WordPress. I knew if I waited to switch software until I had everything just how I wanted it, I’d never get it done.

  7. So let’s see, we’ve got:
    Superman = George Washington
    Batman = Benjamin Franklin (good call on the utility belt, Tom, though is Franklin broody enough to be Batman?)
    Wonder Woman = Abigail Adams
    Aquaman = Tom Paine
    Green Lantern = Jefferson I can buy (there’s a joke in there somewhere about his weakness to “high yellow” but let’s not go there) but I don’t know if GL was actually part of the Superfriends
    Zan and Jayna = Sam and John Adams?

    I await eagerly the parallels for Black Vulcan, Samurai, and Apache Chief…

  8. Kirby – Clearly Zan and Jayna would be the next generation of great Americans. Probably Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay or some such. John C. Clahoun is Space Monkey Gleek.

    Also, is John Quincy Adams Robin?

  9. Rob writes:

    > is Franklin broody enough to be Batman?

    yes, because we only ever see his “playboy millionaire” side.

  10. Superman as George Washington (or vice-versa) reminds me of this video, with which I’m sure we’re all familiar, and which I am cunningly claiming is my “website.”

  11. jeffwik is on the ball, Jill Lepore is not. Look I may know bupkus w.r.t. this “American History” as you call it, but wasn’t the Declaration of Independence strongly influenced by Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense?” Ya, property/happiness, same thing.

    “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My mind is my own church.” – Thomas Paine.

    Clearly, if he _has_ to be a lesser SuperFriend(tm) Thomas Paine is The Atom. Do I have to spell it out for you?

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