- Forget it, Kent! You've got a right to picket-- And most of you are worth the union's demands! I can afford the salary increases, but I won't hand out money till the other stations go along! My father was a union man, and he taught me never to cross a picket line-- Unless it was absolutely necessary! Now, if you'll excuse me, this executive has a job to do!
- — Morgan Edge src
Little is known about Morris Edelstein's parentage, aside from that his father (as yet unnamed) was a union representative and his mother Sophie was a poor washerwoman who kept at her job long after her son's financial support had made the pursuit of an occupation unnecessary. As a child, Edelstein grew up in the lower east side of Metropolis, where he became an avid collector of merchandise licensed after the then-popular radio show Cosmic Knight. Edelstein and his childhood friend "Yussel" Berkowitz competed with one another to build the biggest Cosmic Knight collection, but the production of a single novelty clock which was never released due to the inopportune cancellation of the radio show left both boys' collections incomplete for years.
Edelstein was a sailor in the United States Merchant Marine when he happened upon a high-stakes poker game somewhere on the West Coast. One of the players was a wealthy yet reckless broadcaster from New Mexico who gambled his Albuquerque-based television station, valued at $60,000 in net worth, and lost it to Edelstein in an outcome that had trillions-to-one odds of happening. When Edelstein tried calling his winnings in afterwards, the mogul tried to have him killed and was outmaneuvered and knocked out by the hardy mariner. Edelstein consequently seized ownership of the television station, but an anti-Semitic insult directed at him prior to the start of the fighting lingered with him. Having always been ashamed of his lower-class Jewish background, Edelstein decided that if he wanted to succeed in the TV business that he would have to carefully reinvent and manage his image. The first step was to legally change his name to something sounding sharp and distinguished: Morgan Edge. It would be a long time before Edge took ownership of his past and stopped being ashamed of himself and his family, on the day he accepted the Metropolis Broadcasters' Association's Man of the Year award.
Edge branched out over the years, reinvesting his profits from the Albuquerque station into a group of television stations across the country. This was the core of what eventually became known as the Galaxy Broadcasting System (GBS). Edge became fabulously wealthy over that whole period of time, and GBS became widely recognized as one of America's largest and most influential telecommunications corporations, if not the largest and most influential. Galaxy's only major competitor was the United Broadcasting Company (UBC), owned and run by CEO Sam Tanner. The corporate rivalry between Edge and Tanner grew and heated up until it reached the level of notoriety for those in the know of the business. Edge developed a reputation in the business community as "The Smiling Cobra" for an interpersonal style which Edge had put years into refining, whereby Edge would radiate an aura of palpable aggression while outwardly presenting as collegial. At some point, Edge was kidnapped and cloned by Simyan and Mokkari of the Evil Factory on the orders of Darkseid. The clone was then implanted with a copy of all Edge's memories and personality, with the slight subliminal modification that he would serve Darkseid as his god without question. That mental programming was put to the test when Darkseid ordered the clone to execute his genetic template with a bullet to the base of the skull. However, the clone revolted against the order, viewing the original Morgan as an extension of himself, and chose instead to knock him out and keep him permanently imprisoned in his own penthouse suite, hidden behind a two-way mirror. Darkseid was to be kept ignorant of the clone's betrayal for the time being.
After an indeterminate period, Edge had the idea to slide his food tray vertically into the slide-door opening in his secret cell behind the mirror and used this strategy to successfully escape from imprisonment by his "evil twin." Upon learning of the real Edge's escape, his clone imposter feigned a fit of insanity and used Intergang grunts disguised as psychiatric care professionals to set in motion a plan for "his" own capture. The evil Edge figured on Superman intervening to nab his runaway progenitor for him and unwittingly turn him over to Intergang custody, as Superman had no way of knowing that two Morgan Edges were on the loose simultaneously. The clone's counter-strategy succeeded, but the real Edge fought the Intergang flunkies moving him to a secure location and forced their fake ambulance to crash into the bay. Edge resurfaced with his life and health intact, and by a lucky fluke, the Outsiders Biker Gang was driving along the adjacent road, having witnessed the incident. The Outsiders' pacifistic new leader Yango picked Edge up without asking questions and invited him to share his group's new mode of utopian living on an apparently Christian farming cooperative. Edge's clone tried once more to flush him out and recapture him, preparing to destroy the Outsiders as collateral damage, by framing the bikers for committing mass murder and sending the gang's belligerent former leaders after Yango. Without even knowing what manner of scheming was about, Superman thwarted the clone's plot by intervening.
Edge explained his situation to Yango, who rode him back to Metropolis to get to the heart of the matter, and approached Daily Planet reporter Jimmy Olsen to help them against the other Edge in the GBS building. The three were on their way directly for the building to expose the clone, but Intergang received orders to cut them all down. After a harrowing chase, they reached the GBS building, where Jimmy and Yango were accompanied by Superman to clear out the Intergang mooks while Edge hid in the film library. Right after the clone gave orders to hitman Tombstone Greer to blast the original Edge to atoms with an Apokoliptian energy blaster, Darkseid confronted the Evil Factory's changeling creation personally, revealing that the chaos in Metropolis had alerted him to the clone's original failure to obey his edict unquestioningly. Consequently, Darkseid discarded the clone by teleporting him to the film library via Omega Effect, where the half-crazed clone traded blows with Edge until Greer arrived and disintegrated the false Edge by accident. Having realized his error too late, Greer nevertheless prepared to eliminate the real Edge when Superman caused the energy-blaster to recoil, killing Greer as well. Superman told Edge, Jimmy, and Yango that the events which had transpired were but a small front of a divine war greater than any of them could ever imagine and swore them into silence for the sake of preserving civic order. Morgan Edge resumed his executive position over GBS where his clone had left off, being filled in by Jimmy Olsen on everything that the clone had done in his absence. As a result, Edge learned that he was suddenly the publisher of the Daily Planet, had a ditzy secretary named Laura Conway, and held responsibility for taking Clark Kent off the regular staff of the Planet and inaugurating his new career as star anchorman for his Metropolis-based TV station, WGBS.
As the other Morgan was identical to him in every way except for his criminal ties, the original GBS President decided to preserve all of these status quo changes, likely thinking them to be improvements. Edge also expanded the WGBS cast further, hiring Steve Lombard to be a sportscaster for the station after Steve publicly ended his professional football career. Edge was also responsible for the rebranding of Jimmy Olsen's column in the Daily Planet by foisting the unwanted "hard-hitting man of the people" persona of "Mister Action" upon Jimmy. In spite of Jimmy's initial contempt for the gimmick's shallowness, Jimmy found that he naturally played the role quite well anyway. Although intolerant, hard-edged, opinionated, authoritarian, and occasionally even abusive, Edge had his personal code of ethics which he strongly adhered to as chief executive officer of a major telecommunications company: Edge placed a high value upon journalistic integrity and was not one for distorting the truth through sensationalism, was frequently generous with pay-raises, bonuses, and vacation-time to his employees, and pressured the entire GBS Board of Directors to assist him in taking up the duties of the daily TV news during a massive city-wide strike by the TV workers' union. Edge respected confident, self-assured employees who carried their weight and held personal responsibility for their actions, making him fairly appreciative of Lois Lane but often scathingly critical towards Clark Kent for his inexplicable blundering gaffes and Steve Lombard for his egotistical macho attitude. However, he was often exasperated by the conservative rigidity of Perry White as editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet, vexed by Perry's old-fashioned philosophy about techniques of print journalism and repeatedly threatening to replace him unless Perry could find a way to increase circulation. On one occasion, Perry got the exclusive story of the rogue government scientist Calixto and his mutant, teenage Army of Tomorrow, causing the Smiling Cobra to slink away in defeat. Another time, Edge planned to force Perry out under the long-standing company policy of mandating employee retirement at age 65, only to be thwarted by the collective threat of resignation by nearly every Galaxy employee currently or formerly assigned to work at the Planet.
Galaxy Broadcasting took a major loss when 3 out of WGBS's 6 on-air TV personalities chose not to renew their contract with the company in favor of more lucrative job offers by UBC, including gossip reporter Lola Barnett, whose name thusly became anathema to Edge. Edge mustered the quickest reponse he saw reasonable, appointing Clark Kent to a position as associate producer of WGBS and tasking him with both guaranteeing fidelity of all remaining major "names" to the company in addition to actively searching to recruit fresher, newer journalistic talent. In spite of the switch-over, WGBS continued to receive consistently higher ratings than WUBC. Sam Tanner, blaming WGBS's unbeatable ratings on the superior coverage of Superman provided by all Galaxy-owned media, tasked inventor Peter Silverstone with creating Blackrock, a superhero who would be loyal to UBC and compete with Superman for media attention. However, Silverstone saw fit to mesmerize Tanner himself into filling out the powered suit of Blackrock, producing a scenario which quickly ran out of control and culminated in the rapid retirement of that costumed persona. In spite of their intense competition, Edge and Tanner communicated by phone to address the other's concerns when a major international news conference in Central City was struck with an alien plague dubbed "Journalists' Disease," leading Edge and Tanner to worry for the safety of their employees and the future of their industry. Fortunately, the crisis was resolved within a few days thanks to Superman, Supergirl, the Flash, and Green Lantern. Morgan then hired Lana Lang to be Clark Kent's co-anchor for the 6 o'clock news and gave Clark's position as associate producer to new employee Martin Korda, who was for a time impersonated by Metallo. When Black Lightning sprung up to wage a one-man private war on The 100, Edge instituted a policy of favorable news coverage of the vigilante, questioning Inspector Bill Henderson and the Metropolis Police Department's priorities when they initiated a manhunt to run him in.
While reviewing footage of an on-the-spot news feature hosted by Clark, which gave the spotlight to a local nick-nack store, Edge glanced upon the prototype of the Cosmic Knight clock that he desired ever since childhood to complete his collection. Edge dispatched Clark to buy it from the store, but "Yussel" Berkowitz, now going by the name of Joseph Burke, held up the store while Clark was inside, binding and gagging both Clark and the store owner and stealing the clock for himself. Through surrepitious use of his powers, Clark managed to sabotage Burke's getaway and managed to ensure the police captured him with no need for Superman's involvement. The store owner gave the clock to Edge for free after that, not wanting to attract more trouble by keeping it. In an ironic twist, Edge's original intention was to gift the clock to Burke as a sign of friendship, though Burke had been driven to madness by envy of Edge for his superior successes in life, that being the motive for his attempted theft of the clock.
A campaign headed by Lois and Jimmy to restore the Daily Planet globe to the roof of the Galaxy building eventually swayed Edge to relent to its demands, when Lois indicated the publicity potential that holding a ritzy unveiling ceremony could grant his company. Edge invited the top names in politics, industry, and entertainment to attend the party, in addition to his own employees, even convincing the President of the United States to grace the event with his presence. While the ceremony was interrupted by the threat of nuclear terrorism by the villain Neutron, Superman deduced that Neutron's makeshift nuke was the Planet globe itself and safely disposed of it to save the city, before suppressing Neutron himself. Luckily, Superman saw fit to fashion a speedy replacement for the globe, allowing the party to go on well into the morning and giving Metropolis's upper crust a night they would never forget.
Inspired by the success of such TV miniseries as Roots and Shōgun, Edge tasked Clark Kent with investigating Superman's family history for a series of articles to be published in the Daily Planet, which would subsequently be adapted into its own TV miniseries. Unbeknownst to Edge, Clark was in the best possible position to complete the assignment, secretly being Superman, but nevertheless, it created the perfect circumstance for Clark to learn more about his Kryptonian heritage on Rokyn with Supergirl.
One of Clark Kent's suggestions for a Daily Planet feature on Superman's girlfriends failed to materialize a profit and consequently exacerbated a preexisting dip in Planet circulation. Under pressure from other major shareholders in Galaxy, Edge arranged to sell the Daily Planet newspaper to the Waxman Chain, a disreputable tabloid publisher owned and run by the sleazy and dishonest Mort Waxman. However, Edge still intended to keep Clark employed with GBS as TV newsman regardless of the fate of the Planet, and Edge only intended to rent out the Planet's office space in the Galaxy building to the Waxman Chain, as opposed to selling the building itself. In spite of his Planet employees' objections, Edge remained single-minded in his decision to sell the Planet to Waxman, until the day that Mort Waxman visited the Galaxy building to sign the new ownership papers. Then, the ghost of an 18th Century printer's devil named Jeremiah Odets, who was killed in an accident during the Daily Planet's historic first day of publication, rose from his haunting place within the printing presses and besieged the Galaxy/Planet staff with supernatural visions, ultimately revealing his existence and declaring his motive to act from beyond the mortal veil to protect the integrity of the Planet at all costs. Motivated partially by personal reservations about the deal and partially by the terror experienced during the ghostly visitation, Edge called the transfer of ownership to Waxman off, to the gratitude of Clark, Lois, Jimmy, and especially Perry.
Noticing that Steve Lombard's popularity as a sportscaster was beginning to decline with viewers, Edge confronted Steve with this fact on the roof of the GBS building, giving him one last chance to improve his performance or face the possibility of termination. A few days later, Edge called Steve into his office and fired him, pointing out that the ratings decline had not seen a reversal and that even a 1-point ratings drop could mean a loss of millions of dollars in advertiser money for the company.
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Morgan Edge's past was entirely altered, especially his origins and upbringing, molding a very different Morgan Edge who would willingly serve Darkseid and coordinate Intergang for the petty promise of temporal power. Galaxy's corporate buyout of the Daily Planet was also stricken from the timeline, making it so the Post-Crisis versions of Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Perry White, etc. were retroactively never in Edge's employ.
Powers and Abilities
- This version of Morgan Edge, including all history and corresponding appearances, was erased from existence following the collapse of the original Multiverse in the 1985–86 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series. Even though versions of the character may have since appeared, this information does not apply to those versions.
- Morgan Edge grew up in the town of Masonville, Vermont. When he became famous the townspeople of Masonville named the town's new public library after him.
- Morgan Edge is known as "The Smiling Cobra" due to his superficially chummy and slick yet privately ruthless and hard-edged personality, traits which were shared by his evil clone. Edge self-referentially keeps a bronze statuette of a coiled cobra on his office desk.
- 173 Appearances of Morris Edelstein (Earth-One)
- 2 Images featuring Morris Edelstein (Earth-One)
- 12 Quotations by or about Morris Edelstein (Earth-One)
- Character Gallery: Morris Edelstein (Earth-One)
- Superman #267
- Superman Family #195
- Superman #271
- Action Comics #468
- Superman Family #208
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #118
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #119
- Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #152
- Superman #264
- Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #155
- Superman #277
- Action Comics #469
- Superman #265
- Superman #280
- Action Comics #458
- Action Comics #459
- Superman #311-314
- Superman #315
- Superman #316
- Black Lightning #3
- Action Comics #525
- Action Comics #526
- Krypton Chronicles #1-3
- Action Comics #528-531
- Superman #383
- Superman #384
- Action Comics #441
- Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133
- Superman #277