Comic Presidents

On Inauguration Day,one of Spider-Man’s old enemies tries to wreck the swearing-in-ceremony of the 44th President of the United States and Spider-Man swings into the scene....

Written by Sharon Fernandes | Published:January 20, 2009 2:37 am

On Inauguration Day,one of Spider-Man’s old enemies tries to wreck the swearing-in-ceremony of the 44th President of the United States and Spider-Man swings into the scene. In the end,Obama thanks Spider-Man with a fist bump. That’s the plot of Marvel Comics’ ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ issue of January 14. Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada told newswires,“When we heard that President-elect Obama is a collector of Spider-Man comics,we knew that these two historic figures had to meet in our comics’ universe.”

But not all US presidents have received such a warm welcome from the comic world.

The President the world loves to hate,George W. Bush,had many speech balloons in tabloids and comics that lampooned his image. A classic caricature in Vanity Fair by cartoonist Drew Friedman had Bush looking like the Joker in last year’s celebrated Dark Knight. The caption read: ‘No joke’.

Such presidential cameos have been around for decades. Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared in Marvel’s Spider-Man and DC Comics’ the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron. The 32nd President was also known to give Captain America his round shield.

And when you have Presidents whose terms are filled with juicy,real life drama,it’s only natural that some of it overflows into the gutter space of a comic book. Ronald Reagan appeared in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns; he also shared moments in DC’s 1986 mini series,Legends. Richard Nixon was in Watchmen—in Alan Moore’s alternative universe,Richard Nixon,a stand-in for Reagan,is served out his fifth term as president. And JFK was the only US President to know Superman’s true identity—Clark Kent. Bill Clinton too appeared in Superman,along with his better half Hillary. They held a funeral for the Caped Crusader’s demise.

The fun spilled over to TV. The Simpsons,the animated sitcom by Matt Groening,has had the whole gamut of Presidents. Like George Washington (1789-1797),who gives Homer Simpson financial advice on a one-dollar bill and how to play tambourine. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) gives Lisa Simpson advice at the Jefferson Memorial. George H. W. Bush had an entire show dedicated to himself: ‘Two Bad Neighbors’ was the 13th episode of The Simpsons’ seventh season in 1996. The episode shows the Simpson family having a garage sale where the 41st President upstages Homer Simpson by moving in across the street. After Bush Sr gives Homer’s son Bart a spanking,a prank war begins which escalates into a confrontation that has the Bushes leaving Springfield. In the October 1,1990,edition of People,Barbara Bush called The Simpsons “the dumbest thing (she) had ever seen”.

The younger Bush has also been the butt of jokes on this show with Bart’s T-shirt reading ‘Weapons of Ass Destruction’. Homer Simpson has photos of him fighting with Bush and Bush Sr. Homer Simpson also showed his Democratic side by trying to vote for Barack Obama but a machine changes the vote to McCain and proceeds to kill him. It’s early days for Obama,who,like Spider-Man,believes,“With great power comes great responsibility”. It also gets you into comic books.

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