Recommended Reading for Ant Man and the Wasp

Recommended Reading for Ant Man and the Wasp

Posted by on Jul 3, 2018 in Home, News, Source Material, Uncategorized

With Ant Man and the Wasp only two days away, I thought some recommended reading might help those who want to be familiar with Marvels tiniest heroes before they drop on the big screen. Now these are only a few of the stories out there since Ant-Man and the Wasp’s debut in Tales to Astonish #27 and #44 in the early 1960s or Scott Lang’s debut in Avengers #181 at the end of the 1970s but hey you gotta start somewhere and these I thought were some of the best introductions.

1. Ant-Man: Scott Lang: This collection has a lot of the early appearances of Scott Lang as Ant-Man. You can see him working alongside other Marvel heroes such as Iron Man, Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Spider-Man. Lang would later play an important role in the Armor Wars story-line but this collection highlights two story-lines that will be explored in this upcoming film. One story had him assisting Yellowjacket (Hank Pym) to rescue the captured Wasp and another had him working alongside the FF to journey toward a “micro-world” where he would assist the famous family in battle with the forces of Doctor Doom. Both the rescue and journey to a micro-world aka the Quantum Realm are important, but this collection shows how Lang interacts with the other heroes in the Marvel Universe. Considering both Ant-Man and the Wasp will be appearing in the Avengers: Infinity War sequel in 2019 and that Scott Lang would eventually be an Avenger in the comics, reading up on how the groundwork for such relationships began may be good for anyone still unfamiliar with the size altering hero.

2. Shadowland: Thunderbolts: While this Luke Cage assembled Thunderbolts, a team of criminals forced to work together for the common good, had their own specific missions, the movie’s villain Ghost was among their members having served previously on Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts before betraying him during Siege. Issue #151 offered a possible origin story for Ghost, specifically who he was and how he became to be. Tragic and brutal, this possible origin for a blank slate in the Marvel universe is interesting to say the least of a character who began as an Iron Man villain. Although actress Hannah John-Kamen’s interpretation of the character will be unique to itself, this character and its evolution from a villain to an anti-hero with good intentions is great for anyone unfamiliar with this obscure character.

3. Ant/Man Giant Man: The Man in the Ant Hill: Before Scott Lang, there was Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym and his wife Janet Van Dyne aka Ant-Man and the Wasp. Although co-creator Stan Lee said that it was a struggle to find place for Ant-Man in the Avengers at times, both characters were established in Marvel’s Tales to Astonish series and later as founding members of the famous superhero team. During their brief membership, Ant-Man would switch identities, the first of many changes in Hank Pym’s career, to Giant Man. Although Hank and Janet’s time as both characters have clearly passed since their introduction in Ant-Man (2016), video footage of both in action proved they were quite the formidable team. As one of the main plot points deals with the attempt to rescue Janet from the Quantum Realm, familiarity with Hank and Janet during the Golden Age of Comics might be a nice trip down memory lane while also seeing how far comic book storytelling has come since then.

4. Black Goliath #1-5: Bill Foster was originally introduced in Avengers #32 as Hank Pym’s lab assistant but it wasn’t until Luke Cage: Power Man #24 that he became known as Black Goliath. Dr. Foster moved to the West Coast where he was able to crack the formula to Pym particles which gave him similar powers to Giant-Man. Taking the name Black Goliath, he fought a variety of villains while working alongside other heroes like the Champions, the Defenders, and the Thing. This short-lived series was unfortunately published at a time when there was a paper shortage meaning Marvel had to cancel any low selling series almost immediately. Fortunately, Bill continued to make appearances in Marvel Two-In-One and eventually became a member of the West Coast Avengers before losing his powers. With Lawrence Fishburne playing the role of Bill Foster in the movie and the mention of project Goliath,  we could be seeing another Giant-Man in the MCU future so brushing up on his history might be helpful.

5. Astonishing Ant Man: Trial of Ant-Man: There have been a few Ant-Man series since the characters debut in the 1960s and Nick Spencer’s run of Astonishing Ant Man is the latest but by far one of the more successful fan favorite series. Balancing the popular consensus of the character from the MCU movies with the humor and wit he displayed in the Superior Foes of Spider-Man, writer Nick Spencer puts Scott Lang in a tough situation and just turns up the heat. When Darren Cross, Crossfire and company kidnap his daughter Cassie, Scott must enlist the help of villainous co-workers to break into Darren’s company and save Cassie. After the battle, Scott is arrested for his participation in the matter and for violating his parole and he sits in jail awaiting trial. Caught between a rock and a hard place with limited options, Scott’s situation has certain parallels with the predicament’s Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang faces in the upcoming movie. He is under house arrest because of his choices in Civil War which have resulted in greater tension between him, Hank, and Hope. He wants to be a good father to Cassie but can’t deny his responsibilities as Ant-Man even when those decisions make his life even more difficult. I’d say Nick Spencer’s good but short series Astonishing Ant Man is a great read for modern readers who want to get into comics but don’t have the time to invest in years of continuity.

So that’s some of the great Ant Man and Wasp stories out there so if you like them and want to read more of Scott Lang, Hank Pym, and Janet Van Dyne’s adventures, go check our your nearest comic book shop or book store. Until then, keep it real and watch out for seagulls.

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Source Material: Ant-Man and the Wasp Comics

Source Material: Ant-Man and the Wasp Comics

Posted by on Jul 3, 2018 in Home, News, Source Material, Uncategorized

Hey everybody! We’re only a few days away from the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp, the sequel to 2016’s Ant-Man. A lot has changed since Scott Lang inherited the mantle of Ant Man from secluded inventor Hank Pym in an unorthodox fashion and as we saw at the end of the first movie, he has some company or as Hope van Dyne put it “It’s about damn time”. The film takes place two years after the events in Civil War but before the events of Infinity War so it may answer questions about why we didn’t see either heroes alongside their fellow Marvel heroes battling against Thanos and his forces. The film will explore a new adversary code-named the Ghost, fellow inventor and former Pym co-worker Bill Foster, and the status of Janet Van Dyne who disappeared in the Quantum Realm years ago.

Our Characters:

Scott Lang/ Ant-Man: A former criminal and father who tried to help his daughter’s poor health by rescuing a doctor who could help her from CEO Darren Cross. To do this, he stole Hank Pym’s suit and cannisters of Pym particles which gave him the powers Hank Pym was known for. After he defeated Cross, he tried to return the suit and turn himself in but Hank Pym, aware of his reasons and his actions as a result, instead allowed him to keep the suit and title under the condition he works as a hero. Scott has worked alongside the Avengers and other Marvel superheroes but always tried to balance a career as a superhero and a father. Wonderfully portrayed by actor Paul Rudd, this movie portrays Lang under house arrest due to his actions during Civil War and attempting to fix his frayed relationship with Hank Pym and Hope while balancing his responsibilities as Ant Man and to his daughter Cassie.

 

 

Hope van Dyne/ the Wasp: the daughter of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, the original Ant Man and Wasp. While there are similarities to her comic book character, I find this version of the Wasp to have more in common with Nakia Pym, the illegitimate child of Hank Pym and deceased foreign agent Maria Trovaya. Nakia grew up in the Soviet Red Room and upon escape, she learned of her father’s death and created a makeshift Wasp costume to fight alongside the Avengers. She would find a surrogate mother in Janet Van Dyne and eventually adopted her last name when she became a U.S. Citizen. In the movie, Janet’s disappearance during a mission created friction and distance between Hank and Hope that began to heal throughout the first movie. Portrayed delightfully by actress Evangeline Lily, the actress believes that by accepting the mantle of the Wasp, Hope has achieved a goal she’s wished for for most of her life as well assertion from her father, so she will be in a different emotional mindset than she was previously.

Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym/ the original Ant-Man: The scientist who was also known as Giant Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket and even the Wasp. One of the founding members of the Avengers, Hank Pym’s heroic history has been mired with controversial decisions and consequences. It was Hank Pym who was responsible for creating the android menace called Ultron and years later he suffered a mental breakdown that caused him to attack his teammates and physically assault his wife Janet. As a result, he was expelled from the Avengers and Janet divorced him although they would rekindle their romance years later. The movie version of Hank Pym is an inventor, entomologist, physicist and former S.H.I.E.L.D agent who was the original Ant-Man back in 1963. Portrayed by actor Michael Douglas who channels the cynicism and distrust Hank views the world into his role as Scott’s mentor, the film will explore how Scott’s decisions in Civil War has affected him and Hope and his desire to return to the Quantum Realm in search of his wife Janet whom he believes is still alive.

The Ghost: A brilliant criminal who gains the ability to phase through technology after stealing Pym technology. In the comics, the Ghost origin story is unknown. He claimed to be a promising programmer and engineer whose technology skyrocketed his employer Omnisapient. Depressed over the death of his girlfriend to a random fire, he found solace by literally immersing his consciousness into the data networks he created by wiring his flesh to his advanced processors. With his mind elevated to alpha-level intelligence he discovered that his lover had been hired by the company to keep him happy and was killed because of her attempts to blackmail them. When he was discovered, the company hired a mercenary to dispose of him with a bomb that destroyed his entire apartment complex and its residents. He survived and became the Ghost, an anti-capitalist saboteur who seeks to destroy any corporation or institution that he views as oppressive, with a suit that grants him the ability to become intangible and hack and reprogram any electronic system or signal. He destroyed his former employers and then erased any form of his former life. If this is true or not has yet to be confirmed. In the movie, the writers decided that the characters gender was irrelevant to its portrayal and that it would be more interesting to cast the role as a woman; the actress Hannah John-Kamen felt the blank slate allowed her to make the character her own. It has been hinted that there is some connection to Ghost and friend and former Pym co-worker Bill Foster.

 

Bill Foster: A former assistant and partner to Hank Pym on the Goliath project. In the comics, Bill Foster worked alongside Hank Pym as his lab assistant and eventually cracked the formula for the Pym particles which gave Giant-Man (Hank Pym’s identity at the time) the ability to grow. Originally known as Black Goliath, he worked alongside the Champions, the Defenders, and other Marvel characters as Giant Man and constantly dealt with his powers in flux. He went by Goliath when he was killed during a battle in Civil War and his nephew Tom would crack the formula for Pym particles and honor his memory as the new Goliath. In the movie, Bill Foster is played by Laurence Fishburne who is seen comparing his experience in Project Goliath with Scott Lang’s experiences in the trailer. Director Paul Reed has described the current rivalry between Foster and Pym to that of tech moguls Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Cassie Lang: Scott Lang’s daughter. In the comics, repeated exposure to the Pym Particles from her father’s adventures as Ant-Man helped Cassie gain the ability to increase and decrease her size. Her abilities were usually linked to her emotions and she would work alongside the Young Avengers and with other Marvel heroes under the code-name Stature. Her love for her father and his other career would constantly put her at odds with her mother and stepfather who feared for her safety and life. Although she is just a child currently in Scott’s early career as Ant-Man, such a plot point would be interesting to explore in possible future movies.

 

Janet Van Dyne/ The Original Wasp: Hank Pym’s wife and mother to Hope Van Dyne. She was lost in the Quantum Realm during a mission years ago with Hank. She has not been seen since…. until now. It was rumored until it was confirmed that she will be portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer.

And of course Luis, Dave, and Kurt who were members of Scott Lang’s original crew will be returning as well as Maggie and Paxton, Scott’s ex-wife and her current husband. With a cast of characters such as this, this most definitely will not be any kind of small movie.

 

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X-Men Gold #30: Why the Wedding issue was a DISASTER

X-Men Gold #30: Why the Wedding issue was a DISASTER

Posted by on Jun 24, 2018 in Home, News, Source Material, Uncategorized

X-Men marriages always have a certain air of skepticism when they are announced. For a group of people who are constantly battling all sorts of forces that are opposed to their very existence, you don’t really expect them to get many happy endings.  Off the top of my head, I can only think of three marriages involving members of the X-Men that looked promising but usually ended eventually. Most of their relationships in general are pushed to the extreme limits by the very nature of the X-Men but few have stood the test of time like Kitty and Piotr. Already off to a controversial start due to Kitty being a teenager compared to Piotr’s adult status, the mutant couple has watched their relationship been tested again and again and they know it. They talk about watching one another die, getting stuck on magic metal space bullets, getting stranded in time or mentioning their on again/off again status. So, when  Kitty asked Colossus to marry her, it got the usual announcements and variant covers. Legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont came back to write a small story within the event and for the most part, a lot of people would say its about time. While I wanted to be happy for the couple as the big issue approached, my skepticism remained but I’m always open to be proven wrong. However, upon reading X-Men: Gold #30 by Kelly Thompson and Oscar Balzulda, that wasn’t the case and I found myself both disappointed and annoyed at Marvel for such a missed opportunity.

First to their credit, Kelly and Oscar did a marvelous job with the issue itself. I’m not familiar with Kelly Thompson’s work but she did a great job of moving the story along at a good pace and with honest depictions of the X-Men assembled for the big day. She balances the traditional wedding stereotypes with the eccentric X-Men lifestyle well and I did chuckle at Nightcrawler’s realization that he forgot the rings to only teleport and back with them just in time. I remember Balzulda’s work from (Ultimate) Spider-Man and everything looked amazing. Whether the characters are drinking on top roofs, reflecting amongst the stars, or sitting in proper attire waiting for the ceremony to start, his style is detailed but also pleasant and helps to convey the emotion in the moment. His drawing of Kitty coming down the aisle is beautiful to view but all these positives are for naught when the ending of the issue is revealed. All this build up is for nothing because during the ceremony when Colossus is about to put the ring on Kitty’s finger, her hand phases right through his. She reveals she can’t marry him and phases through the ground in front of their wedding party and all the guests present. Colossus asks Kurt to teleport him away shortly after and the readers are left like the audience present, shocked and wondering what the hell just happened.

Now this unexpected twist didn’t come out of nowhere. Within the issue, Kitty and Piotr’s sister and fellow X-Men Ilyana are drinking on the roof where the guests are celebrating and Ilyana states her feelings on the matter as the girls are passing a bottle back and forth. She is happy for the couple and wants nothing but the best, but she wonders why now? After everything they’ve been through as a couple, why didn’t Kitty and Piotr get married much earlier? Overlooking obvious points in the couple’s relationships where they couldn’t commit to such a union, that is a good point and you can almost hear that idea start to sink in both Kitty and your mind. Why the big wait, are the lives of the X-Men really that crazy that they don’t allow marriage? Honestly when you consider the X-Men’s history, how could you not want to plan a wedding or a family when Sentinels, Purifiers, Mr. Sinister or a dozen other threats could decide today is the day they try to kill you and everything you love. While you could debate either side of this argument, why propose in the first place if you weren’t ready? The fact it took Kitty that long to realize she couldn’t do it as she was at the altar and the ring was hovering inches from her finger just seems out of character. But then again currently where more marriages end in divorce and the idea of matrimony seems more and more old fashioned, you can somewhat understand her reasons as she explains it to Piotr shortly after but that’s not the part that frustrated me and other fans. While the guests contemplate what to do next,  Gambit and Rogue attempt to salvage the situation and get married in their place.

Here we have another X-couple who may have a e chaotic and temperamental relationship than Piotr and Kitty decide to not waste the gorgeous set up and food and get hitched. This moment which does its best to be sweet and honest is nothing more but the set up for an upcoming series Mr. and Mrs. X which will be Gambit and Rogue together balancing lives as a couple and as X-Men. In the end, what should be an authentic and sentimental moment for all of these fan favorite characters feels like a rushed conclusion under the guise of being spontaneous and romantic;  an ending that was also spoiled online way before the issue was even in stores.

One could suggest the idea was to capitalize on the attention and praise DC Comics has been recieving from the upcoming Batman and Catwoman marriage in Batman #50.  While the timing is suspiciously coincidental, comic books are often planned months or even years ahead of time so it’s less of a trying to one up the competition and more of poor choices regarding the direction of these characters. The life of a superhero does not always need to be tragic and full of obstacles to be realistic but even the most gruesome story is allowed some happiness occasionally. In the case of Katherine Pryde and Piotr Rasputin, their special day ended up being for somebody else. While Gambit and Rogue fans can rejoice for a new chapter in their characters lives, Kitty and Colossus’ fans deserved better. Hopefully things will improve in the near future but as the newly resurrected Logan said:

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Jared Leto and director Daniel Espinosa sign on for Morbius The Living Vampire movie

Jared Leto and director Daniel Espinosa sign on for Morbius The Living Vampire movie

Posted by on Jun 10, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Source Material, Uncategorized

VAMPIRES. It has been announced that Oscar award winning actor Jared Leto has signed on to play Michael Morbius in a solo film with Sony. This will be the second comic book character Leto has portrayed since infamously portraying the Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad. The film will be directed by Daniel Espinosa, the Scandinavian filmmaker responsible for 2012’s spy action thriller Safe House and last years sci-fi horror Life, with a script penned by Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama who created the Netflix remake of Lost in Space together. The movie is intended to be part of a separate Marvel universe with Sony (the Sonyverse shall we call it?) shared with the upcoming Venom movie and the unconfirmed Silver and Black movie starring Marvel characters Black Cat and the Silver Sable.


Previously I wrote an article stating that Michael Morbius would be an excellent villain from Spider-Man’s rogues gallery to star in a possible MCU sequel and that Homecoming director Jon Watts was interested in working on a project involving the famous Marvel vampire. With this new announcement, this movie could be a great combination of comics and horror if done correctly. Created in the 1960s by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane, scientist Michael Morbius attempted to use science to cure him of a rare blood disease that was slowly killing him. His experiments involving vampire bat DNA took a horrible turn when he was transformed into a creature similar to the traditional vampire. Although the procedure granted him superhuman powers and  immunity from most vulnerabilities known to vampires, he was still cursed with a weakness to sunlight and a strong blood lust.

He would frequently clash with Spider-Man upon discovering that Spider-Man’s irradiated blood could cause his vampirism to go into remission. Guilty over the constant need to feed on people, Morbius’ repeated appearance and success earned him a solo series in the 1990s where he turned his curse into a crusade as he became a vigilante who fed on criminals, predators, and the guilty alike. Although his bite rarely turned his victims into vampires themselves, Morbius would himself clashing with all manner of mystical opponents and allies including Blade, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider and was a member of the Midnight Sons who were a team of mystical creatures acting as Earth’s last defense against the occult.

  

He also had a reoccurring role in the Spider-Man animated series where his origins were adjusted to become an ambitious ESU student and rival with Peter for Felicia Hardy’s affection. The more memorable aspect of his character was how the series altered his vampire condition due to the censor restrictions at the time. Morbius was unable to bite or even reference blood so Fox had Marvel give Morbius a pair of blood draining suckers on his palms and replaced blood with plasma which in Morbius’ accent sounded more funny instead of terrifying.


Morbius’ pseudo-vampire status plus his vigilante status could make for an interesting movie if a proper balance of comics and horror is maintained. I also believe the vampire genre could use a little reviving (pun intended) after being over exhausted by tiresome stories and bastardized reimaging’s over the last decade or so. Will Morbius clash with Blade? Will he eventually confront Spider-Man? Could Morbius and Black Cat be a thing? I don’t know but the possibilities if they decide to move forward are quite exciting. Until then, sleep well creatures of the night!

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This is the Miles Morales Spider-Man movie we deserve!

This is the Miles Morales Spider-Man movie we deserve!

Posted by on Jun 6, 2018 in Home, News, Source Material, Uncategorized

Back in 2011 when the Ultimate Marvel Universe was still a thing, writer Brian Michael Bendis made a bold decision and decided to kill that version of Peter Parker. Instead of continuing on a world without the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Bendis alongside artist Sara Pichelli introduced a new and original Spider-Man in the form of Afro-latino teenager Miles Morales. With a completely different backstory, similar but different powers, and an inherited rogues gallery, Miles struggled not only with the balance act of real life with superhero problems but he also did his best to carry on Peter’s legacy. Miles would work alongside all sorts of Marvel characters and when the Ultimate Universe ended in 2015’s Secret Wars, Miles and most of his supporting cast were among the handful of Ultimate characters to be incorporated into the mainstream Marvel Universe. Since his initial debut, Miles Morales has been one of the more successful fan favorite Marvel characters and has been a member of the New Ultimates, the Avengers, and currently the Champions. He previously was featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man series, later renamed as Spider-Man: Web Warriors voiced by actor Donald Glover who had been among one of the inspirations for the character. When Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was announced in 2017, its teaser trailer was enough to really excite fans of all genres with its story and colorful animation. A second and more detailed trailer debuted today and after watching it, I have to say without a doubt THAT I CANNOT FREAKING WAIT FOR THIS FILM TO DEBUT IN DECEMBER 2018.

First and foremost, the style for this movie looks absolutely amazing. Splattered with comic book style thought bubbles, periods, and sound effects that bring memories of the Sixties Batman and the Golden Age of Comics, producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wanted to balance the comic book style with the realistic artwork of Miles’ co-creator Sara Pichelli. Not only are they producing the film but Phil Lord also wrote the screenplay so the duo’s previous success with The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs only adds to the excitement for their brand of silly but grounded humor and what they can bring to the story of Miles Morales. Speaking of worlds, we get to see a Spider-Man who is not Caucasian but a bi-racial child on the big screen. With that new identity, the movie could touch on subjects of race, identity, prejudice, and other sensitive issues that Peter Parker can’t address but that the comics had no problem addressing during its publication. Miles isn’t Peter Parker and with his father a police officer and his uncle Aaron Davis, a skilled thief known also as the Prowler, you can guarantee there will be the kind of inner turmoil and struggle we know all too well from anybody wearing a web themed costume. When worlds collide, we also see a version of Spider-Man that we’ve yet to see but is hilariously realistic. Peter Parker voiced actor and comedian Jake Johnson is an older and slightly less put together Spider-Man who can impart words of wisdom but has problem paying for the check when it comes. This relationship clearly is inspired by the 2012 mini-series Spider-Men where Miles met the mainstream Peter Parker and the older Spider-Man hilarious became a sort of mentor to the young webslinger, even imparting his own web wisdom whenever he deemed necessary even when Miles didn’t get the reference. Chris Lord has shown he clearly did his homework for there are so many references to pick up on in the trailer alone whether it’s the store bought Spider-Man outfit Miles trains in, the Ultimate Universe inspired Green Goblin, or even the reference that Miles is from a world where Peter Parker’s Spider-Man is dead do exactly what Easter eggs should do: they excite you enough to go see the movie when it debuts.

But the really exciting thing is something the title suggests. Edge of the Spider-Verse was a small mini-series tied into the 2012  Spider-Verse story-line which introduced Spider-Men (and Women, anthromorphic animals, and other similarly powered individuals) who would have a role to play in the Spider’s united battle against the Inheritors, a family of powerful creatures who survive by feeding on people who carried “the Spider-Totem”. It was in this series that Spider-Gwen, a Spider-Woman from an Earth where Gwen Stacey had inherited the Spider mantle, was introduced so it’s fitting that Gwen make a cameo at the end of this trailer voiced by Pitch Perfect’s Hailee Steinfeld.

Gwen’s introduction in 2014 was so successful that she earned herself a solo series, appearances on Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man, and will be featured as “Ghost Spider” in the upcoming Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. Her presence in the movie plus Peter’s appearance in Miles’ world suggests that there could be more Spider-people in this film and the possibilities for who we might see as well could be its own separate article. Personally I’m hoping to see two of my favorite Spider-Men, Miguel O’Hara from the year 2099 and Peter Parker from the Marvel Noir universe, make a cameo but honestly any webhead shown will get the same excitement I had when Spider-Man worked alongside his multiversal compatriots in the Animated Series finale back in the Nineties. For now some people would be hesitant putting their faith in a Spider-themed film coming from Sony but with the momentum this film has been building with its cast, publicity and people involved, I think this film will not only be a greater introduction of Miles Morales to the world but also push the boundaries of what Marvel could do with animated films based on their characters. I’m sure we’ll hear all about it at the next big Comic Con.

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My fellow Presidents: Significant POTUS cameos in modern comics

My fellow Presidents: Significant POTUS cameos in modern comics

Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Source Material, Uncategorized

The president of the United States may be a big deal in the real world but what position of power could they hold in a world that has the Justice League or The Avengers helping to protect and make the world a better place? To add a sense of realism to our extraordinary heroes, the President of the United States has been a constant presence in comics since the Golden Age. Obviously we could see popular presidents such as FDR, Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson featured talking to the Justice Society or Captain America but we’ll focus on our more contemporary presidents starting with Richard Nixon in 1969 and go all the way to Donald Trump in 2018 highlighting their “best” moments in comic book history.

RICHARD NIXON

Richard Nixon was doing pretty well as the President in the early 1970s. He had cameos in The Fantastic Four , the Incredible Hulk and one of the kids from DC Comics Newsboy Legion was modeled after him. But everything changed after the Watergate scandal and immediately Tricky Dick wasn’t the American golden boy anymore. Some of the criticisms were light, but the harshest was his role in the controversial Secret Empire story in Captain America #169-176. Although a mini series with the same name would also be controversial decades later, this series would not only parallel Watergate but also have a severe effect on Captain America himself. When Cap discovers an intricate conspiracy spearheaded by an organization called the Secret Empire, he follows the paper trail all the way to the White House. To his shock and amazement, he discovers that their leader is none other than President Richard Nixon.

Defeated and confronted with his crimes by Captain America, Nixon suddenly decides to confront suicide in front of the character. The size of this corruption and betrayal from within America combined with the sudden demise of “the President” resulted in Captain America questioning his country and his role within it. Disgusted with an organization he no longer believed in, Steve Rogers relinquished the title of Captain America. This not only began a new era of story telling and understanding for the classic Marvel character but it was also a strong criticism for what Watergate did to diminish the American public’s faith in the government and its leader.

The only other noteworthy cameo of Nixon is in the legendary Watchmen series where you can see him debating which portions of the country were acceptable losses should a nuclear war commense with the Soviet Union. Nixon changed the game for all the presidents who would succeed them regarding their portrayal in comics. They were no longer above criticism, they could be panned or ridiculed just like everybody else.

RONALD REAGAN

 

While he could be seen awarding or praising the superheroes of their respective universes, creators were not afraid to show a darker side of the actor-turned-president. His appearance in the iconic Frank Miller story The Dark Knight Returns referenced the president close relationship with Superman in other comics but suggested something clandestine and almost sinister.

While he’s portrayed in star spangled suits with that trademark senility gaining support for the military, Reagan’s giving orders to Superman to execute covert missions on the behalf of the American government. In Captain America #344 where Steve Rogers, now known as The Captain, has to deal with an agent of the Serpent Society known as Viper who has poisoned Washington’s water supply and turned many of the politicians including Reagan into mindless lizard men.

In the spirit of the Secret Empire storyline, writer Mark Gruenwald also used the story to criticize Reagan and his administration. When he’s not a raging lizard man capable of attacking the Captain, he’s an ignorant leader who not only is unaware of his administration’s legacy but also comfortable with being in the dark with absolute plausible deniability. Even after he sweats off the snake skin and Captain stops Viper, everything is swept under the rug just in time for the press conference afterwards.

BILL CLINTON

 

Already considered one of the best approved presidents since World War II, Bill Clinton had more than a few notable cameos in comics since his first appearances amongst the crowd at Superman’s funeral. In 1996, President Clinton appeared in the Captain America story arc “A Man Without a Country”. Writer Mark Waid and artist Ron Garney continued the theme of Captain America wrestling with his faith in the government and their power. Cap is framed for attacking a military base and is branded a traitor and exiled from the United States. Cap discovers the villain Machinesmith manipulated the whole thing and proves his innocence and saves the President in Captain America #453. Later Clinton apologizes for the mishap and reinstates Captain America by returning his shield to him.

In Supreme: The Return #1, an extraterrestrial despot named Korgo lands on Earth and challenges the head of the free world to a fight. Although the President is defeated, Korgo decides to leave the planet in fear of the First lady, Hillary Clinton. While writer Alan Moore is know for his darker approach to superheroes and comics, this lighthearted content is unexpected and rather entertaining. Bill Clinton also is one of the few, if not the only President to become a regular character in Marc Guggenheim’s post-apocalyptic Resurrection. In the series, he was the last President in Office before an alien invasion besieged the planet and occupied Earth for 10 years. When they mysteriously leave, Clinton is revealed to have survived the occupation and his position of power in this new world is explored.

But he would join ranks alongside Nixon and Reagan in the category of cameos that are meant to poke fun and/or criticize in Uncanny X-Men #401. This story took place during the ‘Nuff Said month which was a silent month were comics were printed without any sort of dialogue, thought bubble or communication in general. In this story, Wolverine searches for Stacy-X who has the mutant ability to secrete her own pheromones. During his search for Stacy, Logan discovers an the aftermath of an attack on a private government installation and finds our former Commander in Chief unconscious, half naked, blindfolded and… holding the American flag? We know it’s Clinton gathered from the references in the photographs and the landmark horndog status but apparently it wasn’t supposed to be him in that bed. Apparently the person was originally to be former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, an obvious reference to his highly publicized affair with Judith Nathan. But Giuliani at that time was busy helping with 9/11 references and Marvel probably didn’t want such a reference to come off in bad taste.

 

GEORGE W. BUSH

One can only imagine how George W. Bush felt coming off the heels of Clinton’s administration and trying to step out of his father’s shadow. In the beginning of his administration, 9/11 convinced the comic book publishers to rally behind the President to show support for him and the government by putting him in a more sympathetic light than previous presidents. One of my personal favorites was in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates series seen below.

As more time passed and his actions became more and more divise, his depiction in comics changed drastically. Other companies were content with depicting him as a political supervillain eager to unleash war over weapons of mass destruction or even as a victim of assassination. The biggest criticism came from DC Comics who elected fictional character Lex Luthor as president instead of depicting Bush in office.

During Bush’s eight-year administration, Lex and his three successors were all fictional characters. Judged like all presidents by his policies and actions, Bush remained divided as man depicted by some as a leader and by others as a buffoon.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama’s administration was something of an enigma because he was the first president since FDR to be depicted in such quantity and in most cases positivity. His appearance in Amazing Spider-Man Issue #583 went through more than four printings alone.

He found himself the subject of parodies, cameos, and covers from people celebrating his presidency or simply looking to make a quick buck. He made the usual Presidential cameo as a member of the world’s leaders while Spider-Man and friends try to stop Doc Ock from taking over the world, addressing powerful government agents like Norman Osborn or Amanda Waller or talking strategy with Cyborg in DC Comics Flashpoint.

Obama was seen as both an American leader but also as a character who could support a short-lived miniseries or be paired up with other characters. He seemed to avoid the critical eye many of his predecessors endured while embracing his pop culture appeal and presence. Say what you will about his policies and decisions, but I don’t know if anybody else could have been Barack the Barbarian.

DONALD TRUMP

Now in 2018, we have come to our present Commander in Chief: Donald Trump. While he’s only been the President for a year, his less than stellar reception has trickled down into comics. The most notable appearance so far has been his cameo in the Spider-Gwen series. Noticing the political tension within Marvel, creators Jason LaTour and Robbi Rodriguez decided to address it out in a hilarious yet poignant fashion. In this alternate Universe, their Captain America discovers an entity known as M.O.D.A.K (Mental Organism Designed As America’s King) bossing around Mexican workers near the border. Three guesses who’s enlarged face his resembles and you’ll understand the joy on Cap’s face when she defeats him. Time and tweets will tell on what future cameo’s await for Trump.

Annnnd…

I would feel remiss if I didn’t include Deadpool Dead Presidents (2012) story arc written by Gerry Duggan and  Brian Posehn with art by Tony Moore.  Deadpool has to fight and kill all the reanimated U.S. Presidents brought to life by an rookie necromancer who seek to make America great again by any means necessary. You get to see all the presidents, even the ones you don’t remember, killed in often hilarious fashion by Marvel’s worst historical enforcer.


Go put down the history books and pick up some comic books when you have a minute. It’s a lighter read but just as heavy.

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