When Real Political Figures Cameo in Comic Books

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It was announced yesterday that a forthcoming issue of Archie will feature President Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. In Archie #616: Campaign Pain Part 1, which will be released this December, Obama and Palin become involved in an “out of control” campaign for student government between Archie and Reggie. And yes, a second part comes out a month later in which Riverdale becomes “the center of a national crisis” that somehow involves the Secret Service. Of course this isn’t the first time a politician has made a cameo in a comic book. Click through for more examples, including an earlier appearance by President Obama.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton appear Superman: Man of Steel Issue #20: Funeral Day , which tells the story of Superman’s funeral. The now former First Couple is in attendance, sitting in front of Lex Luther and Perry White. While the issue is dated February 1993, it actually came out in December of 1992, a month before Clinton’s inauguration.

Ronald Reagan appeared in Issues #2, #3, and #4 of Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns , which chronicles Batman’s return after 10 years of retirement. Reagan is involved in several plot points, but the most political moment arrives when he sends troops into a South American island nation called Corto Maltese to fight Soviet troops. In a televised broadcast (pictured above) Reagan says, “…and those cute little Corto Maltese people, they want us there, just you ask them… meanwhile, don’t you fret… we’ve got God on our side… or the next best thing, anyway,” meaning Superman.

In 2003 Issue #15 of X-Static — an X-Men spin-off — was set to star Princess Diana, or at least her “zombified” self, until UK tabloid The Daily Mail got hold of the story. Marvel never released the original version, titled Di Another Day, instead replacing her with a fictional European pop star, Henrietta Hunter.

In perhaps the most significant appearance by a real political figure, Franklin Delano Roosevelt presents Captain America with his iconic shield in Marvel’s Captain America Issue #255.

In this special, over-sized comic called Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (which DC Comics is reprinting this fall), none other than Jimmy Carter is depicted in the bottom right corner of the cover. Released in the fall of 1978, Carter’s second year in office, the 72-page book tells the story of a boxing match between Ali and Superman. Interestingly, toward the end of the book Ali reveals that he knows Superman’s secret identity, something evil genius Lex Luther struggled for decades trying to learn.

On January 14, 2009, then President-elect Barack Obama appeared on the cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #583 by Marvel Comics. Spidey helps stop an evil scheme planned by Chameloen on Inauguration Day. In one of the more intense moments, Obama orders his Secret Service agents to “get the wall-crawler out of here!” Later Obama’s likeness apologizes to the superhero. The cameo may have been due to the fact that Obama collects Spider-Man comics.

Ayatollah Khomeini teamed up with the Joker in Batman #429. Khomeini offers the Joker a position in his Iranian government, giving him diplomatic immunity, which he uses to try to leak toxic gas into the United Nations. Thankfully, Batman puts a stop to the evil plot.

According to Watchmen’s alternative history of the world, the villainous Comedian not only assassinated John F. Kennedy, but also later killed journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, preventing them from exposing the Watergate Scandal. Combined with a repeal of the 22nd amendment, Richard Nixon continues to serve as president until 1985.

George W. Bush has made numerous cameos in classic comics from Iron Man to Fantastic Four. Above is his depiction in Marvel’s Avengers: The Initiative #2, published in June 2007. In the scene he’s refusing to leave his ranch in Crawford, Texas, despite advice from the Avengers — clearly a jab at the President’s rhetoric.

John F. Kennedy poses as Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent in Action Comics #309 while the real Superman is busy saving lives. The issue hit stands in February 1964, following Kennedy’s assassination that November. Tragically, it was too late for DC Comics to do a recall.