Had enough of costume-clad superheroes? A Vancouver-based comic book company called Bluewater Productions specializes in biography books about everyone from Steve Jobs to Stephenie Meyer. When we heard of their plans to release a Saturday Night Live-inspired book in March, we were curious to see some more celebrities, politicians, and historical figures in comic form. What we found is pretty weird, to say the least.
The Not Ready for Prime-Time Players
The upcoming Bluewater bio-comic isn’t the first time that SNL has been memorialized in comics. During the heyday of the original ’70s cast, Jim Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, and the rest of the Not Ready for Prime-Time Players met Spider-Man in an extremely trippy one-shot comic by Marvel, in which Belushi accidentally summons a real samurai and then Spider-Man has to defeat him. Also, Bill Murray has a giant hammer for some reason.
Liberality for All was a political tract that blended right-wing philosophy with dystopian science fiction. It was cancelled after only four issues in 2006, but presumably not because it wasn’t entertaining on some level. This is the actual description of the first issue, taken from the official website:
“It is 2021, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. America is under oppression by ultra-liberal extremists who have surrendered governing authority to the United Nations. Hate speech legislation called the ‘Coulter Laws’ have forced vocal conservatives underground. A group of bio-mechanically enhanced conservatives led by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, and a young man born on September 11, 2001, set out to thwart Ambassador Usama bin Laden’s plans to nuke New York City.”
Holy cow. They had us at bio-mechanically enhanced conservatives.
In an effort to appeal to female audiences, Marvel launched a four part miniseries called Models, Inc , in which models band together to solve a murder that’s committed in the middle of New York Fashion Week. If that’s not a weird enough idea, the series features a cameo from Project Runway star Tim Gunn, who dons the Iron Man armor in order to fight crime. That’s cool and all, we guess, but if they really want girls to read comic books, may we suggest just hiring more female writers instead? And maybe stop drawing women in such impossible poses?
We’ve written about this before, but it’s definitely worth another mention. Last year Antarctic Press released a one-shot comic called Steampunk Palin , which depicts yet another near-future dystopia (Conservative comic book writers seem to like those; it confirms all their fears about where society is heading) in which Palin suggests using steam power as a new fuel source, and then she, John McCain, and Barack Obama have their body parts replaced with cybernetic limbs and try to save the world from Al Gore’s oil corporation… we think. Let’s be honest, though — the whole book is mostly an excuse to draw pin-ups of Palin in corsets and goggles.
New Kids On The Block
Before the comics division of Harvey Entertainment went defunct in 1994, they were home to such celebrated characters as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Wendy the Good Little Witch, and Richie Rich. In the ’80s, however, there wasn’t a big market for adorable little spooks and rich children, so Harvey did the next best thing: bring in the boy band New Kids On The Block, Wahlbergs and all. Both Richie and Wendy met the group multiple times at the height of their popularity. Too bad it wasn’t enough to keep Harvey afloat — the company’s now been sold in pieces to Universal, Marvel, and Classic Media.
In Time Lincoln, also by Antarctic Press, Joseph Stalin discovers the secret journals of Rasputin and uses them to transform himself into an all-powerful supervillain capable of bending time and space to his will. To help him with his evil plans, he enlists Napoleon, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and Wizard Hitler. We have to repeat that again: Wizard Hitler. And Abraham Lincoln has to stop him, with the help of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington Carver, and Isaac Newton.
Do we need to say any more about this? Because seriously. There’s no way to make this idea better.
In an effort to cross-promote a 1949 Welles film entitled Black Magic , DC writers slapped together this comic called “Black Water on Mars.” In it, Welles discovers the existence of Martians who want to take over Earth and takes to the radio to warn everyone, but no one believes him because he’s Orson Welles and he’s fooled people with this sort of thing before. Enter Superman, who rescues Welles from the aliens and saves the day. Did we mention that the Martians are also Nazis? No, really — their leader’s name is “Martler.”
At the height of the 2008 campaign, comic-book authors were stepping all over each other to insert Obama into their stories (so much so that in an alternate DC reality, Obama is actually Superman), but the best of the bunch was inspired by a Daily Telegraph interview in which an Obama staffer let slip that the 44th president collects Conan the Barbarian comic books. Suddenly Barack the Barbarian was born, and oh boy, is it a doozy. In addition to featuring even more scantily clad Palin pin-ups, the book loosely follows the 2008 campaign and features a wealth of real-life characters, including Hillary and Bill Clinton, John McCain, and someone who we think might be Ann Coulter in the image above.
What’s more unfunny than Jay Leno’s late-night talk show? Jay Leno’s encounter with Spider-Man. Apparently he’s the guy to go to if you exist, are famous, and want to be in a comic book, so in 2002 the two teamed up to fight ninjas in New York. In the story, Spider-Man carries Leno over his shoulder more than once, and Leno rides a motorcycle and name-drops a bunch of other celebrities for no reason, just like he does in real life! We doubt he has any actual ninja-fighting skills, though, or the debacle between him and Conan O’Brien would have been a lot more interesting (though we bet Conan still would have won).
There’s no denying that Eminem’s had a rough life — though not as rough as that of the Punisher, whose wife and children were killed by gangsters. Maybe that’s why the Punisher decided to open fire on Eminem’s armed security in this online-only one-shot comic from 2009, which inexplicably leads to the two of them teaming up against an assassin who wants to kill Eminem. Even better? Apparently the hitman was hired by something called the “Parents Music Council.” That’s right, rap doesn’t lead to violence, the people who hate rap do!
X-Statix was a Marvel-produced satire of the X-men series in which the super-powered mutants are all Kardashian-level media superstars who whore themselves out in the press on a regular basis. So what celebrity face would be most likely to grace the cover of one of their books? Princess Diana, obviously. Never mind that she’d been dead for six years — that’s her superpower! She can come back from the dead!
Naturally everyone was completely appalled by this, so producers changed her into a new character named Henrietta Hunter. Still, X-Statix never recovered from the scandal, and after eight more issues Marvel canceled the series. We only wish the consequences for Newsweek editor Tina Brown’s similar stunt had been as severe. Maybe she got off easy because her version of back-from-the-dead Diana wasn’t wearing a cape.
Despite his fame for being the first superhero in comic book history, Superman has some pretty boring powers. Mostly he just sort of flies around and punches stuff, which pretty much every caped crusader now knows how to do. DC writers tried to make up for this by giving him cooler people to punch than all the other heroes, which led to Superman taking on Muhammad Ali in 1978. In the comic, Superman is about to lose, but then they have to take a break to fight off an alien invasion of Earth. At the end, the boxer also reveals that he knows Superman’s secret identity, which makes him the only person in the whole DC universe to not get totally thrown off by a pair of glasses. Way to go, Ali, you really are the greatest.