IDW Gets It Right With Obama Bio


I ADMIT I HAD MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THIS AND ITS COMPANION, Presidential Material: John McCain, when they first came out during last year’s presidential campaign. Some months later, compared to the cravenness of things like Marvel’s Obama appearance in Amazing Spider-Man and Rob Liefeld’s upcoming Obama cover for Youngblood(?!), the relative high-mindedness of IDW’s brief retelling of the new president’s history makes it look a lot better, in spite of the limitations of the single-issue format.

Similarly, the new printing’s straightforward but not-unattractive photo-cover of President Obama reciting the oath of office (with—I assume—the same contents inside as every previous printing) is an appropriate choice for the occasion, moreso than other companies’ silly juxtaposition with superheroes. Seriously, if you want to make an inauguration memento, make one. Why does Spider-Man have to be in it?

The debacle of Marvel’s handling of the Obama appearance and the variant cover also underlines IDW’s success. Presidential Material: Barack Obama appeared when solicited, as solicited, with no gimmicks to boost orders, just a savvy reading of the public’s interest in the campaign. Since enthusiasm for Obama has only grown since his election, it’s been great to see IDW keep up with demand by going back to press on a timely, regular basis, now for a fourth printing.

PS: As to presidents in superhero universes, I tend to be in agreement with Dan Didio, who said today:

My feeling on it is that I have always preferred that the President in the DC Universe, if not one of our characters such as Luthor, be a character that reflects the sensibilities and attitudes of the current Administration, without ever featuring individuals in the books themselves.

Sure, there’s something to be said for using a depiction of the real-world president to emphasize that the stories take place in the “real world,” but, unless I’ve read the wrong Marvel comics, whichever real president they include certainly doesn’t act any different from the generic fictional president type, since taking a point of view in depicting the real president (hard, maybe impossible, not to do) might alienate a segment of the readers. So what difference does it really make?

For my money, electing Lex Luthor president in 2000 said a lot more about the state of the country and world than including George W. Bush for eight years only to ignore the implications of his presidency.

(Also, is it just me or is “Dark Reign” essentially the same idea as “President Luthor?” Marvel doesn’t really strike me as particularly more innovative than DC, just—depending on your point of view—either louder and more annoyingly media-crazed about their ideas, or far more effective in marketing them.)


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