Unless you have been living under a rock on Mars for the last year, you may be aware that that the United States held a small general election in November. The result of this epic campaign, that seemed to have been going on for at least as long as Bush's second term, resulted in the election of Barack Obama to the White House. Now everyone knows that what happens in the real world also happens in the Marvel Universe, right? So here's the inauguration of the President-elect, Marvel style. Watch for the familiar face in the crowd.
It is 20 January 2009, and in Washington DC the press are out in force waiting for the inauguration of the new president. The Front Line has sent Peter Parker to cover the event. Peter is suitably awed by the moment, and quickly captures a page one-worthy shot of Obama's arrival. But, as the President-elect waves at the appreciate crowd, a second limo hurtles toward the scene, crashing through the barricade. The door flies open and out steps a second Barack Obama!
Uh-oh, what's to be done? Two Barack Obamas? Well, one of them has to be sworn in. Before the secret service can fall back onto plan eeny-meeny-miney- mo, our friend Pete does a quick change and Spider-Man swings in to save the day. If there's anyone who knows how to deal with doppelgangers then it's Spider-Man.
So who's the real President-elect? Is it Stripy-Tie Obama, or Red-Tie Obama? Spidey has the idea to ask the pair a question that only the real Barack Obama could answer. The genius of the man! Turns out that not only was our impostor unprepared for such an obvious ruse, he also doesn't know a thing about basketball or baseball. How was he ever going to be president with such holes in his knowledge? Stripy-Tie Obama is revealed as the Chameleon (boo! hiss!) and the real Obama, realising the supervillains aren't really his bag, asks Spidey to punch out the bag guy.
After all the heroics, Spider-Man prepares to slink away, but the president stops him. It turns out Obama has been a big fan of Spider-Man for a long time. The pair bump fists in a hip and happening gesture of solidarity and friendship. And thus Barack Obama is inaugurated as the forty-fourth president of the United States.
This is a very silly story.
According to the letter's page, the decision to do this story was made only "a week before the book went to press". Editor, Stephen Whacker, says he was inspired by an article that appeared in the Daily Telegraph, that stated Obama collects Spider-Man comics. So all credit to Zeb Wells and Todd Nauck for being able to produce these pages at such short notice.
Of course, the act of putting Obama into a Spider-Man comic has certainly done Marvel no harm. This story has been picked up by the media worldwide, and was reported by the BB C, CNN and a dozen other outlets. Joe Quesada has given more than his fair share of interviews in the last few days, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the sales of #583 soar as a result. If Marvel are cunning (and they are) they will print to meet demand, so the chances of this issue becoming the rare collector's item that many expect seems remote. Let's hope everyone who bought the comic, bought it for the story and not to turn a profit.
But this is not the time to be cynical. We need to forget that the Earth has been at war with shapechanging aliens for the last eight months, and the sight of a duplicate Obama is probably going to result in an air-strike. We need to forget that Spider-Man is a wanted felon and suspected serial killer, and that Obama shouldn't really be touching him with a ten foot pole. We need to forgive the thunderingly thick secret service agents, who couldn't think their way out of a room with no walls. We need to overlook the horrible injustice done to the Chameleon, who I am sure has a sound understanding of the American electoral process, and a keen interest in many sports.
This is an optimistic, up-beat tale that is played firmly with its tongue in its cheek. If you share the opinion that Barack Obama is a change for the better and will be the president that redeems America in the eyes of the world, then you will find this a satisfying little tale. If you don't, then you will probably find it annoying and another example of left-wing rhetoric and propaganda.
The best thing about this story is that it comes packaged with a really rather good main feature. Hopefully the thousands who buy this issue for Barack Obama will take the time to read Platonic by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson. It's one of the best tales since the beginning of Spidey's Brand New Day. Who knows? It might encourage them to stick around.
A diverting little tale of the moment. It's played for laughs, and it probably won't age well, but there are worse ways to fill five pages. Three webs.