As the presidential debates get under way and the American people’s thoughts veer toward who will be our next commander in chief, now is a perfect time to look back at some comic book appearances by real life presidents over the decades.
Our country’s leaders have shown up on the pages of several comic book titles, from quick, one panel cameos to some of the oddest and strangest interactions you could imagine. Here are five of the most memorable inclusions of a U.S. president into a comic book:
5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Deadpool #1” 2012
Sure, FDR might be better remembered as the president who presented Captain America with his iconic shield, but that’s not as fun as a zombie Roosevelt wreaking havoc on two wheels through the streets of New York. When a necromancer raises the former president in hopes that he’ll help correct the course of the country, Manhattan is then terrorized by the living dead in chief. He spars with Deadpool and the pair rolls into the subway, where Deadpool finally managed to electrocute the president back to the grave.
4. John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy was a cultural icon and anyone who is as popular as one of our nation’s most beloved presidents had to have a meeting with another American cultural icon: Superman. Months of planning and writing went into a unique story where the president, knowing Clark’s secret, requests his help in promoting physical fitness to the lazy youth of the nation. Kennedy soon returned the favor by posing as Clark Kent to draw suspicion away from Superman’s secret identity. The project was shelved after JFK’s assassination, and was later published as a tribute to him on the orders of President Lyndon Johnson.
3. Richard Nixon, “Watchmen” 1986
Say what you will about the real life president, comic book Richard Nixon ended the war in Vietnam like a true leader. In the alternate reality timeline of “Watchmen,” Tricky Dick pulled off his biggest trick as he used his own walking nuclear weapon named Doctor Manhattan to singlehandedly end the war, leading to the repeal of the 22nd Amendment and keeping him in office for four terms. With the book’s events taking place in 1985, the country faced down the Cold War with Nixon at the helm rather than Reagan and the entire world seems braced for destruction.
2. Barack Obama, “The Amazing Spider-Man #583” 2009
When Marvel found out that President Obama was a comic book collector, they couldn’t resist featuring him in an issue of their flagship character. When a second Obama shows up at the president’s inauguration, Spider-Man saves the day by asking the pair questions that only the real Barack Obama would be able to answer. The phony Obama is forced to reveal his true form of Spidey’s villain The Chameleon, who is subdued and arrested in time for Obama to swear his oath as president.
1. Ronald Reagan, “Captain America #344” 1988
It might sound like a liberal “I told you so!” dream come true, but there actually was a comic book where president Ronald Reagan turn into a crazed, blood thirsty lizard in chief creature. A villainous group aptly named The Serpent Squad released a toxin into the Washington D.C. water supply, turning people into reptilian creatures, including the president. Captain America is forced to fight The Gipper (stripped down to his tighty whities for maximum comfort, of course) in the oval office until Reagan reverts back to his human self after sweating out most of the toxin. Most of the toxin, and some might argue that could explain some of the real life directions on his administration’s actions.