Monday, February 15, 2010

Four More Years . . . Or Just 15 Fifteen More Minutes?

The celebrity of Barack Obama during last year's Presidential election enticed the attention of the comic book industry more than any other real world event in history. While I persist that Erik Larsen first used Obama in Savage Dragon, rather naturally since his series has always been set in Chicago, so many other comics exploited the President-elect's likeness that the line between fantasy and reality became blurred -- and just Google old CNN headlines during the Amazing Spider-man cameo ruckus to prove it. Fortunately, DC Comics' avoidance of ties to reality dodged the Obama gravy train, but they still took advantage of the election to explore a corner of their universe oft untouched -- their heroes' politics.

In DC Universe Decisions, when the Justice League endeavors to protect Presidential candidates in the crosshairs of assassination, the media twists their varied public statements into endorsements for the election. The Green Arrow/Green Lantern dynamic established in the "hard travelling heroes" era propels the series, with Superman's tight-lipped perspective billed as a bigger mystery than the killer. In the end, little more is confirmed than the obvious -- that superheroes are both celebrities and vigilantes, so while their opinions are coveted, they're ineffective in their legal hypocrisy -- but at least it was entertaining to watch.

Wedged between Final Crisis and Blackest Night, Decisions hasn't carried much if any weight in the DC Universe, but its parallel to pop culture happenings is still important in our world as the line between politician and celebrity becomes more and more blurry. This Presidents' Day, as Obama still appears in comics if only now as a barbarian (thank you, Larry Hama), the question persists: Which is a more reliable Washington news source, CNN or TMZ? The decision really is yours.

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