Comics featuring presidents are nothing new – even Nixon showed up in the Fantastic Four, and everyone hated the guy. But the comics industry’s obsession with Barack Obama is a little more intense than usual, resulting in some bizarre, baffling and sometimes even disturbing stories. No one ever did a comic where George W. Bush battles zombies, or one where … well, read on to find out.
Barack the Barbarian is exactly what it sounds like: a comic about a muscular, half-naked Obama fighting people with swords. In 2008, The Telegraph published an article titled “Barack Obama: The 50 Things You Might Not Know” that mentioned Obama’s childhood love of Conan the Barbarian comics. A few months later, someone published an actual comic inspired by that idea:
It was written by Larry Hama, the same guy who wrote the G.I. Joe comic in the 80s, who says he has no interest in doing a wacky parody and tries to think of this as a real “sword and sorcery” series. And they’re not the only familiar faces here. The comic is packed with “subtle” cameos in the same vein, like Barack’s enemy Red Sarah …the stories are loosely based on the highlights of Obama’s political career. The plots are thin, the characters are two-dimensional and predictable, and the not-so-hidden message is that the author of this comic really likes Barack Obama. Basically, this comic is perfect for the “People Who Want to See the President Swing a Sword While Wearing a Loincloth” demographic and absolutely no one else.
AirGear is a manga series about a group of young people who use mechanical flying shoes to compete with one another and fight. Like most Japanese comics, it makes no sense. In 2008, shortly after Obama’s election, it introduced a character called “John Omaha,” who happens to be president of the U.S. and happens to look like this:
The president is saved by a young Air-Trekker called Adachi, this causes them to switch bodies. No explanation: It just happens. The president is now trapped inside the body of a busty Asian teenager, which hasn’t happened since that time.
Later, U.S. soldiers come to retrieve the president, but she knocks them out with sleeping gas, using the flying shoes to escape into the city. As she explains to them, Omaha never got to know Japan when she was a he and really wants to experience the country. Later, U.S. soldiers come to retrieve the president, but she knocks them out with sleeping gas, using the flying shoes to escape into the city. As she explains to them, Omaha never got to know Japan when she was a he and really wants to experience the country.
Drafted: Obama and the Alien Resistance
Sometimes it makes sense to include the president in stories about alien invasions. Like, if they’re blasting a laser through the White House, that warrants at least a reaction shot. But there are other times you really gotta work to put him in there. Like when the story is set in a world where he isn’t even president, just some random guy from Chicago.
Drafted is a sci-fi comic series about some aliens who come to forcibly “draft” the entire human race into their intergalactic war. It usually centers on Gabriel, the leader of the human forces, but in 2009 they put out a graphic novel that, bizarrely, starred a completely different character:
Senator Barack Obama, a silent badass (he’s mostly mute after a battle injury) who leads and inspires a group of human survivors. He appears as a senator because the series started when Bush was still president, and they made him a mute because … actually, we have no idea.
After Earth is viciously attacked by the aliens’ enemies, Obama and others are tasked with rebuilding what’s left of Chicago. But the group soon loses contact with their superiors because of bad weather conditions, and they’re left stranded in a shelter for 100 days. On top of that, they have to fight off the armed scavengers who try to steal what’s left of their food. Why isn’t everyone in the group dead within two weeks? Basically, because that mysterious, almost magical Obama guy inspires everyone to stay alive.
But as time passes, Obama’s followers start losing faith in him, and a lot of them even defect from the group to join the scavengers. After even Obama’s sidekick betrays him, he wanders alone into the city, climbs the tallest building still standing and carves a locator chip out of his wrist to send a distress signal to the aliens. Because he’s that awesome.
Superhero comics aren’t immune to Obamania: For a while there, he appeared in almost as many titles as Wolverine. Like that Spider-Man comic that came out the week before the inauguration, where Spidey’s shape-shifting enemy The Chameleon tries to impersonate Obama and get sworn in as president. Fortunately, Spider-Man stopped the impostor in time (… OR DID HE?!).
DC couldn’t be left be behind, so a few weeks later it included a scene in Final Crisis #7 implying that Obama is an alternate-reality version of Superman. It was a last-minute addition, but the writer says he “hopes to do more things with the Obama character.” Also, he said Beyonce is Wonder Woman.
And then there’s Youngblood #9 by Rob Liefeld, in which the White House is invaded by time-traveling superterrorists and Obama demonstrates he wouldn’t make a very effective action hero.
But as ridiculous as those stories are, none of them compares to Obama’s role in a comic called BombQueen, which is about a voluptuous supervillainess who, from what we read, appears to be under legal obligation to remove her shirt at least twice per issue.
In a miniseries called Oh-Bomb-Ah!, the president announces that he’ll be shutting down Bomb Queen’s city of crime, which she doesn’t take very well. Bomb Queen immediately starts thinking of ways to discredit Obama.
Searching for dirt on the prez, Bomb Queen finds a tape that shows a young Obama walking into the “Chicago University of Embryology” …
… and decides to steal his sperm and impregnate herself with it.
Does she really give birth to Obama’s kid? Will she ever be able to get her fantastic figure back? We’ll never know, because only one issue of the four announced came out. The same thing happened to the Youngblood comic featuring Obama, and the president hasn’t shown up in Spider-Man or Superman comics again. Rather than feeling relieved that this particular fad has finally fizzled out, we should be worried about what the comics industry’s next obsession will be.