On the topic of real-life political figures being featured prominently in comic books, I decided this week’s spotlight will be about the grand-daddy of them all, Amazing Spider-Man #583, aka, the Obama issue.
Ah, the Obama issue. Remember when the Obama Administration was in its infancy and it didn’t cause a national $H*#storm for Marvel to feature a historic president who was also an unabashed nerd and comic book fan on the cover of Spidey title? Fast forward about two years and you had political commentators ripping apart the concept of Miles Morales, Latino Spider-Man as some kind of Obama brainwashing of America. Good times. But this isn’t about politics – or is it?
I’d be remiss in mentioning that in my first two presidential elections, I cast votes for Al Gore and John Kerry, so the 2008 Election marked the first time I placed my bet on the winning horse. That has to have significance. I don’t really want to get into the nuts and bolts of Obama’s first four years in office – I will say I hope he gets another four years this November. Regardless, that early November night was a truly exciting one for me. The only thing missing was the company of my wife, who sadly was out of town on business – in Tennessee of all places, certainly not a “Blue State.” I just can’t look at a picture of Obama, cartoon or otherwise, without thinking about that twinge of disappointment I felt because the one person who means more to me than anything else in the world, wasn’t around to share in my jubilation.
Still, trying not to make this about politics (I’ve tried and failed about three times already. My guess is, if you voted McCain, or plan to vote Romney this November, you’ve already stopped reading). When word got out that Obama was going to be a featured character in an updated short Spider-Man story, it was one of those serendipitous world’s colliding moments for me. Sure it was totally gimmicky – perhaps Marvel’s most nefarious gimmick yet. Rather than putting a foil cover or a hologram upfront to try and attract new readers, Marvel decided to capitalize on a historic event and a politician who was enormously popular when he first came into office. Not to sound cynical, but at least the death of a major character like the Human Torch takes some storyline development (and effort) to pull off. Marvel just needed to flash a drawing of Obama on the cover and then put together a silly short story about the Chameleon not knowing anything about basketball.
But this post isn’t about the storyline either. What makes this issue significant to me (besides the politics, but this is not about politics) is this is the issue that has come to encapsulate why I’m glad to be a subscriber to Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, you’ve heard me kvetch in the past about the delivery time for subscribers (I’m still waiting on ASM 684, Marvel) and subscribers don’t get certain comics like point ones and annuals that are otherwise part of the same continuity as the main series. But one thing being a subscriber does guarantee you is an actual copy of Amazing Spider-Man. And considering just how many copies the Obama issue sold when it was on the newsstands, I’ve always felt very fortunate as both a collector and a reader to get a coveted “first edition” of this comic (which actually doesn’t feature Obama at all on the cover). After being burned in recent years in trying to get my hands on comics such as the first Miles Morales, or the death of Human Torch, I was very happy that my acquisition of ASM #583 involved no drama. It just showed up on my doorstep one day, I opened up the envelope, gave it a read, chuckled at the Obama story, and slipped the comic into a plastic bag with board to exist in its short box for the rest of eternity.
I told you this story wasn’t about politics.