Colbert Upholds Celebrity/Super-Hero Legacy
So word is out that Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, is going to be teaming up with New York’s most famous web-slinging vigilante in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #573, written by Mark Waid (Kingdom Come) and illustrated by Patrick Olliffe (Spider-Girl). In the Marvel Universe, Colbert is running for President of the U.S. and no doubt this will come into play in the eight-page adventure. It would certainly be in keeping with the atmosphere of several comics these days, such as DC’s True Decisions mini-series which features the JLA acting as security for presidential candidates and the most recent Captain America arc in which the Red Skull attempted to sway the election for his own purposes.
This isn’t going to be the their first meeting, of course. In Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #15, during Marvel’s Civil War crossover, the two met at a bookstore. Of course, Spidey wasn’t in his costume at the time and Colbert was attempting to act incognito, so chances are this won’t be referenced in the upcoming story.
But any true comic book fan should know that celebrity cameos have happened quite often in super-hero tales. And Colbert is by far the first comedy show host to meet a Marvel hero.
Jay Leno teamed up with the wise-cracking web-slinger in 2002 with the publication of Jay Leno and Spider-Man: One Night Only. One of the most bizarre super-hero stories I’ve read, this tale was spread across several issues as a back-up insert and featured Jay and Spidey having to fight off ninja assassins which turned out to be part of a publicity stunt.
In Avengers #239, a would-be villain known as the Mechano-Marauder found out some Avengers were going to be interviewed by David Letterman. So he set up the entire place to be a death-trap. The cameras shot energy beams, missiles flew through the air, steamrollers threatened our heroes. While the Avengers were occupied trying to keep their skin attached to their bodies, the Mechano-Marauder sat down next to Letterman and activated a force-field to prevent anyone from messing with him.
Sadly, he made the field a bit too wide and so Letterman was placed inside along with him. The host was then able to end the battle by knocking the little loser out cold.
Marvel Team-Up #74 was chock-full of celebrity cameos. You see, Spider-Man wound up joining forces with the entire cast of Saturday Night Live (still popularly known as the "Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players") against the evil Silver Samurai. Seriously, Belushi even fought against the mutant villain while wearing his own Samurai outfit from the show. Man, those were the good ol’ days!
John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted, made an appearance in the DC Universe. In 2004, the hard-edged super-hero team the Outsiders were in search of missing children. Wanting to cover all their bases, the team turned to John Walsh, a man who lost his own child, and he actively helped them in the case. It all went down in Outsiders (vol. 5) #17.
Peter Milligan, known for satire, once intended for the deceased Princess Diana to join his team X-Statix. Literally, she would rise from the grave and wield great power, joining the media-sponsored mutant team in their adventures. But word got out and controversy surged. As a result the axe came down and Milligan never actually went through with it. Still, it remains one of the most interesting celebrity appearances that never happened.
But without a doubt, the most famous and notorious celebrity appearance in a super-hero story was when Muhummad Ali stepped into a ring with Superman.
Yeah, folks, I’m not kidding. Mr. "Flies-like-a-butterfly-and-stings-like-a-bee" actually fought the "Last Son of Krypton." This ingenious story was written by ComicMix’s own Dennis O’Neil. These aliens showed up and couldn’t decide who on Earth was worthy of fighting their own boxer. Superman seemed like a good choice, but Ali challenged this claim, forcing the decision to be made through trial by combat (like all decisions are made in a truly civilized society).
To make sure the fighters were on even ground and that Clark didn’t just toss Ali out of the ring by blowing real hard, red solar radiation was used to douse the Kryptonian’s powers. If you can find this issue, grab it, it’s just too much fun and the ending may surprise you.
And heck, the list of cameos goes on and on. Tony Stark was on space-walk date with Shannon Elizabeth in Ultimates. Orson Welles helped Superman right off a real Martian invasion in Superman #62. Don Rickles showed up in Jimmy Olsen #139-140. Jerry Lewis and Batman tangled with the Joker in Jerry Lewis #97. In Shadowman #19, Aerosmith helped the titular hero in an adventure against dark voodoo magic. Howard the Duck #12 featured the famous band Kiss. Amazing Spider-Man #205 featured Abbott and Costello as two security guards. The Kingpin ordered a hit on Carson Daly in Ultimate Spider-Man. And there was a mysterious villain with the name Harlequin Ellis (get it?!) in Justice League of America #89.
There have also been various political leaders and actual presidents who have appeared in various comics, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Of course, with the upcoming Spidey/Colbert team-up fast approaching, the real question is … when they go into battle together, will Stephen Colbert be armed with the replica of Captain America’s shield that he purchased after the hero’s death? Will he?!
We’ll just have to wait and see!
Alan "Sizzler" Kistler is not jealous of Stephen Colbert. Colbert may have Cap’s shield, but Kistler has the hammer of Thor! … Well, it’s not so much a hammer as it is a drawing of a hammer. But it is deadly, none the less. Alan Kistler has been recognized by Warner Bros. Pictures and mainstream media outlets such as the New York Daily News as a comic book historian, and can be seen in the "Special Features" sections of the Adventures of Aquaman and Justice League: New Frontier DVDs. His personal website can be found at: http://KistlerUniverse.com. One of these days he’d love to write for DC, Marvel or Doctor Who.