Tagged: Barack Obama

Joe Corallo: Thanks, Obama

This column is the last one I’ll be writing under an Obama Presidency. This is also the last Tuesday of the Obama Presidency. Though I have some disagreements with his policies, I’ll miss him as our President. So I figure this would be a good time to talk about some of his impact on the comics industry.

Barack Obama himself is no stranger to comics. He’s talked about his comic collecting and his fondness of Conan The Barbarian and the Spider-Man comics in the past, even if he forgets the hyphen in Spider-Man sometimes.

Obama has appeared in many comics as well. You can find him in comics for nearly a decade since 2007 when he was a Senator. He’s appeared in comics published by Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Dynamite and more. Everything from Savage Dragon and Youngblood to Army of Darkness and The Other Dead, Obama has been there.

The most popular and celebrated appearance of his in comics is likely The Amazing Spider-Man #583. The issue came out on January 14th, 2009 less than a week before Obama’s inauguration. While the main story was written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Barry Kitson, Obama appeared in the backup story written by Zeb Wells and illustrated by Todd Nauck. This five-page backup story Spider-Man has to step in when a second Obama appears who turns out to be The Chameleon. It’s a fun, cheesy little story where Obama gets to talk to one his favorite superheroes right before he gets sworn in. This particular comic went on to five printings and became a collector’s item before it even came out. My one complaint is that Peter Parker complains about taking the bus from New York to Washington D.C. and used to take the bus down to D.C. from Chinatown and I never had a problem with that. Perhaps I’m made of stronger stuff.

Spider-Man, as well as all over major superheroes, will not be making an appearance at Trump’s inauguration, either on or off the page.

What might be Obama’s greatest contribution to comics was his help in making John LewisMarch become a reality. No, Obama didn’t collaborate, edit, or make a few phone calls to make it happen. For all of those who have had the pleasure of reading March it’s framed around John Lewis talking with Obama at Obama’s inauguration and goes back and forth between January 20th 2009 and different points in John Lewis’ life through the Civil Rights Movement. If you haven’t picked up March yet you could find copies at your LCS, some bookstores, directly from Top Shelf, or Amazon although the three volume slipcase is still temporarily out of stock after Trump’s attacks on John Lewis over the weekend.

Speaking of Trump, he’s had far less love in comics. Criticism of him in comics has spiked recently for obvious reasons in everything from mainstream comics to indie comics like GWAR:Orgasmageddon and Black, both of which I’ve written about before here. Even his closest foreign ally, Putin, has been portrayed as a villain over at Valiant Entertainment which fellow ComicMix columnist Molly Jackson wrote about here. Whether you feel it’s fair or not, it’s certainly a reflection of what the creators feel and what people will buy.

Very little of these portrayals of Presidents comes close to the depth and scope of how Nixon has been portrayed in comics, unflattering as it has often been, like in Watchmen, but the comparison is hardly fair.

We still have a lot of time, for better or worse, to see how Trump will be portrayed in comics, but what we know about Obama is that he was often portrayed with dignity and grace, and sometimes even as a kick-ass hero himself. Between that and his impact on the lives of many of us in comics including John Lewis, all I really have to say is thanks, Obama.

Michael Davis: If This Be Doom’s Day

President Lex Luthor

Remember when Obama was elected?

For me as a black man, this was one of if not the ultimate “where were you at when such and such occurred” moment.

When O.J. was acquitted, I was in the conference room at Motown. The Rodney King verdict in my office and (this is not a joke) I let all the white people on my staff go home early.

Alex Ross obamaI was in bed with a five-alarm migraine praying for death or sleep, whichever came first. It was sleep and when it came it seemed to last about a second before my phone woke me. I ignored the call but soon it became apparent that was the first of many. My phone played my “wrong nigga to fuck with” ringtone so often I dreamt LAPD had arrested me again.

I picked up determined to destroy whoever it was.

“Prince is dead.”

My heart joined my head in unbearable pain. The same kind of pain I felt while at Xenon a New York club that rivaled the famed Studio 54 for a time where I was when John Lennon was shot.

I’m sure most people can remember where they were when something earth-shattering happened. However; can you remember where you were the day after the earth shook?

I can, for one day.

The day after John Lennon died I was in Barron Storey’s illustration class at Pratt Institute. Baron brought in a small organ then instructed the class to “create something moving” in remembrance of the slain Beatle while he played Beatles tunes.

Yeah, that happened.

On 911 I was in my Los Angeles home. Denys Cowan and I, both transported die hard New Yorkers, watched the news reports all day from separate houses, neither of us capable of hanging up the phone and driving the 10 minutes to the others home.

An Atlanta Hilton was my location when the news came about the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. My wife at the time had taken her class there on a field trip that very day. Somehow I knew when I couldn’t reach her she was there when the bomb exploded.

She was.

I was unable to book a flight home and spent one of the longest days of my life terrified. At 2 a.m. she called and explained how everyone had to shelter in place until they were escorted out.

All those events remain etched in my memory. Except the first WTC bombing, none nearly etched as deep as when Barak Obama won the Presidency.

Once again I was with Denys Cowan, but this time at his home. We were overjoyed, to say the least. As it turned out, so was the comic book industry.

To say the industry was supportive would be a massive understatement. There were special editions from Marvel, Image, Devil’s Due and Fantagraphics to name a few among the many. Hell, Alex Ross did a tee-shirt many of Hollywood’s A-list wore and damn for a time that shirt was as big as the ‘Hope’ image.

The comics industry embraced Obama with a passion.

Almost eight years, two terms and 96 months of crazy shit later it’s possible the polar opposite of Obama may be elected.

One of the traits shared by politics and comics are evil opposites.

There is always an evil counterpart to great heroes. It’s not hard to spot them they tell you who they are.

“It all fits somehow, his coming here to Metropolis. And at this particular time. There’s a kind of cruel justice about it. I mean, to commit the crime of the century, a man naturally wants to face the challenge of the century. – Lex Luthor

Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense! In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they’re friends, like you and me! I should’ve known way back when… You know why, David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. Glass. – Elijah Price a.k.a. Mr. Glass

Two other great comic book foils, the Reverse Flash and Bizarro, were thorns in the side to their counterparts Flash and Superman. The Reverse flash is straight up evil I have no idea if he’s still around in whatever universe DC is entering or was around in the last universe or the universe before that. I know back in the day when Barry Allen was the Flash, the Reverse Flash was a great character and genuine evil bastard.

Bizarro isn’t evil, but he certainly plays a hazardous role.

Superman JFKDonald Trump is a bigger than life character. He’s great television I’ll say that. He may not be evil but he certainly is dangerous, and that’s not just my opinion it’s a lot of the globe’s as well.

The world, for the most part, was happy Obama became President of the United States. If the Donald becomes the next President?

Not so much.

From the New York Times, May 22. 2016:“Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, said about a possible Trump victory; “I don’t want to see that kind of United States.”

Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister and a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, gave a lengthy list of what he characterized as Mr. Trump’s misstatements. “I don’t think there are any Trump supporters present here.”

The industry was so pro-Obama eight years ago, so I’m wondering if his opposite enters the White House race what if anything will the industry do?

It just seems if the comic book industry and frankly a lot of the entertainment world went SO buck wild over Barack Obama we should go “oh hell no!” at the thought of a Donald Trump Presidency.

Will we?

Will unique issues be published showing Trump as evil?

Will Trump be featured with a wicked giant smiling grinning face on the cover of Spider-Man?

Will the Savage Dragon pimp slap the Donald?

Will he be depicted as more dangerous than Galactus? Will the Silver Surfer become his Herald sent to Mexico and the Middle East to make way for the Donald and his Ultimate Nullifier?

In Mexico, will he use the Ultimate Nullifier to make them build a wall to imprison themselves and pay for it with their pesos? Have to admit if Trump can make a country build a wall to keep their citizens in place that would be some awesome shit.

And if Mexico pays for what would be a standing insult and demeaning barrier?

If that happens, Donald Trump would be the ultimate pimp alas Trump fans. It will never happen. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “it will never happen” is what most (including me) said about Trump’s road to the Republican nomination. Well, I was wrong, and it did happen.

The only real way one country can make another do its bidding is at the point of a gun. You think Trump is crazy enough to go to war so he can get that wall built? I do, but the American people won’t stand for it.

Then again, if he’s elected President talking the crazy shit, he’s talking now maybe they will.

But I digress. Peter David! Howthehellareyou?

What will the comic book industry do? Barack Obama may not be universally loved but people he’s a comic fan. That makes him one of us.

Will we do nothing?

There’s a saying: The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.

I am not naïve. I’m fully aware some see Donald Trump as a savior. Some see him as a confident business person and the future of America. I don’t see him that way. I see him as a very shrewd thoroughly convincing to some, egomaniac. Although I respect, everybody’s right to do what they want. As a person of color, I can’t under any circumstances support a homophobic, women hating, race baiting, KKK denying, violence inciting man who goes before the entire world and talks about his dick.

THIS IS A CNN SPECIAL REPORT:

AMERICA AT WAR!

The nightmare we thought would never occur has come to pass. America has dropped a nuclear bomb on Mexico. International reaction has been quick. The world has condemned our action. The United States of America has been kicked out of Nato as well as the United Nations. Forces are building against us, and all US citizens have been…wait a moment…we now take you to The Trump House where President Trump will address the nation.

“My fellow Americans, you know who you are. I love real Americans. Look no reason to be scared, there’s no way anyone will mess with us. Those reports of missiles heading towards us is as real as Obama’s birth certificate. The President of Spic Land, ya like that? I called it Spic land.

The President left me no choice in the matter when he insulted the United States of America. He told Anderson Cooper “Anyone who talks about how big his home is how much money he has and how big his penis is must be compensating for something.”

I hear from many many people he said his cock was bigger than mine. I told him to prove it, “Whip that tamale on out signor wetback and let’s see. If you don’t, you’ll regret it.”

He didn’t so I had to drop the big one on him. I only meant to get him but, well these things happen.

Far-fetched?

Donald Trump has used some of the very same tactics as Hitler. There are many, but I’ll just cite one, he blames a particular group of immigrants for our problems.

Most stood by and watched as Hitler proceeded to try to destroy several particular groups. Will it happen here? Can it? That, I admit is far-fetched.

On the other hand, is saying the first black President, vetted by the FBI, CIA, NSA is a Muslim born in Africa, but some guy found out on the internet that’s a lie.

Millions of people believed that bullshit.

Millions still do.

Martha Thomases: Comics’ Ambassador

Sana Amanat

Comics in the White House!

My esteemed colleague, Mindy Newell, recently noted that our current president is a big ol’ comic book nerd. We knew that. Way back when this site started up, we ran the photo of Obama in Metropolis, Illinois, striking an iconic pose next to the Superman statue.

superman obamaLast week, as part of its celebration of Women’s History Month, our Geek-in-Chief invited Marvel Comics’ Sana Amanat to the White House to celebrate. Amanat presented the President with a copy of Ms. Marvel.

While this is not the first time super-heroes have had an official White House Moment (indeed, I was there for the launch of the anti-landmine comic DC created for UNICEF, and if I could find it, I’d post the picture of me with Hillary Clinton), it is perhaps the most heart-warming. To have a person who is not only female but also Muslim and Pakistani-American with the President to represent comics is an enormous change.

It helps that Sana does brilliant work on great comic books. I mean, really, look at how cool she is. Still, I think that she could have been every bit as talented twenty years ago and never received the attention she has, or been able to take advantage of the opportunities she deserves.

So, just when I was feeling like my beloved comics community was growing up, I read this announcement that the Comics and Cola blog was shutting down. I confess that I didn’t tune in there that often. The woman who ran the site, Zainab Akhtar, is an English Muslim, and her perspective (check this out for a taste) is quite different from mine, which I love. I should have tuned in more.

Apparently, the last straw for her was best expressed in this post by Kim O’Connor. O’Connor saw her work dismissed by a white male comics critic based on nothing more than his entitled perception that her opinions didn’t matter. He’s a white man in his 20s, so obviously no one is qualified to reasonably disagree with him.

(That is much too simplistic an analysis, I know. Read the link. It’s great.)

As a straight cis white woman, I’m very much aware that I miss a lot of subtle bigotry. I can watch an entire night of television with stories about white people (who might have sassy black friends) without noticing how skewed that is. When a protagonist’s race and gender are not specified, I often assume that person is male and white.

It’s a habit from my 60+ years in the culture. It’s a bad habit, and one I struggle to change. Not only is it wrong ethically and morally but, more important, it limits my enjoyment of the world.

The President gets this, even if 20-something white boys don’t. But then, we no longer assume that the President can only be a straight cis white man.

Mindy Newell: Marvel Or DC?

Isis Joker

The other day I was talking with editor Mike Gold about the political state of our country – Mike and I have marathon conversations about politics – and I asked him if he had seen and/or heard the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court by President Obama for a seat on the Supreme Court. “He’s into comics,” I said. Or was.

So how do I know about the comics connection? Just in case you missed the nomination or haven’t read it somewhere, here is the relevant part – at least for readers of comics and ComicMix – of the transcript of President Obama’s introduction of Judge Garland to us, the general public:

He was born and raised in the Land of Lincoln, in my home town of Chicago, my home state of Illinois. His other volunteered in the community. His father ran a small business out of their home. Inheriting that work ethic, Merrick became valedictorian of his public high school. He earned a scholarship to Harvard, where he graduated summa cum laude.

“And he put himself through Harvard Law School by working as a tutor, by stocking shoes in a shoe store, and in what is always a painful moment for any young man, by selling his comic book collection. (laughter)

“It’s tough;” the President added. “Been there.” (laughter)

Which also means, in case you didn’t catch it, that President Obama also read and collected comics. And is still a fan. (According to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, our President has used Heath Ledger’s Joker as an analogy to what ISIS is doing:

 “After isis beheaded three American civilians in Syria, it became obvious to Obama that defeating the group was of more immediate urgency to the U.S. than overthrowing Bashar al-Assad.

 “Advisers recall that Obama would cite a pivotal moment in The Dark Knight, the 2008 Batman movie, to help explain not only how he understood the role of isis, but how he understood the larger ecosystem in which it grew. ‘There’s a scene in the beginning in which the gang leaders of Gotham are meeting,’ the president would say. ‘These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf. And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. isil is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That’s why we have to fight it.’”

By the way, Judge Garland, President Obama, and editor Mike Gold all come from Chicago. (Must be something in the water.) And there’s another little tidbit of “Six Degrees of (Comics) Separation,” which I will leave to Mike to tell you.

Do you think that Judge Garland and President Obama still read comics when they’re not (in Garland’s case – no pun intended) reading briefs, sitting on the bench, and deciding cases; or (in Obama’s case) dealing with the many and awesome responsibilities of the Presidency, like being the first President since Theodore Roosevelt led the Rough Riders over San Juan Hill to visit Cuba. But Teddy wasn’t President then, and Jimmy Carter was not a sitting President when he went to Cuba in 2011. Hmm, just checked. It’s been 88 years (January, 1928) since President Calvin Coolidge arrived on Cuban shores via the battleship U.S.S. Texas for the Pan American Conference – which, among other things, led to our perpetual lease of Guantanamo Bay, which is now home to America’s infamous terrorist detention center and naval base… ironically commanded by Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men,the movie in which Nicholson told Tom Cruise “You can’t handle the truth!”

Back to the point, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if there were at least three comics or graphic novels somewhere in Garland’s house – or the White House. We already know, thanks to Goldberg’s interview with the President, that Obama has seen The Dark Knight. I would guess that Judge Garland has seen Nolan’s work, too.

With my writer’s mind concocting scenarios, I can imagine the judge and the President, after talking about the Supreme Court nomination, sitting down in the White House media room and watching both Avengers movies, or Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: Winter Soldier. Maybe they binged on Daredevil or Jessica Jones. Or maybe they caught up on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or Flash, or Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow. And I can easily see Obama inviting Malia and Sasha to join them for Supergirl. (Superman Returns and/or Man of Steel? Not so much. But that’s my own prejudice at work.)

Meanwhile the Repugnanticans are up to their usual obnoxious tricks. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who continues the party’s bigoted refusal to accept Obama as President, the bastards are vowing not to confirm any Supreme Court nominee until after the 2016 election. “Let the people decide,” they are saying. Well, first of all, we the People do not vote for Supreme Court justices. Secondly, they seem to putting all their eggs into one basket, that basket being that a Republican will win the Presidency. Thirdly, Merrick Gardner has previously been “approved” by Republicans when he was nominated to the D.C. circuit court, for example:

Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): “Merrick B. Garland is highly qualified to sit on the D.C. circuit. His intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned… His legal experience is equally impressive… Accordingly, I believe Mr. Garland is a fine nominee. I know him personally, I know of his integrity, I know of his legal ability, I know of his honesty, I know of his acumen, and he belongs on the court. I believe he is not only a fine nominee, but is as good as Republicans can expect from this administration. In fact, I would place him at the top of the list.”

I love it when the Repugnanticans get caught in “black-splatter,” a perfect term, coined by Bill Maher, for what’s really been going on in Congress since 2009.

But let’s say the Repugnanticans are unable to stop the process. Let’s say that I’m a member of the Senate Judiaciary Committee, and I am going to question Judge Merrick Garland on his legal views and leanings.

This would be my very first question:

Marvel or DC?

Mike Gold: James T. Kirk Is A What? And Ted Cruz Is A… What?

James T Kirk Republican

This is one of the many reasons I find politics to be a spectacular spectator sport – even when that nutcase Donald Trump isn’t sucking up all the ether in the bottle.

According to an interview published in that Communist rag The New York Times, USS Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk is a Republican, while USS Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a Democrat. This is according to Republican Ted Cruz, who is one of the many, many, many, many people running for president.

Ted Cruz named his company Cruz Enterprises after Stark Enterprises, according to the interview. This must reaffirm my fellow ComicMix columnist Martha Thomases’s belief that Tony Stark is a Republican, an opinion I share despite Tony’s sense of humor. This was made clear in the Civil War storyline.

Therefore, one might assume Captain America is a Democrat. Perhaps, but I think he might be an all-out radical. After all, left-wing activist Abbie Hoffman wore an American flag shirt on The Dick Cavett Show. The shirt was Chroma-keyed out, which proves ABC/Capital Cities was run by a bunch of imbeciles… as opposed to ABC/Disney, which is run by a bunch of imbeciles. But I digress.

Ted told the Times “Let me do a little psychoanalysis. If you look at Star Trek: The Next Generation, it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.

“Kirk is working class; Picard is an aristocrat. Kirk is a passionate fighter for justice; Picard is a cerebral philosopher. The original Star Trek pressed for racial equality, which was one of its best characteristics, but it did so without sermonizing… I think it is quite likely that Kirk is a Republican and Picard is a Democrat.”

Perhaps Ted is unaware that Picard is French and, as such, is not eligible to vote in American elections. However, this gross mistake is understandable as Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta. In case you skipped geography class the way Senator Cruz obviously skipped civics class, Calgary is part of the great nation of Canada. This hasn’t stopped him from running for president, although it is possible that a constitutional challenge might. Otherwise, we would be tipping our hat to President Schwarzenegger right now.

Ted might have been born in Canada, but he is of Cuban descent. This explains why he took pains to point out that he “can affirmatively say that I have made out with far fewer space aliens,” emphasis mine.

He did not clarify which of the many Spider-people he supports. The fact that Ted has strong Hispanic roots does not necessarily mean he’s a fan of the Miles Morales version, who is half-black, half-Hispanic.

Which puts Miles one-up on Barack Obama… who is also a Spider-Man fan. Like most presidents since the Great Depression, Obama has appeared in quite a few comic books, including Amazing Spider-Man. He’s been known to conspire with Amanda Waller, a person who, I strongly suspect, would not tolerate a man such as Ted Cruz.

 

Dennis O’Neil: The Super-Villain In The White House

Barack Obama ComicsSo our national fingerwag has found its way through the mire of newsprint and cable television and into the Land of Comics. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you won’t hear it from me because I’m not joining the fray, my children, but it’s Obama’s fault.

Just like that rewarring in Iraq is Obama’s fault – obviously a plot to distract us while his armies of Kenyan invaders gather for the Big Strike. Or this global warming bushwah… more distraction. I mean, global warming? Last winter – that long and brutal season, remember? – as you were struggling to start your car in sub zero weather, did the globe seem warm to you then? Yeah, I thought not.  And those pictures of melting ice caps: in the first place, do you really care if some ice melts? Doesn’t it happen every day in your lemonade glass? And in the second place, how do we know it’s really happening, even? Anyone actually believe that the White House doesn’t have access to Photoshop?

Of course, Obama’s real triumph was the destruction of Pompeii in 79 CE. How can that be? you might ask. Wasnt Pompeii destroyed when a volcano, Mount Vesuvius, erupted and buried the city under tons of ash and rocks and stuff? How, youmight continue with just the tiniest edge in your voice, could our monster-in-chief be responsible for that?

Ah, the innocence of the naive! You underestimate the power of the monster’s evil – an evil so great that it shattered the constraints of time and hurled back through the centuries until it emerged by chance, unless Obama had something against the locals, in the heart of Vesuvius, arriving with the momentum gathered as it veered through the millennia, again shattering time. Obviously, the unexpected arrival of a gigantic lump of malevolence from the future upset the area’s cosmic balance and the poor volcano had to do something! I mean, wouldn’t you erupt?

By the way, none of this is depicted in the recent Pompeii movie and I don’t remember any of it being part of The Last Days of Pompeii, which I saw when I was a little kid. Of course not! The recent film? Well, You know Obama and Hollywood! As for the earlier movie, the one I must have seen in rerelease in the 1940s…maybe the backward-speeding malevolence stopped in 1935, the year the movie was first shown, just long enough to obliterate any traces of the truth that may have been lying around. Or maybe the movie guys just didn’t know about the Obaman meddling with geochronology.

I mean, we’re reasonable people here. We can’t blame everything on Obama.

How do I know about all this? Well, I’m not making any claims, but just suppose an angel came to me in a dream and told me what I’ve been telling you and maybe I believe the angel because I believe in angels.

Can’t quarrel with that!

 

Mike Gold: Fatwa In Four-Colors

It’s possible you’ve heard about the superhero comic book series The 99. According to the Grand Comics Database, it ran for a total of 19 issues between 2007 and 2011, plus a six-issue mini-series crossover with the Justice League of America.

Despite its professional credits and its careful design, it was unsurprisingly clear that here in the United States a series about Muslim superheroes who derived their team name from the 99 names for Allah would be a tough sell. Even Superman and Batman couldn’t help. PBS did a documentary, and it was cover-featured in Newsweek – back when Newsweek actually had covers. President Barack Obama, a former comics reader himself, praised the series: “His comic books have captured the imaginations of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam.”

The “he” in “his” referred to the series’ creator, Kuwaiti psychologist Naif Al-Mutawa. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Al-Mutawa wanted Muslim children to have Muslim heroes who selected a path different from the suicide bombers and jihadists.

Sadly, to no avail. It was a noble effort, one that was successful in places like Saudi Arabia – it even spawned a television series. But success can bite you on the ass, and the laws of Newtonian physics apply to politics as well as to apple trees.

The 99 is now the subject of a genuine Saudi Arabian fatwa, issued by grand mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh and his council because the comics and the television show are “evil work that needs to be shunned.” Good grief, I’ve worked on comics that received bad reviews, but nobody said they needed to be shunned.

For the record, a fatwa is defined by Merriam-Webster as a decree handed down by an Islamic religious leader. It is not a death sentence per se, although with organized religion one has to take into consideration how the zealots might react.

But what the fatwa does do is effectively end The 99’s commercial prospects. Unless the fatwa is lifted the teevee show, which is off-season, is unlikely to continue. The comic books face the same fate.

There really isn’t that much difference between a fatwa in Saudi Arabia and an undeclared boycott of The 99 in the United States due to its pro-Muslim content. Despite solid promotion here in the States and the aforementioned exposure from both PBS and President Obama, people simply did not sample the series to see if it was to their liking.

To those of us who vest our first amendment fantasies with a zealot’s enthusiasm, both actions are repulsive. I wish Dr. Al-Mutawa well, and I hope he’s got a great idea for a Wolverine mini-series.

Monday Mix-Up: The Incredible Obamas

Here’s a pre-Election Day piece from Nikkolas and Nicole Smith, recasting Sasha, Malia, Michelle, and Barack Obama in the style of Pixar’s The Incredibles. I see only two things wrong with it:

1. The slogan should no longer be “Forward”, but “Excelsior!”

2. This piece is just crying out for Mitt Romney as Syndrome. Or perhaps $yndrome. And I suppose there’s space there for Joe Biden as Frozone. Of course, if you do that, you have to show Mitch McConnell as the Underminer…

George Lucas is betting Barack Obama will win re-election

Time 100 2006 gala, George Lucas.

By now, you’ve heard that Lucasfilm has been sold to The Walt Disney Corporation for $4.05 billion dollars. You also see that we’ve discussed what this could mean for Star Wars, Disney, Dark Horse Comics, and many other players. However, what you may not realize is that this also means that George Lucas thinks that the Force is with Barack Obama and in six days, he will win re-election as President of the United States.

Why? Because of what will happen on January 1st.

That’s the day when the Bush Tax Cuts are scheduled to expire. Right now, the current rate on income from corporate dividends and long-term capital gains is 15 percent. With the Bush cuts gone, those numbers would jump to 39.6 percent on dividends and 20 percent on gains.

George Lucas founded Lucasfilm in 1971 and is the sole shareholder. So all the long-term capital gains go straight to him. He would stand to pay an extra 5% on the purchase price, an additional $202.5 million dollars in taxes if he delayed the transaction to 2013.

Now, it should be noted that one of the few things Mitt Romney’s told us about his tax plan is that he plans to keep the 15 percent maximum rate on long-term capital gains and most dividends for taxpayers with income of more than $200,000 per year. So if Romney wins the election, Lucas doesn’t get a bigger tax bill.

But Lucas isn’t doing that– he’s acting now. Ergo, he thinks there’s a significant chance that Romney will lose and that the risk is too big to take.

Martha Thomases: Could Obama Rescue Michelle From The Joker?

Deadlines being what they are, I’m writing this before the first Presidential debate, and you are reading it after. By now, all the various news agencies, pundits and comedians will have picked out the most salient points and decided who “won.” I’m sure I also have opinions by this time, and I assure you that I am right.

However, this has nothing to do with pop culture in general, nor comics in specific. And I’m having trouble thinking about anything else.

As the kind of nerd who was on the debate team in high school, I’m a little bit affronted that they call these televised events “debates.” There is not a thesis, and it is not set up so that one side argues for it and the other side against. There are no definitions of terms. Instead, there are specific questions, defined amount of time for each candidate to answer, the other candidate to respond, and so on, for an hour and a half. Everything is micro-managed, from the height of the podia to the lighting, and both sides have minions who will run out and declare their respective candidate the winner, no matter what is actually said.

It’s about as spontaneous as a Papal mass. And about as persuasive.

You know the debates are boring because, when they are presented in popular entertainment, suspense has to be added. For example, in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, when they depicted the famous Lincoln/Douglas debates, they added, well, vampires.

What if candidates for elected office debated the way characters do in comics? You know, with fighting?

My personal favorite examples of this are the Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories by my beloved Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. The two main characters argue about their respective world-views while shooting arrows, leaping over rooftops, flying through the air, and, sometimes, facing off against little blue aliens.

It would be wonderful if there were similar obstacles presented in our political debates. We would have the opportunity to not only hear the different viewpoints of the candidates, but also observe their problem-solving skills in action. Obama might have rescued the auto industry, but can he rescue Michelle from the clutches of the Joker? Romney boasts of his business experience, but can he fend off a hostile takeover from Intergang? Forget Ahmadinejad, would either man allow a Doctor Doom to speak at the UN?

And after they fight, can they team up and solve the problems together? That would not only increase the ratings for the debates, but improve our level of discourse.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman and the Old Guys League of America