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?