As you've probably already heard, President-Elect Barack Obama will be appearing in next week's Amazing Spider-Man #583, and will be appearing on one of the book's several covers. (If you haven't heard, here's the article in USA Today, and here's Newsarama interviewstress Vaneta Roger's article, which includes more salient info for the comics reader).
Thought #1: There's something depressingly crass about this. Not just that Marvel thought it would be a good idea to have Barack Obama appear in a Spider-Man comic—that just seems like smart business. If people will buy the hell out of IDW's plain old Obama-with-no-superheroes comic, or a Savage Dragon comic featuring Obama, imagine the sales of putting the President-Elect in a comic book with a household name superhero! But Jesus, why's it gotta be a variant scheme?
I don't have any insider knowledge on ratios and what not, but if this is a 50/50 variant, then retailers will have to buy a fuckload's worth to all the Obama one's they'll need; that's the cover any civilians rushing in to get this valuable comic book will want, right? (At least there's only one variant I guess; they could have gone really nuts and had a Zombie Obama variant or a Monkey Obama variant...either of those would have certainly gained even more media attention).
The solicitation info's a little wonky, too. The other, non-Obama cover will be by John Romita Sr. (sweet!) and feature Peter Parker with his arms around two ladies while Spidey lurks in the background. There's nothing about Obama, Zeb Wells, Todd Nauck or The Chameleon in it—the only creators listed are Mark Waid, Barry Kitson and Mark Farmer, and the plot points mentioned allude to Peter going on a date and a vague bit about a significant threat gathering.
It also says the book costs $2.99; Diamond's shipping list says it will cost $3.99.
Thought #2: In declaring Barack Obama the "President of Spiderman" (and forgetting the hyphen), Wonkette's Ken Layne notes how awful the art appears: "Jesus fucking christ, could Marvel Comics maybe hire somebody who can maybe draw something vaguely resembling the president-elect, rather than 'random negro dude in a suit who also seems to have neck tumors'?"
If you haven't already, do visit USA Today and check out the art. It is pretty terrible, and I like Todd Nauck. Looking at it more closely, it looks like Nauck, who probably isn't the best choice for a comic featuring Barack Obama, since all his faces look alike, had his pencils computer colored without any inking involved. So if it looks softly-lit, blurry and indistinct, that's probably why. That's pretty unfortunate, considering the extra attention this issue will be getting. I suspect Phil Jimenez, who provided the cover above, would have been a far better choice, given how realistic his art can be (although his art doesn't look so hot up there either).
Thought #3: In his interview with Rogers, ASM editor Steve Wacker said, "In future stories, when you see the president and he's a black male, you'll know who he is. But I don't know that we're doing a Barack Obama Marvel Team-Up book...He's not joining the New Avengers."
Can I ask a serious question here for a second? Why not? Not why not have him join the New Avengers, because that would be stupid: They're all wanted criminals that Obama's agents are trying to kill or capture. But why not have a Barack Obama ongoing set in the Marvel Universe?
Marvel already had him co-narrating half of Secret Invasion #8, one of the biggest, most "important" Marvel comics of late, one which set up the new status quo that is going to be so important to future Marvel stories that it necessitates its own logo and branding ("Dark Reign").
President George W. Bush was in Avengers: The Initative, his Western White House at Crawford being threatened by Hydra terrorists. He got Iron Man, Hank Pym and Reed Richards in his office and asked them to be to capture Captain America and kick off Civil War. He shook Yellowjacket's hand and said, "Heckuva job, Pymmy."
The story that's been dominating the Marvel Universe for the last three year has been all about the passage of a controversial federal law and the men and women who support and oppose it.
While the president has been a mostly off-panel force in these stories, why not go ahead and give him a comic book of his own to focus more intently on this stuff? A Marvel West Wing starring President Barack Obama, Henry Gyrich, Norman Osborn and Tony Stark. Meetings with Doctor Doom, The Black Panther and Namor. Behind the scenes in the war against The Inhumans and The Skrulls. Heated debates about the constitutionality of the SHRA and the 42 prison complex and mutant rights.
Think of the publicity the book would get! Good or bad, it would certainly garner attention.
Thought #4: Why the fuck would the President of the United States of America be seen speaking to and "terrorist fist-jabbing" Spider-Man? I mean, you and I know Spidey's a super-hero, and a decent enough guy under his mask. And anyone who sees Joe Quesada on the news or hears him on the radio or reads an interview with him in USA Today and rushes to their nearest comic shop to buy this sure to be a hot, valuable collectible issue to include in their two comic book collection of the death of Superman issue and the death of Captain America issue know he's a hero, but within the Marvel Universe he's viewed as a dangerous criminal and suspected terrorist.
He's a wanted criminal who is so wanted that the federal government employs mass-murderers to try and catch him; when they do catch him, they will put him into an extra-dimensional internment camp—a sort of superhero Guantanamo Bay—until he agrees to unmask and sign the superhero draft that is the Superhuman Registration Act. Remember that thing? It's the thing that all the Marvel heroes were so passionate about that they went to war over it and beat up and even killed their friends over it, and despite the fact that it was central to the reorganization of the Marvel Universe into a hostile police state, no one ever actually tries to enforce it. Iron Man and Ms. Marvel bump into Spider-Man about once a week, and are all just like, "Oh, I'll let you go with a warning this time, but another twelve or fifteen warnings and you're just going to have to get arrested."
I'm trying to think of the real world equivalent to Spider-Man, but I can't seem to do it, because the Marvel Universe is now so extremely far to the right of the real world. A terrorist probably isn't the right comparison here, even though that's the metaphor Mark Millar was working with in Civil War. Maybe seeing Obama give daps to Spidey in the Marvel Universe would be like seeing him kiss Bernie Madoff on the forehead in the real world? Although Madoff might be too weak an analogy, as his crimes are simply economic, whereas Spidey's are a matter of national security...
At any rate, Obama, who bounced fascist tool Tony "Iron Man" Stark from the job of Guy In Charge of Interring All Super-Heroes Who Won't Play Ball With Uncle Sam for not fascist or tool-like enough and replaced him with mass-murdering psychopath Norman "The Green Goblin" Osborn, wouldn't be all that likely to give Spidey daps in the Marvel Universe.
Oh Marvel, why do you keep trying to sell us all these terrible comic book stories all about politics if you yourselves don't even like to adhere to the depressing status quo you spend years arriving at?
Thought #5: Spidey, dude, how did you confuse Adrian "The Vulture" Toomes with Vice President-Elect Joe "Sam The Eagle" Biden? The former is as bald as his namesake, while the latter has snowy white hairplugs?