the United States of America gets a new superhero. To be honest,
we've had him for quite some time, as proven by last week's
sales bonanza of Amazing Spider-Man #583. (Fanboy Planeteer
Mother - "You mean that was a real comic book?") He's
so powerful, he might even be able to get comics fans to read
another issue of Youngblood. (Rob Liefeld's Youngblood
#8, if you must. And you're welcome, Joe.)
Okay, nobody's that powerful.
Within hours, the variant cover of Amazing
Spider-Man #583 had gone into its third printing. A
few shops sold the variant at cover price, but many boosted
it up, having no problem selling out first print copies
at up to $50 a pop. On eBay and Amazon, it was going much
higher than that. And even the regular cover, with a rather
stupid but at least not Obama-related joke on it, sold out.
Aside from being the most effective part
of the economic stimulus package so far - boosting a few
comic book shops' fortunes for an extra week or so - President-elect
Barack Obama's appearance has spawned intercompany fighting,
perhaps, but also shown how desperately the American public
wants a president who can be our hero.
undue knock against the outgoing president, but it's time
for America to shift from an ideal of cowboy justice to
those espoused by one of America's most lasting contributions
to world culture. We needed to move beyond the idea that
we will smoke out the bad guys, wanted dead or alive, as
if we were somehow surrounding them in a canyon with our
trusted Indian guide. That just wasn't working.
Instead, we've elected a man whose opponents
might wish to consider him a man from nowhere (and everywhere),
not a man with no name. He calls many places home, and has
demonstrated time and time again that he has a respect,
if not always an understanding, for other cultures.
Like we do Spider-Man, we project the best
of ourselves into what Obama seems to be, and in turn he
exhorts us to be better than we've been. How often this
past weekend have you caught a commercial with him calling
upon us to serve this country? It won't stop there.
He grew up reading comics, but Obama also
has a cool clear understanding of reality, not a head buried
in fantasy. But he's calling upon us to do what our fictional
heroes do for justice - not just being able to fight when
the bullets might start flying, but using our abilities
to help because we can, not because we must.
we may still have crappy times ahead. Politics are politics,
and we've grown jaded in believing that any politician really
stands for Truth and Justice. The nation's love affair with
the new president will hit the rocks the moment he proves
- and he will prove it - that he's not superhuman. Despite
having good-naturedly gone along with artist Alex Ross portraying
him as Superman, Obama's not even Batman, though he might
have a mechanical dinosaur somewhere in his basement. And
if you noticed last week, Batman's dead anyway.
On January 20th, I doubt he'll say it in
his inaugural speech, but it's pretty obvious that Barack
Obama understands that with great power comes great responsibility.
And it feels like he's going to ask all of us to take some
of that power and responsibility. We'll have no magic word
to effect change, no rings, no super-soldier formula, not
even the genius of Tony Stark.
But if feels pretty good anyway.