Comic Book Heroes

Arianna Huffington’s Comic Book—and Sarah Palin’s

Arianna Huffington isn’t the first celebrity to have her own comic book.

AP, Bluewater Comics

Paula Deen

Paula Deen is now the heroine of her own comic book. See other real-life comic crossovers, including Arianna Huffington, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Palin, Muhammad Ali—and Adolf Hitler.

Bluewater Productions

Paula Deen

Wouldn't exactly peg Paula as a superhero, but sure! The co-founder and publisher of Bluewater Productions, Darren G. Davis, thought Deen's story was worth sharing, so he added the embattled chef to its feminists comic-book series, Female Force. The series, which features a new woman every month, has included Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Sarah Palin. The comic was released Wednesday, a few months after Deen was dropped by numerous sponsors after making racially insensitive remarks, and a few days after her return to the public eye. 

Bluewater Productions

Arianna Huffington

Bluewater Productions, which created the Female Force series for wonder woman Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, published a comic book featuring Arianna Huffington. Alas, the Huffington Post founder doesn’t sport spandex or a cape, but the comic does include such white-knuckle adventures as “her time studying in England, her marriage to a congressman, her run as governor of California and how her website was sold to AOL for $315 million.” Breitbart-o, beware!

Stephen Colbert

He’s got his own Super PAC so why couldn’t Stephen Colbert team up with a superhero? In 2008, the host of The Colbert Report swung into action with the Spidey in Amazing Spider-Man No. 573. The comic crossover was a response to Colbert’s real-life attempt to get on the 2008 presidential ballot in South Carolina—in the Marvel series, he’s a White House frontrunner. "In a universe where a guy can get super powers from a spider bite, then it makes complete logical sense that Stephen Colbert could be a viable candidate," said Mark Waid, one of the comic’s writers. Added Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada: "As he'll be the first to tell you, Stephen Colbert is a true American hero."

Sarah Palin

Look! Up in Alaska! It’s Sarah Palin! In 2009, a month after Barack Obama took office, Female Force released a comic-book biography of the former vice-presidential candidate. While Palin didn’t have special powers—not counting her exceptional skills on the basketball court—the Wasilla Warrior did have a superhero-worthy nickname: Barracuda. And like any good comic book, the writers gave Palin a sinister nemesis—Katie Couric.

Muhammad Ali

Over the years, Superman comics have featured many great real-life cameos, including JFK, Pat Boone, and Don Rickles. But in 1978, the Man of Steel met the Greatest—Muhammad Ali. The plot of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali centered around an alien from Scrubb who wanted to battle Earth’s greatest fighter. Superman, of course, steps forward, but so does the heavyweight champion of the world, Ali. To determine who will defend Earth, the two men agree to box on a neutral planet (where Superman will not have his powers). In the fight—which is attended by Frank Sinatra, Cher, and Jimmy Carter—Superman takes a beating and is ultimately defeated by TKO. Ali goes on to defeat the alien (as he predicted, in the eighth round), and Earth is saved. The comic ends with a recovered Superman embracing Ali and declaring, “We are the greatest!”

Jerry Lewis

The comedy team of Martin and Lewis were so popular that they had their own comic-book series, The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, from 1952 until 1957—a year after they broke up. Following the split, DC Comics continued to publish The Adventures of Jerry Lewis until 1971. In the new series, Lewis occasionally teamed up with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and another comedian with his own successful DC comic—Bob Hope. The King of Comedy probably should have called on some of his super-friends last month, when he tangled with the Muscular Dystrophy Association—and lost.

KISS

They wore crazy costumes, hid their faces behind makeup, and had a bassist with a super-tongue who could spit fire. So, how much of a stretch was it to turn the heavy-metal group KISS into a comic book? But to give the 1977 comic a KISS twist, Marvel did something truly creepy: it had the band members’ blood drawn by a nurse, and then flew KISS up to the printing plant in Buffalo, New York, to mix the blood with their comic’s red ink. Over the years there have been several other KISS comics, but none of the encores quite lived up to that opening number.

AP Photo

Fidel Castro

He’s been an archenemy of the United States for more than half a century, but back in 1988, Fidel Castro teamed up with the Flash to defeat an alien takeover. (Holy immigration irony, Scarface!) In DC Comics’ three-part Invasion! series, the Flash’s plane is shot down over Cuba. He discovers El Jefe himself hiding out in the jungle, as he did in his pre-Jefe days. (The shapeshifting Durlans have apparently taken over, assuming the form of Castro and his top lieutenants—just go with it.) Flash and his sidekick then devise a plan to replace Fake Fidel with the real one, and when they are successful, Real Fidel calls on the Durlans to reveal themselves so the Cuban people can fight them fairly. When the Cubans win, Castro is so grateful that he throws Flash a 21st-birthday party.

ALF

He was real only to boys under 10 and Brandon Tartikoff, but ALF—the alien from NBC’s late-1980s primetime schedule—had his own Marvel comic that ran for four years, beginning in 1988. Loosely based on the TV series, the comic frequently parodied superheroes (the Fantastic Fur, the X-Melmen) and featured “Melmac Flashbacks” about life on ALF’s home planet, where he was known by his real name—Gordon Shumway.

AP Photo

Franklin Roosevelt

Though the summer blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger depicted Howard Stark presenting Steve Rogers with his iconic shield, in the comic universe, it was actually a gift from Franklin Roosevelt. For Cap’s 40th anniversary in 1981, Marvel retold the origin of the superhero and had FDR personally present the indestructible disc. “I'm told the metal in the shield has some incredible properties,” the 32nd president tells Captain America. “If only the metallurigal accident which produced it could be duplicated.”

Mr. T

The amazing thing about Mr. T’s first comic-book series—and there have been several—is that it didn’t come at the height of his popularity. In 1993, six years after The A-Team went off the air, NOW Comics published Mr. T and T-Force with art by comic-book legend Neal Adams. The largely embarrassing comic, which featured Mr. T as a vigilante, was reportedly based on his real-life experiences. Though Mr. T had no superpowers per se, he was able to crumple the hood of a car with his fist in one issue. “It’s over, punks!” he yells at some fool drug dealers. “I’m gonna run you and your drugs outta this ’hood! ‘Cause MR. T IS IN THE HOUSE!”

Adolf Hitler

Not every famous person who crosses over into comics gets to be a hero. Over the years, Adolf Hitler has been depicted as a villain in countless comic storylines. He appeared on the cover of the very first issue of Captain America in March 1941—long before the United States declared war on Germany—getting socked in the jaw by Cap himself. And in the summer of 1942, Superman No. 17 featured the Man of Steel holding a terrified Hitler in one hand and quivering Emperor Hirohito in the other. The issue also contains two Superman firsts—the initial appearance of the Secret Citadel (the precursor to his Fortress of Solitude) and the first time that super-reporter Lois Lane tries to prove Clark Kent is you know who. Oddly enough, she fails.