Comic book villains are just as important as the heroes themselves. In order for the eternal battle of good over evil to exist, comic books rely on a solid bad guy who, in many cases, often becomes as popular as the hero themselves. Batman vs. the Joker, Spiderman vs. the Green Goblin, The Fantastic Four vs. Doctor Doom, Barrack Obama vs. Sarah Palin. Well, for that last one I suppose its really a matter of where your personal politics lay, but since 2008 the eternal struggle between President Obama and former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin has not only been taking place in American politics, but also in the pages of comic books! This month alone Sarah Palin is slated to appear in three comic books published under different companies, making her the second most visible politician in comic books today, only behind President Obama. One of the most fascinating and controversial figures in America today, Sarah Palin’s presence in comic books is gaining as rapidly as her presence in the political world, delighting and/or terrifying, readers world wide.
So what it is that makes Sarah Palin work so well in comic books? Possibly the most obvious is the fact that with so many distinct visible “symbols,” Palin’s distinct look almost looks like a costume all itself. The red blazers and pencil skirts, her hair tied up, her pointy glasses. Her appearance is so distinctive that she already looks like a cartoon character. In fact, she could double for The Baroness from GI Joe quite easily. Also, whether you love her or hate her, there is just something dynamic about Sarah Palin. Whatever your politics, there is no denying that Sarah Palin is just a little crazy. I mean, who else hunts from helicopters? Really? But although I personally find Sarah Palin’s power to be frightening, and her politics to border on retardation, even I can’t help but be dazzled by a Sarah Palin appearance in a comic book and I’m a sucker for buying each and every comic book with her on the cover. That’s right friends. Along with Black Canary, Zatanna and Stargirl, I collect Sarah Palin comic book appearances. What can I say? Sometimes you gotta love a good psycho.
Sarah Palin’s first appearance in comic books was in 2009 when Bluewater Comics released a comic biography of Palin as part of their Female Force series focusing on successful women in popular culture. The book, written by Neal Bailey, gained mass media attention, and was named one of PCA’s best comic books of 2009. Bailey handled the subject of Sarah Palin like a genius by putting himself in the story as he battled between his commitment to handle Palin and her politics seriously, or making her into a joke by charting the mishaps and shenanigans of her vice presidency campaign. As a result, the reader not only got a fair overview of her life and her politics, but the book was also contained the unintentional hilarity that was Sarah Palin. The writing on this book was so good that readers had more of an understanding of Palin’s politics then they got watching CNN during entire presidential campaign, revealing that although Sarah Palin’s ideas may be unorthodox, she really isn’t that bad of a politician…..in Alaska anyways. Meanwhile the book also became a keepsake of all the flubs and mishaps from the Katie Couric interview, to the turkey slaughter footage to Tina Fey on SNL. It was all there in 32 pages, creating the ultimate unbiased book on Sarah Palin.
This winter Bluewater is releasing a follow up to their Sarah Palin book under the Female Force banner titled Sarah Palin, Act 2. This time written by Dan Rafter, Sarah Palin, Act 2 will feature the continuing saga of Sarah Palin’s political and public life where the election left off as she has defied critics and naysayers with the creation of her radical Tea Party. In a statement about the book Rafter said “You can’t help but admire Sarah Palin for her tenacity and her ability to find the spotlight wherever she goes. The reaction she received for her big Tea Party speech is just one example of the passion that Palin ignites in her fans. It’s hard for me to imagine someone like Mitt Romney generating that kind of electricity.” If the second book is as unbiased and well written as the first then Bluewater should have another classic on its hands.
Of course, political parody has always been a staple of comics going back to the first editorial cartoons at the beginning of the 20th Century. Sarah Palin’s next appearance in comics would prove to be one of her strangest when she donned a metal bikini and a silver wolf cloak as Red Sarah, warrior princess of the Northlands in Devil Due’s four issue mini-series Barrack the Barbarian. Rewriting Barrack Obama’s rise to power in US politics as a sword and sorcery story, writer Larry Hanna featured Red Sarah as one of Barrack the Barbarian’s many foes, including Chaney the Grim and wicked overlord Bush the dim. Yet, while Barrack Obama appeared in a loincloth on the cover of the first issue, an alternative cover was released with a sexy pin up of Sarah Palin in her warrior princess outfit which proved to be far more popular. The cover was such a draw that it was eventually released as a poster. A one-shot sequel of Barrack the Barbarian spotlighting Red Sarah, titled The Fall of Red Sarah was released in 2010, continuing the adventures of Barrack the Barbarian and his ongoing battle with the princess of the Northlands.
Possibly the weakest Sarah Palin comic to hit comic shops was Antarctic Press’ Sarah Palin: Rogue Warrior one-shot released in 2010. A series of colorful pin-ups and short stories by various different artists and writers including Fred Perry, Brian Denham, Joe Wight, Rod Espinosa, David Hutchison, and Kelsey Shannon , Sarah Palin: Rogue Warrior was more exploitation and cheap gags then any sort of well thought out parody or political satire. The garish, yet clever, cover is pretty much what readers got inside, making it more of a waste of money that will take up space as a comic book oddity then a future collectors item.
Sarah Palin’s latest, and funnest, comic book appearance took place in December 2010 when Sarah Palin and Barrack Obama descended on Riverdale in Archie #616 written by Alex Simmons. While this was President Obama’s second appearance in Archie Comics, having appeared in Veronica #199, this marked Palin’s first meeting of Archie and his pals n’ gals. When Archie and Reggie battle it out for student president, Veronica gives Archie a boost when she brings Archie to a political dinner and introduces him to Barrack Obama. When a photo of Archie and Obama makes the school paper, word wrongly gets out that Obama has endorsed Archie. In retaliation, Reggie and his campaign manager Trula Twyst take in a Sarah Palin appearance and a photo of Reggie and Palin gets distributed, making the student body of Riverdale believe that Palin is backing Reggie. As rumors fly the local media get a hold of the story, which eventually gets back to Obama and Palin who rush to Riverdale High to demand answers. The second part of the epic meeting of Obama and Palin with the Riverdale High gang is slated to continue in Archie #617 on sale this month. However, what is interesting to observe is that while Archie Comics has tried hard to stay mutual on their poltical alliances, treating Sarah Palin with as much respect as Barrack Obama, it is interesting to note that while good guy Archie is shown with Obama, bad boy Reggie and the devious Trule Twyst turn towards Sarah Palin. Perhaps Archie Comics is staying mutual, but is a subtle political statement about Sarah Palin being made?
Also slated to appear on stands in January 2011 is Antarctic Press’ second attempt at bringing Sarah Palin to the world of comics in something called Sarah Palin Versus The World. A parody of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s award winning Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, which spawned last summer’s blockbuster film, Sarah Palin Versus The World is written and drawn by Ben Dunn. Not due to hit comic shops until January 26tth , little can be said about this book right now, but Antarctic’s solicitation for the book reads: “Sarah Palin – politician, author, commentator… maverick. She’s on the way to meet her dream job. But to get it, she’s got to defeat some of the nastiest opponents in the country. From career politicos to gotcha media men to secret service agents, they all want some control of her dream. Has she got what it takes to beat the world? You betcha!.” If the clever cover is any indication, Sarah Palin Versus The World could be a fun read.
In the ever changing history of the world, politicans rise to power and fall into obscurity. Some are good at what they do, and some just stir the pot with ther craziness. However, there hasn’t been anyone quite like Sarah Palin – politican, mother, author, maverick, comic book character. Sarah Palin isn’t going to be going away anytime soon. Looks like we’re stuck with her for a little while longer – even in our comic books.