Here's a surprising development for everyone who bought last week's issue of Thunderbolts from Marvel Comics: That President of the United States who looks and acts like Barack Obama? Not necessarily him, says Marvel's spokesman.
The surprising announcement came at the end of an interesting article on comics site Newsarama.com, which was investigating the legality of President Obama's likeness being used in so many comic books recently. After establishing that Marvel's use of the President in their much-publicized and astoundingly popular issue of Amazing Spider-Man may be "less protected" under the law due to its commercial (as opposed to satirical or editorial) intent, a Marvel spokesman gave the following statement about the President who appeared in Thunderbolts:
[T]he character wasn’t intended to be President Obama and merely representative of the current president in the Marvel Universe, not necessarily Obama himself.
"Wasn't intended to be President Obama"? Really? So the character's similarity to Obama (see images right and above) is... coincidence? Thunderbolts writer Andy Diggle's pre-release Twitter comment to fans and retailers (since deleted; Google-cached version linked) that "Barack Obama also appears in next week's THUNDERBOLTS #128" was just misinformed? Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada's comment on Marvel's own website that "Historic moments such as this one can be reflected in our comics because the Marvel Universe is set in the real world" (not to mention, you know, a story where Barack Obama is seen being sworn in as President in the Marvel Universe) just so happens to be, what, a slip of many tongues?
Hey, it's possible, I guess. So, we contacted Marvel ourselves to clear up any confusion and asked who the President of the United States in the Marvel Universe was... and were given a polite refusal to comment. It'll be interesting to see whether this apparent backtracking of Obama-usage will be reflected in future printings of the Spider-Man issue, which is now in its fourth printing, and continuing to sell out. Perhaps we'll see a "Generic Black Irish President Called Barack O'Mara" variant next time around.