Comics have changed so much over the past decade. Writers are now sticking less to the tried-and-test plotlines of their grandparents’ superheroes, and are now more adventurous in recreating characters’ origins, back stories or personalities to best fit the changing times and culture. From Spiderman’s tribute to the firefighters of 9/11 and Northstar’s nuptials as the very first legal gay marriage to ever be witnessed in comic book history, we now have milestones in our graphic novel literature. A female Thor. A teenage Muslim Marvel Girl. More young members of super-teams coming out as members of the LGBTQA community.
Any writer worth their ink — whether they be fledgling ones, seasoned scribblers, or folk looking for fresh beats on the freelance writing jobs board — knows that to change with the times is the best way to keep fresh and sharp. Aside from getting turning a keen focus on the social issues of the times, another good way to keep current is to also put the spotlight on iconic celebrities sharing the stage — or, in this case, the paneled page. what better way to add another layer of context to your superheroes than pair them up with a real-life person?
Here are five excellent examples of the most current celebrity-superhero mashups.
1) Muhammad Ali & Superman
In 1978, a special “treasury-sized” issue was released, featuring Supes and Ali going mano-y-mano to determine who was The Greatest, and therefore had the right to take on an alien contender named Hun’Ya. Alas, this issue came so late that Ali was no longer the champion of his weight class, and was dethroned by Leon Spinks. However, the true charm of this issue is the Sgt. Pepper-esque wraparound cover depicting iconic faces of the 70’s. See if you can spot characters such as Kurt Vonnegut, Jimmy Carter, Frank Sinatra, and Jerry Garcia, just to name a few of the disco-era icons featured on the cover.
2) Eminem & the Punisher
Though the plot of this issue was not entirely stellar, Eminem and his manager threw themselves into the project with much gusto and enthusiasm, marking this as one of the first full-on collaborations between a rap musician and comics creators to release a digital comic. He even requested that Barracuda the villain for the story — which proves to show Slim Shady knows his characters pretty well.
3) Stephen Colbert & Spider Man
It’s no secret that Stephen Colbert is a big geek, and 100% proud of it. He’s trounced James Franco with his Tolkien knowledge, and had a field day with his super-special The Hobbit-themed Entertainment Weekly photoshoot.
Colbert is also a big comic book junkie. He promotes Marvel titles during his show, and went over the moon when Marvel Editor-In-chief Joe Quesada bequeathed Captain America’s shield to him on one episode. During his farcical run for the presidential seat (against contenders Obama and McCain, no less), who better to help his campaign than your friendly neighborhood Spiderman? The cover above itself is a cheeky nod to the very first appearance of our favorite websliger, and was penciled in by Quesada himself.
Colbert campaigns, and notices how few people there are in the crowd. In his dismay, he strips off his jacket and his tie and declares he is Stephen Colbert… no more. (I see what you did there, Marvel.) He then runs into Spiderman, who in turn is running after Grizzley. Spidey insists this is not reporter’s fight, and takes him into a building for safety. In the midst of a full-on fight between these two super-powered beings, Colbert pushes a statue off the building which lands smack-dab on Grizzley. Spidey give him the ride of his life home, and Cobert saves the day. Yay!
And speaking of the presidency…
4) Barack Obama & Spiderman
Barack Obama’s 2008 victory for the presidential seat marked a great moment in history for Americans. Becoming the very first black president of the United States of America certainly placed you as a major public figure long before you were sworn in, and Marvel was quick to act and put together a story just in time for the 2009 inauguration. With Spiderman as Obama’s co-star in the story, the pairing highlighted on the POTUS’ aspect as a President for the people.
In the story, a second Obama appears as the first one is inauguration. With the Secret Service Agents baffled, Spiderman questions them both. When the second Obama fails to answer properly, he is unveiled as The Chameleon and carted of to justice. Obama thanks Spiderman, and our webcrawler watched the events proceed from a safe distance.
5) Iron Man’s Suit & Tim Gunn
Tim Gunn’s crossover with Models, Inc. and the attention it raised online would certainly send Tony Stark into an envious fit. In the special, Tim Gunn first acts as curator and tour guide to a passel of journalists through a retrospect exhibit of superhero costume fashion designs. A terrorist group crashes the party and threatens the public. This leaves Tim Gunn no choice but to don the Iron Man suit himself, and round up the villains while delivering his tart, witty quips on their lifestyle and fashion choices.
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