5 Disastrous Attempts at Political Commentary in Comic Books

#2. Not-Batman Stars in Islamophobic Propaganda

Legendary Comics

Imagine you're DC Comics and one day Frank Miller, the guy who redefined Batman in the '80s with The Dark Knight Returns and went on to make shitloads of money for other companies with Sin City and 300, offers to write a new Batman graphic novel. It would be hard to say no. There's one little catch, though: The comic would be called "Holy Terror, Batman!" and be about Gotham's protector violently murdering Muslims for 100 pages. You laugh. Frank Miller doesn't.

That's seriously how Miller's 2011 comic Holy Terror came to be: He started it as a Batman special, but halfway through realized that DC would never let him get away with the crazy shit he was trying to pull, so he took the pages, filed off the serial numbers, and turned them into a comic about a new superhero called the Fixer. The story is about how terrorists attack Gotha- er, Empire City, so the Fixer and his partner, Totally-Not-Catwoman, go out to torture and murder some bearded dudes in revenge.

Legendary Comics
"I-I'll talk. Please don't make me watch The Spirit again."

The whole thing is a bizarre, incoherent stream of hateful nonsense. Panels of the Fixer going on a Looney Toons-esque rampage against the terrorists alternate with out of context quotes from the Quran; wordless caricatures of Obama are juxtaposed with images of domestic violence and bizarre rope bondage.

Legendary Comics

Legendary Comics
He drew this whole comic one-handed.

We're sure Miller is trying to convince us of something here, but even he's not entirely certain what that is. We'd be offended, but we don't know where to start: The whole thing reads less like a comic book and more like somebody illustrated your racist uncle's Facebook diatribes.

#1. Captain America Fights Supervillain Nixon, Watches Him Kill Himself

Marvel Comics

Captain America is pretty much the only major superhero who's allowed to be political, because, well, he was created as propaganda in the first place. He does Captain America stuff. He punches Hitler in the face. He gets his shield from Franklin Roosevelt. He shakes hands with Bill Clinton. He watches Richard Nixon commit suicide in front of him after being outed as a supervillain.

Wait, what?

Marvel Comics
"I am a crook!"

In a storyline that happened to coincide with Nixon's resignation over the Watergate scandal, Captain America fights a group of baddies called the Secret Empire who are trying to take over the U.S. by way of nuclear bombs. In Captain America #175, Cap defeats the Secret Empire in Washington, but their leader, Number One, manages to sneak away and hides in the White House.

Marvel Comics
"Blast! If only I had an easily removable costume to cover my escape."

Captain America chases the villain into the Oval Office, where he's unmasked and turns out to be a "high political officer." Maybe we're just reading into things here. Maybe Cap isn't trying to comment on a political scandal that was way out of the depth of a mainstream superhero comic. "High political officer" could be one of those nebulous cabinet members whose job no one really understands, like Secretary of Agriculture, or just a cop who's way into politics and gettin' blazed -- except the writer confirmed that it's totally Nixon, and yes, this was his take on Watergate. You know -- ineptly bugging some offices, nuclear obliteration of your own country -- it's really six of one and a half-dozen of the other.

Marvel Comics
"Blast! If only I had something to throw to knock the gun from his hand."

Captain America is so disillusioned by this overwrought version of the Watergate scandal that he quits. He puts on a different costume and becomes Nomad, and we all learn a valuable lesson: If you're ever caught in a political scandal, do the honorable thing and flee to your own office before you blow your brains out for maximum symbolic value.

Henrik Magnusson can be found in various other places across the Internet, but he doesn't want you to know he visits most of those places. Among the sites he doesn't mind you knowing about, you can find the stuff he passes off for comics and artwork here, here, and here.

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Related Reading: Comics usually aren't much good at pulling off a celebrity cameo, but this issue where KISS meets Howard the Duck is a rare exception. And hey, did you know a Donald Duck comic invented Minecraft? Of course, since Donald's invented movies and scientific theories maybe that isn't so shocking. If you're not done leering at the uneven intersection of "Comics" and "Reality", check out Ronald Reagan's history in comic books.

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