Marvel Comics regularly publishes stories about unfrozen nonagenarians who punch magic Nazis, purple space gods who eat planets, and shit-talking, jetpack-wearing, gun-toting raccoons. But few of those tales were as implausible as 2008's Dark Reign. This year-long storyline followed Norman Osborn -- aka the Green Goblin, one of the biggest villains in comics -- attaining an important government role against all logic, reason, and sanity. Ha ha, yeah, as if anything like that could ever happen.
... OK, they may have been on to something there.
In fact, the more you read about it, the more oddly specific parallels arise between this eight-year-old comic book arc and the ridiculous, disconcerting mess we now call a reality. For starters ...
Norman Osborn Was Already Basically Donald Trump
Despite the fact that Trump has not (to date) flown around on a Halloween-themed hoverboard while wearing a goblin costume and hurling bombs at people, he does have a lot in common with Osborn. Both of them are business tycoons who live in giant towers in New York City.
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Both of them also have a thing for blondes who are much younger than them. Trump, despite looking like an embalming accident, is married to a former model 25 years his junior, while Osborn had an affair with Spider-Man's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. Both these turns of events are equally inexplicable.
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So strong is this blonde obsession, in fact, that it even leads these powerful men to desire (or repeatedly joke about desiring) women they should stay the hell away from. Osborn once impregnated his son's girlfriend ...
... while Trump's own family weirdness is somehow even more off-putting. We're not going to detail every sexual comment he's made about his daughters here, because 1) there are already enough articles about that, and 2) holy shit there are multiple articles about that, but here's one instance:
Comedy Central Productions
Comedy Central Productions
And finally, one has pumpkin bombs, while the other simply resembles a pumpkin.
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But wait. Wacky looks, lavish buildings, younger women, incestuous overtones -- we're describing every millionaire ever here, aren't we? Sure, but that's only the beginning.
Both Trump And Osborn Got Into Power By Exploiting America's Anxiety About Aliens (Of Different Kinds)
Dark Reign is a follow-up to another Marvel Comics saga called Secret Invasion, in which shapeshifting aliens are revealed to be living among us. When these undocumented immigrants rise up and try to take over America and the world, Tony Stark is blamed for letting it happen and subsequently ousted from his position as director of SHIELD. This allows Osborn to waltz in and go, "Well, I would be pretty tough on the aliens. Just sayin'."
The short-tempered millionaire's victory was facilitated by an unpredictable third party handling stolen information. We're talking, of course, about Deadpool, who hacked into the aliens' computers to find out how to kill their queen and ended up Putin- sorry, putting that data in Osborn's hands.
Osborn's rise to power is also helped massively by the media, as the climactic scene in which he shoots the alien queen is broadcast across the country, solidifying his reputation as a hero. It turns out Marvel's writers were being naive here. Media coverage doesn't have to be positive to make a difference. You could call someone a monster for eight months, and they'd still gain millions of fans simply from having their face on TV all the time.
Once he's named the head of a global peacekeeping organization called HAMMER, Osborn dons an American-flag-bedazzled suit of Stark armor and dubs himself Iron Patriot. An important sector of the public buys this new image, despite Osborn's well-known record as a lying, conniving, morally bankrupt criminal.
Again, this was considered science fiction at one point.
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And that leads us to the most accurate (and scariest) part of this tale ...
They Both Immediately Surround Themselves With Straight-Up Supervillains
To his supporters, Osborn's reign was supposed to bring forth a new era of greatness. Finally, a strong leader was in charge -- one who would rid us of those elitist, ineffectual superheroes and eradicate all terror and crime!
So what's the first thing Osborn does? He gets a bunch of third-rate supervillains masquerading as superheroes to form his new Avengers. You've got the Scorpion posing as Spider-Man, Daredevil baddie Bullseye as Hawkeye, Wolverine's shitty son as Wolverine -- basically, the Marvel universe's version of the random washed-up politicians, former CEOs, and Neo-Nazi sympathizers populating Trump's cabinet.
Meanwhile, Osborn himself leads the group as the Iron Patriot, but it's clear that he's struggling to keep it together. It turns out that becoming incredibly powerful didn't make it any more difficult to bait him into going on petty, furious rampages. Yeah, this one's kind of on the nose.
Some of the superheroes advocate working with Osborn, while other simply refuse and go hard against him. He does seem to think he's doing the right thing, but at the same time, he's working with murderers and other villains -- which is paralleled in Trump's confessed adulation of Putin, Duterte, Kim, and other authoritarian dictators past and present.
Dark Reign ends with Osborn being brought down after one of his shady allies goes off the rails and tries to destroy reality. We don't know how Trump's presidency will pan out, but if there's one moral to this story, that would be: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and brags about sexual harassment / illegal business practices / ability to shoot someone in the street and retain his cult-like followers like a duck, then don't be surprised if it turns out to be a duck.
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