With the inauguration of Barack Obama today as the 44th president of the United States, I was thinking about how comics book stories often treat presidents. Most of the time, when the actual president is being used, he’s treated with respect and dignity. Heroes say a lot of “Yes, Sirs” and “Thank You, Mr. Presidents.”
Captain America No. 344 (August 1988) went a bit of a different route. In that issue, writer Mark Gruenwald turned Ronald Regan into an actual reptile-man. Thanks to a poison dumped into the D.C. water supply, Ronnie, Nancy and thousands of other Washintonians were reverted back to their “reptile brain” state.
Steve Rogers, who’s normally Captain America, was going through a period where he changed costumes and his alias. Now known as “The Captain,” he and his compatriots bashed their way through the streets filled with lizardfolk, stormed the White House and helped Ronnie sweat out his poison.
In all, it’s a very typical Captain America tale of the time period, especially with a big supporting cast that includes Demolition Man, Diamondback, Nomad, BattleStar and the “new” Captain America who would later become USAgent.
In the tale, Cap struggles a bit with his own morals, but ultimately bests the bad guys who don’t seem to have any morals whatsoever.
So just who are the bad guys? Well, as with much of Mark Gruenwald’s run, the Serpent Society is heavily involved, with the likes of Viper, Cobra, Copperhead, Boomslang and a few other snake-themed villains. But beyond the Serpent Society, there’s also government muckity-mucks who think they’re smarter than everyone else. They’re all for policy, procedure, extreme views, unwavering allegiance and abrupt solutions.
That is always my concern about our government — no matter who’s leading it. We shouldn’t always blindly follow our leaders. They deserve our respect, sure, but they should also require us to question them when things don’t seem exactly right. We should hold them accountable. We should never be afraid to voice our concerns or change our opinions on the man in charge, because you never know when a hero can turn into a snake in the grass.
(End of today’s sermon.)