Top Ten Worst Politicians in ComicsA column article, Top Ten by: Nick Hanover, Danny Djeljosevic
We're two months into an election year, tracking the gaffes, foolishness and unfiltered banal evil of the latest set of clowns to make a bid for the Presidency. All the questionable rhetoric and open hatred may be depressing, but it could be worse -- you could be living under one of the comic book politicians below. So read on and feel a little better.
10. Wesley Fermin
Who? The Mayor of Hub City in Dennis O'Neil and Denys Cowan's '80s relaunch of The Question. Likes booze, hates commies.
Why He Sucks: Did we mention that he likes booze? Because Wesley Fermin really likes booze. It's to the point where the Comic Book Database merely describes him as the "inept and alcoholic mayor of Hub City." On top of that, Fermin had a creepy obsession with Hub City news anchor Myra Connelly and with the help of the sinister Rev. Hatch (a man whose purpose in life was to literally hasten the apocalypse), he managed to force her into being his wife with threats against her daughter… only to later shoot her. Myra would, however, survive and replace Fermin as mayor of Hub City, giving the town a little more stability.
9. J. Jonah Jameson
Who? J. Jonah Jameson, the publisher of the Daily Bugle, had a heart attack when Peter Parker suddenly grew a spine and told him off. During his hospital stay, his wife sold the paper out from under him. To satisfy his fetish for sitting behind desks, he got himself elected Mayor of New York, despite his perpetual bark and the fact that he kind of looks like Hitler.
Why He Sucks: As you might expect from a guy that ran on an anti-Spider-Man platform -- I believe the term bandied about was "Costumed Terror Mosque" -- Jameson spent taxpayer money to assemble a SWAT team for the specific purposes of apprehending Spidey, constantly calling for the superhero's arrest no matter how many public city-saving displays he pulls off. And if that weren't bad enough, Jameson actually gave a bailout to the Daily Bugle, a newspaper he used to own. If that doesn't scream conflict of interest, I don't know what does.
Then again, when Parker doctored a photograph to make Jameson look good in a time of need, Jameson revealed the scandal himself. So, y'know, JJJ isn't really the most corrupt comic book politician -- he just has questionable priorities.
8. Victor K. "Vic the Veep" Neuman
Who? The Vice President of the United States in the world of Garth Ennis' The Boys, "Vic the Veep" is a mash-up of Arnold Schwarzenegger and George W. Bush who's only in the position he is because of the corporate interests of Boys baddies Vought-American.
Why He Sucks? "Vic the Veep" is merely a pawn in Vought-American's game and as a result he's all flash and no substance. Ennis has hinted that Vic is perhaps even mentally disabled, and in the comic he has proven to only be capable of following Vought-American's orders, like the time he knocked out actual president "Dakota Bob" Shaefer in order to give the order that allowed the Seven to completely fuck up on 9/11. Unlike "Dakota Bob," who may have had controversial policies but was at least highly professional and intelligent, "Vic the Veep" is a mockery of the American political system, a jab by Ennis at the idea that the US government is a slave to corporations.
7. Hamilton Hill
Who? Politicians in Gotham City aren't politicians in Gotham City if they aren't so rotten their limbs don't constantly threaten to fall off. Hamilton Hill, a stooge of Gotham councilman/secret crime boss Rupert Thorne, is no different.
Why He Sucks: Besides conspiring to frame the Batman for a crime he didn't commit? Well, Hamilton Hill has contracted hitmen to kill Gotham City policemen and replaced Commissioner Gordon with a fellow Thorne stooge. Even when forced to return Gordon to his rightful position, Hill still tried to make the Commissioner look bad. Of course, Batman soon revealed Hill's corruption and got him kicked out of office. This sort of thing happens monthly in Gotham City, so Batman's become a pro at deposing Mayors.
6. Richard Milhous Nixon
Who? Come on, now.
Why He Sucks: In 1973, right at the peak of the Watergate scandal, Captain America writer Steve Englehart decided to tackle one of the biggest events in American politics in a way that fit in with his espionage-heavy take on the series. While trying to topple a covert domestic terrorist organization called The Secret Empire, Captain America made his way up to the top of the organization's leadership ladder only to discover that the head of the Empire was none other than the current president of the USA. Englehart didn't specifically name the president, but it was strongly suggested that it was meant to be Nixon himself. Before killing himself after Captain America's discovery of his identity, this president used the Secret Empire to do such wonderful things as create a fake alien and flying sauce using the powers of kidnapped mutants, land the flying saucer on the White House lawn and immediately threaten nuclear devastation if the country wasn't handed over to him.
The real Nixon may simply have permanently ruined American's faith in the presidency, and he may have crippled the balance of power between the branches. But at least he didn't go around making fake apocalyptic aliens… that we know of.
5. Senator Kelly
Who? Robert Kelly is not a urine-fixated R&B singer, but a mutant-fixated United States Senator whose assassination is believed to cause the post-apocalyptic, Sentinel-ruled world featured in the classic Uncanny X-Men story "Days of Future Past." He really hates mutants.
Why He Sucks: You know how I said he hates mutants? Well, he hates mutants so much that, even when saved by the X-Men from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, he supported government anti-mutant initiatives like mutant registration and Sentinel programs with an even greater fervor. Dick move, Senator.
While under the pen of other writers post-Chris Claremont, Kelly started to relent on his bigotry after another situation where a mutant saved him from another mutant. Ironically, he was eventually murdered by an anti-mutant activist who considered Kelly a traitor. Guy couldn't please anybody, could he?
4. Tex Thompson
Who? A celebrated crime fighter turned super spy war hero, Thompson turned his clandestine WWII activities (which included killing Hitler) into a successful bid for a Senate seat with an eye towards the White House in James Robinson's Elseworlds classic The Golden Age.
Why He Sucks: Well, there's that whole thing with him not really being Tex Thompson at all. You see, the real Tex Thompson died while trying to kill Hitler and for his troubles the Ultra-Humanite removed his brain and took over his body. Which means, yes, this was indeed a story about Nazi agents trying to take over the American government that involved Hitler's brain itself getting planted in yet another crime fighter's body. Thompson was, of course, defeated, but in the process several of the heroes of the Golden Age were killed, maimed or mentally broken, all in a battle that took place right in Washington, D.C. itself. It was intended as a display of how nostalgia can lead us astray and make for easy corruption, with Robinson using Tex as a Manchurian Candidate homage that also conveniently poked holes in fandom's obsession with the long-lost Golden Age.
3. Doctor Doom
Who? Doctor Doom is best known for his countless schemes to antagonize the Fantastic Four, particularly former college rival Reed Richards, but he also has a notable extracurricular activity: he's the ruler of the European country of Latveria, where he rules with a literal iron fist.
Why He Sucks: Say what you will about J. Jonah Jameson, but at least he knows that his responsibilities require him to stay in his New York City office. Doctor Doom is almost always off his throne and out trying to destroy the Fantastic Four -- that is, when he's not forming an unlikely alliance with the Fantastic Four. This means that, without his genius leadership, Latveria is left open to invaders and all sorts of turmoil. One time, while Doom was busy being in Hell, Reed Richards took over Latveria himself and tried to liberate it -- until, of course, Doom came back.
Doctor Doom is a genius with a lot of character flaws like his hubris and obsession with Richards, but his worst sin is not realizing his priorities instead of relying on his legion of robot lookalikes to run his country.
Who? An early iteration of one of Moore's pet subjects, Jim Jaspers was a member of Parliament and managed to effectively ban superheroes. Not content with just making superheroes illegal, Jaspers then went about creating the Fury, which was sort of a mash-up between a Sentinel and a Terminator and quickly went about exterminating all of the heroes of Jasper's home reality.
Why He Sucks: As if killing all of the heroes on his home reality wasn't enough, Jaspers also killed the main continuity Captain Britain (he was later revived, but still) and set off something called the Jaspers' Warp, which threatened all of reality thanks to Jaspers' own reality warping abilities. He was only stopped through the complete destruction of his home continuity by Merlyn's comrade Mandragon.
But Jaspers' story doesn't end there. Before long, a version of Jaspers had appeared in the 616 and he swiftly went about doing many of the same things as his alternate reality counterpart. When this Jaspers released his Jaspers' Warp, it caused the Fury to appear again, only for it to set its sights on Jaspers and kill him, leading to a battle where the Fury was only able to be defeated thanks to Captain UK, the lone survivor of the original Jaspers' reality.
So to recap: psychotic MP with reality warping abilities takes out heroes and eventually the entirety of his own reality. Yeah, I'd say that's the sort of behavior that will land you alongside Hitler and Stalin on the world's worst leaders list.
1. Richard Milhous Nixon (Watchmen)
Who? In the world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, the 22nd Amendment had been repealed and Richard Nixon was serving his fifth term as President of the United States. It was a scary world indeed.
Why He Sucks: He's not featured a whole lot in Watchmen, but his influence is major. It's pretty obvious that Nixon used the Comedian to blow the head off of that Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy in Dallas before the Pope came to rule the good ol' US of A, then sent him over to Vietnam armed with a big blue god monster to blow Ho Chi Minh back to the Stone Age before ordering him to murder Woodward and Bernstein lest the evil truth get out. Which makes the Comedian go nuts and necessitates Ozymandias' fake alien invasion that destroys New York and brings about a bright new era in the world that promises Robert Redford in the White House.
Personally, I'm glad Nixon is dead.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery. His webcomic The Ghost Engine (drawn by Eric Zawadzski) will debut in Spring 2012.