With Stephen Colbert playing an increasingly large role in the Marvel Universe, both via his television program (he got Cap’s shield!) and in books like Amazing Spider-Man, it seemed like a fine time to revisit the recurring phenomenon of celebrities in comics. We’ll skip the celebs that actually had their own books (like Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis. Seriously.), and glance at some of the more celebrated cameos over the years.David Letterman: In 1984, Marvel pulled a stunt called Assistant Editor’s Month. Several of the line’s books indulged in goofy bits, such as Aunt May briefly becoming a herald of Galactus. One of the few books that remained serious was actually G.I. Joe #19, then reaching the end of a multi-issue story arc that ended in the deaths of four recurring characters (General Flagg, Dr. Venom, Scarface, and Kwinn). Avengers #239, however, was not so serious. A number of Avengers (that at the time, weren’t on the team) wind up on Letterman’s show. They face off against recurring comedic Avengers opponent of the time, The Mechano-Marauder, but the frequently failing felon is felled by Letterman himself. Dave fares much better here than he does in The Dark Knight Returns. There, parody version David Endochrine and his studio audience are murdered by The Joker. Remember, kids: comedy isn’t pretty. President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton: Though the Clintons (or characters closely resembling them) have appeared in a number of books, their most significant appearance probably came during the Death of Superman and Funeral for a Friend issues of 1992 and early 1993. The couple appeared to deliver a portion of Superman’s eulogy in Superman: The Man of Steel #20. And while the dialogue sounds like the pair, that is one incredibly unflattering representation of the First Lady. SNL: Branding is a funny thing. In Marvel Team-Up #74 (1978), Spidey met the cast of SNL; however, at the time, they were listed as (common cast nickname) The Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players. It’s also significant to note the NBC logo on the left-hand side. The Players represented in the issue were the cast at the time; it’s essentially the first cast (with Bill Murray replacing Chevy Chase, as he did at the outset of Season 2). Two of the more famous SNL characters of the era, Samurai (John Belushi’s take on Toshiro Mifune) and Emily Litella (nevermind!) get play on the cover, surrounded by the rest of the cast as themselves. Ronald Reagan: Reagan was all over comics in the ‘80s. He was definitely president in the DCU, and he could be seen in several regular titles and most of the post-Crisis crossovers. He had the biggest roles (in that regard) in Legends and Millennium (wherein Nancy was depicted as a Manhunter agent; she should have just said no). Reagan also has quite a bit to do in Dark Knight Returns, particularly the announcement of a pivotal nuclear attack. KISS: Aside from starring in some books of their own, the band has made a number of cameos over the years. They showed up in Howard the Duck #12 and 13 as a table-setter for the Marvel Super Special: Kiss #1 that would also be written by Steve Gerber. This one recounts an “origin” for the band, setting up the powers that they would also display in Kiss meets the Phantom of the Park. The boys even fight Dr. Doom along the way. Muhammad Ali: “The Greatest” met Superman in a 1978 special that, like many things from the ‘70s, probably seemed cool at the time and now seems very weird upon reflection. The plot has to do with Ali and Superman vying to represent Earth as champion for a battle with the respective champion of a threatening alien race. This particular race was The Scrubb, which was fine by Ali; if you recall, he ain’t got no quarrel with them Khunds. At any rate, Ali defeats an intentionally depowered Superman and goes of to fight the alien champ, but twists abound. Superman disguises himself as Bundini Brown (yeah, nothing uncomfortable there) at one point to run a counter-invasion plan. By the time that it’s all over, the heroes have defeated the invaders and provided a loose template for Space Jam. Those are just a few of the memorable celebrity moments from comics. Got any favorites? Any that make you tear your hair out? You know what they say: any comic where Superman meets Pat Boone is somebody’s favorite.
Celebrity Cameo Comics
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