Just say no – Reagan’s Raiders #1
Ronald Reagan is the first President that I can remember. I was born when Jimmy Carter was in office, but it wasn’t his toothy grin that first seared itself into my little consciousness. No, it was Reagan’s dark helmet of hair that I remember first, the gleaming coif that told the Soviet leadership This guy isn’t fucking around and started the process that tore down that wall. I’m trying to not mix any politics into this thing (though that’s kind of hard in a post like this one, I admit), but I have a lot of fond memories of the guy, and I was saddened by the living death he suffered for many years at the hands of the dread demon Alzheimer’s. The stories one would read were terrible, like the former leader of the free world looking into a fish tank in the reception area of his post-Presidential office, seeing a small version of the White House placed in it for decoration, and pointing at it and saying “I remember a place like that…” Or the Secret Service agent that was detailed to spread leaves in the swimming pool so an absent-minded Reagan could skim them up, never noticing the man that was replenishing the supply that kept him happy and occupied. Those are the sorts of things to soften the enmities of even his most ardent political foes.
One of my grandmothers had Alzheimer’s. It’s a bitch.
Anyway. Moving on…
Reagan was a ripe target for satire during his years in office. His long time in the public eye, his old, successful — but corny — film career and his never-failing polish made him easy pickings, even beyond the usual shellackings U.S. Presidents take. Because of Reagan’s general likability much of it was good-natured, but even the less friendly roasts were fun. Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury, no bastion of conservative Republican thought, took aim in a way that was highly entertaining, fusing Reagan with the ’80s icon Max Headroom to create the amalgam know as “Ron Headrest.” Even when cartoonists were sniping like this, Ronnie somehow managed to come out okay (much to the chagrin of those who wanted to take a bite out of him). The teflon President indeed.
That even applies to comic book parodies, including perhaps this one, which I had no idea even existed until I stumbled across it in a dollar bin. A muscled up Reagan dressed like Captain America, firing a machine gun and wearing a John Rambo style headband?
Where do I sign up?
I was really hoping for some X-Presidents style action, like this:
No such luck. This comic book, sadly, is terrible from the word go.
It starts out as you’d expect, with Reagan bemoaning the rise of terrorism, which in this book is backed by some half-ass Masters of Evil knockoff. The Gipper decides to take matters into his own hands, and to that end lets himself undergo an experimental procedure to make him a scourge to all evil-doers. Here he is getting zapped, watched by his two predecessors:
It’s all downhill from there, folks.
What follows is a bewilderingly bad adventure, as Reagan and his super-powered Cabinet (yes, Caspar Weinberger, George Schultz et al. also underwent the treatment) stop their foes from assaulting nuclear facilities. This book doesn’t know what it wants to be, and it fails at everything it might try to be, know what I mean? There’s no political commentary, there’s no bite, Reagan is neither mocked nor deified, the plot is scatterbrained and nonexistent, and the humor, well, the humor, if you can call it that, is a lot like this:
Poor Dick Ayers pencilled this thing, and maybe he was happy for the work, but I can’t fathom that he was thrilled with the content. The black and white art is pretty dodgy at times, so it’s very possible that he couldn’t have cared less about the finished product (Rick Buckler also contributed). He did manage to insert a familiar (though unnamed in the book) face into these dismal proceedings, perhaps a momento from happier, more fulfilling times:
I know, the eye-patch is on the wrong side. So sue me.
I looked for the name of the scripter for this book, and never having heard of Monroe Arnold before, resolved to find out more about the person who threw this flaming bag of crap onto the world’s doorstep. I didn’t have to look far, because there was a handy dandy mini-bio included on the inside cover:
Well, this certainly reads like a first-time effort.
Considering the source, I shouldn’t be crestfallen about the many-leveled failure of this book. The company that published it, Solson Publications, wasn’t exactly known as a purveyor of quality storytelling. They were the direct-to-video of comics. Dreck. Raiders only had two more issues, but that almost made it the Methuselah of their line.
I have a feeling it’ll be equally as disappointing as Reagan’s Raiders, but someday I’ll have to get my hands on The Texas Chainsaw Samurai. Leatherface in traditional Japanese garb certainly seems a worthy successor to Reagan-as-Rambo. It couldn’t be any worse.