| Civic avengers create the Markeyverse. |
Comic books have always been political, and politics have always been comical, but there seems to be a new trend in campaign communication inspired by graphic novels, comic books, and superhero media.
Some of these rhetorical moves are discussed in Politics in the Gutters, such as Donald Trump's 2016 campaign being compared to a comic book villain's story.
The use of campaign comic books in the 1940s-1960s is also discussed, particularly The Story of Harry S. Truman. And there is a brief look at the campaign literature created by 2019 New York State Assembly candidate Keith Batman.
There is also discussion of Jaime Harrison's campaign ad "Character" in his bid for U.S. Senate.
More recently, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Ed Markey got into the superhero game when Students for Markey started a 2020 social media campaign of "#MARKEYVERSE: EdGame."
Students for Markey generated a campaign video inspired by the opening visual of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The #MARKEYVERSE effectively became a campaign hashtag, a descriptor of the ticket, and a call to action. In Marvel's Avengers, the tagline is "Avengers, assemble," and Students for Markey used the Markeyverse imagery to ask voters, volunteers, and supporters to also assemble.
The theme subsequently sparked superhero memes and threads on Twitter, such as a comparison of Markey to Captain America.
Harrison's "Character" ad and Markey's role as Captain America in the Markeyverse are notable in their ascription of superheroic qualities to the office of Senator. (The same might be said of Batman's campaign, except that the analogy existed only because of his name.) American presidents have long taken on the aura, if not the actual cape, of superheroes as part of the American monomyth. (Just check out a super-Ronald Reagan as one vivid example.)
Lesser offices have not traditionally carried the same mythical status - unless we include Oliver Queen'/the Green Arrow's brief stint as mayor of Star City in DC Comics media, which given the ignominious end to his term does not bode well for the legend of Harrison or Markey.
Read more about the blending of superheroics and politics in Politics in the Gutters, which will be available for pre-sale at the discounted price of $20.21 November 30-December 15, 2020.
~Christina M. Knopf
22 November 2020