I was about to title this story, “The Original Superheroes,” but then I nearly puked a bald eagle from too much patriotism, so there you go. In any case, you may not know it, but The Founding Fathers have appeared in comic books multiple times, from simple guest appearances, to full on major roles. Here’s some of our favorite for your July Fourth pleasure, broken down by FF. That’s Founding Father, not Fantastic Four, by the way. You nerds:
I cannot tell a lie: the first President is also first when it comes to four-color guest appearances. One of the most recent was INCREDIBLE HERCULES #124, where Mr. Wooden Teeth himself is shocked to see the Greek God Atlas holding up the world, at the dedication ceremony for Washington D.C. But our favorite is probably SUPERBOY #75, which features an amazingly un-PC cover with Pa Kent trying to spank Superboy with a brush – and failing miserably.
Inside, though, one of the stories, by Otto Binder, is titled “How Krypto Made History,” and features Superman’s best canine friend traveling back in time to get a yummy bone. He keeps missing the mark, though: first helping Babe Ruth make his record breaking 60th home run; then helping King Arthur pull the sword from the stone; and more pertinently, helping Washington cross the Delaware, by taking out hidden anti-revolutionary soldiers with his heat ray. I guess that explains why Washington is holding dog treats in his hand, in that famous painting. You know the one.
Franklin is almost as popular as Washington, appearing in a bunch of comic books, including something called TIME LINCOLN, which sounds great on title alone. He also appears in the slightly more boring sounding (though actually pretty good) look at American history through the eyes of Steve Rogers, CAPTAIN AMERICA THEATER OF WAR: GHOSTS OF MY COUNTRY #1. But his most significant appearance is probably way back in 1966’s THE ATOM #27.
In a story titled “Stowaway in a Hot-Air Balloon,” the tiny titular superhero gets sent back in time to 1783, in France. There, he finds Ben Franklin, and prevents him from ever getting syphilis. Just kidding, he still gets syphilis. But The Atom does foil an assassination attempt on Franklin’s life, as well as aiding the invention of the Hot Air Balloon, AND stealing a pair of Franklin’s glasses. Which explains why Franklin was, after that, nicknamed Benjamin “Bumpin’ Into Stuff” Franklin.
Nothing against him, but the slightly less memorable Jefferson (except for the whole “kids with his slaves” thing, which doesn’t really lend itself to superhero comics) hasn’t made quite as many appearances as Washington and Franklin. He did show up in ACTION COMICS #463, which found Superman punched back in time by a villain named Karb-Brak, working as a reporter for Ben Franklin. There’s also the Jim Salicrup scripted SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #17, which found Jefferson going up against Avengers villain Kang The Conqueror.
But his most significant comics appearance proves we’re horrible liars, because its Action Philosophers #2, where Jefferson’s slave lovin’ days are even featured on the cover. The hilarious, erudite comic series that puts philosophy in graphic form explored just what was behind Jefferson’s decisions throughout life. Plus, so butt kickin’, because the story is as much “action” as it is “philosophers.”
So there you go! For the most part, John Adams, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton appear in many of the same comics as the above – slightly more famous and interesting – Founding Fathers. Now go track those comics down, and have a Geeky July Fourth!