At the offices of Valiant Comics in New York, editors and writers were trying to come up with a way to honor the upcoming historic 2016 presidential election. Because Faith is a breakout hit character and their most popular female superhero, and Clinton is the first female major-party nominee for president, a meeting between the two seemed like a natural collaboration.
But comic books have brought together politicians and superheroes many times before. Presidents Richard Nixon and George W. Bush have both appeared in comic books featuring Captain America, and President Barack Obama once made the cover of an Amazing Spider-Man issue.
“Voting is important. Society picking a new leader is something to celebrate,” Faith editor Tom Brennan told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “This is a historic candidacy with Clinton and we just thought, [this is] something comics [have] done many times before and with [Valiant] starting to come into our own as a company, we wanted to join that proud tradition.”
Three collaborative teams will contribute to the forthcoming issue: Writer Jody Houser and artist Meghan Hetrick will handle the main storyline that continues from the first four issues of Faith; a prelude tale for the upcoming Valiant comic book Harbinger Renegades will be written by Rafer Roberts; and the Clinton story will be illustrated by Pere Perez and written by comic-book industry veteran Louise Simonson, who co-created the X-Men villain Apocalypse at Marvel and was one of the main writers at DC Comics during the “Death of Superman” storyline of the early 1990s.
Brennan says Simonson was the first writer that came to mind when Valiant began plotting the special election issue.
“It’s easy when these things happen that they kind of become sort of like those old Scooby-Doo cartoons where you’re like ‘Don Knotts? What are you doing walking down the road at night?’ We don’t want to do that,” Brennan said regarding Clinton’s upcoming appearance. “Louise [Simonson], despite her modesty, is one of the truly great comic-book creators and an icon in this industry. But she’s also someone who knows how to tell a good story. She can take this idea and give it something worth our readers’ time.”
This won’t be the first time Simonson has overseen Clinton in a comic book. In 1993, Simonson wrote Superman: Man of Steel No. 20, an issue that featured the funeral for Superman after his highly publicized death. President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton appeared in the issue to speak at Superman’s funeral. Simonson, who will be writing for Valiant for the first time with this project, says she was “thrilled” when she was asked if she’d like to bring Hillary Clinton to the Valiant universe to meet Faith.
“[Faith] is so positive and she’s very much what I think a hero should be,” Simonson said. “I wrote Superman for a while and — she’s almost in her soul, she is like the female Superman. [Writer] Jody’s work is wonderful on this book, but I was glad they would let me play just a little bit in this particular sandbox.”
Since Valiant’s return to comics — they debuted in 1990, stopped production in 2000 and then returned in 2012 — Faith has risen in popularity, in part because of her appeal to everyday comic-book fans. Faith is a sci-fi fan who loves superheroes, who was able to become a hero herself. She juggles her super-powers with her daily life as a writer for a news and entertainment blog. Brennan revealed that it will be through her job as a writer that Faith comes into contact with Clinton. Originally created in 1992 by Jim Shooter and David Lapham, Faith recently debuted in a four-issue mini-series in January. The first issue of her ongoing monthly series will debut July 20.
Simonson says she looks forward to working on Faith because of the character’s strong ethics. Faith is the type of hero with “a strong sense of right and wrong and the courage to act on it,” she said.
But the most fun part of the challenge for Simonson will be coming up with the dialogue for Clinton.
“Honestly, how many people get to put words in Hillary’s mouth?” Simonson said.
Both Simonson and Brennan told Comic Riffs that the goal of this upcoming November comic book isn’t to get people to vote for one candidate over another, but to instead bring attention to the importance of the process of electing world leaders.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in comics with people with all kinds of political beliefs. Some of the best friends I’ve made in this industry are people I probably disagree with the most [on politics],” said Brennan. “We’re very sensitive doing a story like this. The goal is not to tell people who to vote for, but to get out and vote.”