We now return to the third installment of CHARACTER CHRONOLOGY, already in progress. In this feature, I go through the publication history of the obscure characters you demand to know. In this two parter, we’re covering the role 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan played in the DC Universe. When we last left off, Reagan had taken his most decisive action yet by declaring martial law and outlawing super heroics in the US. Fortunately, that all got sorted out by the end of the LEGENDS storyline… but Reagan was involved in the superhero community now, and there was no going back. And so, the last two years of Reagan’s tenure entail interaction with quite a lot of costumed individuals.
(Please note that for the purposes of this exercise I am omitting comics which fall outside of the DC Universe, such as MAD Magazine, The Shadow, or Doc Savage. However, appearances in alternate DC Universes are documented.)
THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #209-210: The Soviet Union introduces the Rocket Red Brigade to the world, their own homegrown squadron of superheroes. Reagan reacts to this by calling members of the Green Lantern Corps, stranded on Earth at the time, to see if they’ll fight for America in the event of a superhero arms race. Though the alien lanterns refuse to choose sides, Guy Gardner gets a little overzealous, and nearly turns the Cold War into World War III. ALL-STAR SQUADRON #66: In a Golden Age flashback story, Jonny Law, the original Tarantula, breaks up an attempted mob burglary of a war relief fundraising party in New York City, attended by the wealthiest and most famous people in America—including film star Ronald Reagan. SECRET ORIGINS #14: In a Suicide Squad origin story set immediately after the LEGENDS crossover, Amanda Waller appeals to President Reagan to authorize her proposal for Task Force X. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #7: Unsure of what to make of Maxwell Lord’s “Justice League International,” President Reagan calls on the one hero he can trust for his opinion: Superman. ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #431: President Reagan receives a ransom call from Doctor Stratos, a villain who holds the entire world hostage with his powers of weather manipulation. This looks like a job for… well, you know. ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1: When the citizens of Trudeau, South Dakota all go missing, President Reagan calls Superman in to investigate—though not before getting an earful from Sarge Steel about Reagan relying on him too heavily. YOUNG ALL-STARS #4: In a Golden Age flashback story, the Young All-Stars perform at a war bond rally with celebrity actor and enlisted Second Lieutenant Ronald Reagan. WONDER WOMAN #8: Diana apparently patches things up with President Reagan, shaking hands with him at a photo op. THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #63: When Firestorm issues an ultimatum to the world to disarm their nuclear weapons or he’ll do it for them, Reagan calls Superman in to intervene. And for the first time, Superman turns a request from President Reagan down. (That same year, Superman himself would call for an end to nuclear war in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.) And so, the president is forced to go with his next best option to rein Firestorm in: Captain Atom. THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #63: And when that doesn’t work, he sends out the Suicide Squad. FIRESTORM ANNUAL #5: And when THAT doesn’t work, he authorizes the firing of a nuclear warhead at Firestorm himself. THE FLASH #4: President Reagan teleconferences into a strategy meeting to discuss Kilg%re, a sentient computer virus which threatens to spread to all technology on Earth. The Flash is in attendance, and saves Reagan’s advisors from an attack by Kilg%re himself. DOCTOR FATE #3: Anti-Fate, an agent of the Lords of Chaos, pushes key figures around the world into increasing the amount of chaos on Earth—President Reagan included. THE PHANTOM STRANGER #1-4: Eclipso goads President Reagan and other American and Soviet figureheads ever further into full-on nuclear war, and only the Phantom Stranger can stop him. BATMAN—SON OF THE DEMON: President Reagan receives a call of warning from Mikhail Gorbachev when Ra’s al Ghul takes control of an experimental American weather satellite. ~~~1988~~~ MILLENNIUM: When distrust sweeps the world as heroes and their allies are replaced by villainous Manhunter duplicates, President Reagan addresses the nation, warning them to not be fooled as they were two years ago by G. Gordon Godfrey in LEGENDS… but things get personal when Nancy Reagan reveals herself as a Manhunter duplicate. DOOM PATROL/SUICIDE SQUAD SPECIAL #1: When Hawk is caught running weapons to Nicaraguan contras, President Reagan sends Task Force X to quietly retrieve him—or, failing that, to execute him. PEACEMAKER #4: With the world’s attention on a summit between President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev regarding the Berlin Wall, the villainous Dr. Tzin-Tzin makes his move to gain a foothold of power in Europe. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #13: When Rick Flag takes the Suicide Squad on an unauthorized mission to the Soviet Union, Waller convinces President Reagan to dispatch the Justice League International to intercept them. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #14: Lord Manga Khan makes first contact with Earth. Reagan is mostly annoyed that he interrupted his football game. BATMAN #420: On a rare presidential visit to Gotham City, Batman and Jason Todd foil an attempt by KGBeast to assassinate Ronald Reagan. SUICIDE SQUAD #14: When Senator Cray learns of the existence of Task Force X, President Reagan calls Amanda Waller in and delivers Cray’s ultimatum: help him get re-elected, or he publicizes the Suicide Squad. ACTION COMICS #609, 611-612, 620: Reagan’s final DC appearance as president occurs in the Deadman stories during the year Action Comics was rebranded as a weekly anthology… and it’s a doozy. When the biblical Satan takes possession of Russian Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev, Deadman has no choice but to combat him by taking direct control of President Ronald Reagan. This is comics. ~~~POST-PRESIDENCY~~~ CHRONOS #9 (1998): The time traveling Chronos returns to an accidentally altered 1998 where the Cold War turned to direct conflict between America and the Soviet Union, and both nations were devastated. In this timeline, Ronald Reagan is still President and makes rare public appearances from his underground bunker, and rumors abound that he suffers from Alzheimer’s. BEFORE WATCHMEN: DOCTOR MANHATTAN #2 (2012): Timelines and probabilities fracture apart from each other before Doctor Manhattan’s omniscient eyes, including a world where Reagan served as President during the events of Watchmen as opposed to a perennially re-elected Richard Nixon.
And that’s a wrap on Ronald Reagan in the DCU! A man who trusted Superman, his First Lady, and few others, who made overtures of peace towards his enemies but always remained wary of them, and always did his best to do right by America—as long as the game wasn’t on.
[Which obscure characters would you like profiled? Sound off below, and they may just be the next feature!]