Welcome back to CHARACTER CHRONOLOGY, a feature where I detail the publication history of the obscure characters you demand to know more about In honor of one of our most active posters, Reaganfan78, I’ve decided to dedicate my third edition to the 40th President of the United States of America, Mr. Ronald Wilson Reagan. Believe it or not, President Reagan has been more prolific in his activity through the DC Universe than either of my previous featured characters, so I’m breaking this overview into two installments. Part 1 covers Reagan’s appearances up through 1986, the year he played his two most crucial roles in DC history.
(Please note: I’ve omitted the many, many appearances Ronald Reagan has made in MAD Magazine as a public and political figure. MAD may fall under the DC umbrella, but it exists in a space apart.)
[And remember: if there’s an obscure character you’d like a chronology for, let me know below!]
MISS BEVERLY HILLS OF HOLLYWOOD #8: Ronald Reagan’s first appearance in the DC Universe actually came 30 years before he was elected president! At the tail end of the Golden Age of Comics, “celebrity comics” were a popular niche at the stands - comic book stories featuring real people you knew from film and television, like Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, and many others. “Miss Beverly Hills,” was unique in the genre in that its main character was not a real person, but regularly interacted with Hollywood stars in pursuit of attaining that status for herself. The series only lasted for 9 issues, but it just so happened to overlap with Ronald Reagan’s own career as an actor before entering the field of politics. Also featured in Miss Beverly Hills #8 was Donna Reed of It’s A Wonderful Life, Nancy Olson of Sunset Boulevard, film noir starlet Lizabeth Scott, and Gordon MacRae of Oklahoma! ~~~1981~~~ ACTION COMICS #526: Reagan’s first act as president in the DC Universe is to attend a lavish party in Metropolis thrown by media mogul Morgan Edge—one which is interrupted by the nuclear super villain Neutron, whose attempt to destroy Metropolis is thwarted by Superman. Reagan heaps the praise onto Superman for his heroism, and as far as we know, this is the moment Reagan’s friendship with Superman begins. WONDER WOMAN #290: Ronald and Nancy Reagan appear as spectators to a battle in the air as Wonder Woman barely prevents the Invisible Jet from crashing into the White House, as commandeered by Silver Swan and a Doctor Psycho-controlled Steve Trevor. His opinions on Diana for the ruckus she nearly failed to prevent are not quite as kind as his feelings towards Superman. ~~~1982~~~ JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #208: Reagan must have been shaken by his near meeting with Wonder Woman, as he takes no meetings with the Super-Community this year. He only comes up when Superman tells the JSA of the 1940s that in 40 years, “humanity will have achieved things this age would consider fantasy. Rockets to the moon… skyscrapers more than a hundred stories high… space stations in orbit… and an actor elected president.” ~~~1983~~~ SUPERMAN #387 & ACTION COMICS #547: The Planeteer, an 80s Superman villain who believed himself to be Alexander the Great, captures the world’s leaders as they sat down together for peace talks in order to lure Superman into a trap so he can siphon his power—including Leonid Brezhnev, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Indira Gandhi, and Ronald Reagan. Throughout the ordeal, Reagan never loses faith that Superman will win the day. DC COMICS PRESENTS #62: In a very special Independence Day adventure, a cell of Neo-Nazis steal the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to sap the American spirit. Luckily, Superman teams up with Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters to recover them just in time for President Reagan to close a crucial cold war negotiation with the Soviet Union. ~~~1984~~~ JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #228-230: Reagan’s second term begins on an eventful note in this three part storyline. Earth faces an invasion by The Marshal, leader of a Martian militia. Aquaman appears at the White House to coordinate efforts to defend Earth with the United States, though President Reagan is disappointed that the League’s heavy hitters- namely Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern- are unavailable during this crisis. Still, Reagan admirably puts the Cold War on hold as he reaches out to the Soviet Union for an armistice while they work together to fight back against the Martian invaders. BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #14-15: At the 1984 Olympic Games, President Reagan appears to light the torch at the opening ceremonies, only to be taken hostage by Maxie Zeus. Batman negotiates his release, in exchange for an Olympic competition between his New Olympians and Batman’s Outsiders. As the games begin, Reagan speaks briefly with Batman, asking him for Batman’s word that he will shed as little blood as possible to resolve this crisis. ~~~1985~~~ THE NEW TEEN TITANS #9: Carl Vesper, a new Presidential aide, is seen winning Reagan’s approval even as we learn he’s an agent planted there by Thia, one of the Titans of Myth. DC COMICS PRESENTS ANNUAL #4: Kristin Wells, the Superwoman of the 29th Century, returns to her era after spending some time in the age of the original Superman. There, she relays the adventures she had 900 years in the past, which include a meeting with Ronald Reagan. ~~~1986~~~ BATMAN - THE DARK KNIGHT: Frank Miller’s take on the DC Universe features a Superman at President Reagan’s beck and call, sending the Man of Steel to intercede when Russian troops invade Corto Maltese. In the series climax, Reagan sees the return of Batman as an emergent security risk, and sends Superman to put him back into retirement by any means necessary. BOOSTER GOLD #8-9: This flashback two-parter depicts Booster Gold’s arrival in the 20th century, where he first attempts to make a name for himself by foiling an assassination attempt on President Reagan. Unfortunately for him, the Legion of Super-Heroes appear to foil the very same assassination, and mistake Booster for the assassin. LEGENDS: In this mega-crossover event, Darkseid manipulates events which lead to widespread anti-superhero panic, forcing President Reagan to declare martial law and ban all superhero activity in the United States.
Coming in Part 2: the aftermath of President Reagan’s actions in LEGENDS, his role in the MILLENNIUM crossover, the remainder of his second term and beyond!