BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
During the Republican Party primaries, when Donald Trump skipped a debate to hold a fundraiser for veterans, one of the mega-wealthy people he touted from the stage that evening was Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, the CEO of Marvel Comics, and a big Trump supporter, who had given one-million dollars. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m guessing that Perlmutter may not have been aware that a few months later, Marvel would introduce a new villain to the world; M.O.D.A.A.K. aka Mental Organism Designed As America's King, a thinly disguised version of Trump.
According to The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, in this year’s Spider-Gwen Annual #1, released in late-June, Marvel Comics “officially turned Donald Trump into a supervillain — a xenophobic, orange-haired, Captain-America-hating supervillain who is obsessed with the quality of his hands."
Esquire’s Peter Wade pointed out that “The horrifying monster … shout[s] xenophobic things at innocent people, telling them to get ‘back on your feet, foreign filth!’"
“But have no fear,” Wade notes, “Captain America soon appears to deliver a knock-out punch to Trump-MODAAK and saves America from certain doom, as the monster mutters a final, ‘Must make America—‘ and is destroyed.”
Entertainment Weekly reported that “The character was once known as technician George Tarleton, but he was subjected to horrifying experiments that transformed him into a big-headed being. In the alternate world of Spider-Gwen Annual #1, where Peter Parker’s girlfriend Gwen Stacey was the one bitten by a radioactive spider, Modok too gets an alternate spin.”
(Spider-Gwen Annual, is described by Suebsaeng as “an alternate-reality series that features a black female Captain America as a hero.”)
The creator of M.O.D.A.A.K. is Jason Latour. And while Latour didn’t initially respond to The Daily Beast’s inquiries, he has not been shy about distaste for Trump. Suebsaeng pointed out that Latour’s Twitter feed “over the past year,” seemed to indicate that “his new character could be coming from a place of genuine political outrage at a figure he has called ‘a goddamn idiot’ who he wishes ‘didn’t exist.’”
Some of Latour’s tweets:
In May he tweeted: “Sometimes I stare at the ceiling & ponder what my job in Trump’s detainment camp for Great American traitors will be? Hope I’m not on steaks.” And: “And now I return to a world where Trump is the [GOP] nominee,” Latour also tweeted that month. “Captain America fought the wrong loud mouth billionaire.”
In February he tweeted: “Can we just build a wall around Trump?”
Isaac Perlmutter, the “mystery man” behind Marvel
Earlier this year, The Daily Beast’s Suebsaeng characterized Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter, as a “mystery mogul” who doesn’t give interviews, and he suggested that Perlmutter was “One of the most feared and secretive men in Hollywood—routinely described by employees and observers as a ‘tyrant.’”
In 1989, Perlmutter succeeded in getting “control of Marvel from Ron Perelman and Carl Icahn (another Trump buddy),” and greatly enhanced in financial viability. According to Suebsaeng, “Perlmutter was behind the $4 billion Disney-Marvel acquisition deal in 2009. Forbes called him the ‘man behind some of the hottest movies in the past decade’ (The Avengers, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy), and elsewhere he has been dubbed one of a handful of people who ‘secretly rule the world.’”
“He certainly is feared,” Sean Howe, author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, told The Daily Beast. “He has cultivated this aura of mystery ... He’s intimidating. The idea that this company is really run by someone who has never been photographed with a smile on his face, that really stands out. He’s kind of a looming shadow. There’s not a lot that’s known about him, even to people who have firsthand stories about him.”
Over the years, Trump has been spoofed and satirized, and has been an easy target for late night television talk show hosts, stand-up comedians, political cartoonists and satirists. In 1989, Robert Crumb took on Trump in a series of searing panels. These days, with Trump heading up the GOP’s presidential ticket, the stakes are much greater.
Perlmutter’s donation to Trump’s veterans fundraiser, and his wife Laura’s $2 million to Conservative Solutions PAC, a pro-Rubio super PAC, has raised questions about whether the money was coming from their private fortune or from sales of Marvel comics. When you buy Marvel-connected work, are you also contributing to Trump?
“A lot of readers were concerned that this was a sort of Chick-fil-A scenario,” Marvel freelancer G. Willow Wilson told The Daily Beast. “In this particular case, since Perlmutter was publicly linked to Marvel [by Trump] ... it sort of raised a lot of fears in the minds of readers about it being very difficult to disentangle the connection between art, politics, and money.”
The Trump campaign has not responded to Marvel’s new villain; not even a single Trump tweet!