Spider-Man celebrates Obama as "nerd-in-chief"

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Barack Obama will be “nerd-in-chief” when he takes office as U.S. president this month, according to Marvel Comics, which is putting him on the cover of its next “Spider-Man” comic.

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The special edition of the weekly Spider-Man comic features a six-page story about the superhero saving the day when an imposter tries to take Obama’s place as president. It is due to hit newsstands next Wednesday.

Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada said the idea for the “Spidey meets the President!” edition came from a statement from Obama’s campaign listing 10 little known facts about the Democrat who will be America’s first black president.

“Right at the top of that list was he collected Spider-Man comics,” Quesada told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

“I was inundated with tons of fan mail saying ‘Have you read this?’” Quesada said. “I was just floored, absolutely floored, to find out that the future commander-in-chief was actually going to be the future nerd-in-chief.”

Excitement about Obama’s election has already fueled a boom in memorabilia, from posters to front pages of November 5 newspapers announcing his victory. The Spider-Man edition, likely to become an instant collectors’ item, features Obama on the cover, smiling and giving a thumbs-up.

Spidey hangs upside down behind him whispering in his ear: “Hey, if you get to be on my cover, can I be on the dollar bill?”

The story is set on January 20 in Washington, where Spidey’s alter ego, Peter Parker, is on assignment as a photographer covering Inauguration Day.

When an imposter turns up, Spider-Man leaps into action, greeting Obama with the words: “Hiya, prez-elect! Loved ya in the debates.”

Quesada declined to specify how many copies of the Obama issue would be printed but said it was probably slightly higher than usual. “Spider-Man tends to sell out anyway on a regular basis,” he said.

Quesada said that since the stories are set in the real world, there is a long history of presidents appearing in Spider-Man comics, from Franklin D. Roosevelt through to George W. Bush, who has appeared on several occasions.

But Obama has the honor sooner than most because he made a point of saying he was a fan, Quesada said. “We thought ‘He gave us a shout out, let’s give him a shout back.’”

Obama told Entertainment Weekly magazine in August that his favorite superheroes were Spider-Man and Batman because “they have some inner turmoil.”

Quesada has his own theory.

“I think one of the reasons why Obama would be a huge Spider-Man fan is probably because of the mantra by which he lives, ... that with great power there must also come great responsibility,” he said.

“As president of the United States, I think that’s a credo that he should live by.”

Writing by Claudia Parsons, editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman