By Karen Workman
New York Times
The latest Justin Trudeau moment delighting people around the world is not even one he is responsible for: Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, is on the cover of a Marvel comic book.
Is he also in a boxing ring? Check. Does his tank top feature a maple leaf? Yes. Are there any illustrations of him shirtless? No. The artist scrapped the original drafts after concerns that Trudeau’s bare chest might be too risqué.
The comic also lacks any depictions of Trudeau balancing babies on his hands, a real-life super power (OK, that’s a stretch) that he has deployed on the campaign trail.
Although his likeness can be found only on the variant cover of “Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5” available in comic book shops, the prime minister is an integral part of the story. He did not officially endorse the issue, said Chip Zdarsky, the author who wrote the storyline.
But Zdarsky, who is based in Toronto, said in an interview Wednesday that a spokeswoman in Trudeau’s office told him that it wouldn’t stand in his way, either.
If the office’s policy is to take the same view toward the prime minister’s other recent escapades, it would appear to be working. One might even argue he has become a sort of king among memes.
Maybe it began with photos from his boxing career — much weight is given, after all, to a boxing match that pitted him against a Conservative senator in 2012.
“The moment he won that match, I think everyone in the room realized he was going to become prime minister,” said Zdarsky, who said he was working for a newspaper at the time. “It was that moment where he was kind of cemented as a winner.”
The meme-able moments certainly did not end when he took off his gloves.
The Washington Post declared that “The internet already loves Justin Trudeau” the day after he was elected in 2015. Then, an update in April: “The Internet’s love of Justin Trudeau knows no bounds.”
The media coverage of his shirtless hike in August — during which he took a selfie with a child — was well received. A few days later, a photographer captured him (shirtless, again) accidentally photo-bombing a beach wedding. That went over pretty well.
A video of Trudeau explaining quantum computing went viral. About a month before that, he shared photographs of himself holding two panda cubs. The internet went wild.
A few days after the panda photos, dreams of a bromance between Trudeau and President Barack Obama were sparked by the Canadian leader’s visit to the White House. Photos of Trudeau do not even have to be new to go viral: A 2011 image of him doing the peacock pose in Parliament keeps cropping up.
Trudeau may be inadvertently following in the footsteps of his father, Pierre Trudeau, a former Canadian prime minister. The photo of the younger man in a yoga pose evoked memories of the elder Trudeau, who was captured in the same pose in 1970.
Justin Trudeau told The Vancouver Sun that his father, who died in 2000, had taught him the trick about how to balance babies on his hand. And his father was also featured in a Marvel comic.
“That’s what also kind of inspired this,” said Zdarsky, who pitched the idea of including Trudeau to Marvel.
In the 1979 issue that features Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau is partly credited with founding a team of Canadian superheroes called the Alpha Flight squad, Zdarsky said. The new storyline features the team seeking the younger Trudeau’s advice.
While the Marvel comic was hitting stores and lighting up the internet Wednesday, Trudeau was in Beijing meeting with President Xi Jinping.
Politics, after all, isn’t all fun and memes.