Cover to Ultimate Comics: Ulimates 15, in which Captain America becomes President of the United States. (Marvel)
(USA Today) -- Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have a new candidate entering the fray, and this guy is more likely to stomp a villain than go on the stump.
In Marvel Comics' Ultimate Comics: Ultimates issue 15 (out Wednesday), Captain America is elected president of the United States through write-in vote, and in No. 16 next week, the soldier formerly known as Steve Rogers begins to piece back an America torn apart by civil war.
"Cap's been around since 1941. We're not the first people to talk about making him president," says Ultimates writer Sam Humphries. "There are a lot of good reasons not to do this, and as we had this discussion, we figured out a lot of great reasons to make this story happen for the first time in the life of Captain America."
The timing couldn't be better in real life -- since there's our own presidential election coming up Nov. 6 -- or in Marvel's Ultimate Universe.
The "Divided We Fall" story line has thrown the USA into complete chaos, with anti-government militias all over the country, the Southwest ruled by mutant-killing Sentinels and Silicon Valley bigwigs breaking the West Coast off into its own nation.
The political system is also in disarray, with the president dying during the decimation of Washington, D.C., and the person next in line for succession proving to not be the right man for the job.
With America at a crossroads and a presidential recall election to find a new leader, the population sees Captain America as a viable candidate when saving the day alongside the Ultimates, the Ultimate collective of Iron Man, Thor and the rest of the Avengers.
The superhero has always heeded the call of duty, going back to his very beginnings as a scrawny military wannabe who becomes America's great hope in World War II with a shot of some nifty super-soldier serum.
Humphries' Cap, though, is a bit of a throwback to the late Mark Gruenwald's Cap of the 1980s, when he was stripped of his shield by the government but still fought evil as the Captain.
That original Marvel Universe version of the character is fighting the good fight and not as the leader of the free world, but being different is the mandate for the Ultimate Universe, Humphries says.
"We're going to tell stories with these iconic characters that you can't do in the regular Marvel Universe or the movies or the TV shows or the video games or the cartoons. President Cap is a perfect example of this."
While Cap didn't campaign for the job or hold fundraisers and doesn't see himself as a politician at all, he sees this new position as the best way to get the job done and bring unity back to the country.
And during a political season where presidential candidates talk more than anything else, it's almost wish fulfillment to watch Cap tell off a senator, hop in a jet plane and go fight the good fight as a man-of-action commander in chief.
"He's going to do whatever it takes," Humphries says. "If that means doing things we've never seen a president do before, then he's absolutely going to go for it."
With a new president comes a stirring acceptance speech, and for Cap's in Ultimates issue 16, Humphries wanted to take the tone that this was not a political moment but a turning point for America. So instead of researching campaign rhetoric, the writer looked at speeches that addressed moments in American history such as 9/11 or deaths of significant figures.
The biggest inspiration, though, actually came from a personal place for the Ultimates writer.
Cap's memorable line of "Don't ask for challenges equal to your strengths, but ask for strengths equal to your challenges" is something Humphries' grandmother used to say a lot when he was growing up, he says, "and it's something I always remember when I face challenges, whether it's picking up the Ultimates or a challenge in my life."
Ultimates issue 18 ends the "United We Stand" story line that kicks off with Cap's inauguration, but don't expect him to leave office. The aftermath of huge moments tend to be long term in the Ultimate Universe, Humphries says, and he likes that challenge that comes with them, like how former writer Jonathan Hickman passed the book to him and blew up Washington in his final issue.
"The first page of the next issue, we didn't show Thor and Hulk helping to lift girders to rebuild the Capitol building. We showed the consequences of these events, and Captain America as president is no different," Humphries says.
"He's not just going to step down after an issue and a half. We're really going to see what it means to Cap, to the Ultimates and to America to have Cap as president."