Comic Book / Prez (2015)

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/prez_2015.jpg

Prez is a comic book series published by DC Comics. It debuted in 2015 as part of the DC YOU line, and was created by writer Mark Russell and artists Ben Caldwell and Mark Morales. It is a re-envisioning of the short-lived 1970s series of the same name.

The year is 2036, and America is dominated by vested corporate interests and shallow social media. Beth Ross is a teenager in a dead-end fast food job who, during her fifteen minutes of social media stardom ignited by a viral video, becomes a popular write-in candidate for the Presidential election. The two major parties' maneuverings to knock each other out of the race work a little too well, and to the horror of everyone, including Beth herself, Beth wins the election. Now she has to figure out how to steer America in a better direction while fending off attacks from Washington's entrenched political elite, led by Senator Thorn, and the nation's corporate string-pullers, led by the CEO of Smiley Industries.

The first six-issue miniseries ran from 2015-2016, with a trade paperback collection titled Prez: Corndog in Chief. A second miniseries was rescheduled several times before being canceled entirely.

This series contains examples of:

  • Author Tract: Though Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Automated Automobiles: The CEO of Pharmaduke is chauffeured around in a computer-controlled driverless car, which Drives Like Crazy.
  • Adaptation Expansion: This version goes into considerably more detail than the original about how, exactly, a teenager ends up President, and what kind of teenager might make a good job of it.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: The costume at the House of Corndogs features wear a hat shaped like a cartoon puppy adorned with notices like "Ask About Today's Specials!". In a subversion, Beth later admits that the puppy hat was the one thing about the job she actually liked.
  • Become a Real Boy: War Beast, an experimental military robot who eventually came to regret its existence as a killing machine. After some contemplation, it now identifies as a female named Tina.
  • Black Comedy
  • Bland-Name Product: "Sickstarter", a crowdfunding site specifically for people who can't afford their sky-high medical bills.
  • Burger Fool: Beth's job at the House of Corndogs, complete with humiliating hat shaped like a cartoon puppy.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The vending machine that can produce, almost instantly, any cut of meat you want from any animal it has the DNA for in its databank. Beth uses it to save the day when one of her friends has a heart failure with no compatible donor hearts available.
  • Crapsack World: Other than United States under corporations' control to the point where they can run for political office and turn poor people into billboards, half of the world is experiencing environmental collapse, conflicts (including United States' intervention), and having their refugees in United States turned into part of Human Zoo.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: In an early scene, Beth attends a history class at Paris Hilton Community College and makes some insightful comments about how the Roman Empire fell because of its own complacency, foreshadowing that as president she will be faced with a nation heading in the same direction.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Smiley and the other members of his cabal.
  • Cyber Punk: Pretty much have a hilarious take on its elements of Mega Corp., dysfunctional society, and Crapsack World. But Beth's administration might make it Post-Cyberpunk.
  • Decided by One Vote: The electoral college vote results in a tie between the two major party candidates (with Beth, the outsider candidate, winning a single state), so the election goes to a vote in Congress. As the result of the vote isn't final until one candidate gets a majority, one of the state delegations hits on the idea of casting its vote for Beth and seeing which of the major parties will offer a better deal to get them to change it. This tactic is rapidly adopted by other delegations, pushing up Beth's vote and briefly horrifying the political fixers with the prospect of a complete political unknown being elected accidentally, before the rise halts with Beth one vote short of the necessary majority. And then Delaware, having decided that neither of the major party candidates is particularly desirable, chooses to take a chance on the unknown and deliberately casts one more vote for Beth, ending the election with her as winner.
  • Eagleland: The entire nation becoming extreme Type 2 (Corrupt Corporate Executive, War for Fun and Profit, and Taco Drones) with Beth trying to make it more idealistic Type 1.
  • Fiction 500: How rich is reclusive trillionaire Fred Wayne? His corporate headquarters is Delaware. That's not a typo — he owns the entire state outright, and the only people who live there now are him and his employees and their families.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The American response to rising sea levels caused by global climate change is the Habitat Allowance for Lost Farmland And Sinking Shoreline — HALFASS.
  • Gender Flip: Male teenage president -> female teenage president.
  • "Have a Nice Day" Smile: The logo of Smiley Industries, and thus also the holographic mask worn by its CEO.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: TV anchor Amber Waves has a different bizarrely-high-maintenance hair style every time she appears.
  • In-Series Nickname: Since the viral video didn't identify her, Beth becomes internet-famous as "Corndog Girl".
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Beth's first step into fame comes when one of her co-workers uploads an embarrassing video of her and it goes viral.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: Smiley delivers a motivational speech to his employees rounded off with a burst of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World". Afterward he turns to an aide and points out how inappropriate the music choice is.
    Smiley: What's with the exit music? You ever listen to that song? It's all about death and crack-babies.
  • Kent Brockman News: Provided by news anchor/talk show host Amber Waves.
  • Meaningful Name: "Amber Waves" is a phrase from "America the Beautiful".
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Beth's vice president and political mentor is a congressman named Preston Rickard, who "was almost president once"; he's drawn to resemble an aged-up version of the original Prez.
    • Smiley was originally a corrupt political fixer who first noticed Prez when he developed a way to get his hometown's clocks running on time, and realized it was a fantastic gimmick for a candidacy; here, his company effectively "sells" time as an intangible commodity by making everything as cheaply and quickly as possible.
    • The headlines that scroll along the bottom of new broadcasts include numerous shout-outs to more famous DCU series.
    • The bible Beth is sworn in on at her inauguration is clearly visible as a copy of Mark Russell's Bible-inspired graphic novel God Is Disappointed in You.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Smiley heads a cabal called the Build-a-Burger Group.
    • The character Beth appoints as her science advisor is an expy of Neil deGrasse Tyson.
    • The guy she gets to be Secretary of State looks and talks suspiciously like Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever it was that made Congressman Rickard such a political pariah.
  • Playful Hacker: A group of anonymous hackers who are partly responsible for getting Beth on the ballot in the first place and later save her from an assassination attempt while playing around with the White House's security systems.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The strange behavior of the Delaware representative in issue 2 goes unexplained at the time, but gains a new signficance with the revelation a few issues later about Delaware's unique political situation.
  • Sequel Hook: The final issue of the first miniseries ends with Beth announcing to her team that, now they've got their feet under them, it's time to start getting proactive, and an enigmatic shot of a locked door in Fred Wayne's research lab.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Signs of Disrepair: A scene where a senator suffers the ill-effects of a dodgy law he helped pass prominently features an electronic sign that would say "Welcome to Hello Farms" if the light bulbs in the last half-dozen letters were working properly.
  • Surreal Symbolic Heads: In this version, Smiley is the avatar of a corporation that has been granted legal personhood, a man whose individual identity is hidden behind a holographic mask representing the corporation's logo. Several other such avatars appear in the series as well.
  • Take That!: Makes criticism to American Political System, Society, and even Foreign Policies.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Russell, in a recent interview, admitted he imagined this set up in a, back-then fictional, post-Trump America.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/Prez2015