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Comic Book / Prez (1973)

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Prez is a comic book series published by DC Comics. It was created by writer Joe Simon and artist Jerry Grandenetti, and debuted in 1973; it ran for four issues (and one crossover in the tenth issue of Supergirl (Vol 1)) before being cancelled.

Prez imagined a world in which the then-recent lowering of the minimum voting age results in a motivated population of youth voters who elect eighteen-year-old Prez Rickard the first teenaged President of the United States. He populates the Cabinet with his family and friends, appoints a Noble Savage to head the FBI, and combats a variety of menaces, including Boss Smiley, the corrupt political manipulator who got Prez into politics in the first place in an attempt to capture the youth vote, only for Prez to turn against him on realizing his true nature.

The premise kept the series from being regarded as part of the main DC Universe (Supergirl crossover notwithstanding), which limited Prez's chance of a return appearance, but the series got a number of nods over subsequent years. The best-known — probably more familiar to many readers than even the original series — is "The Golden Boy", the fourth part of the World’s End arc of The Sandman (1989) highlighting obscure older DC characters; it retells Prez's career, explicitly setting it in an Alternate Universe and providing the conclusion the series never got. The 1995 Vertigo Visions one-shot Prez: Smells Like Teen President continues "The Golden Boy" story to explore the failure of the 1970s ideals through P.J., Prez's alleged bastard son, as he travels around the country trying to find out what happened to his father.

In 2015, a new version of Prez was launched as part of the DC YOU line, set 20 Minutes into the Future and featuring Beth Ross, a teenager in a dead-end fast food job who inadvertantly gets made President on a wave of social media stardom ignited by a viral video.

Due to the attention attracted by the reboot, in 2016 DC published a trade paperback titled Prez: The First Teen President, collecting all the appearances of the original Prez. He also made an appearance in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

The 1973 series provides examples of:

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Prez, as the name of the comic indicates, is in his late teens. Boss Smiley even says the trope name in the "Golden Boy" version of the story.
  • An Aesop: The altercations with the minutemen lead Prez to make a speech about how words of peace and love cannot stop force.
  • Alternate Universe: The premise was a bit too out there to incorporate into the main DC line, the Supergirl crossover notwithstanding. The Sandman take makes it explicit, with one of Prez’s followers at an Inn Between the Worlds telling the story to someone from the main DC universe.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The third issue's story depicts Transylvania as a nation obscured by a dark cloud of which little is known, adjacent to Moravia, none of which is true. It's true it was once a country in its own right once, but considering the story portrays it as being lead by Count Dracula, the authors might not have even been aware of that!
  • Badass Normal: Eagle Free and Prez are both good fighters thanks to training in "indian martial arts".
  • Bald of Evil: The series' first antagonist Boss Smiley's most distinguishing attribute, aside from having a face that resembles the Smiley icon with nostrils, is that he's bald as an egg.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Eagle Free dresses just like a stereotypical Native American would, although he does wear pants most of the time after joining Prez' cabinet.
  • Cassandra Truth: Congress doesn't believe Prez about Dracula's plan of infesting America with rabies-filled bats because it requires him to tell them about being attacked by a vampire.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Smiley makes an off hand comment about he is the owner of a construction company and intends to use his political influence to build a highway over "the last batch of unspoiled forest in the country".
  • Corrupt Politician: Smiley is the mayor of Central City, which he runs like a dictatorship.
  • Crossover: With Supergirl (1972), where Supergirl has to save Prez's life.
  • Deal with the Devil: Eagle Free manages to convince Prez that Boss Smiley’s offer would be a metaphorical one, the Sandman version makes it a bit more literal with Smiley making explicitly supernatural offers and despite Prez refusing every one still trying to claim his soul when he dies.
  • Depraved Dwarf:
    • One of the members of the Washington Minutemen, an extremist group that hates Prez, is a dwarf who breaks into Prez's office to deliver their message to him.
    • Boss Smiley is noticeably much shorter than the other characters, and evil to the core.
  • Destination Defenestration: Boss Smiley pushes one of his own mooks out of a window for making a thoughtless comment. One of the remaining mooks calmly starts patching the window glass back together.
  • Evil Cripple: Dracula doesn't have any legs (requiring a board with wheels to move around), and is a murderous vampire who tries to attack the U.S.
  • Evil Mentor: Boss Smiley tried to be this for Prez, and in fact, it was because of him that Prez got the idea to run, and the resources to do it. But Eagle Free set Prez straight.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Prez's attempt to stop the Minutemen from assaulting the capitol without unnecessary bloodshed by challenging their leader to a duel fails because their leader not only cheats by sending one of his overmuscled underlings disguised as himself, but orders the army to charge anyway instead of surrendering. Prez would have died if not for unknowingly having a man on the inside. Prez acknowledges his own Reckless Pacifist tendencies in a public address, and promises to help the nation recover "with malice toward none, and charity for all".
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep":
    • Prez Rickard's first name is actually "Prez" (he explains that his mother had a premonition when he was born that he'd be President one day).
    • Boss Smiley's first name is actually "Boss" (this is not explained).
  • Insistent Terminology: Eagle Free always calls Prez "my president" or "my prez".
  • The Mentor: Eagle Free serves as this to Prez at times. For example, he trained Prez to be a Badass Normal, and helped him see how evil Boss Smiley was.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The forest creatures Eagle Free communes with in the first issue, presumably in North America, include a monkey, an elephant and a gorilla.
  • Mordor: The comic seems to imply Transylvania this. In the lore of the comic, Transylvania is a country that is constantly obscured by a dark cloud and is populated by werewolves and vampires.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Misery Marko, a partner of Boss Smiley who is also corrupt.
  • Nature Hero: Eagle Free lives at one with nature and understands the ways of animals to the extent that he can tell them what to do. When Prez first encounters him, he's leading a group of forest animals against Boss Smiley's construction machinery.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If not for Boss Smiley supporting Prez and convincing him to run, he may never have become president. By the time Smiley realized Prez was gonna give him trouble, it was election day!
  • Noble Savage: Eagle Free, a Native American who lives in the wild, is a Friend to All Living Things, and is the first to open Prez's eyes to the evil of Boss Smiley.
  • Non-Human Head: Boss Smiley's head is a bald sphere with Black Bead Eyes, a tiny nose, a broad smiling mouth — basically, a flesh-toned version of the classic yellow smiley face emblem.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: An eighteen-year-old president that ran on a third party ticket and regularly gets into punch ups with weird threats with his FBI director.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Dracula appears in the fourth issue. He is portrayed as an extremely paled skinned Classical Movie Vampire. Dracula seems to have some degree of Super-Strength (Prez says he "has the grip of a boa constrictor"). He can turn people into vampires through an unknown means. Context seems to imply he does so via biting his victim. His dialogue seems to suggest repeated stakes to the heart somehow resulted in him losing his legs. Holy symbols, including the Indian Swastika, repel him, but it is unclear if it can actually hurt him. Drowning seems to kill him.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted. Gregor, when challenged to fight Prez one to one, disguises his black belt karate expert as himself. However, no one falls for it because he is a foot taller than Gregor.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Senator Ebeneezer derides Eagle Free as a "young savage".
  • Starter Villain: Boss Smiley disappears after the first issue and we never get to find out more about him or his... peculiar looks.
  • Strawman Political: The Washington Minutemen are the main force opposing Prez's plan to outlaw guns. They are also portrayed as uniformly evil or crazy.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Prez (short for "president") becomes the Prez.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome/Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: While everyone focuses on solving the problem of the Minutemen, no one is able to uncover who made the attempt on Prez' life.
  • Take That!: Boss Smiley's office décor includes autographed photographs of himself with Adolf Hitler and Richard Nixon.
  • Violence is the Only Option: After Prez wins his duel, the leader of the minutemen breaks his deal with Prez and orders his men to charge, forcing a very reluctant Prez to do likewise.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • The Washington Minutemen want to stop Prez from outlawing guns. However to accomplish this, they commit counterfeiting and open fire on Prez and his soldiers.
    • The Transylvanians were going to try and infect the people of America with rabies, sure... but Prez did start it by funding the construction of a canal stealing water from their country. Sure, he didn't know it was going to do that, but he's the president and it is his responsibility to know these things.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: After Dracula tries (and fails) to turn Prez into a vampire, Prez has no problem with bombing the entire country of Transylvania despite the population being clearly sentient beings. Prez's plan is presented as sensible and not an insane warcrime.