Back in 1991, DC Comics ran this crossover storyline called Armageddon 2001. It’s been years since I read any of this, so I’m going by memory. The basic premise was that in the future the world was being run by a ruthless dictator simply called The Monarch. No one knew who he or she was, just that he or she used to be a famous superhero who, back in 2001, went crazy and killed all the other superheroes, and then took over the world. So one man becomes determined to go back in time, to stop the Monarch from coming to power in the first place. He travels back to 1991, where he seeks out all the superheroes and uses some kind of technology where he can trace their futures, and see what happens to them within the next 10 years, to see who ends up as the Monarch, planning to kill whichever hero that is, before it happens.
So each of the “annual” issues of DC Comics’ then-ongoing series, which are special issues separate from the regular series, features the alternate future of that hero. So in Action Comics Annual #3, written by Roger Stern (who, you’ll recall, was credited with “creative contributions” in that What If issue where Captain America becomes President? comic-book that I reviewed yesterday, this is significant because of some similarities which I’ll explain later), and drawn by Tom Grummett, we see what was supposed to happen to Superman.
It opens with Superman fighting the son of the alien despot, Darkseid. Then he rushes home for a date with Lois Lane, whom he was engaged to at the time. This is where the time traveler finds him and secretly fast-forwards Superman’s life, so he can watch it unfold.
When Lois and Clark get home from their date, there’s a message from Martha Kent on their answering machine, saying that Johnathan Kent was in an accident at their farm and is in the hospital. Lois and Clark race to the hospital, but it’s too late. Johnathan is dead. Martha sells the Kent farm, and moves to Metropolis to live with Lois and Clark. Later, Lois and Clark get married.
Then, Clark’s best friend, Pete Ross, who was a congressman in the comic books at the time, announces that he’s going to run for President, and he asks Clark to be his campaign manager. During one speech, a gunman shoots Pete, Clark manages to move in front of Pete, but not before a few bullets hit Pete (so I guess Superman’s not faster than a speeding bullet after all). The remaining bullets bounce off of Clark, but they rip his shirt, exposing his Superman costume underneath. So now the whole world knows that Clark Kent is Superman.
Pete survives but is too injured to continue his campaign, so he asks Clark to run in his place. Superman agrees and announces his candidacy for President. A special session of the Supreme Court is convened, and they rule unanimously that Superman is eligible to run (this version of Superman was basically a test-tube baby, sent to Earth from Krypton in an incubator, so he was technically “born” after he landed in Kansas).
It should be noted that it is never mentioned which political party Superman is running for, or which party his opponent is in.
Like Captain America, Superman also chooses a Black running mate, a congresswoman named Sarah Hemming. And he apparently does all of his campaigning, including engaging in debates, while wearing his Superman costume.
On Election night, they win in a landslide. To Stern’s credit, Superman is sworn in as Clark Kent, although he is wearing his Superman costume at the time. Lex Luthor II (Lex Luthor’s long-lost illegitimate son who was secretly raised in Australia but then turned out to really be…oh frak it, nevermind, it was a convoluted storyline that’s since been retconned, so it’s not important) is then arrested by the Secret Service for threatening the President’s life, and then Superman begins his Presidency.
With the help of Aquaman, he recovers several sunken ships with buried treasure in them, adding them to America’s treasury to reduce the deficit. And he builds a space station to provide cheap, clean solar power to America (where have I seen that before?). He also, in costume, rescues an American diplomat from some terrorists. Then he begins a nuclear disarmament plan and calls all the other superheroes together to convince them to form a World Peace League, to use their powers to help keep the peace after the nations disarm. Green Lantern Guy Gardner objects and attacks Superman, but Superman defeats him and takes his ring. The other Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan and John Stewart, offer to let Superman keep the ring, but Superman says that he’s already extremely powerful on his own and that with the ring he feels he would be more powerful than anyone one person deserves to be, so he declines.
Then we see him back at the White House, with Lois and Martha, celebrating what he’s accomplished, while still thinking of all the work that continues to be done.
The time traveler realizes that this shows that Superman is not the one who will become the Monarch, and stops viewing Superman’s future. Back in the Present, due to the time traveler’s interference, Superman senses that something is wrong with his father, and flies to Smallville, where he saves Johnathan Kent from that fatal accident. This means that the timeline has been altered, so everything we just read about is not going to happen now.
Okay, so continuity-wise it was ultimately pointless (as was the whole crossover, to be honest), but as a stand-alone “imaginary story” (Aren’t They All?) it was pretty good. Stern’s a great writer, and I always loved Grummett’s artwork, so that made it worth it for me.