Ron leads his raiders in a typical commando attack. Artists: K. Royster, Bill Lundsford, Scott Nickel.

REAGAN’S RAIDERS

Medium: Comic books
Published by: Solson Publications
First Appeared: 1987
Creators: Rich Buckler and Monroe Arnold
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"Read the comic that no other company would dare to publish!" said the ad, and for once the hype was …

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… true — no company other than Solson Publications, whose credits include Samurai Santa, Daffy Qadaffi and The Bushido Blade of Zatoichi Walrus, would have touched this prize turkey.

When comics aficionados get together to discuss the worst publishers of the century, the millennium, or all time, Solson is always prominently mentioned. And from a publisher whose output included Iron Maidens ("Loads of musclebound fun"), Codename: Ninja ("Martial arts drama so real you'd swear it was a movie") and Amazing Wahzoo ("Wha-Whoom!"), this one stood out from the crowd — so stupefyingly awful in both concept and execution that it turned completely 'round the bend to become an object of numb fascination. It's a toss-up which was the company's least defensible product — the live, man-eating piranhas they sold by mail through ads in their comics, or Reagan's Raiders.

The basic idea was to go the 1960s TV cartoon Super President one better, putting presidential incumbent Ronald Reagan himself, along with several top members of his administration, in red, white and blue costumes like Captain America's or The Shield's, and sending them out to do superhero work among the rice paddies and sand dunes of America's most hated enemies. This was accomplished by means of a technological marvel invented by a Professor Cashchaser, that gave the Raiders the bodies of young men (and instantly instilled commando training too, apparently).

The stories were just packed with the visceral thrills of seeing America's Main Man in action. And that's not all! They were also packed with amazingly dumb, campy references to Ron's film career. This comic book version of Reagan seemed to have trouble distinguishing between movies and reality — which, of course, many political pundits would have thought made it true to life, if they'd been aware of the comic's existence.

Reagan's Raiders was about as successful as the rest of the Solson comics line. It lasted three issues, all published in 1987, and has since been seen mostly in "Best of the Worst" retrospectives.

Co-creator Rich Buckler has been kicking around the comics industry for decades, during which time he's drawn Superman, Fantastic Four and many other top properties. The best-known character he himself created is Deathlok the Demolisher. Monroe Arnold, the other co-creator of Reagan's Raiders, is not known for any other work in comics.

— DDM

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Text ©2000-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Solson Publications