Comic books are — more often than not — focused on the fantastic, usually taking place in imaginative and fictitious worlds, which contain places and characters that you’d never actually get to experience in real life. That being said, comic writers also attempt to stay up to date on hot topics going on in the real world, trying their best to keep storylines and characters in their work fresh and relevant. One of the most popular techniques we’ve seen comics employ time and time again to accomplish this? Cameos.
It’s no secret that comic books are much more likely to catch your attention if there’s someone that you recognize on their covers. That’s why writers often utilize celebrity cameos whenever they can. The more people that notice the comics, the more people that are likely to pick them up, thereby roping in new readers to a comic that they weren’t interested in before. In some other cases, the cameos are used as tie-ins for something else, such as an actor’s new movie.
As cool as it can be to see famous celebrities hanging out with your favorite comic book characters, many times, these crossovers end up being more than a bit odd. That’s why we’re bringing you the 15 Weirdest Celebrity Cameos In Comics.
15. Stan Lee (In Everything)
Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee is already well known for his numerous cameo appearances in just about every single Marvel movie released to date, but what a lot of casual fans may not realize is that the godfather of comics has graced more than just the silver screen with his presence.
Yup, starting right off is probably the one person who has appeared in more comic book cameos than anyone else on this list. The first of his cameos takes place all the way back in 1963, in Fantastic Four #10, alongside Stan’s longtime collaborator, artist Jack Kirby. The pair were humorously featured as basically just themselves, creating comic books after the “actual” Fantastic Four and their adventures. Stan would continue making the occasional cameo in other Marvel comics, making appearances as: a priest at Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ wedding, a ringmaster in the 1997 Flashback series, and as a professor in Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #19, just to name a few. While it isn’t too surprising that the comic master keeps showing up over the years, the sheer amount of roles he’s played to date is wonderfully silly.
14. Stephen Colbert Meets Spider-Man
It’s no secret that satirical funnyman and former host of the critically praised Colbert Report is a huge nerd at heart. He’s proven multiple times that he has a near-biblical recollection of the Lord of the Rings books, and was even awarded Captain America’s shield (or at least a very accurate replica) by Marvel’s own Joe Quesada, after his reaction to Cap dying during the conclusion of Civil War.
In what was surely one of Colbert’s nerd-dreams come true, the comedian would find himself appearing next to everyone’s favorite web-slinger in Amazing Spider-Man #573. As one might have guessed, Colbert would end up helping a reluctant Spider-Man during his fight against supervillain Grizzly, but what readers may not have expected to find was a plot point in which the talk show host was running for president against Barrack Obama! This amusing addition had many fans thinking that Colbert himself surely had a hand in its creation.
13. Jay Leno Meets Spider-Man
If you thought that Stephen Colbert was the first comedian/late night talk show host to team up with the red and blue wall-crawler, then you’re sorely mistaken. Nearly 20 years before the would-be presidential candidate showed up in the Marvel universe, Spidey would end up running into the then Tonight Show host Jay Leno in Amazing Spider-Man #332. While he only played a small part in this issue, Leno would end up appearing again in a much larger role during the mini-arc Jay Leno and Spider-Man: One Night Only! in 2002.
Strangely, this three-part mini-arc would be placed seemingly at random at the end of different Marvel comics, and any readers that happened to come across them found an aging Jay Leno making constant quips and complaints to Spider-Man while they both battled off a gang of ninjas. It’s very likely that this crossover was supposed to be a tie-in to the 2002 Spider-Man film starring Tobey Maguire, but the fact that Marvel chose to use Jay Leno instead of a hotter celebrity at the time is head-scratcher for sure.
12. Rodney Dangerfield Replaces Iron Man (On Stage)
Rodney Dangerfield was a legendary stand-up comedian and actor who was well known for his often-self-deprecating one-liners, and whose body of work spans an impressive 60 years. So, what is this guy doing in an Iron Man comic? Well, pretty much what you’d expect. Unlike the usual team-up comic featuring famous celebrities, Dangerfield never actually crosses paths with Tony Stark, and he only makes a very brief appearance in Invincible Iron Man #134.
Super-baddie Titanium Man is the featured villain in this issue, on his search to confront and conquer Iron Man. He seems to be hot on the hero’s trail when he disrupts a meeting of the “Lion’s Club”, where Tony Stark is supposedly supposed giving a speech. What does Titanium Man find in place of the iron-clad hero? Well Rodney Dangerfield of course, performing one of his stand-up routines as a last-minute replacement act. He even utters his famous line, “I get no respect!” after the titanium villain expresses his disappointment in seeing Rodney in place of the billionaire superhero.
11. Freddie Prinze Jr. VS. The Hulk
Forget cameos that are simply weird for a moment — what’s one of the most unexpected celebrity cameos you’ve never expected to see in a comic? What about actor Freddie Prinze Jr. facing off against the Incredible Hulk? No, this isn’t some what-if scenario, or the outcome of a random-name generator, this was literally the plot of Ultimates #5. Well, sort of.
Technically, it’s never explicitly stated that the Freddie Prinze Jr. that Hulk is set to smash for dating his ex-girlfriend Betty is the same as the real-life actor, but come on. With such a unique name, and the fact that he is also presented as a big Hollywood actor in the comic, there’s no doubting who he’s supposed to be. The fact that they randomly decided to use sort-of-well-known actor Freddie Prinze Jr. of all people (were Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt not available?) in a love triangle involving the Hulk is so absurd, it’s hilarious.
10. The Fantastic Four Meet The Fab Four
During the mid-60s, The Beatles were at the peak of their popularity, and it seemed like no matter where you turned, the mega-popular group were sure to be found. Seeing an opportunity to grab people’s attention, the cover of Strange Tales #130 featured the claim that The Human Torch and Thing actually meet the Fab Four in person.
The actual story goes a bit differently. Torch and Thing’s girlfriends’, Alicia Masters and Doris Evans, get tickets for the four of them to see the Beatles together. As they enter the venue for the concert, the box office ends up getting robbed, and it’s up for the present one-half of the Fantastic Four to get it back. In the end, they’re able to recover the money, but they only return to the venue just as the show is ending, much to their dismay. The two heroes may not actually get to “meet the Beatles” as the title suggests, but the group does at least show up in the comic (not a speech-bubble between them).
9. Superman Saves Orson Welles
Orson Wells: actor, writer, director — and not to mention that awesome narration voice. Besides being successful in just about every aspect of the entertainment industry, he is probably known by most as the man who convinced the world that we were being invaded by Martians. That is to say, during a live reading of the radio drama The War of the Worlds, a number of people tuning in mistook the science fiction story as fact, believing that we were under attack. While the incident itself was blown up to epic proportions (though without any actual confirmed deaths due to the widespread panic), it was an event that wouldn’t soon be forgotten by the American people.
Apparently, DC Comics thought so too when they sent Orson Welles to Mars in Superman #62. After accidentally finding himself on the red planet, Welles would discover an actual martian plan to take over the Earth, and attempts to warn people using a broadcast signal, causing a hilarious “the boy that cried alien invasion” moment. Luckily, Superman takes the warning seriously and saves the Mr. Welles from the martians, putting a quick stop to their invasion in the process.
8. Kiss Appears In Howard The Duck
We’ve seen cameos of comedians helping heroes take down bad guys, of famous actors battling aliens, and even the comic creators themselves appearing in their own work. All very different types of people and appearances, but one thing that they all have in common is that they’re featured on the cover of whatever they’re appearing in. Apparently, Kiss likes to do things a little bit differently.
Appearing both in issues #12 and #13 of Howard the Duck, you’d think that the rock mega stars collectively known as Kiss would have been thoroughly advertised. But if you look at both issues, there’s no actual indication that the band has anything to do with the comics they appear in. Issue #13 gives the hint “kiss and tell in the psycho-ward“, but it’s easily overlooked. The only thing stranger than this lack of advertisement for the group’s appearance would be the cameo itself — the band members materialize as manifestations of a telekinetic psych ward patient’s mind (we don’t get it either). It may not make any sense, but a cameo is a cameo, and this one fits right at home on this list.
7. David Letterman Interviews The Avengers
As evidenced by earlier entries in this article, late night talk show hosts have a history of teaming up with our favorite superheroes (usually Spider-Man) in chance encounters, but David Letterman’s appearance in The Avengers #239 takes things in a bit of a different direction. This time, instead of Letterman coincidentally running into a random superhero on the streets, he brings the heroes to him — as guests on the Late Night show.
As silly as the idea is to have an issue focusing almost entirely on a fictional super team being interviewed by David Letterman, it’s undeniable that it’s also extremely awesome. David even gets to prove himself to the team when he manages to take out a (remarkable low-tier) villain, by hitting him over the head with a giant doorknob. Here’s hoping we get a similar scene in Avengers: Infinity War, where the team shows up on Conan or The Tonight Show.
6. Godzilla VS. Charles Barkley
Just take in this title for a moment: Godzilla Vs. Charles Barkley. There’s no tricks or rouses here, there is literally a comic based on a basketball match between a rampaging Godzilla and a giant-sized Charles Barkley. How exactly does Charles Barkley become giant, you ask? Well, it’s easily explained by the magic silver dollar handed to him by a young fan. (Wait, what?)
While the situation itself is incredibly bizarre, things take an even more hilarious turn after Charles defeats the giant monster. To prevent any future rampages, the basketball star gives Godzilla an enormous pair of Nike sneakers (13,000 EEE, of course), his own private basketball hoop inside an empty canyon in Utah, and leaves the giant lizard to practice for 100 years before returning for a rematch. Well, that’s one way to save a city from destruction by kaiju.
5. DC Comics Meets Looney Tunes
While the initial thought of Looney Tunes characters appearing in a short run of DC Comics doesn’t seem too far-fetched, perhaps the storylines of these comics will change your mind. Remember Elmer Fudd, the hot-headed hunter who was always being outsmarted by a certain talking rabbit? Well imagine him in a scenario where he’s a multi-millionaire who becomes obsessed with Bruce Wayne, and begins stalking him all over Gotham City.
If that doesn’t get you giggling, then what about hapless predator Wile E. Coyote hiring the space biker Lobo to help hunt down the Roadrunner? There’s even an issue that focuses on Martian Manhunter J’onn J’onzz, coming into conflict with his Martian identity as he attempts to stop Marvin the Martian’s plot to destroy the Earth. These crossover plots are so wacky, it almost sounds like they aren’t real, but you’ll be able to get your hands on them soon and see for yourself, as they’re currently being released right now.
4. Undead Princess Diana Joins The X-Statix
Oh boy, this is where simple goofy crossovers go from weird to just plain disturbing. Just to make things clear: yes, someone at Marvel figured that it would be a great idea to have Diana, Princess of Wales, return from the dead, gain superpowers, and then join the team of mutants known as the X-Statix.
As you’d expect, as soon as the plans to turn the deceased princess into a super-powered mutant in comic book format were announced, it was met with outrage, both from the public and the royal family itself. Instead of scrapping the idea altogether, artists instead change the name and origin of the character to fictional pop star “Henrietta Hunter”, making minor visual changes (dying her hair black) which still left her looking blatantly like Diana. While the whole thing just seems to be flavored in poor taste, it’s surprisingly not the only entry on this list which involves a recently dead celebrity.
3. Eminem and The Punisher Team Up
When you think about which celebrities might be secret comic book fanboys, insanely successful rappers from Detroit aren’t exactly the first thing to come to mind. Regardless, Eminem has claimed that he’s an avid reader, using superhero comics as a way to cope with giving up on drugs and alcohol. Of course, this doesn’t make his entry into the world of the Punisher comics any less bizarre.
As the story goes, Eminem is just finishing up a concert in Detroit when his entourage is inexplicably (and accidentally) gunned down by the Punisher himself, which leaves Slim Shady understandably upset. The two get into a little scuffle due to the misunderstanding, and Eminem somehow manages to knock out the skilled assassin with ease, all the while quoting a line from his song “Kill You”, a choice which surely made readers everywhere cringe.
The rest of the comic is your standard team-up affair, with the odd couple taking down one of Punisher’s recurring villains, but the rapper’s inclusion never stops feeling out of place. Not surprisingly, Eminem/The Punisher would prove to be a one-off issue.
2. JFK Meets Superman (Post-Assassination)
Remember when we mentioned that Princess Diana wasn’t the only posthumous celebrity cameo on this list? Yup, John F. Kennedy somehow managed to meet up with Superman in the April 1964 issue of Superman #170, despite having been assassinated just months before on November 22, 1963. Is this another example of crass comic book writer having a tasteless idea? Well not exactly.
The issue was actually already planned and prepared for release before the young president’s untimely death, and was even said to be made with some involvement of Kennedy himself. While DC decided to pull the comic initially, they later received word from JFK’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, that he wanted the story to be published in honor of him, with Kennedy’s family giving their approval as well. Still, it’s easy to imagine the surprise many people had when reading the latest Superman adventure and seeing their favorite hero meeting up with the recently deceased president.
1. Superman VS. Muhammad Ali
Of all the weird celebrity cameo appearances that have shown up in comics, it’s hard to find one that can even come close to the absurdity that is Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali. Just the idea that Muhammad Ali (possibly the greatest boxer of all time) fighting Superman (one of the greatest superheros of all time) in a boxing match is ridiculous. But somehow, it works.
The reason for this unlikely bout is for the simple fact that Superman and Ali argue over who is truly the Earth’s greatest champion, the winner going on to fight against the mightiest warrior of an alien race attempting to invade the planet. To make things fair, Superman is de-powered, only allowed to use his boxing skills and natural strength. As expected of such a scenario, Ali wipes the floor with the Man of Steel, and even manages to defeat the super-powered alien boxer as well. It’s absurd, it’s silly, but it’s a classic moment in comic book history.
HONORABLE MENTION – All The Presidential Cameos
If there’s one type of cameo that comic writers seem to love adding in more than anything else, it’s the presidential ones. To avoid filling all the entries up with a bunch of presidents, here’s a brief list of some notable ones that you may find interesting.
Richard Nixon’s role in Watchmen goes beyond a simple cameo, with the fictitious version of the president managing to end the Vietnam war victorious (thanks to Dr. Manhattan), and continuing to serve as president for at least 5 terms.
George W. Bush makes an incredibly embarrassing cameo in Ultimate X-Men #6, where he’s forced to lick Magneto’s boots clean after the mutant’s hostile takeover of the United States government. Yikes.
Obama has been in pretty much everything. Firstly, he made sure to get his Spider-Man cameo in The Amazing Spider-Man #583. Later, he makes an appearance in Archie #616, oddly enough alongside the then governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. If that wasn’t weird enough for you, then this next one should catch your attention from the title alone: Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama. (No, we’re not joking.)
It’s amazing just how many different types of celebrities have shown up in such weird ways in comics. Are there any standouts that we missed? Tell us in the comments!
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