TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has officially entered the Marvel universe — and the boxing ring — as a newly minted comic cover star.
Trudeau appears on the variant cover of issue No. 5 of Marvel's "Civil War II: Choosing Sides'' released Wednesday.
Marvel offered a sneak peek at the cover earlier this summer, which features Trudeau sitting, smiling and relaxed, in the ring wearing a Maple Leaf-emblazoned tank, black shorts and red boxing gloves.
Standing behind him are Puck, Sasquatch and Aurora, who are members of Canadian superhero squad Alpha Flight, while Iron Man is seen in the left corner with his arms crossed.
The cover of the comic 'Civil War II: Choosing Sides,' featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surrounded by the members of Alpha Flight: Sasquatch, top, Puck, bottom left, Aurora, right, and Iron Man in the background. (Photo: Handout)
The variant cover featuring the prime minister is the alternative to the main cover in circulation showcasing Aurora, Puck, Sasquatch and Nick Fury.
In the special issue, Trudeau offers advice to members of Alpha Flight — formally the Canadian peacekeeping force — during a visit to his Ottawa office. He later steps into the ring with Iron Man himself, also known as Tony Stark.
Edmonton-born artist and writer Chip Zdarsky collaborated with award-winning Toronto-based cartoonist Ramon Perez on the Alpha Flight story.
Zdarsky reached out to the Prime Minister's Office to inform them of his plans to write a Marvel story involving Trudeau, and while he was told that the PMO couldn't endorse the comic, they were fine with him proceeding.
Story includes new mystery character
The story involves a mysterious new character, Ulysses, who has the power to calculate the outcome of future events with a high degree of accuracy.
The Marvel heroes are divided on how best to capitalize on the predictive power. Carol Danvers — also known as Captain Marvel — is in favour of profiling future crimes and attacks before they occur, while Tony Stark believes the punishment can't come before the crime.
"I didn't want this to just be like a walk-on ... I liked the idea of him actually engaging them in an ethical debate."
Alpha Flight is supportive of using Ulysses to stop disasters and capture people, but there are also ethical conflicts within the group. They seek out Trudeau for counsel.
"I didn't want this to just be like a walk-on ... rescued by superheroes and he thanks them and that's the end of the story,'' Zdarsky said in a June interview. "I think a lot of these real-life appearances in comics tend to go that way. I liked the idea of him actually engaging them in an ethical debate.
"It's a little tricky just because once you start to put words in the prime minister's mouth, we acknowledge that this is basically Trudeau fan fiction.''
Issue No. 5 of "Civil War II: Choosing Sides'' is available at local comic retailers and through the Marvel Digital Comics Shop.