While most can rattle off the names of at least a dozen major comic book characters (likely including their own favorite superheroes), many aren’t aware of all of the stars that have made appearances in some memorable comic book story lines. Here are 9 celebrities that have made comic book cameos.
1. Anderson Cooper
The well-known CNN anchor appeared (as himself) in an issue of the Black Widow series. According to what series writer Nathan Edmondson told Marvel, Cooper will reportedly issue an investigative news report on his show about the character and her actions. The report will act as a “catalyst for a major event in Black Widow’s journey.” As Edmondson explained, “It’s Anderson doing what he does best: looking for the truth and reporting on events. We imagine that in Black Widow’s world, as would be the case with many other Avengers, things she does can’t be ignored by the media.”
2. Barack Obama
When Barack Obama beat out John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, Marvel decided to bank off the news by issuing this politically driven storyline, just in time for the 2009 inauguration. In the story, the president is being inaugurated when a second Obama suddenly shows up. When Secret Service agents fail to react with anything but confusion, Peter Parker – who was there, taking photos for The Daily Bugle – begins questioning both men. When the imposter Obama fails to remember his middle name, he then turns into the villain Chameleon, leading to a brief fight before eventually getting captured and turned over to the police. Obama then expresses his gratitude to Spider-Man, admitting to him that he’s always been a big fan.
In what is probably one of the strangest celebrity-involved comic book story lines ever, the rock band made an appearance about in Issue 12 of Howard the Duck’s 27-issue run. In the issue, Howard goes on a trip to Cleveland in an effort to get rid of the nightmares that have been plaguing him. On the way there, he meets Winda, a girl who reveals that she’s on her way to get an exorcism forced on her by her parents. The two become friends but end up getting into an altercation on the bus that lands both of them in jail. The prison doctor then performs the exorcism on Winda himself. To everyone’s shock, the thoughts that form during the procedure take the form of the members of KISS. The cameo spawned an entire KISS series. But that’s not the only time the band appeared in a comic book series – the members also popped up in a four-part Archie series in 2011.
4. Muhammad Ali
In one of the adventures of Superman, the man known as the greatest boxer in history challenges the Man of Steel in a regular boxing match. The epic battle causes quite a turnout, with both real celebrities and other fictional figures appearing in the audience. It’s only after Ali knocks out Superman and wins the match that the rest of the world learns it was all part of an elaborate ploy to save the planet from an alien invasion. When the scheme is over, both men exchange feelings of respect, with Ali proclaiming both of them as the greatest champions of the world.
The rapper has made a point of being honest and laying it all out on the line when it comes to his career and life story. But many fans may still not know about this appearance in the Punisher, in which Frank Castle is hired to protect the artist from the Barracuda. After Castle kills much of Eminem’s crew in a misunderstanding, the artist becomes convinced Barracuda is his real ally and doesn’t make it easy for Castle to do his job, giving him attitude throughout the issue and eventually knocking him out. The scuffle leads the Barracuda to capture them both. The issue ends with Eminem apologizing to Castle and the two eventually winning out over the real villain.
6. Charles Barkley
The now-retired professional basketball player made a onetime appearance in Dark Horse Comic, opposite Gozilla. In the issue, Barkley looks to be — for reasons unexplained — the same size as the giant beast and the two end up engaging in a basketball match against each other in New Jersey. The story shows Barkley pulling out every trick in the book to beat Godzilla at the game. The two end on good terms, with the sports star giving his opponent some tips on how to improve his game and giving him a pair of (very large) Nike sneakers.
7. Tim Gunn
Most know the fashion expert for his contributions on Project Runaway and his famous catchphrase, “Make it Work!” But it turns out that he also helped save the day in an Iron Man crossover issue. In the installment, called “Models Inc.,” a fashion set designer is found murdered at New York Fashion Week. Millie the Model is soon pinned as the main suspect, and several other Marvel characters, like Mary Jane Watson and Hellcat, team up to prove her innocent. But when the murderer starts sending out hit men to kill those leading the investigation, Gunn must don the famous Ironman armor himself for protection.
8. Cast of Glee
In a four-part story in the Archie comic books, Archie and the rest of the Riverdale crew get to meet the entire gang from William McKinley High School. The worlds crossover thanks to Dilton Doiley’s “Portal-porter” device. Both groups eventually figure out how to get home and back to their normal lives, but not before several favorite characters collide. Veronica ends up becoming best friends with Kurt. Meanwhile, when Riverdale’s Josie and the Pussycats hear Mercedes Jones and her astonishing voice, they set out to recruit her for the band. Plus, Sue Sylvester ends up squaring off against Jughead.
9. Stephen Colbert
The former host of The Colbert Report and current host of The Late Show is known for being eccentric, and one of his most memorable stunts occurred in 2008, when he decided to “run” for president. Though it seemed to be a clear farce, Colbert himself maintained a straight face about the matter, insisting his campaign was serious and even paying the $2,500 fee to be included in the South Carolina Democratic ballot. He was eventually denied entry on to the ballot and dropped his bid, but that didn’t stop him from being a major candidate in an October 2008 Spider-Man issue. In the story, Colbert teams up with the superhero to run as a third-party candidate against both John McCain and Barack Obama. Though he polled well among other superheroes and won the popular vote, Obama ends up beating him out and winning the presidency thanks to more electoral votes. Sorry, Colbert. Maybe next time.