The Road to the White House: Barack Obama #1

by Doug Zawisza, Reviewer |

Story by
Jeff Mariotte
Art by
Tom Morgan
Cover by
J. Scott Campbell
Publisher
IDW
Cover Price
$3.99 (USD)
Release Date
Jun 17th, 2009

Wed, June 17th, 2009 at 8:25PM (PDT)


You know the story, but maybe you don't know ALL of the story -– or, at least, all of the story that is shared in the pages of this book. The story picks up from the Democratic National Convention in August of 2008 and follows the Senator's journey to the White House. The inaugural speech from January 20, 2009 caps off this issue –- no cliffhangers here, as the next issue box solicits "The First 100 Days."

Mariotte tries to present an impartial retelling of the events from the 2008 Presidential race, but at this point, anyone picking up this book is going to find incongruities and a partisan attitude. Of course, Mariotte tempers the pro-Obama moments with highlights from the McCain campaign, but everyone loves a winner, which is the rationale for this book's very existence.

This issue is filled to the staples with recountings of the events that transpired to land Obama in the White House and even includes quotes that just seem out of place hanging next to illustrations of key political personnel, such as the now infamous, "That one," as uttered by Senator John McCain. Mariotte seems determined to get as much onto each page as possible. More than once, I had to take a break from the book, as it became almost burdensome to read through all of the caption boxes.

The art on this book stutters in some areas, but excels in others. The areas where it stutters are when photos are used for reference, but not traced, where if they had been traced or light-boxed, the imagery would have been more crisp and less cartoony. Where Morgan excels is in the panels and pages driven by the passion of the "characters" -- such as the backlit image of Obama spelling out "j-o-b-s." Morgan does a good job of drawing some key moments in the campaign and delivers recognizable figures, but his work throughout the book is slightly uneven. He renders better images of Obama than the profile image chosen for the final page. I applaud Morgan for taking the high road and not tracing the snot out of this book, even if it is not as sharp as that technique would have made it, but part of me will continue to wonder just how much better Morgan's art would have been if the book was more an illustrated prose piece and less a history report pretending to be a comic book

That said, this is also probably the most approachable way to relate the journey of the forty-fourth president of the United States to a society with precious little free time –- lure them in with the seemingly simple format of a comic book and then inundate them with scads of information. I saw more than a few folks at the new comic rack giving this a look. I didn't bother to conduct an exit poll to see how many bought the issue. This will be one of those issues that would definitely come in handy years down the road when kids or grandkids ask about the forty-fourth President of the United States of America.