Yesterday, Donald Trump logged onto Twitter and ever-so-casually taunted Kim Jong-un with the threat of a nuclear war, which would result in the deaths of millions of people on both sides. It was the sort of ill-advised, dangerous thing that you’d expect from a supervillain, not a president.
There’s a long history of genre fiction accurately predicting events that take place here in the real world. But there was a point in time when the public would never have imagined that the democratically elected President of the United States might brag about how he could sink the world into nuclear winter with the push of a button. And yet, that’s exactly what Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz did in 1986's Elektra: Assassin, a limited series in which the titular heroine reminisces about the time she was tasked with saving the world from a madman who also happened to be President.
The purposefully-vague, eight-part series follows Elektra as she journeys across the country in search of a primordial being known only as the Beast. She learns it’s plotting to bring about a conflict between the US and the Soviet Union that would result in mutually assured destruction. Rather than working to accomplish its goals alone, the Beast recruits a number of key political figures by forcing them to drink its milk. The liquid brings anyone who ingests it under the Beast’s control.
After its first attempt at global destruction fails, the Beast devises a plan to insinuate itself into American politics through a young, Democratic senator named Ken Wind who’s running for president against an unpopular Republican incumbent.
While Wind does eventually end up winning the election, what the Beast never learns is that all it really needed to do to bring about war was bruise the Republican incumbent’s ego just a little bit more—which sounds somewhat familiar.
In the fifth issue of the series, we learn that the Republican incumbent spends his nights much like Donald Trump: Watching the news as he desperately waits for an advertisement praising him. As the incumbent lies awake at night, drinking and cursing his political opponent, he takes pleasure in telling himself that if he wanted to, if he really wanted to, he could end everything because he’s the President and he has access to the button that would launch the nuclear warheads. His wife rolls over in her sleep and agrees that yes, he is the President, and he does have access to the button. It’s a pitiful, terrifying moment that, given the current state of our political affairs feels all too real.
Yesterday, Sienkiewicz spoke openly about how at the time, he wasn’t sure whether he and Miller were going too far with their story. Maybe they were then, but 30 years later? Turns out they were exactly on point.