Back in the mid-seventies, when Jimmy Carter was running against Gerald Ford for the U.S. presidency, director John Frankenheimer was filming Black Sunday, the movie based on Thomas Harris' novel about a terrorist attempt to assassinate the president at the Super Bowl. Because the flick was made during the campaign season and scheduled to be released after the election, Frankenheimer shot separate sequences featuring look-alike versions of each candidate as the standing president. When the movie came out in the first year of the Carter presidency, I remember one critic wondering if the moviemakers had been wishing that former college football hero Ford had won the election. His presence at the Super Bowl would’ve made more story sense.
I've been thinking about that troubled movie production while reading the first three issues of IDW's new horror series Snaked. A robustly grotesque political nightmare, Snaked is set in a near-future America where Hillary Clinton has already been elected president. Reading it, I found myself channeling that long-ago movie critic and wondering if scriptwriter Clifford Meth was praying that Barack Obama would go away: not for any political reasons, just because an Obama presidency would really ruin his story.
Snaked tells the tale of William "Bill" Timmons, a GSA auditor assigned in 2001 to dig into the finances of the nascent Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. As issue #1 opens, it's September 10th, 2001, (yes, the date is significant) and we're in a psych hospital with a former "special consultant" to the Clintons named Morgenstern. Timmons, we learn, is being held in maximum security at the Pentagon, but the first time we see him, it's a month earlier on Riker's Island. Lying on a bunk with a copy of William F. Buckley's Up from Liberalism in his hand, he's sharing a cell with an obnoxiously loquacious prisoner. When said blabbermouth prisoner makes reference to the reason that Timmons is behind bars, he stirs his cellmate's wrath with fatal consequences.
Timmons, it turns out, is a member of a tribe called the Nechashim: snake people who live in hiding from ordinary humanity. Though once worshipped in Egypt and India, they've moved to America where they can get lost in the crowd, molting every eleven years and occasionally dropping their disguise to snack on a human body part. "Americans are too preoccupied to notice us," Timmons' grandfather tells him at one point during a childhood flashback, "too busy hating their jobs and praying they won't lost them." For reasons that are revealed at the end of the third issue, though, certain members of the government are aware of the Nechashims' existence and plan to use Timmons as the fall guy in a serpentine plot that somehow involves the real reasons behind 9/11 as well as an assassination attempt on President Bush and the ultimate election of Hillary to the White House. "There's no winning with politicians," Timmons' ultra-violent absentee father tells him during their first reunion. "They'll turn on you every time."