Congressman-elect Robert Garcia, a Peruvian immigrant, openly gay man and self-proclaimed “comic book nerd,”has been drawing a lot of attention from superhero fans bringing some much-appreciated levity into the political dimension.
Garcia has long shown his passion for comics and has a special fondness for the DC’s Superman, the first superhero in American comics.
Garcia noted on Twitter that, as a gay immigrant, he related to Superman, created by the Jewish immigrants Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel in 1938. Superman is famously from the planet Krypton and is Earth’s most famous fictional immigrant. Garcia has also praised comics for reflecting LGBTQ+ representation, especially in the case of Superman’s son, Jon Kent, being bisexual.
Garcia can also now count a relation to Calvin Ellis of Earth-23, who is a Superman variant based on President Barack Obama, as Garcia is an elected politician in the most powerful country on Earth while still being the same humble superhero nerd underneath.
“I learned to read and write English reading comics as a kid. Never stopped reading,” he said. “I grew up mostly reading Superman comics, you know, truth and justice, an immigrant that was different, was raised by good people that welcomed them and always someone that if you look at Superman values, and caucus values, it’s about justice, it’s about honesty, it’s doing the right thing, standing up for people that need support.
Garcia was born in Lima, Peru and immigrated to the United States at age 5 with his mother. He studied at California State University, Long Beach and University of South California, and later taught courses at the same institutions.
Garcia has shared appreciation and gratitude to his stepfather, his mother, and his aunt, who all sadly passed away during COVID-19 pandemic, before they could see their son rise to Congress. His mother, Gaby Elena O’Donnell, passed away at age 61, on July 26, 2020, and two weeks later, his step-father, Greg O’Donnell, also passed away at age 58 on Aug. 9, 2020.
“Our mom Gaby and Greg were married for 27 years and he lived a happy life. Jake and I want to thank the heroic nurses and doctors who cared for him in his last days.” Garcia wrote on Twitter. In a separate tweet during Immigrant History Month, he celebrated his family, saying “I want to honor two amazing women who both passed this last year. My mom Gaby and her only sister my aunt Nela. They were strong, caring, and great examples of hard work and perseverance. I’m forever grateful.”
In 2007, much like Perry White, the Daily Planet’s Editor-in-Chief in the fictional world of Superman (and also similar to our chief, DailyPlanetDC’s Zack Benz), Garcia launched the Long Beach Post, a website focused on reporting local news and sports. This website earned him local prominence, and he relinquished editorial control in order to run for local office in 2008. Upon being elected to the Long Beach City Council in 2009, “Garcia’s investments and assets relating to Long Beach Post, Inc., were placed in a blind trust where he had no knowledge of the holdings of the trust and no right to intervene in its handling.”
After having served as a member of the Long Beach City Council since 2009, Garcia was vice mayor from 2012 to 2014. Garcia then went on to run for the mayoral office, and served as Mayor of Long Beach, California for 8 years from 2014 to 2022.
In 2011, Garcia spearheaded the successful effort to name a planned park in Long Beach after Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.
As Mayor of Long Beach in 2022, Garcia erected a giant statue of the one-cent penny with Abraham Lincoln’s face in Lincoln Park near Long Beach City Hall to honor the President after whom the park is named. Much to the amusement of fans of comics, what Garcia did not mention is that the statue is also a cheeky homage to the giant penny from the comics that can be seen in the Batcave!
In December 2021, Garcia announced his intention to run for an open California congressional district, and during the 2022 midterm election, he won the Congressional seat to become the U.S. Representative for California’s 42nd congressional district.
Garcia has called himself a self-proclaimed chair of the Comic Book Congressional Caucus. Former Senator Patrick Leahy, who has retired and chose not to run for reelection, is also noted for being a Batman fan, and has made several cameo appearances in “Batman Forever” (1995), “Batman & Robin” (1997), “The Dark Knight” (2008), “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016). In the latest cameo, Leahy played Senator Purrington, sitting next to Holly Hunter’s Senator June Reeves Finch in the film. Leahy would surely have joined this caucus if he was able to.
Another candidate for the Comic Book Caucus could be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who famously quoted Alan Moore on Twitter: “None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with YOU. You’re locked up in here with ME.”
Garcia revealed that he will swear his oath to become a U.S. Representative on a rare copy of “Superman no.1” from the Library of Congress underneath a copy of the Constitution, which will also include a photograph of his parents who he lost to COVID-19, and his Certificate of Citizenship.
However, until the House of Representatives chamber successfully elects a Speaker, the House can conduct no other official business, which must begin officially swearing in its members in order to be able to pass rules governing the House’s operation and assign legislators to their committees.
“Congressman Robert Garcia will be sworn in on the Constitution,” Sara Guerrero, a spokeswoman for Garcia, said in a statement. “With him he will be bringing a photo of his parents who he lost to COVID, his citizenship certificate, and an original “Superman No. 1.”
“Congressman Garcia learned to read and write in English by reading Superman comics so it’s especially exciting he was able to borrow this rare copy from the kind folks at the Library of Congress,” Guerrero added.
The Library of Congress is known to provide historic copies for lawmakers to pledge allegiance to truth, justice, and the American way during the swearing-in ceremony, including such documents as Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible.
While the Superman comic may seem like an unusual choice on which to swear an oath of office, it is perfectly legal to do so. While most elected officials are sworn in by placing their hand on a Bible, Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The copy of the 1939 “Superman no.1” comic was spotted Tuesday among a pile of other sacred texts, with many people being able to guess that the comicbook fan culprit was Robert Garcia.
The incoming congressman previously expressed his comicbook fanboy zeal after his November election victory when he realized his new job would allow him access to the Library of Congress, which is also the largest public comic collection in America.
In November, after his election victory, Garcia was musing which comic to check out first from the Library of Congress: “Superman no.1” (1939), the first solo appearance of Superman, or “Amazing Fantasy #15” (1962), which is the first appearance of Spider-Man.
In April 2022, a copy of “Superman no.1” sold at auction for a record-breaking $5.3 million. A copy of “Action Comics no.1” (1938) was sold for a record-breaking $3.4 million in September 2022.
Fans of DC Comics have been geeking out about one of our own rising to one of the highest elected offices in the country.
Garcia responded to some critics by saying that anyone who was upset he “still [reads] comics” and thought he “[needed] to do more serious reading” should know that comics are an “essential part of American fiction” and “serious sh*t” and that the “lessons learned [in comics] are invaluable.”
Robert Garcia has enthusiastically shown his support for filmmaker Zack Snyder and his take on DC Comics, which is often called the “Snyderverse”, and has called for sequels to Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which debuted on HBO Max on May 18, 2021.
Garcia is a noted defender and champion of the polarizing cult-classic “Batman v Superman” film, which has a strong and passionate following by discerning fans, despite being scorned by professional critics at the time of its release.
He considers Man Of Steel to be his favorite DCEU (DC Extended Universe) film.
Garcia’s DC fandom has by noticed by DC, earning him an invitation to their offices.
Garcia has also been a strong supporter of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, #ReleaseTheAyerCut, and #RestoreTheSnyderVerse movements on twitter.
Garcia said he is “damn proud” of his love of “Zack Snyder and the DCEU.”
The reactions to Garcia’s geeky display as he enters Congress has been full of pride and an outburst of excitement from the comicbook community.
Garcia will be the first openly LGBTQ immigrant to serve in Congress. With his diverse background, Garcia is sure to be a Champion of the Oppressed as he continues to serve the people.