In 2009, The Economist noted that "Atlas felt a sense of déjà vu": in the wake of the economic crisis and the market interventions by the US government, the novels by Ayn Rand (1905-1982) experienced an actual renaissance and would keep making news thanks to the Tea Party movement as well as due to high-profile US politicians like Paul Ryan, who had to explain the extent of Rand's influence on them. Once again, Americans discussed the appeal of novels like The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), and how a Russian immigrant could become "the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right," as historian Jennifer Burns put it.
While most people are aware of Rand's political impact, her legacy in American culture-low and high brow-is less frequently commented on, even though it is the one arena in which she has been a constant source of inspiration. From Mary Gaitskill's novel Two Girls, Fat and Thin to the "Ayn Rand School for Tots" featured in The Simpsons, Rand's work and persona have been satirized, ridiculed, celebrated, and perpetuated in different forms and contexts. Her presence is, however, most markedly felt in one particular form of "low brow art," namely in the superhero comic book genre, as I discuss in a recent article.