Nov 14, 2008

Columnists - Matt Brady;5 lessons for Obama from Spiderman

Matt Brady

Not only has America elected its first African-American President, it's looking more and more like we've elected our first Geek-in-Chief. He's read Harry Potter, he's addicted to his BlackBerry, and his Mac laptop has a Pac Man sticker on it. Do we need any more evidence he's one of the nerd generation?

Most recently, the President Elect has acknowledged that he collected both Conan the Barbarian and Spider-Man comic books growing up (although he identifies with Batman as well as Spidey).
But let's look closely at Spider-Man for a minute.

Over the Marvel Comics icon's 45-plus year crime-fighting career, the Amazing Spider-Man learned many hard lessons about what it takes to be a true hero, something the United States sorely needs right now. Here are the Top 5 Lessons we hope the President-Elect has learned from the Wall-Crawler.

5. In Order to Get Things Done, Sometimes You Have to Reach Across the (Super Hero) Aisle.

Where Spider-Man Learned It: Virtually every issue of Marvel Team-Up and Marvel "crossover" events.

The Lesson: Marvel's recent Civil War miniseries brought the point to a head -superheroes don't always get along. Just like politicians they often bring very different approaches and ideologies to the table. In Marvel comic books Iron Man has recently become something of a big government fascist, and the Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange has extreme libertarian leanings, but Spidey's managed to serve as teammates on the Avengers with both.

Spider-Man also works closely with minority groups (the X-Men), and isn't threatened by gender differences (Spider-Woman). Sometimes in order to do good, you have to look past your differences.

4.The Press Isn't Your Friend

Where Spider-Man Learned It: From the first time J. Jonah Jameson wrote his first anti-Spider-Man editorial, shortly after he debuted. No matter what he does, Spider-Man can never catch a break with JJJ.

The Lesson: Jameson is convinced Spider-Man is a menace to society, rather than a hero trying to save it. But Spidey doesn't let it get him down or make his second guess what he knows is right. Sure, seeing anti-Spidey screed blasting down from billboards and on newsstands can grate, but he keeps rolling on. And yes, even Jameson has jumped on the Spider-Man bandwagon once or twice, but has jumped right off it again and gotten back to his normal ways.

3. Bad Things Are Going to Happen. The Important Thing Is How You Respond

Where Spider-Man Learned It: Practically every issue, including being trapped under tons of machinery in Amazing Spider-Man #33, 1966 and the death of his first love Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121, 1973.

The Lesson: As Joe's Biden and Lieberman both predicted, new presidents are usually tested early, and no one can predict exactly how. As Spider-Man has showed time and again, it's how you react to adversity that defines you. Spider-Man's probably had to deal with more tough hands over the years than any superhero alive, and while he's always flirted with throwing in the towel during the dark times, he always comes back with renewed purpose and shows himself to be the hero we know him to be.

2. Never Lose Your Sense of Humor

Where Spider-Man Learned It: From the early days of his career, up through the latest issues on the stands.

The Lesson: Putting Spider-Man's mask on freed the once nerdy and shy Peter Parker to let his constant - and sardonic - inner monologue out, and be the superhero who reacts to adversity with quick wit and even a little charm.

Over the years, Spider-Man's snappy one-liners have helped him keep his spirits up in difficult times, as well as the heroes around him. American isn't looking for a Comedian-in-Chief, but as all our 401k's shrink in size like Spidey's buddy the Astonishing Ant-Man, we could use a little levity from our leaders.

Obama ought to allow himself to occasionally relax that famous disciplined approach of his let the country see that even our leader can laugh in the face of adversity.

1. With Great Power There Must Also Come -- Great Responsibility

Where Spider-Man Learned It: His very first appearance in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, and as seen 2002's Spider-Man feature film.

The Lesson: Probably the most famous line in comic book history, this nugget, originally penned by Spidey's co-creator Stan Lee, has informed Spider-Man almost since he was first bit by that radioactive Spider, along with countless superheroes that followed.

Sure, Obama has the Supreme Court and Congress checking him, just like Spider-Man has the Fantastic Four and Captain America, but you still want the most powerful man in the world to have his head in the right place from the start, and to use his powers for truth, justice, and the American way...

Oh wait, wrong superhero...

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