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Superman & Spiderman. Working with your enemies and noncompetition

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superman vs spiderman

The first time a comic books drastically changed my life was in 1976 when I walked into the neighborhood 7-11 to buy a Slurpee.  There it was, bigger than life in the magazine rack and everything I thought about the world was shattered.  There weren’t comic book stores or things like that back then so most of my comics were bought at grocery stores or at this local 7-11.  The best part of this day was that what happened was completely unexpected and was a genuine surprise.  Today there are so many websites and preview magazines that by the time a comic actually comes out on the shelf, people already know everything that happens in it and have debated the plot points in chat groups.  If you don’t believe this, think about whatever blockbuster movie is coming out into theaters this next summer.  What do you already know about the movie?    Chances are you probably know more than you even realize.  Recently I’ve even seen movie trailers for movie trailers.  There was a time when the world wasn’t like this though and things could still surprise you.

Sitting in the magazine stand was the first oversized size comic I had ever seen and the thought comics could ever be bigger than the standard single issue had never even entered my eight year old perception.  Mind already blown!  However, the larger size wasn’t the only thing I couldn’t wrap my head around:  This comic theoretically should not exist.  It was like a vacuum in space or being able to lick your elbow.  Looking at the cover I felt the earth move in a way I had never felt it move before.  It was like all the universal truths I had grown up with were now somehow proven wrong.

There on the front cover were two things that were never supposed to be seen together; Superman VS the Amazing Spiderman.

Just in case that last sentence didn’t quite blow your mind like it did back when I first saw it, let me explain to you why this was such a phenomenal event and was an even bigger shock to my young mind than when Vader told Luke he was his father.

Until that moment there were basically two separate planes of existence in the comic book universe, Marvel and DC.  Fans loved to argue over who would win in a race between The Flash and Quicksilver (who is basically Marvel’s version of The Flash), or Ironman and Batman (who is basically DC’s version of Ironman).  These were always fun debates to get into because there was never any way to prove an argument and we were always left to wonder, what if?

But now…here were the two biggest characters from the two greatest companies together in one book.  This changed everything.  I felt like Copernicus discovering the earth wasn’t the center of the universe.   All of this for only two dollars and worth every penny ten times over.

Our nation was celebrating its bicentennial and I remember buying this masterpiece of work by Neil Adams and John Romita Sr. with quarters that had the bicentennial stamp.  The VHS home movie system was introduced and Apple Computers were formed by a couple of crazy guys working out of a garage that same year.

May you live in interesting times.

When I look around and see all the conflict in the world I often think of that comic I read until the pages basically disintegrated in my hands.  It’s the best example that comes to my mind when I visualize cooperation (which sounds an awful lot like corporation don’t you think?).  What would happen if everyone stopped competing with each other and started working together?  What if we pooled our resources and shared ideas?

I know this is crazy talk, but is it really?

Stan Lee and Carmine Infantino, respectively the heads of Marvel and DC at the time, put aside their companies’ competitiveness for the simple reason that they hoped to have a bestseller on their hands.  This has happened many times throughout history but I wish it would happen more.  Morihei Ueshiba wanted a martial art that revolved around conflict resolution instead of combat so he founded Aikido.  Nikola Tesla let others use his designs freely hoping his technology could help others make theirs better.

What if more companies and people did this with each other?  For example, what if all our cell phones used the same type of charger?  What if I didn’t need to by a PlayStation, X-box and a Wii just so I could play Little Big Planet, Halo and Mario?  What if bologna was square like our bread?

I don’t think these ideas are completely unreasonable and these are just the first three that came off the top of my head.  Imagine what people with actual creative genius could do together.  Maybe we wouldn’t have to hear our waitress ask us if Pepsi would be ok every time we ordered a Coke.

Maybe we could all have healthcare and medications.

Maybe we wouldn’t have to make weapons to defend ourselves from our competitors.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I think competition is a wonderful thing and it can push people to greater levels than they might not achieve without it.  However, it’s when competition becomes damaging to the loser that it becomes bad.  Why does there have to be a loser?  Why does someone have to win?

I know I’m sounding like Pollyanna here but I really believe we could do more as a species if we spent more time working together than trying to prove each other wrong. Worrying less about having more than our neighbors and not killing each other over money.  Crazy notion, right?

 

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