Jewish World Review August 13, 2003 / 15 Menachem-Av, 5763

Abe Novick

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Auh-nold and Our Comic Book Nation | It had to happen. After a summer of the Hulk and a slew of comic book characters returning from the land of the lost, the rise of Arnold, the machine, was destiny.

If our country is a comic book nation, as Bradford Wright describes in his book by that same title, then the Republicans are DC Action heroes while the Democrats are the more mysterious Marvel characters.

DC (how appropriate) comics were made up of Superman, Batman and Robin. They were always the more clean-cut types. Marvel's cast was always struggling with their identity.

It makes sense then that the former Mr. Universe, Arnold, will run as a Republican. I suppose that makes him Uberman and some distant cousin to our own current occupant of The White House, Superman.

See, if you follow the analogy, W is Superman. And like Superman, he still thinks he was brought up by George and Barbara. But really, he's the offspring of Ronald Reagan (Jor-El.)

Never before in comic book culture has there been a battle between Marvel Comics made up of Spiderman, Hulk and The Fantastic Four and DC's champions of justice.

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But like so much of today's eternally returning nostalgia, one has to constantly come up with new twists on old themes to revamp and repackage what's often the same product*New Democrats anyone?

The presence of Arnold, The Uber-Terminator, will pose an interesting dilemma for The Republicans. After he revealed his true identity and calling on Leno's Tonight Show Wednesday, he vowed to "clean house." If taken literally, this Austrian-born, bodybuilder-turned actor, could shake up the turf of an already shaky state.

The real Superman, the one with a W on his chest (no dyslexic jokes please), wants to win California in '04. Were there a failing Gray Davis in office, the tide would be in W's favor and the electorate would move rightward.

Now, no matter the awesome power of the lone Uber-Arnold, turning the tides of California's economic budget gaps will take an army of Superfriends. It's more than one action-hero can handle. If the state is still in the red when W comes-a-callin', the shadow will fall on the GOP.

Meanwhile, in another part of our cartoon culture, and a sudden side-strip to what had been a fascinating series of collective, comic timing, Howard Dean landed on the covers of both Time and Newsweek last week.

Like some alien invader, Dean is threatening to undermine the Dem-o-god's party-faithful by instigating a grassroots uprising of activists. This has shaken up the beltway's Justice League and they are wondering what to do about an outsider treading on their soil. Is it just a temporary insurrection? Or is he an unstoppable hero with the right stuff to do battle against an immovable object?

Only time will tell. But as more and more politicos look yonder to dig and capture every ounce of big-donor nuggets in them thar hills of gold-rush country, California will now be the state to watch over the next year and a half.

In one of the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, Lex Luther, Superman's nemesis threatened to blow up The Golden State and turn Nevada into beachfront property.

With California going through economic and political convulsions that could give the environmental term "landslide" the more political gist, it will be interesting to watch and see if Uberman can save the state so that Superman can lay claim to it.

No doubt, we'll all be tuning in to see, come Election Day, same bat-time. Same bat-channel.

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JWR contributor Abe Novick is senior vice president of Eisner Communications in Baltimore. Comment by clicking here.

07/25/03: "Failing celebrityhood
06/19/03: "Everything that deceives may be said to enchant" is as true as ever
04/09/03: American media becoming embedded with the enemy?

© 2003, Abe Novick