Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
Wise pairs up brief and slapdash essays on his favorite heroes with longer passages of business-book cliches. Green Lantern teaches us the power of "visualization" and provides Wise a chance to recommend The Secret. (Oprah is touted as a Business Superhero.)
He compares the thunder god Thor to the founders of Home Depot and finds an excuse to quote the Serenity Prayer in a chapter on Batman's preparedness. Speaking of Batman, Wise never comes out and says you should ask your superiors to open a billion-dollar off-the-books crime-fighting R&D department headed up by Morgan Freeman, but I'm sure he implies it in there somewhere.
Spider-Man's mantra "With great power comes great responsibility" gets seven pages. For Spider-Man, these words are an anguished, unshakable reminder of the great task to which his life is dedicated: making up for the single act of negligence that led to his uncle's death.
For Wise, the words demonstrate why you shouldn't make excuses for your mistakes, even if you botch an important presentation.
"Some things in life are binary: The PowerPoint slides are either ready or not ready. All the reasons (however justified) in the world can explain the problem, but none can fix it."
With PowerPoint comes great responsibility.
Wise claims that Spider-Man's words can show Business Superheroes how to handle tricky situations. His examples: the case of an intern who used to show up late and the time Wise fought with his fiancee over where he should leave his shoes. He works in some 70-year-old advice from Dale Carnegie but neglects to mention that Spider-Man peddles photos of himself to a newspaper that immediately uses them to slander Spider-Man. I'm no Business Superhero, but I bet that could illustrate bad branding.
In other chapters, Wise also:
Claims that Black Bolt, the Inhuman hero whose voice can shatter planets, "teaches us the value of silence."
Compares the story of Hellboy -- "a half demon who was brought to earth by the Nazis in order to usher in Ragnarock (the destruction of the world)" -- to the time Wise himself took an eight-week European vacation after his internship ended.
Insists that "as the Joker illustrates, one person's out-of-the-box thinking can be just plain crazy from another person's perspective." Yeah, just like that time Vic from IT suggested shooting the commissioner's daughter in the spine!
Wise's "Golden Rules" for Business Superheroes include "Be Ready For Team-Ups," "Patrol Often" and "Establish a Hideout," in which Wise honest-to-God compares hanging around Starbucks to Superman's Fortress of Solitude.
My favorite is "Swear an Oath." Wise suggests you craft a powerful, purposeful oath like the ones Green Lantern and the Phantom have held to. Here's Batman's, sworn to his murdered parents:
"I swear to dedicate my life and my inheritance to bringing your murderer, and all criminals, to justice. I swear it."
To become Captain marvel, young Billy Batson must shout the magic word "SHAZAM," an acronym that summons for him the greatest traits of the greatest heroes: the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, and so on.
Yes, GLEW. Say it out loud -- it crackles with mystic power. And you might want to modify that "creativity of George Lucas" bit with "before 1983."
Your Crap Archivist had to give this exercise a go. Maybe you should, too!
C . . . The scent of Bill Clinton!
R . . . The enunciation of Rambo!
A . . . The sensitivity of Alan Alda!
P . . . The silent P of Michelle Pfeiffer!
Finally, no hero inspired me more in my years of temping than Fletcher Hanks' Stardust, the master of the absurd ironic punishment:
Hanks' primitive, beautiful 1940's comics have recently been collected in two volumes from Fantagraphics. Not only will these terrifying stories teach you more about superheroes than Wise ever possibly could, they also offer just as much fresh insight into business.