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The United Nations, in a desperate bid to regain prowess and favorable public opinion, has decided to team up with Marvel Entertainment and use Spider-Man to push pro-U.N. propaganda to children around the world.

The move, reminiscent of World War II-era propaganda, is meant to sidestep the ugly relationship the U.N. has cultivated in recent years with the United States and other countries. Aside from political disagreements with the U.S. concerning foreign policy, the U.N. has suffered PR losses over its militant stance in favor of abortion and contraception.

“These comics, featuring favorite Marvel characters such as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, will … tell the story of how the United Nations fights the challenges of poverty, disease, and conflict worldwide,” said a U.N. announcement.

“By making the complex U.N. system accessible to youth, the partners hope to teach children the value of the international cooperation, and sensitize them to the problems faced in other parts of the world.”

The idea of using children’s comics to push the agenda of the U.N. came from a French filmmaker named Romuald Sciora, who has released a series of short documentaries about former U.N. leaders and has been honored by the U.N. for his work in “informing the public, and particularly the world’s young people, about the United Nations.”

Camille Schippa of the U.N. Office for Partnerships told the Financial Times that a storyline is due to be approved within weeks and that the cartoonists are working for free. The comic will be distributed to 1 million school children in the U.S., and the U.N. has plans to translate it into French for distribution into other countries.

The current drafts reportedly will be set in a fictional war-torn country, where heroes such as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four will work in tandem with UNICEF and U.N. peacekeepers to cure disease and stop military conflicts.

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[3Jan08, John Connolly,]