It has often been said that Comic Books should be fun, lighthearted, and a form of escapism for the readers. Whilst I do indeed subscribe to that level of thinking, there is also a saying that ‘life imitates art‘, although there is once in awhile an event that happens in ‘real life‘ that artistic form will pass comment on.
The book that Marvel felt was the one to reach the most people was Amazing Spider-Man #36 V2 Written by J.Michael Straczynski and Pencilled by John Romita Jr, the book was published by Marvel Comics in December 2001. The issue depicts the horrific details of the tragedy that befell New York City and the attack on the World Trade Centre, not to mention western Civilization in general. It was a moment when every person on the planet was affected in some way, a moment so terrifying that no-body felt safe. It was in some ways this generations ‘Pearl Harbor’
The Issue captures the feelings of helplessness and confusion in a beautiful and sensitive manner, the writing and art just display the love and respect that went into creating the issue, in order to accurately pay tribute to the real hero’s of that fay. The NYFD and The NYPD as well as the other men and women who contributed to the rescue effort, Men and Women who in some case paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in an attempt to save others. The true definition of heroism.
Told through the eyes of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the Straczynski and Romita Jr issue is an emotional masterpiece, the superheros in the book are shown to be helping out as best they can, with Spider-Man and Avengers aiding the rescue efforts…..aiding the real life heroes of the book as indeed are the Marvel universes super-villains, who have put aside their own regard for self-preservation. It as the tragedy strikes. It shows that there are horrors in the world that will unite a city…..and a nation.
The message of those panels is as powerful as it is clear. Everybody was affected that day, in a way that is impossible to fathom. The sheer artistry of the issue is the way Spider-Man is the voice of the masses, when questioned as to why he and the other heroes ‘let it happen‘ we see a clearly distraught and almost broken wall-crawler saying nothing. as we follow his path he spies Firemen and others sifting through the rumble looking for survivors, the characters inner monologue appears to dirctly addess the reader stating ‘We could not see it coming. We could not be here before it happened. We could not stop it. But we are here now.’
It’s a message that is repeated all through the issue, a statement that Spider-Manreaffirms every few pages as he addresses the reaser stating ‘In such days as these are heroes born. Not heroes such as ourselves. The true heroes of the 21st century. You, the human being singular‘