Spider-Man 9/11

Yes, the title is a riff on the Michael Moore film released in 2004 - but the content of this article predates that film by almost three years. This article is not about Michael Moore, his film, his opinions, the war in Iraq, or George W. Bush. You won't see me discuss these items. This article is only about 9/11 and how the character of Spider-Man was used to acknowledge that event by Marvel Comics. Frankly, I never wanted to discuss politics on this website. The great philosopher Linus Van Pelt was prescient when he stated that there are three things you simply don't discuss "politics, religion, and the Great Pumpkin."

Oh - I am occasionally prone to making a snide comment here or there that may betray my political leanings on a particular issue - but this website is meant to be about Spider-Man, not my view of world events. People can o.d. on political news and opinions on CNN, Fox, & MSNBC. They certainly don't need to come here looking for information on Spider-Man and get a snoot full of that other crap.

The following article represents a consolidation of three small columns I wrote years ago in the wake of 9/11, and Marvel's subsequent release of Amazing Spider-Man volume 2 #36 (December 2001), which had Spider-Man at the scene of the World Trade Center's collapse. My aforementioned avoidance of political writings aside, I simply had to do it. There was no other way I could justify writing the silly prose I do about the silly subjects I do without acknowledging, in some form, this horrible event.

Since years have passed since these columns were first written, I'm a lot more thoughtful about the entire subject of ASM #36 than I was at the time, now that a lot of the emotion is no longer there. I have tweaked them a little bit - but very hesitantly decided for the most part to leave them as they were originally scribed, even though, as one faithful reader pointed out, I got way off track on one of them. Certainly, if I had been of a clearer mind at the time, I would have been a lot less inflammatory, particularly since I have an international audience. I even considered just ditching the whole thing, but I couldn't because:

I've split it into "parts" which reflects the separate columns, with separate titles, under which they originally appeared. So - read it with the understanding of the context and times in which it was written. I, and many folks, were pretty damned angry, scared, not knowing what the hell to do and anyone who had the nerve to take on 9/11 artistically was in for some grief, no matter what they did. In retrospect, it was pretty damn ballsy of Marvel and JMS to tackle this subject so soon after the incident. But I think it would be flatly dishonest of me to rewrite the article and present a frame of mind different than the one I actually possessed at that time. So, with that warning...

God Damn Them All to Hell

There's only one problem with that - just who are "Them"? The "Them" who actually hijacked the planes, terrorized the passengers, and murdered thousands of people? They're in hell already, their claims of doing this in the name of God notwithstanding. But before we get down on Islam - Christianity has the legacy of the Holy Roman Empire and its brutal, tyrannical reign to answer for as well. There probably isn't a religion which doesn't have fanatics who use the name of God to justify any number of horrible deeds. On the other hand, I can't stand to listen to these hand-wringing bleeding hearts on televison who tell us we must restrain our anger and not act out of vengeance - easy for them to say, since I doubt they have a son, daughter, father, mother, or other relative or close friend buried under that rubble, or who had their throat slit with a box cutter on one of the planes and is now a heap of smoldering ashes (I don't either - but the self-righteousness of people who want to tell those who have suffered loss how to deal with their anger just pisses me off.)

So just who do we punish? Better yet - who do we kill? After all, that's really the question we're asking ourselves, right? Let's be completely honest.

I don't know. I don't have any answers. And it's not like the internet needs another blogger puffed up enough to assume people are going to really care what he thinks - but I simply can't go back to writing reams of stuff about such ultimately silly and unimportant topics such as Spider-Man and the Green Goblin or why Peter Parker loves Mary Jane until I get this off my chest and acknowledge that I do indeed live in the real world where these horrible things happen.

Yes - I do believe the United States has every right - and in fact, has the duty, to go in and blow the hell out of someone - as long as it's the right someone. But I'm not going to actively promote it or cheer it when it happens because I don't have the moral authority to do so. I didn't lose anyone in the disasters. My life was only mildly inconvenienced. And when our young men are out there fighting and dying, I'm not going to be among them because not only am I firmly enscenced in my civilian life and family responsibilities, but I'm too old and out of shape to even be considered for military service. It's too easy to be bold and brave and call for military action laying on the couch watching CNN knowing that you're safe from actually having to back up any of the statements you make - so I'm not going to make any. That's what the President and Congress is for.

Let's not delude ourselves about the people who did this. They are murdering scum - pure and simple. They are not fighting for a cause of any kind, no matter what they tell the media or even themselves in their delusions. If there were no cause, they would still be murdering scum. If the nation of Israel marched en masse into the sea, or the United States bailed out of Saudi Arabia they would still maime and kill because not only is that what they do, that is what they like to do. None of them are going to beat their swords into plowshares. People in Northern Ireland have already found out what happens to terrorists when at least the pretense of peace comes. When there is no longer an "enemy," they start terrorizing their own people - which is something anyone who still lives under one of those oppressive Middle Eastern (or elsewhere in the world) dictatorships knows. And these people who euphemistically refer to themselves as "leaders" are parasites who feed off the misery and anguish of their own people to maintain their sense of power and self-importance. They don't want peace - they don't want to upgrade their peoples' standard of living because they need large hordes of ignorant, hungry, tired, scared, and angry people to maintain their influence. Hell, politicians do the same thing in this country all the time when they vote against development of any kind in poor neighborhoods. An educated, informed populace is not a threat to a true "leader," but is a threat to an evil, self-important, egomaniacal power-monger. The only difference is that so far, in this country, our egomaniacs seem to be more obnoxious and self-deluded assholes than violent psychopaths.

I find it amusing when people talk about "re-evaluating" our relationship with Israel, as if we could now even if we wanted to. I'm not Israel's biggest booster, considering that I still remember a certain attack by Israel on the USS Liberty in 1967 which killed American servicemen and which Israel has never been held accountable for. There's also a fellow rotting in our jails by the name of Jonathan Pollard who committed treason by spying for Israel. But, they are the closest thing to a democracy or a friend we have in that region. And the last thing we would want to do would be to actually acquiese in any way, shape or form to what these savages want us to do.

I leave with this thought.

There is a Bedouin legend about an old man and his turkey. One day an elderly Bedouin man discovered that by eating turkey he could restore his virility. So he bought himself a turkey, kept it around the tent, and watched it grow. He stuffed it with food thinking, "Wow, I am really going to be a bull." One day, though, the turkey was stolen. So the Bedouin called his sons together and said, "Boys we are in great danger, terrible danger. My turkey has been stolen." The boys laughed and asked the old man "why do you need a turkey?" He replied "never mind - it is not important why I need a turkey- all that is important is that it has been stolen and we must get it back." But his sons ignored him and forgot about the turkey. A week later, the old man's camel was stolen. His sons came to him and said "Father, your camel has been stolen, what should we do?" The old man replied "find my turkey." A few weeks later the old man's horse was stolen, and the sons asked "Father, your horse has been stolen, what should we do?" He replied "find my turkey." Finally, a few weeks later, someone raped his daughter. The old man went to his sons and said "It is all because of the turkey. When they saw they could take my turkey - we lost everything."

As far as I'm concerned - our turkey was the initial bombing of the World Trade Center back in 1993. We made a few lame arrests, patted ourselves on the back, and felt good about ourselves. And now we've lost the Towers along with thousands of lives. That was our camel.

I don't want war. I don't want bloodshed, and I don't want the loss of innocent lives. I have two children who will have to live with the world we create. But, the people who did this are still governed by those basic tribal instincts from which that legend above sprang. And I fear that is all they will understand.

God Bless the United States of America.

Spider-Man (?) and September 11

As most of you probably already know (and I must assume you who are familiar with my site are dedicated enough Spidey fans to have already read the issue), Marvel decided that its laudable comics project Heroes, which featured comics artists rendering their perspective on September 11, with all proceeds going to the families of the FDNY and NYPD who lost loved ones on that day, wasn't enough. Because much of the Marvel Universe takes place in New York City, the powers that be believed that the issue of the destruction of the Trade Towers had to be dealt with in the continuity of one of their titles. And because of his stature as an "everyman" among heroes, it was decided that Spider-Man would represent the Marvel Universe's perspective on September 11.

But there's a danger inherent of mixing the real world and the Marvel Universe. I withheld judgment until I read it - but it's clear that not only was this a bad idea, but a bad idea poorly executed as well.

The whole idea of the destruction of the World Trade Center being a terrible event in the Marvel Universe is completely incongruous with what has previously gone on in that Universe. Huge chunks of New York and planet Earth are destroyed on a regular basis. Marvel even did a somewhat satirical series called Damage Control about the group that rebuilds New York after superhero and supervillain battles routinely wreck it. And remember the time when Manhattan Island was towed out into the Atlantic Ocean by the City Stealers way back in Marvel Team-Up #28? Or the Night of the Demons crossover? Or Maximum Carnage? Or the Sentinels wrecking havoc during Onslaught when the world thought the FF and Avengers had actually bought the farm? The denizens of the Marvel Universe have been dealt tragedy after tragedy of unfathomable proportions. The destruction of the Towers was a horrible event for us - but frankly, in the Marvel Universe, it's business as usual. To see this event given equal tragic weight in the Marvel Universe as it is in ours, is extremely awkward.

The Dr. Doom crying scene, often referenced in reviews, is particularly insulting. The baddies in the Marvel Universe clearly outdo the baddies in the real world. And yet here are the Kingpin, Dr. Doom, Juggernaut, and Magneto, guilty of all kinds of sins against the people of the Marvel Universe, standing alongside the ruins of the Towers mourning. And our illustrious superheroes are not insulted, when these villains have brought their own share of death and destruction?

Plus - get real. If Dr. Doom were outraged by this - do you think Osama would survive into the next day? No way.

So instead of being an issue that honored the real heroes of New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, it became a tasteless exercise, more public relations ploy than sincere statement.

If Marvel really felt it HAD to tell the story, then rather than from the point of view of the superheroes, it should have been done from the point of view of the supporting characters, such as Aunt May or J. Jonah Jameson, to illustrate the helplessness that ordinary people feel during events that are completely beyond their abilities to control. Even though Marvel has done a decent job of humanizing its heroes, I just don't buy the fact that a Tony Stark or a Reed Richards or Thor, or even Spider-Man, would feel as utterly useless or helpless in such a situation as an ordinary person.

But even if the idea were flawed, the execution could have still rescued it - but here too it fails. The narrative is horrible - oozing sanctimonious and self-righteous 20/20 hindsight. Other than the sad and horrified "God" that Spider-Man says after first coming upon the wreckage of the Towers, there isn't a single line of narrative indigenous to Peter Parker or Spider-Man. I don't believe for a minute that Pete or Spidey actually thought any of these things. These are J. Michael Straczynski's thoughts - not Spider-Man's.

But here's the thing that really frosts me, the injection of liberal bias into the proceedings. It was very subtle, and I'm not sure how many people caught it, but check out the narrative on the accompanying panel . Buried within a mournful "what do we tell the children?" monologue, Straczynksi slips in a hint that after all, America really did bring this on ourselves because we weren't listening. Because we don't listen to the "burdens of people in distant lands," before "their burdens become our tragedies." Translation: we did something to deserve this and if we don't start "listening" they'll do something else. Our fault. We deserved it. And those 3,000 people who died when the towers collapsed - justifiable payment for the "burdens" of others.

Bullshit.

I'm not denying that in the course of 225 years, the United States has made some truly awful, dreadful mistakes. But in the context of world history, and even the present day, which is replete with brutal, repressive regimes...I'm sorry, but America's sins don't measure up - not when at a great cost the U.S. helped stop cold two of the most evil, heinous regimes history has known - Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan - at the same time. And don't give me any crap about the atomic bomb. Nasty piece of work, the bomb - but put it in context of the Rape of Nanking and the wholesale slaughter of innocents in China and throughout Asia by Japan during the 1930's and 1940's. And the U.S. does more than any other country to try to atone for its sins - not that anyone else seems to notice, particularly the looney left in this country that thinks trying to blow up overworked, underpaid police officers with pipe bombs is striking a blow for freedom.

Amazing Spider-Man had no more business dealing with the attack on the World Trade Towers than it did on abortion, homosexuality, and the myriad other things people in this country can't seem to discuss rationally without coming to blows. (After I wrote this, several people reminded me that this was too much of a generalization - that after all, Stan Lee in his day dealt with such senstive issues as the Vietnam War and drug abuse - and there probably has been no issue more volatile in this country than Vietnam. So, I stand corrected.)

Amazing Spider-Man #36 Strikes Back!

Recognize the above scenes? Amazing Spider-Man volume 2 #36 ? Nope, No-Adjective Spider-Man #16 November 1991. Juggernaut, who has just knocked over a tower of the WTC in 1991, seemed to have an entirely different attitude then than 10 years later.

I guess it goes without saying that the World Trade Center issue of Amazing Spider-Man generated a considerable amount of discussion, both of praise and criticism. Some people loved it, others loathed it. If you read it, you had an opinion one way or the other.

I stated my opinion earlier and it has not changed since, so I see no need to elaborate on it further. I'm not a philosopher nor a professional critic, just a working class guy who loves Spider-Man as a hobby.

However, the criticism of ASM #36 raised a lot of questions as to "why" there were certain things in the story - and the creators involved provided some answers, one with tact and diplomacy, and one who decided to belittle those who raised the issues. I also received some feedback on my opinions, including one e-mail, which, though I disagreed with certain parts of the gentleman's opinion, did raise a valid criticism of my article. So, I felt it was pertinent to share these other opinions as sort of a counterpart to my original article.

First up is J. Michael Straczynski, who stated the following in a Newsarama interview. This is only the section on ASM #36. Straczynski's comments are in italics:

INTERVIEWER: The reaction to Amazing Spider-Man #36 was strong, and on one extreme end, you got some fans very riled up, particularly with the page that featured Magneto, Kingpin, and especially Dr. Doom shedding tears over the devastation of September 11th. The point was raised by some fans that in the comics themselves, these villains have masterminded destruction that makes 9/11 pale in comparison. Have you seen the specific reaction to the issue and that sequence and any thoughts on the strong negative reaction it received in some circles?

A number of the comments I saw were along the lines of, "Well, Doom and Magneto and the Sentinels and Galactus and others have done a lot more damage to New York City than was done on September 11th, so I don't buy that they'd make a big fuss."

To which I say: move out of your mom's basement. One's a fictional situation; the other is a real one. If you cannot perceive the distinction, stop reading. And for god's sake stop breeding.

To the specifics of Doom and Magneto being there and being upset...understand that both characters have always styled themselves as men of the people, though the sorts of people vary a bit obviously, one mutant, the other not. Doom sees himself as a benign ruler of his people, who does what's necessary. He lost his own mother and father to casual hatred. I think the randomness of 9/11; the sheer cruelty of it to total bystanders would have offended him. Most of the people he's gone up against were those he thought he had a reason to go after. There's always been a sense of noble royalty about him, and nobility doesn't do some things...and some things must be condemned.

As for Magneto...as someone who, as a child, was in the camps, whose parents were also killed through bigotry and institutionalized cruelty (see a pattern here?), he too would have been offended by this. When you remember his roots, and put it in perspective with the whole America/Israel/Arab situation, I don't think his reaction is at all inappropriate. There could've also been mutants in those two buildings; probably were. But even if they weren't...they weren't killed for what even Magneto would consider the right reasons. You'll note that he is using his abilities to lift girders...because you can see the lines of force...but you don't see him actually doing it or acknowledging it. I think he'd almost not want to be noted doing it. But he'd do it.

Maybe he doesn’t see humans as having the same value as mutants. But that ain't the point. You can kill a deer for food, but to just randomly slaughter them by the thousands for no reason other than hatred...show me one human who would support that. We still decry the mass slaughter of buffalos in this country's past, but we are not buffalos. We can have compassion for that which is not like us, a point which seems to evade some people. And that is kinda troubling.

And I don't know what Juggernaut was doing there, because that wasn't in the script.

Although I still can't say I agree with why the villains were there, Straczynski's defense of Doom and Magneto being present at Ground Zero makes sense. I'm by no means current on Doom and Magneto's current psychology (I would imagine both are now far more complicated than when they were originally conceived in the early 1960's), but Doom is a legitimate head of state of a country that is not at war with the United States and has no need to be at war with the United States. He has personal grievances with members of the Fantastic Four and other members of the superhero community, but not the ordinary citizens of the United States. And if he had a grievance with the government of the United States, he would probably pursue the problem either through diplomatic channels or by a direct confrontation with the government, not by casually blowing up a building and murdering civilians. Doom considers himself a rational person, and probably would find the events of 9/11 totally irrational. But would he shed tears at the situation? Still seems like dramatic license. I can't argue with Magneto, since the argument makes sense.

However, his blatant and totally unnecessary insults aside (I'm not letting them bother me), he still seems to miss the point when he says "one is real, one is fictional." Of course, the Marvel Universe is fictional and our world is real. We certainly don't need him to tell us that. Each has its own set of rules by which events occur - and he blurred the lines between the two, and in doing so, created a situation which is completely incongruous to either world. Superheroes and villains do not exist in "our" world. And the destruction of the World Trade Center would not be that big of a deal in the "Marvel" world. As the pictures at the top of the page illustrate, it's been destroyed before in the Marvel Universe.

Several years later, as Civil War was getting underway, the subject of the 9/11 issue came up yet again. The entire interview is at Newsarama , but I am quoting JMS verbatim here:

Poisoning the well a bit is the degree of disinformation out there, which gains currency through repetition. For instance, there's the myth that I told fans who didn't like the 9/11 Amazing Spider-Man issue to move out of their parents basement and stop breeding. Not true. There was one specific person who was pissed off because he didn't understand why Marvel was making such a big deal out of 9/11 when Galactus and the Sentinels have destroyed New York many times over.

I'm sorry, but if you actually believe that attention should not be paid to a real-life disaster because it's been done in the comics, then you do need to move out of your parents' basement. But what a few of the online critics did was to take that out of context and say I said it of all fans. Never happened. Never said it. But because a few people are determined to make trouble, and stir the pot, and make me (or somebody else) look bad...they put it out there, and people read it, and think that's what happened, and think, "Boy, that JMS is a jerk," which would be absolutely true if I actually said it.

I wish I had the original Newsarama link to the first interview, because I would have had an irrefutable reference - but I did quote him exactly. I copied and pasted the text each time so there would be no misquoting or misunderstanding.

And I leave it to you to render your judgment as to the veracity of his disclaimer.

As far as why Juggernaut was there, we go to John Romita, Jr., who provided the following perspective on the Spider-Man Message Board. The italics are Mr. Romita's comments:

Hey all.....

Immediately after the WTC attacks, crime in NYC came to a virtual halt. This moratorium, for lack of a better word, continued for some time. Before I even began to work on ish. #36, I took that as....EVERYONE, even the scum of society, stood and shook in horror and helplessness, that day! They might have cried, that day!

It did not last. It did, however, last a good amount of time. When I arrived at that scene, in the script, I was given the choice of characters to add. Doc Doom was in the script and had to be there. I added the others. Honestly, I don't remember the day that I worked on that page, or the whole issue, for that matter. I don't know why I chose the villains I did. I do remember the thought I had when the issue came out and was villified for the "scene."

Call it symbolism or a metaphor.....any cliche will suffice, but my take was that all of us, good or bad, were shook up. ALL OF US!!So if this, issue #36, is beating anyone over the head with the symbolic hammer...so be it!If it was heavy-handed...fine! I was a part of it and I'm proud! It touched me and still does. It made a point and still does. It's being spoken about ...and still is! Taken literally, all comics are ridiculous. All of us suspend reality for a few hours everyday.... For enjoyment comics are wonderful. To get this point across to those who don't watch Dan Rather, it was effective. To be put under a microscope the way it has is ludicrous.

It was not Doc Doom and other villains at ground zero, just like it was not a young child crying for his fallen father. It was a representation...a symbol...a metaphor for real feelings and thoughts. It was, excuse the sugar-coating, JMS' and my heart and soul on those pages. I didn't ever cringe at the thought of those characters being in that spot. To me, it made sense. This kind of cowardly, unspeakable horror effects all of us...ALL OF US! I don't want to say..."Lighten Up"! I want everyone to concentrate on what happened on 9/11. Don't forget...Don't EVER forget!

I hope I don't trip getting down off this damn soap box!

Romita certainly deserves some credit for taking some of the blame/heat away from Straczynski when he didn't have to, as well as strongly and uncompromisingly stating his opinion WITHOUT resorting to insults. His defense, however, that it was all just "symbolism" still falls short for the reason that this "symbolic" story was presented within the context of the regular continuity of arguably Marvel's most popular and most visible character. I know that by continuing with this line of thought, I come dangerously close to seeming that I actually take Spider-Man and his continuity seriously, which is far from the truth. But again, to present this story under the guise of actually "occurring" in this particular universe, and then telling us "well, no it really didn't - how could you be so silly to think so - it's just an allegory," is well, simply frustrating and confusing to the audience. Again, had this been presented in the context of a special one-shot, like Heroes, then I think most people would have understood, and there wouldn't have been near the flack. But then, why was it done this way, as opposed to a special one-shot?

Publicity. The very thing Marvel would deny that this was done for in the first place. A one-shot would not likely have been the No. 1 pre-ordered title like an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, which featured an increasingly "hot" character who had a major motion picture coming out.

So I'm cynical.

But neither Straczynski nor Romita addressed the primary problem of this issue - that the narration and perspective were alledgedly Spider-Man's - when in reality they were not his. The author was presenting his own biased opinions, yet trying to disguise them as Spider-Man's.

And on that note, I received the following intriguing e-mail from a Mr. Smithwhite about my own column dealing with ASM #36:

Just a quick message to say that, in my opinion, if you think that Amazing Spider-Man has no business dealing with suggestions that the attack on the World Trade Centre attack was a result of US foreign policy, then nor does your column. I thought you were doing a decent enough job of criticising ASM #36 on artistic grounds before you needlessly started invoking blind patriotism.

Although I admit that I strongly disagree with you about the nature of "America's sins", as you put it, my aim in writing certainly isn't to start any argument about that (and don't think that I'm suggesting the WTC deaths were in any way justified). I just think you made the same mistake as Straczynski, by putting a political argument in the wrong context. What I mean is, if a Spider-Man book did deal with abortion, to use your example, you wouldn't need to get on your soap-box (whichever one that would be) in order to point out that the use of the subject was out of order.

Mind you, I admit, the difference is that the site is YOUR site, so you can shove whatever you like onto it. In general, I really appreciate what you're doing, and I hope you don't think I sound too hostile.

After some thought, I responded to Mr. Smithwhite with the following:

Hmm, well, if I wasn't prepared for someone to disagree with me, I wouldn't have had any business including such strong opinions in my editorials.

Agree or not, I appreciate the time that you took to read my column and respond to it, but now that I've got you....

I think there is a major difference between my injecting my opinion and Straczynski injecting his is that I am not writing my opinion as coming from the thoughts of another character. When you read my columns, you know exactly's whose opinions they are - mine - and they are not represented as anyone else's (to which that whoever else is no doubt profoundly grateful). I give my opinions about a wide range of issues in Spider-Man, but never do I claim to be Spider-Man or speak for Spider-Man. In Amazing #36, Straczynski is doing just that. The narrative is supposedly Spider-Man's thoughts. It would have been just as wrong for Spider-Man to have thought to himself "I hope we grind Afghanistan to paste," as it would be to imply that American foreign policy caused the tragedy. If Straczynski wants to make that point as an American citizen, then by all means he can do so in a column or interview or whatever forum he chooses, but to shanghai one of the most popular figures in American popular culture and ascribe that opinion to him, is, well, completely improper.

To which Mr. Smithwhite responded, ending this particular round of correspondence. He starts off by quoting me:

"The narrative is supposedly Spider-Man's thoughts. It would have been just as wrong for Spider-Man to have thought to himself "I hope we grind Afghanistan to paste," as it would be to imply that American foreign policy caused the tragedy".

That was my point, really. By bringing in your own opinion at that point in the critique, I just thought you were in danger of implying that if Spidey's supposed thoughts had tallied with your own then that would have been okay. Whereas, as you say in your reply to me, the idea of having Spider-Man commentate on issues like this is absurd whatever view is expressed.

Of course your editorials express your own opinions, rather than a character's, and that works fine in the context of something like (your earlier article). In this instance, however, I thought that it detracted from the main point that you were making, that's all.

Anyway, thanks for writing back. I look forward to reading your stuff in the future...

First of all, I give Mr. Smithwhite a lot of credit for disagreeing with me about my perspective on American foreign policy, as well as my take on this issue, but (1) not personally insulting me (2) not trying to engage me in a debate on American foreign policy, realizing that was beyond the scope of our discussion, and (3) acknowledging that well, it is MY website. He stated that he disagreed with me, but moved on to the main topic, which of course, was Spider-Man. Also, some of his initial criticism was based on an assumption he made that I was only unhappy because the narrative did not support my personal political opinion, which is not an unreasonable assumption considering the last portion of my original article, which I'll address later. After a couple of e-mails, we cleared that up and moved on.

However, the point he did make about my editorial becoming less effective when it moved from an artistic criticism of ASM #36 to what he called "blind patriotism" (I'll discuss that a little later) was DEAD ON ACCURATE. In re-reading (one of the articles), I saw how I completely shifted gears from a critical analysis of ASM #36 to broad sweeping political statements about, of all things, America's use of the atomic bomb during World War II. The last few paragraphs simply had no business in that article. As he stated, they would have been more in the proper perspective in the section where I discussed the 9/11 attack itself.

As I have gone back through these articles and updated and modified them, I did consider extracting the paragraphs in that one section where I got off track, but I decided to leave them in, if for no other reason than they accurately reflected my honest feelings at the time I wrote the article. It wasn't an act on my part, nor an attempt to hear myself pontificate. I had simply gotten carried away because the emotions I was feeling were still pretty raw. Nonetheless, it is not as professional as it should have been.

For pointing that out, Mr. Smithwhite, I thank you.

But as far as "blind patriotism" goes - I'll happily plead guilty to that. Looking out across the rest of the globe, we've got a good thing going here. America isn't perfect, it's made some mistakes, but it's also done some marvelous things - helping to save the world from facism comes to mind. Pouring billions into foreign aid is another. And frankly, if a bunch of feudal warlords want to pretend the year is 600 A.D. and kill each other in the name of God, that's just fine with me - but they can do it in their own corner of the world and leave our civilians on this side the hell alone.

And if anyone can touch the cool black stone of the Vietnam memorial, and walk among the rows of little white crosses scattered across several acres of Arlington National Cemetary without becoming a blind patriot - well, I guess they're made of stronger stuff than I.

Hopefully, that will be my last word on politics.

Postscript: I'm not worked up about this issue anymore. It's over and done with and more than five years old. As I look back, I realize that in some ways I might have missed what could be an important point - that the issue was meant to be allegorical - that it was not meant to be one of a long line of stories about Spider-Man - that the character of Spider-Man, as well as the use of the villains was actually irrelevant - that they were simply props being used to illustrate certain points. I understand the reasons Marvel decided to go with this issue, and I understand the reasoning behind why certain persons and events were present and portrayed as they were. I still think I'm right, however, in reasoning that Marvel didn't just issue this as a one-shot, or feature a minor character other than Spider-Man, because it simply wanted the additional publicity, so their motives weren't 100% pure.

Still, the story just doesn't seem quite right to me. I re-read it before revising this article, and something still seems out of whack - but I guess I'm less certain about exactly what it is. Distancing myself from the politics involved, it simply comes across as preachy and heavy-handed and somewhat overwritten. But hell, it was written in a very short period of time by a writer who had a hundred other things on his plate not long after one of the most emotional and significant events in American history. To expect anyone at that time to proceed from a completely rational position, and not to inject some emotion and irrational thought into the debate (as my own rants demonstrate) is unrealistic. As far as I'm concerned now, this is water under the bridge with bygones being bygones....for the most part.

Frankly, I still stumble over the "before their burdens become our tragedy," line, because it still seems to say to me that we were asking for it. And that I'll never buy.

To this day people praise this issue, but I must have missed that boat, because I didn't, don't, and probably never will.

But it is what it is - and it's time to move on to other things.


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Copyright 1998-2007 J.R. Fettinger. All Rights Reserved. All original content is the exclusive property of J.R. Fettinger. Spider-Man, the Green Goblin and everyone else who appears in the Spider-Man comics is the property of Marvel Entertainment and are used in these articles for the purpose of analysis and commentary.