Superman just became awesome again.
I will admit that I’ve grown away from Superman as a character. At one point he was definitely one of my favorites; I loved the whole Dan Jurgens/1990s era of the character when they were putting out four tightly knit Superbooks a month. But over the years, I wound up losing interest, especially all of the undoing of the John Byrne post-Crisis aspects and replacing them with a more Geoff Johns/Richard Donner theme.
The Superman in the New 52 books has peaked my interest on and off, mostly due to Jurgens’ involvement on the title. Fast forward to the recent announcement that there was going to be a new Superman series with Geoff Johns at the helm and I wasn’t that excited. But with them announcing that John Romita Jr. would be drawing Supes with Klaus Janson on the inking side, suddenly this is something I want to read.
This is the first DC work that JRjr has done and having it be on one of their–if not the–highest profile characters certainly is exciting. Color me optimistic.
Amazing Spider-Man #36 had to have been a challenge for writer J. Michael Straczynski in creating a story that reflects 9/11 in the context of a universe populated with super heroes. What he did was find a way to express what the whole country felt that day through the eyes of Spider-Man.
Looking back at this eleven years after it was published, he really did a good job capturing the mindset of the country while it was watching this tragedy unfold. There is an overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness. This is really shown in a scene where Spider-Man has to confront a child who lost a parent at the World Trade Center. For all his super powers, he couldn’t do anything. And I think that the whole country had that feeling on September 11.
But at the same time Straczynski was able to convey a theme of hope and inspiration in overcoming this tragedy by paying the tribute to the real heroes of that day–the emergency service workers who put their own lives aside to help others in danger. It also touched on the togetherness that came as a result of the tragedy. Living in New Jersey, an area that was greatly effected, I saw people taking it upon themselves to find a way to find a way to help any way they could, whether it be gathering food and supplies to bring to Manhattan.
And the story shows Marvel’s characters finding ways to not only comfort people whose lives were changed but to assist the rescue workers in any way they could. Straczynski even made a point to show that even the regular villains–the Dr. Dooms and the Kingpins of the world–put aside their own usual scheming of dominance and power to lend a hand.
And that really was one of the legacies to come out of September 11, was how everyone in the country–regardless of politics, religion, culture, race, you name it–put everything aside to come together as one.
This story never got cheesy or felt that it was done for shock value; it was a heartfelt tribute acknowledging those whose lives were unjustly lost as well as the courage shown by the people who helped aid in the recovery and rescue.
You can read the issue for free on Comixology.
I usually don’t read the tie-in issues of the event comics, but I gave this a shot. Fear Itself: Avengers does a great job supplementing the Fear Itself event, by collecting some issues of Brian Bendis’ Avengers and New Avengers comics from that time, giving insight into how the Earth’s mightiest heroes are dealing with this crisis.
Bendis shares the Avengers point of view of these events in a unique way; the story jumps from the current time to later on when they’re interviewed by an author chronicling the history of the team.
This narration sets the tone for the rest of the book. It’s not what the Avengers did during this crisis that is covered, but how the team dealt with the impact of this event. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones argue about what it means for them to be accepting money from the government to be Avengers. Spider-Man can’t trust Victoria Hand (a former executive in his enemy Norman Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R. forces), who is now serving the Avengers in a similar capacity. Mockingbird is still coming to terms with both her return and Infinity Syrum given powers, while her quasi-ex-husband Hawkeye is growing more attached to Spider-Woman by the way. Squirrel Girl also gets some face time, as she has taken a job as Luke and Jessica’s daughter Danielle’s babysitter, and has to protect the child as the Avengers Mansion is stormed by Sin’s Nazi army. There is so much going on in this book that works to set up future stories just as much as the main Fear Itself book.
Usually these types of books just supplement the crossover, but this goes beyond that. It shows the dynamics of the team, and that these super heroes have the same concerns as we do–financial security, relationships and self-doubt. Not to mention, some awesome art from John Romita Jr., Mike Deodato Jr. and Chris Bachalo.