9/11 and Comics

September 11. Big day in the newspaper business.

I heard a snippet from the Bob and Tom radio show saying a plane had hit the World Trade Center a few minutes into my workday. We flipped on the TV in the Assistant General Manager’s office and watched in stunned silence. We saw the second plane hit the other tower. We saw the people jumping from windows. We saw the horror and the enormity of it all. And then we saw the towers collapse.

We were transfixed with the news reports. We were scared that something else was going to happen. Everyone was on edge. And then my employer, The News-Gazette,  received a call saying our building isn’t safe.

On that bright, sunny early September day, we were outside watching our building, talking on cell phones, muttering about the idiocy and the audacity of the caller and those that committed the acts in New York and Washington.

I went home and watched the news reports until the quiet hours of the morning. I was struck with the feeling that we had better make someone pay. If it is this Osama Bin Ladin terrorist, then we had better take him out and his whole network. The President mirrored my thoughts and feelings.

I was not as caught up in the patriotic fever as some of my fellow co-workers, but the feeling of unity and determination were undoubtedly there. I was grabbing newspapers, pictures from the internet and information as soon as it was available. I read and learned about this enemy. I feared for those in the armed forces and knew full well that they were preparing for war.

The United States has never been attacked like this in its entire history. At the time, people were evoking Pearl Harbor and sneak attacks, but this event was much larger than that. This event will reshape American policy at the cost of seven thousands lives. We have never been in a war such as this – a man of no country declaring war on the world’s only superpower. It is laughable, until you see the smoking ruins at ground zero.

“Awaken the sleeping giant” was the term used in the aftermath of Pear Harbor and that term works for me as well regarding this event. We are awake and like a bear being disturbed during hibernation, we are not happy. But unlike that over-emotional bear, The United States has been methodical in its pursuit of the terrorists.

At the time of this writing American forces have taken most of Afganhistan and narrowed the safe havens for bin Ladin down to a few miles. I imagine he will be dead before Christmas. I pray that he does not become a martyr to his insidious cause.

From September 11 to comic books. Bear with me. It will all make sense.

I like comics. I’ve liked them since I was a little kid, going through my father’s collection. Today I collect (and actually read them, too) several titles. I like Planetary, Powers and Queen and Country as well as some more mainstream stuff like Ultimate Spider-man, X-Men and JLA. I also read a book that lately has been the cause of some major controversy, The Authority.

If a comic book could be a wide-screen, all out action movie that doesn’t suck – it would be The Authority. There are no little stories in The Authority. It’s galactic invasion, major super-villain team, kill or be killed stories. The characters of The Authority don’t pull punches; they tend to go right on through the face and jaw. These characters say the outcome overshadows the way they got there. If some eggs are broken, look at the tasty omelet they created. People get killed and they don’t come back the next issue.

The controversy is the massive amounts of violence, justified or unjustified, in the book and is it now “appropriate” for this day and age of idiots thinking if they ram a plane into a building they will be rewarded in the afterlife with 70 virgins. The powers that be are scared that the violence is too much, too graphic, too intense for the readers.

I say, bullshit.

Put the damn book back out on the stands. Let the creators finish the story they wrote before the tragedy. People want to be entertained. People want to do something that doesn’t involve a lot of thinking. You ever wonder why Home Alone broke all those records? You think that maybe it was because Americans wanted to get away for awhile and not think about the Persian Gulf?

This is no different. It is entertainment pure and simple. I admit this isn’t a book for little kids, but it wasn’t before September 11 either. It’s an adult comic book, and by that I don’t mean there’s an abundance of sex. Just violence. Graphic violence.

Books, movies, and even comics, propel the participant into a world where heroes stop the villain from destroying the world. People want that escapism right now. I say, let the masses be entertained. Now, more than any other time, we want to feel good about our heroes. We want to identify with the character staring down the evil and maybe even smirking a bit. We want to see the villain get his come-uppance.

Let the silly funny book with all the ultra-violence be solicited again.