The death of innocents and the death of innocence…
As we commemorate the tragedy but also the heroism of September 11, 2001, I take a brief look back at one of the more poignant and fundamental commentaries of that event through the lenses of a comic book.
There were numerous comics that commemorated the event in one way or another, but “The Black Issue” pretty much summed it up. This isn’t about how the comic books mirror real life, but how comics honored the victims of 9/11 and took a back seat to the true heroism that was displayed that day.
A hero comes in all shapes and sizes. Heroes come with varying power sets, from none to cosmic. Heroes don’t always wear costumes, but many do wear uniforms. Many wear nothing but their hearts.
This issue focused on the reflections of probably New York’s most notable and recognizable “everyman’s” hero, Spider-Man. Spider-Man has pretty much seen it all when it comes to disasters in New York City, from it being turned into a mediaeval nightmare by Kulan Gath, to a nightmarish version of hell on Earth during Inferno series. However, at the end of it all, New York City was put back together and life went on like it never happened.
9/11 was different, this time – the heroes failed. They weren’t there to stop the planes from hitting and ultimately bringing down the towers. New York City alone is probably the home of 90% of the Earth’s mightiest heroes (Thor, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers, etc.) and no one could prevent the events of that fateful day. So, instead of wallowing in despair, they picked up beams, brought supplies, rescued as many survivors as they could and let Earth’s other mightiest heroes, the NYPD, FDNY and EMS do what they do best – save lives.
This occasion even made some of the most notorious villains take a pause, and reflect. Villainy would most certainly resume, but not this day.
People of all faiths, political persuasions and backgrounds would point fingers and blame one another, but that was noise to the cries and needs of people who needed a helping hand.
Ultimately, it wasn’t about super powers or super technology, it was about humanity and compassion. It wasn’t about “super” heroes, it was about the common hero. The common man. The ones that bear the brunt of battles that they can rarely shield themselves from.
I was once going to sell this issue on Ebay about 10 years ago. A successful bid came through, and as I was about to take his money and ship off the issue, but – I hesitated. I pondered. I cancelled the sale, apologized to the bidder and put my prized possession away for safe keeping once again.
As a native New Yorker, I was ashamed of even thinking about selling that issue, but better judgment prevailed and it is still safely in my possession to this day.
On this day, think about those that lost their lives and think about those men and women that put their lives on the line to save others. Heroes don’t need a cape or cowl, but they do need to be recognized. We honor you.