June 21st, 2002

Mama Deb

Why that last story

I thought I should add a note of explanation, other than it's a universe I want to play in.

The comics community responded quickly and strongly to the attacks on September 11. This is only logical given the stock in trade of the comics industry - superheroes. One thing that the attacks gave us are real life heroes - the firefighters and police officers who ran into danger, the coworkers who remained behind to help handicapped friends, the brave souls on Flight 93 who chose to not take anyone else with them when they died. Heroes one and all, and they make the tights and cape crowd in the funny books look like, well. Cowards. And the writers and artists understood this.

So, out came the tribute books. Marvel was first, with a collection of poster pages, each of which is frameable. Then came an issue of Spiderman, silent and beautiful and full of pain. Independent artists and writers signed in with their 911 rescue book.

Then, finally, DC came out with two books, one for artists and one for writers and artists.

But DC never came out with an issue like Spiderman in its black cover. There were some painful coincidences - for reasons dealing with an extensive summer crossover, Superman changed his shield from yellow to black., and darkened his costume slightly. For the same reasons, there was an issue about letting the real people do the work they're paid to do, such as rebuild buildings destroyed in the crossover - including, painfully, the WTC. The Authority was supposed to have a trade paperback one shot called Widescreen, but it was about Arab terrorists attacking NYC and will never now be distributed.

The DCU has, in fact, never really addressed it all, beyond mentioning it in passing in a Superman comic. There are all sorts of internal reasons - it's a different timeline. Lex Luthor is president; the country just lost Topeka as part of an interstellar war, there are all these costumed people flying around. But that's not why.

I think a dinner guest of mine had it right. He's a Marvel fan, and he said that the reason is clear. While most of the secondary and tertiary heroes in both universes are on a parr with each other, DC's main heroes are *far* more powerful than Marvel's main heroes. Superman is practically godlike, and Green Lantern and Wonder Woman are not far behind. The speedsters can approach light, there are force field generators and geo mancers and very powerful magicians. Spider-Man, in comparison, is barely "super".

It's very hard to deal with the fact that ordinary humans might be able to engineers something so horrible and the heroes couldn't stop it.

But I needed to see it. So. I thought about it. I asked questions and remembered and my husband reminded me it was an hour between the impact of the planes and the collapse of the buildings.

So. It's different. The buildings were both hit, as was the Pentagon, and Flight 93 happened as it did, because all happened too quickly to call out the forces. But Superman could go to the Pentagon and rescue people who died here, and others could rescue not only the people on the upper floors - no jumpers! - but maybe even some of the rescue workers themselves. We still have our human heroes, and still have great tragedy, but it's not the same.

And DC only knows how Lex Luthor would react to the attacks.