Symbolic heroes

Often, real life imitates art. We can at times find parallels and comparisons between what we view and find symbols in art we love.

I am a comic book fan. I collect several new books, but my biggest hero is Spider-Man. This of course comes as no shock to my friends who know me. I?m a photographer just like Spider-Man. I work for a newspaper just like Spider-Man. And I am an average guy just like him.

With the recent tragedy Tuesday, a vague memory sparked in my mind. I remember a comic where the World Trade Center was attacked, not by terrorists but by a supervillain. As I hunted through my old comics, I pulled out Issue 16 of Spider-Man printed back in 1991, and realized I was right.

The story unfolds with New York?s ?friendly neighborhood? Spider-Man swinging among the rooftops on his way to the ?Daily Bugle.? From the street he hears a commotion and drops down to investigate. There he finds a young team called X-Force getting beaten to a pulp by Juggernaut. At 6 feet 10 inches, 900 pounds, Juggernaut is a massive, immovable force that the 5 feet 10 inches 165, Spider-Man must now help the young group defeat.

The battle ensues with Spider-Man taking command of the young group inflicting some damage upon the goliath, until with one single blow, Juggernaut lives up to his name and rams the bottom section of the World Trade Center causing the entire tower to come crashing down around him and the heroes.

As I sat there reading this book for the first time in 10 years, all the symbolism came rushing in that I just didn?t understand as a kid. It became relevant in light of the tragic events that unfolded one week ago today.

Spider-Man, the character I know so well, began to seem much more real to me. Peter Parker, the man behind the mask, is a normal individual on the surface. He goes to work at the ?Daily Bugle,? he takes care of his aging Aunt May, and he deals with the struggle of making a marriage work as well as dealing with all of the other problems we face on a day to day basis. His motto is ?With great power, comes great responsibility.?

Facing the tragedy that took place last week, we must look at ourselves, the ordinary citizens ? we are Spider-Man.

We as citizens in a democratic nation have a great power to voice our opinions, to take an open stand against terrorism and to stand behind our elected officials. This is our great power ? with it we must exercise our great responsibility.

In the Marvel universe, there are countless supervillains who strike out at the citizens of the world, who are in turn, defended by the world?s superheroes. However, in our universe, we have our own versions of supervillains. The people behind the crisis facing our nation are this universe?s own Juggernaut. The fictional Juggernaut had near endless strength and a virtually unstoppable force. The terrorists who committed the attack also could be described in much the same manner. They are so well-hidden they can strike at anytime, giving the illusion of endless strength, and hiding in the shadows and with so many numbers they could be seen as an unstoppable force.

Among the fighting, a third element becomes clear to me. The young mutant group X-Force also appears to symbolize something I am just now beginning to grasp. Just for clarity?s sake, they?re not the same as the X-Men. The X-Force, without the leadership of their commander, had begun to lose the upper hand in their battle against the unstoppable Juggernaut. With the arrival of Spider-Man, the group realized they must work together to defeat such a powerful foe.

One could look at X-Force as our nations? allies, NATO, our military, the rescue workers, firefighters and police officers risking their lives to save and search for wounded amidst the rubble. Each branch is content to fight the war alone and on their own terms.

It is not until X-Force realizes they must work together as a team with their combined strengths with the leadership of Spider-Man ? we, the people ? do they defeat Juggernaut.

We as a nation must also take up our responsibility endowed to us by our founders and stare down the juggernaut in our path and work as a team with our allies to bring him to his knees.

Contact Sam Taylorat