9-11: Artists Respond
& Stories to Remember,
September 11th 2001,
Volumes 1 & 2

(Chaos, Dark Horse, Image
& DC Comics, 2002)

The covers are powerful invitations to look inside. The first, by The New Yorker's Eric Drooker, depicts a lone artist atop a rooftop amid a devastated cityscape. On the second, Alex Ross shows a diminutive Superman standing in awe of a giant image of the real heroes: police officers, firefighters, rescue workers, medical personnel and others involved in the Sept. 11 attack.

Inside, the books are equally impressive. A host of comic book writers and artists have donated their talents to tell stories, each in some way commemorating the events of that tragic day, honoring the people killed in the terroristic attacks and dealing with the aftermath, both for survivors of the victims and for others with no direct connection who still have to cope with the grim reality of so much death at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Here are some highlights of the books:

• "Sacrifice" by Paul Chadwick, which details the heroism of the passengers on Flight 93, the fourth hijacked plane. Piecing together facts from various phone calls made by civilians onboard, the story explains the probable struggle and determination which led to the plane's crash in a field outside Shanksville, Pa., without hitting its intended target.

• Jeff Loeb and J. Scott Cambell show the impact of the events on a young child watching TV in "Please Stand By."

• "Pop-Grief" by Doug TenNapel, which depicts the cathartic effect of music on someone unable to react to the tragedy.

• The inconveniences seem insignificant when seen in the proper perspective, as demonstrated by Trina Robbins and Anne Timmons in their untitled airport vignette.

• Bill Presing and Nijo Philip provide a touching untitled piece about a heroic firefighter through the eyes of a woman he rescued at the cost of his own life.

• Steve Niles and Paul Lee remind us that heroes are always around us, if not always seen or acknowledged.

• In "Unreal," by Steven T. Seagle, Duncan Rouleau and Aaron Sowd, a comic-book Superman bemoans his inability to become real and right the wrongs of this world.

• "Wake Up" is a poignant conversation between a mother and son, created by Joe Kelly, Scott Kolins and Dan Panosian.

• Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson use their popular Astro City setting to tell a parallel tale of heroism and loss.

• A medic finds courage in calamity in "The Job" by Josh Krach, Scott McDaniel and James Pascoe.

• Darwyn Cooke provides a grim reminder of our choice of heroes in "Human Values."

• Jennifer Moore and Jill Thompson point a finger at the mercenaries trying to make a buck from the tragedy in "No Sale?"

• Peter Gross and Darick Robertson join forces to paint a hopeful picture for the future in their untitled story.

• Neil Gaiman resurrects his characters Death and Destruction of the Endless (with the help of Chris Bachalo) to help a child deal with the big questions still haunting him after the attack.

There are so many great pieces here, ranging from one to several pages each, it's hard to know which to highlight for the review. Some are more successful than others, certainly, at making a point or striking an emotional chord, but they all combine to make a pair of books that are dramatic, thoughtful, powerful and in some ways healing.

Of course, it also helps to know that all proceeds from the sale of these books will go to various relief organizations, including the New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund, the Twin Towers Fund, the Survivors Fund of the National Capital Region, the September 11th Fund of the New York Community Trust and the United Way of New York City.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 9 February 2002

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