More over, Fantastic Four; make room for FDNY


Wednesday, January 23rd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


NEW YORK (AP) _ Within two days after terrorist hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, the artists at Marvel Comics were back at work, calling on a repertoire of fantasy to depict reality.

Instead of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers, the superheroes they drew were firefighters, police officers, emergency workers and airline passengers.

The result of that joint effort is a special edition comic book, ``Heroes,'' containing 64 illustrations by more than 100 artists, colorists, writers and editors. The drawings went on display Tuesday, along with works from a second comic artists' project, ''9-11,'' at the New York City Fire Museum.

``In this you get to see what the comic medium is capable of. It's not just superheroes running around in Spandex,'' said Mike Raicht, a Marvel Comics editor, who attended the exhibit with fellow editor Andrew Lis and designer Matty Ryan.

Lis said the project began when a former Marvel comics artist, Neal Adams, called others in the field after the trade center attack and said, ``Hey, we've got to do something.'' Marvel chief editor Joe Quesada said it ``became our way of lifting bricks and mortar.''

Proceeds of the dlrs 3.50 book will go to the Twin Towers Fund to aid families of uniformed personnel killed on Sept. 11. The artists donated the original pictures to be auctioned online for Sept. 11 charities.

While the artists trained their pens on the ordinary people who performed heroically in the chaos of the terrorist attack, some of the regular Marvel superheroes are included as well.

The message was that despite their unique powers, ``our superheroes wouldn't have been able to do any more than the men and women who ran back into the falling towers, and were as powerless as everyone else as we stood and watched what happened,'' Ryan said.

Lis added: ``Despite their feats of superstrength and abilities, it's the humanity of these characters that was always appealing in the comics.''

Captain America is defiant in one picture, weeps in another and grieves above the smoldering skyline in a third. The Incredible Hulk bends down to gently retrieve a missing firefighter's helmet.

The Silver Surfer stares at a smoking Earth from a vantage point in distant space, a picture that Lis said reflected the feeling of artist Alan Davis, who lives in London, of being ``far removed'' from the events of Sept. 11.

In a poem, Marvel Comics impresario Stan Lee calls Sept. 11 a day ``when Liberty lost her heart _ and found the strength within her soul.''

Some of the work is based on photographs _ the now-famous picture by news photographer Tom Franklin of three firefighters raising an American flag at Ground Zero provides the theme in at least two drawings. Another hints at the iconic image of a firefighter carrying a child from the bomb-ravaged federal building in Oklahoma City.

Even in working close to reality, the creators let their imaginations roam.

Artist Frank Quitely borrowed the reclining female figure in Andrew Wyeth's famous painting ``Christina's World,'' but instead of a pastoral scene she is gazing at the mountain of rubble.

In perhaps the most mind-grabbing of the entire collection, Croatia-born artist Igor Kordey depicts passengers in the cabin of United Airlines Flight 93 making a move to overpower two knife-wielding hijackers.

The plane, the fourth one hijacked on Sept. 11, crashed in Pennsylvania after an apparent struggle between the passengers and their captors. The drawing does not depict any actual people aboard the plane, Lis said.

He said Kordey, who moved his family to Canada for safety after the Balkans war, was so affected by the attacks that he could not work for four days.

``He said he didn't want to draw what he thought everybody else was drawing,'' Lis said. ``The interior of the flight was very personal _ the idea of terrorists _ and he needed to draw the personal connection to it.''

A copy of the picture, the editors said, is part of an informal memorial near the Pennsylvania crash site.