Sunday, May 19, 2013

Use That Power To Help Mankind


There have been one or two posts I've made where I've taken a look at the instances where various heroes have called it quits--so I thought it might be interesting to bookend those posts with the flip side of the coin, and have a look at the times when some of them have reaffirmed their dedication to their calling, with renewed strength and commitment. Those issues are generally timed pretty well, and they end up giving a nice shot in the arm to their respective titles--full steam ahead and all that, beginning a new chapter for not just the hero(es) but also the readers.

Spider-Man, for instance, has had his share of times when he's felt like throwing in the towel. The super-hero life was an uphill battle for him, mostly due to the incessant and inexplicable fanning of public opinion against him by newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson. But a good swift kick by his Uncle Ben from beyond the grave can usually make him come to his senses when he's on the verge of hanging up the web shooters:




In the case of the Avengers, the turnover nature of their group makes it almost impractical for them to come together and reaffirm their bond--much less their mission, which, let's face it, has always been pretty simple:



And when they've tried to clarify that mission, it's been known to lead to disagreement.  So their only reaffirmation of their commitment has come informally, either in the announcement of a line-up change:



Or in a spur of the moment rallying cry:



But on rare occasion, it took heavy-duty discussion by seasoned heads to make sure the Avengers continued:




The "new" X-Men, of course, are the poster group for splintering and restarting under different mission statements, all variations of Charles Xavier's dream of peaceful coexistence between human and mutant--often without Xavier even being around. Consequently, they weren't enough of a solid formation to formally disband--so on those occasions where they felt the need to express their renewed vigor, it, too, was also more the result of a rallying cry than to reaffirm their dedication to their ideals:



Captain America's most noteworthy reaffirmation came when he abandoned his identity as Nomad. Yet his comrade in arms, Iron Man, instead had to make sure that his current identity was still necessary, and that he wasn't causing more harm than good:




Thor, as well, has been unsure of his identity, but under different circumstances. And his reaffirmation was more personal in nature as a result:



Still, if you think he's going to be outdone by Iron Man flying off in front of a sunrise:



As for the Silver Surfer, his reaffirmations were also more personal in nature, resolving to remain true to himself and prevail against the evils of the universe. He can really do little else--under the yoke of Galactus, his was a single-minded mission in the service of his master, while his only goal on Earth was to free himself of his captivity. But escaping both served to center him and give him a sense of worth:



It's really the Fantastic Four who stand out above the rest in terms of reaffirmation of their reason for being. Their binding moment came at their inception, needing no personal tragedy (such as the case with Spider-Man) or circumstances (the Avengers) to spur their decision. And when they reaffirm their dedication, you get a sense of Marvel's history that none of its other characters can come close to providing:







Heh--Johnny's reaffirmation sounds pretty conditional in that last panel, doesn't it? But rest assured, he pulled out of his funk and stayed with the FF.  Wotta hothead.

In these days of heroes being shuffled in and out of the Avengers like trading cards, I'm glad there are moments like this to look back on where commitment to a hero's founding values was something unique and personal to each individual.  I'm not sure if the FF's heartfelt words here would resonate so strongly if they had to run them by Cap first.

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