"I present to you - Spiderman!"
Those are five words you probably never thought you'd hear United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld utter, but Thursday he did just that. As we reported on Tuesday, Marvel Comics has created a special comic in support of U.S. troops deployed around the world. The book, "The New Avengers: Guest Starring the Fantastic Four," is written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Dan Jurgens and Sandu Florea and was unveiled at the Pentagon during a press conference Thursday. In talking with the Dallas News, Bendis said he approached the project as "the equivalent to a USO trip - a nice present for the troops.
"We get such amazing mail from our armed forces readers - no one appreciates their comics more," continued Bendis. "I have received signed plaques and framed copies of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' that have been flown over Afghanistan and sent to me just to show their appreciation and the whole time I'm thinking, I should be sending you something, not the other way around. So finally I have the opportunity."
The book is part of the Defense Department's America Supports You Initiative. A two-page center spread inside the book contains a poster with the America Supports You logo surrounded by Marvel superheroes. That logo will also be included on the covers to all Marvel comics for one month according to the Dallas News.
In a press release issued by the Defense Department, Rob Steffens, Marvel's Senior Vice President for Operations, "announced that Marvel is donating the original artwork to the Fisher House Foundation to auction off and earn money for the foundation's work in support of sick and wounded military members and their families."
United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shared some comments of thanks for the troops. "We're all very grateful to them for the wonderful job they do. We are in their debt," Rumsfeld said. "We thank their families as well, and those families that are here know that we recognize the sacrifice that all of you make also." He went on to thank Marvel Comics for their support. "We appreciate all you're doing for 'America Supports You.'"
According to the Army News Service, advertising in the issue features Army and Air Force Exchange Service products of interest to our troops.
A somewhat less enthusiastic article about the event from the Washington Post and published on MSNBC.com brought one of the truths of comics collecting to the fore front. Young Sam Burns, a 13-year-old boy from Arlington, was brought to the event by his Aunt as a birthday surprise. He enthusiastically posed for photos with the super heroes, but admitted a truth most comic fans already know. "None of my friends really read comics anymore," he said. Will this book help bring them back into the fold?