11/16/01, 7 p.m. - I am on the verge of tears that I cannot allow to flow, yet helpless in their power. Words and ideas hold meaning. They define us, if we allow them to.

Today is November 16, and I am due to leave work in about an hour, on my way to see the first Harry Potter movie. I will see it in Missouri Valley, on opening day. I am very excited by the idea, and I am quite looking forward to it, as I have been since finishing the first book.

However, my mind is eclipsed by Peter Parker.

"Who?" I'm sure you're asking. Spider-Man.

About a year ago, J. Michael Straczynski was asked to write the "Amazing Spider-Man" comic series. His run would last a year, maybe longer. He started work, and the issues he's written have flown off the shelves. I have yet to read a single issue. I figure I'll get around to them someday, when the issues are collected together. It's best to read things he writes in one sitting. That's just how he writes.

Flash-forward to September 11. I don't need to remind you what happened. It's engrained in the minds and hearts of every being on this planet.

JMS was asked by Marvel Comics to write an issue about the terrorist attacks. He asked for a day to think about it. He hadn't even been able to come to grips with it himself; how was he to write about it for millions to see? The next day, he'd finished writing it.

Wednesday, the issue appeared on the stands. It is Amazing Spider-Man #36. The cover is deceptively simple. It's just black - not a trace of artwork, no pictures, nothing, just black, with the title and issue number in white.

The first page, again in black with white letters, says simply, "We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you the following Special Bulletin."

Opening to the second page, the only word spoken is "God!" ... with Spider-Man atop a building in the lower left corner of the page, staring down at the collapsed buildings, with dust and debris seen clearly from his vantage point.

Through this character, JMS says what the rest of us are thinking, from feelings of loss, sadness, and remorse, to our steadfast resolve to make things right.

There are no page numbers, so the next quote is near the end, the second to last page. "You wanted to send a message, and in so doing you awakened us from our self-involvement. Message received. Look for your reply in the thunder."

I can't think more about it right now. I have to lock the thought of this issue away for the time being, and prepare myself for the world of Harry Potter, but you may be certain that I will speak of this issue at length. Pick it up while you can.

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