at your local bookstore
9 of 1: Review by the Comic Book Network
Advanced preview of Issue #1 (of 3), 32 pages, black & white, color cover, $2.95, November 2002
By now you may be a bit put off by comics dealing with 9-11. This is not to say the previous tribute and benefit comics did not deserve to be made or read. A lot of it was the best stuff done in the past year. But we are more than a year out now, though some of the references still show up and one major publisher emphasizes the common heroes in a series of comics about police, fire, and EMT workers. Oliver is giving us a different way to look at things. His is a view through the eyes of high school students as they learn from strangers how they were affected and how their life is changed.
An 11th grade history teacher challenges his students to become reporters in order to understand the historic significance of recent events. They will see a jumble of emotions, facts, tainted viewpoints, and prejudices of all types. Each one has to find a stranger - someone they are not presently acquainted with, and get their story as it relates to 9-11.
The book starts with a nice setup and a history lesson for us all about Afghanistan, its people and invaders over the years. He introduces us to the town of Union City, California and the way of life. We see the thoughts of the kids in this 11th grade class as they talk about their feelings on the tragedy. Then the assignment is given out. These teenagers, like most have been detached from the world politics and the idea is for them to get them thinking that unless we learn the lessons history teaches, we are doomed to repeat them. The details of choosing their subjects and writing their reports are touched on and then we get to the meat of the book.
Each story is prefaced by the student's name and background. The first is a Filipino girl born in the US. She relates the history of the islands right up to the present so we have an understanding of her family's culture. She interviews a man who works with her mother at an insurance company. He lost a friend in the towers, a part of the body was found after two weeks. He had visited New York just that summer but their schedules could not get reconciled so he did not see his pal that last time before the tragedy. He gets into his friend Paul's family left behind and his own feelings that these people did nothing to their killers. He goes from fear to anger to emptiness and a strong belief that we must find everyone responsible and punish them so this will not happen again. And he waits for an answer from God as to why this happened.
The next girl is an English Immigrant who moved to the US with her widowed father. She spoke with Usha Pasdar, the aunt of a friend and an Afghani. In this story we learn first hand about some of the ways of life in that country. She points out differences and similarities in our cultures you might not think would exist and is a strong advocate to change the way her countrymen treat women. The next issue will be interviews with people who are Jewish, Egyptian, Russian and American.
This is a very thoughtful book and an interesting approach to the subject of what brought us to the current world we live in and how different perspectives of the same events can change one's thoughts about it. The artwork is well thought out, expertly laid out and blends with large amounts of text or none at all as the story demands. We get the feel of the multi-cultural nature of our own country and the realization of how small the world has become. I am enthralled by what I have read so far and am eager to get to the next part to see the next four interviews and how each person now views the world. Oliver succeeds by not making this a patriotic drum beating or a propaganda peace for anti-war. It is an objective approach to a lot of components that make up an intricate mosaic. It is part history, part geography part civics, and a lot of human relations. This is superb work. Be sure to look for it or order it if it is sold out before you do.
The Comic Book Network, Issue 11/08/2002, #393, Edited by: David LeBlanc