America Supports You: Superheroes Step Up
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 28, 2005 Message to U.S. troops: Spiderman and Captain America Support You. And the two Marvel Comics superheroes came to the Pentagon today to prove it.
Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, introduces Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon on April 28. Marvel Comics unveiled a custom comic book there for members of the armed services for distribution to more than 150,000 service members in the Middle East. Marvel Comics Senior Vice President Rob Steffens, Spiderman and Captain America also joined in the announcement. Photo by Tech Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Spiderman, the original webbed wonder, and Captain America, a former 98-pound weakling who a science experiment turned into the perfect soldier, visited the nation's military headquarters to shake hands, pose for photos and unveil a new Marvel comic book that features a military character in the opening scene.
The comic was designed and is being distributed in partnership with DoD's "America Supports You" program, which seeks to showcase ways in which the American public is supporting the men and women of the armed forces, and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
"The New Avengers: Guest Starring the Fantastic Four" features the America Supports You program logo and other military-themed artwork on the cover. "Marvel salutes the real heroes, the men and women of the U.S. military," is printed across the bottom of the front of the comic.
Also, a two-page "centerfold" contains a poster of the America Supports You logo surrounded by Marvel superheroes.
"Today we are launching the first of what we hope will be a series of books to provide entertainment to our troops here and abroad," said Rob Steffens, Marvel's senior vice president for operations, in announcing that the company is donating 1 million comic books to the military. The comics will be distributed in military exchanges throughout the world.
"Thankfully we live in a country where generations have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice to protect our liberties and our freedom," he said. "We do not take that for granted."
Steffens also 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.
Today's event at the Pentagon was scheduled to coincide with the national "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," so plenty of youngsters were on hand to get the first copies of the special comics.
"That's really cool. They said that they're trying to help all the people (in the military)," said 11-year-old Kaitlin Lee, who was visiting the Pentagon with her younger brother and sister and their soldier dad.
Kaitlin explained that it's good for the superheroes to show support for the troops because some kids want to be like their favorite superheroes.
She used her 6-year-old brother, Josh -- who was holding tight to his own "Spidey" -- as an example. "Like Josh here," she said. "He wants to be like Spiderman and (Spiderman) wants to help out (the troops). So it's just kind of showing that we would like to help out too and we want to show (the troops) that we care."
Before posing for photos with the superheroes and with several of the young people at the event, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reminded the crowd this was all about supporting the troops. "We're all very grateful to them for the wonderful job they do. We are in their debt," the secretary 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 also thanked Marvel for its support. "We appreciate all you're doing for 'America Supports You,'" Rumsfeld said.
Army Col. Joe Mudd, who works on the Joint Staff, said he believes comics are a good method to get out a message of support for the military.
"Any show of support is important, and people relate to comics," he said. "We like the good guys to win, and we think we're the good guys too." Mudd said the storylines in many popular comics "speak to what we strive for as individuals and as a nation."
The colonel, who was at the event with his 9- and 11-year-old sons, said the popularity of the recent Spiderman movies makes his point perfectly. "They appeal to people of all ages," he said.
Mudd's two boys, Joseph and William, had somewhat less to say about the event than their dad. But their feelings were loud and clear: "Cooooool!"