'Every day is 9/11!': Re-constructing Ground Zero in three US comics

Citation metadata

Author: Martin Lund
Date: March-June 2017
From: Journal of Urban Cultural Studies(Vol. 4, Issue 1-2)
Publisher: Intellect Ltd.
Document Type: Essay
Length: 10,254 words
Article Preview :

ABSTRACT

This article analyses three comics series: writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Tony Harris' Ex Machina (August 2004 -- August 2010); writer Brian Wood and artist Riccardo Burchielli's DMZ (November 2005 -- February 2012); and writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson's The Boys (October 2006 -- November 2012). Taking literary critic Laura Frost's concept of 'archifictions' as its starting point, the article discusses how these series frame the September 11 attacks on New York and their aftermath, but its primary concern is with their engagement with the larger social ramifications of 9/11 and with the War on Terror, and with how this engagement is rooted in and centred on Ground Zero. It argues that this rooting allows these comics' creators to critique post-9/11 US culture and foreign policy, but that it also, ultimately, serves to disarm the critique that each series voices in favour of closure through recourse to recuperative architecture.

KEYWORDS

comics Ground Zero 9/11 archifictions War on Terror architecture

The attacks on September 11 continue to be felt in US culture. Comics are no exception. Comics publishers, large and small, responded immediately and comics about the attacks or the War on Terror have been coming out ever since. Largely missing from these comics, however, is an engagement with Ground Zero; after depicting the Twin Towers struck or falling, artists and writers rarely give the area a second thought.

There are three major exceptions: Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris' Ex Machina (August 2004 -- August 2010); Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's DMZ (November 2005 -- February 2012); and Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's The Boys (October 2006 -- November 2012). This article discusses how these series frame the attacks and their aftermath, but its primary concern is with how they engage with larger social ramifications of 9/11 and with the War on Terror, and with how this engagement is rooted in and centred on Ground Zero. I argue that this rooting allowed the creators to critique post-9/11 US culture and foreign policy, but that it also, ultimately, served to disarm that critique. I do so for multiple reasons: first, to broaden the expansive, but narrowly focused, scholarship on comics and 9/11; second, to add comics to the larger critical discussion about pop cultural representations of 9/11; and third, to contribute to the still-poorly understood meaning of Ground Zero in US cultural memory and production in the years following the 9/11 attacks.

GROUND ZERO, COMICS AND 9/11

Fans and scholars have long claimed that US comics have a special relationship with New York City. This claim is particularly common in relation to Marvel Comics (Bainbridge 2010; Costello 2009: 11) or to superhero comics (Reynolds 1992: 18-25). Others go so far as to claim, for example, that NYC 'enjoys a special relationship to the cartoon arts' (Worcester 2011: 139). Two particular problems with such claim stand out: first, they do not explain the significance of this supposed relationship; second, and more important, they do not account for the...

Main content

Source Citation

Source Citation
Lund, Martin. "'Every day is 9/11!': Re-constructing Ground Zero in three US comics." Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, vol. 4, no. 1-2, 2017, p. 241+. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.
  

Gale Document Number: GALE|A503309414