A comic book, utterly serious, documenting the attacks of September 11.
The horrendous events of that day may seem an odd choice for comic-panel treatment, but Jacobson and Colón—known to legions of fans for their longtime work at DC and Marvel Comics—are doing an honorable public service by putting the official report in a form that anyone can understand, through words or not. The project is fraught with peril; as drawn, for instance, Ronald Reagan looks more like Leonid Brezhnev than the Gipper, and it must have been daunting to reduce the carefully nonpartisan complexities of the report to a few frames depicting, say, Condoleezza Rice’s failure to grasp the meaning of actions on which she had been fully briefed, to say nothing of the president’s inaction. For all that, the captions pack a lot of punch. Reads one, “Little effort in the legislative branch was made to consider an integrated policy toward terrorism. All committees found themselves swamped in the minutiae of the budget process, with little time for the consideration of longer-term questions.” The point is well-taken, even as Osama bin Laden’s eyes glower from the page. The graphics are meaningful as well, and some of them, such as the depiction of Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud’s last moments, are, well, quite graphic. The book includes the 9/11 Commission’s sober determination that the invasion of Iraq was based on anecdotal evidence at best, as well as its recommendations that since so much of the US infrastructure is in private hands, the government would do well to integrate civilians into emergency planning. The most telling moment here comes at the end, and here the graphic treatment is exactly right: It depicts the Commission’s “report card” on the administration’s response to its findings, with an average grade of D.
All told, a thoughtful—and by no means dumbed-down—approach to events still very current.