by Michael Brown, staff writer
Spider-Man has fought many foes in his storied career, but never one so baffling as being banned from a library.
After his science-fiction novel-for-television known as Babylon 5 had ended, J. Michael Straczynski had decided to give comics a go. He started Joe’s Comics, an imprint of Top Cow, that produced noteworthy titles like Midnight Nation, written by Straczynski, and his epic superhero series, Rising Stars. Marvel Comics took notice and recruited him, signing him to an exclusive contract beginning with a run on Amazing Spider-Man that lasted from 2001 to 2007, with the legendary John Romita, Jr as artist.
Straczynski took the Spider-Man mythos into an entirely new direction by suggesting the spider that bit Peter sought him out, and was actually Peter’s totem. Straczynski would craft some memorable tales during his ASM tenure, making Peter an inner-city high school teacher, and revealing in an unpopular retcon, that, before she died, Gwen Stacy had an affair with Norman “The Green Goblin” Osborn and had his twin children. But Straczynski also penned a heartbreaking love letter to fans after the 9/11 attacks. Sporting an all-black cover, Amazing Spider-Man #36 dealt with the attacks through the eyes of Marvel’s heroes and villains, and was narrated by Spidey.
Issue #36 was later collected, along with issues 37-39, into a trade paperback titled Revelations. This collection of Straczynski’s run included, in addition to the 9/11 issue, a “silent issue” in which there was no dialogue, Peter revealing his identity to Aunt May, and a touching story in which Peter tries to win back Mary Jane, who is separated from him.
In 2009, a parent in Millard, Nebraska challenged its elementary school library on its inclusion of Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations on its shelves after her six-year-old son checked it out and brought it home.
“My son looked at this and goes, ‘Ohhhh!’,” said Physha Svendsen.
Svendsen went straight to her ABC News affiliate, claiming the book is not age-appropriate for Norris Elementary students and wants it removed from the library, citing “sexual undertones.” Svendsen said that some of the illustrations included “a woman wearing a bikini and a short skirt.” The offending pictures have been presented in this article for your judgment.
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Donna Helvering, head librarian for the Millard School District, said the library has a thorough selection process that the book had passed, and that it was in demand by other students. Beyond the selection process, the library also has a strong review policy. According to the school’s policy, parents can file complaints and the school is required to form a committee to evaluate the complaint and make a consensus determination to retain or ban the book within 30 days. This measure was not strong enough for Svendsen who told the media she plans, “to hold on to the book that her son brought home while the review process takes place.” Svendsen’s decision to keep the book goes against library policy and could be construed as stealing.
This reporter, however, acting on a hunch, found Norris Elementary’s website and discovered that the school library keeps an online catalog of its books. A search yesterday. September 23, 2014, showed that the library still has a copy of Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations, although its status is listed as “out for repairs.”
Michael Brown is a comics nerd and a father who lives in small town Tennessee. When he’s not making his players mad in his “Shadowrun” RPG or experimenting with new and inventive uses of duct tape on his children, you can find him checking out the latest comics and movies for SCIFI.radio!