Which Comic Handled the Drug Crisis Better: Spider-Man or Green Lantern/Green Arrow?
As the sixties closed and the seventies commenced, the nation was becoming increasingly aware of a drug epidemic was raging across America, impacting youth and young adults. Mike Strobbe writes
“Heroin use surged, prompted in part by Vietnam War soldiers who were exposed to it while fighting overseas. Unlike the doctor-driven previous drug epidemics, this one victimized poor inner-city neighborhoods most. In 1970 and 1971, in New York City, more adolescents, many of them black and Puerto Rican, died of heroin-related incidents than any other cause.” (Opioid epidemic shares chilling similarities with past drug crises)
To combat this growing issue, the Nixon Administration reached out to Marvel Comics to create an anti-drug comic in the hopes of warning of the dangers of drug use. Stan Lee agreed and The Amazing Spider-Man #96 proved to be a groundbreaking–as well as industry-transforming–comic (c.f. Wright, Comic Book Nation, 239-240). Shortly thereafter, DC released a anti-drug comic in the pages of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85, which proved equally powerful. With that said, both of these comics are the subject of this week’s Packback post.
After you have read the PDF that includes excerpts from both comics, here is your task for this week. As hypothetical scenario, your goal this week is to answer the following:
- If you were a comic book publisher in the seventies and you could only publish EITHER Amazing Spider-Man #96 OR Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 which one do you choose and why?
In addressing the aforementioned question, you should give TWO reasons that support your rationale. You should also be sure to divide your rationales into distinct paragraphs so that your peers know when one idea ends and another begins.
Finally, be sure respond to at least two classmates once you have finished, aiming for a 75 CS or higher. Be aware, also that you may raise a question for the chapter as well, that we can consider together in class.
Custom Expert Answer
Overall, I think the Spider-Man comic did a better job at spreading the anti-drug message.
Although both the Spider-Man and the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics did an excellent job in being some of the first comics to tackle the drug crisis, overall, I think Stan Lee’s Spider-Man was more successful in its approach. When Marvel asked Stan Lee to include anti-drug messages in one of his popular comics, Lee was determined to do it right, by explicitly showing just how damaging drugs are, through the eyes of one of his most lovable and relatable heroes, Spider-Man. Because Peter Parker was a teen that many teenagers could relate to, Stan hoped that hearing his opinions on the drug crisis and seeing what those around him (his friend, Randy, as an example) thought of them as well, would really make people stop and think, especially the younger crowd. Because of this appeal to everyone, but more specifically the youth, Stan hoped his comic would provide awareness in a more light-hearted, fun way while still remaining serious about the issue itself.
The second reason I believe the Spider-Man comic was more successful was because of the way they introduced this idea in the comic itself. When Spider-Man sees this man clearly so far out of his mind that he almost kills himself, he immediately saves him from a devastating fall and gets him to the police as quick as he can. He is in utter disbelief after saving the man, thinking how could someone want to be so out of control like that! He then goes on saying that those types of drugs can really mess up your life and do way more damage than good. He even goes on saying that he’d rather fight all the villains he does than have to take any sort of hard drug like that poor man. At the end of the scene, he also wishes to help further spread this message as Spider-Man.
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