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Spider-Man and Power Pack - Jim Salicrup

Written by Arion on Thursday, December 27 2012 and posted in Reviews
Spider-Man and Power Pack - Jim Salicrup
John Byrne (cover / portada)

Was Peter Parker sexually abused as a young boy? If your answer is a categorical ‘No’ then you haven’t read this one-shot. Certainly, it’s easy to imagine Spider-Man quarreling with the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus on a daily basis, but it would be hard to visualize him defending himself against sexual offenders. 

In 1984 Marvel Comics produced a free comic book in cooperation with the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse. There are two short stories in this comic, the first one titled “Secrets” featured Marvel’s most popular web-slinger, and it starts with a frightened young boy. When Spider-Man asks him what is going on, the kid is afraid to tell him, but eventually shares with him a shocking reveal: his babysitter had tried to undress him and touch him inappropriately.




 

Immediately Spider-Man remembers a rather unpleasant experience. It all begins in his early teens... as we all know, Peter Parker was always a nerdy, shy and friendless youngster, but a couple of years before he turned into the amazing Spider-Man he was befriended by a slightly older boy named Skip. Tired of being bullied in the school, Peter soon grows fond of Skip, who treats him kindly and amiably, or at least that’s what it seems at first. 


Spider-Man and Power Pack - Jim Salicrup
Peter Parker meets the conniving Skip /
Peter Parker conoce al taimado Skip

One afternoon, Skip decides to take young Parker’s mind off science for a change, and he shows him a porno-graphic magazine saying maliciously “Bet you’ve never seen pictures like those in a stuffy text-book!”. Confronted for the first time in his life with porno-graphy, Peter doesn’t know how to react, and as the two boys sit together in the couch, Skip acts even more aggressively: “Let’s conduct a little experiment of our own! Let’s see if we can touch each other like the people in that magazine!”. 

Writers Nancy Allen and Jim Salicrup don’t use thought bubbles, so we can’t really know what Peter Parker is thinking, but we can imagine how traumatic it can be that his one and only friend is demanding sexual favors. Common sense would dictate that even without his powers, Peter would simply leave the room “But the boy was too frightened to leave…”.

Once the flashback is done, Spider-Man tells the young boy he is talking with that he was also a victim of sexual abuse, and he emphasizes the importance of talking about what has happened. Keeping secrets is never good, and so this boy finds the courage to talk about it with his parents. In the final page, Spider-Man admits that having repressed this memory for years has been eating away at him, but now, thanks to this encounter, just like in a psychoanalytic countertransference, he has finally faced the horror of the past and come to terms with it.


 


Spider-Man and Power Pack - Jim Salicrup
Was Peter Parker a victim of sexual abuse? /
¿Fue Peter Parker víctima de abuso sexual?

Surely, the outcome of this story might be a bit too upbeat especially since child moles-tation is a delicate subject, but the thing is that Jim Salicrup did every-thing he could to transmit a clear message: no one has the right to touch your body in a way that makes you feel uncom-fortable and if something like that happens you have the right to talk about it without feeling guilty. As it turns out, many victims of sexual abuse often feel guilty or ashamed about what happened and that’s why they never accuse their aggressors. 

“Runaway”, the second story (scripted by Louise Simonson) revolves around Power Pack, a group of kids that help one of their friends who is being sexually assaulted by her own father. In this case, the situation is even more complicated, as the girl tells her mother what is happening and the woman refuses to believe such an awful thing could happen in her home. The conclusion of Simonson’s story is very similar to the previous one: talk about your experience with your parents, if they don’t believe you, talk about it with other adults until you find someone who does. June Brigman and Bob Wiacek are in charge of the art of “Runaway” while Jim Mooney and Mike Esposito penciled and inked “Secrets”, the cover was done by renowned artist John Byrne.

A few months ago, Jim Salicrup was interviewed in Bleeding Cool. Since this comic book was free, there were hundreds of thousands of copies that were given to children. And what do you think it happened after so many children read “Spider-Man and Power Pack Giveaway”? Personally, I would have thought that just like it happens with anti-tobacco campaigns, this initiative would prove quite futile. And I would have been wrong to think that. As Jim affirms “I had been sent copies of newspaper articles reporting on arrests and such that were made as a direct result of children reporting abuse after reading the comic”. So in other words, this actually worked. Nonetheless, Jim also confirms that “What matters is that the comic was published by Marvel in the first place. Even if they might be embarrassed by it now”.  

Indeed, 28 years after the release of “Spider-Man and Power Pack Giveaway”, Marvel has eliminated this story from a recent ‘social issues’ anthology; back in the day, Marvel used to collaborate with the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse and other similar institutions; they are now reprinting stories about drug abuse and other topics but deliberately avoiding the subject of sexual abuse. Has this turned into a dangerous taboo in recent years? Or is it that since Disney owns Marvel now, they’d like to presume that if you don’t talk about sexual molestation then it’s easier to pretend no such thing exists? The truth is that a victim of sexual abuse usually represses the painful memories, and feels ashamed of what has happened. And ironically, when Marvel chose not to reprint this story they failed at burying the truth, because in the end, their silence becomes more eloquent than anything else. So coming back to the initial question, ‘Was Peter Parker sexually abused as a young boy?’ the answer should be a resounding ‘Yes’. 
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¿Fue Peter Parker abusado sexualmente de chico? Si responden con un categórico 'No' es porque no han leído este cómic. Desde luego, es fácil imaginar a Spider-Man luchando contra el Duende Verde o el Doctor Octopus a diario, pero sería difícil visualizarlo defendiéndose de depredadores sexuales.


Spider-Man and Power Pack - Jim Salicrup
Power Pack (“Runaway”) / Power Pack (“Fugitiva”)

En 1984, Marvel Comics produjo un cómic gratuito en cooperación con el Comité Nacional de Prevención de Abuso Infantil. Hay dos historias cortas en este cómic, la primera titulada "Secretos" es protagoni-zada por el lanza-redes más popular de Marvel, y empieza con un niño asustado. Cuando Spider-Man le pregunta qué sucede, el infante tiene miedo de hablar, pero al final comparte con él una impactante revelación: su niñera había intentado desvestirlo y tocarlo de manera inapropiada.

De inmediato, Spider-Man recuerda una experiencia bastante deplorable. Todo comienza en los primeros años de adolescencia de Peter Parker, cuando era un nerd tímido y sin amigos... mucho antes de convertirse en el asombroso Spider-Man, Peter trabó amistad con un muchacho llamado Skip. Cansado de ser maltratado en el colegio, Peter siente aprecio por Skip, quien lo trata con amabilidad y camaradería, o al menos así parece.

Una tarde, Skip decide que el jovencito Parker debe dejar de pensar tanto en ciencia, y le muestra una revista pornográfica mientras dice con malicia "Te apuesto que nunca has visto fotos como estas en tus librotes". Confrontado por primera vez en su vida con pornografía, Peter no sabe cómo reaccionar, y cuando los dos chiquillos se sientan juntos en el sofá, Skip actúa con agresividad: "¡Hagamos nuestro propio experimento! ¡Veamos si podemos tocarnos el uno al otro como lo hacen en esta revista!"

Los escritores Nancy Allen y Jim Salicrup no usan burbujas de pensamiento, así que no podemos saber qué es lo que Peter Parker está pensando, pero podemos imaginar lo traumático que sería que su único amigo le exija favores sexuales. El sentido común dictaría que, incluso sin sus poderes, Peter simplemente saldría de la habitación "pero el chico estaba demasiado asustado para irse...".

Cuando el flashback termina, Spider-Man le dice al niñito con el que conversa que él también fue víctima de abuso sexual, y enfatiza la importancia de hablar sobre lo que ha pasado. Guardar secretos nunca es bueno, así que este niño encuentra el valor para hablar con sus padres. En la página final, Spider-Man admite que reprimir este recuerdo por años lo ha estado carcomiendo, pero ahora, gracias a este encuentro, al igual que en una contratransferencia psicoanalítica, finalmente se ha enfrentado al horror del pasado y ha asimilado lo sucedido.

El desenlace de esta historia podría parecer demasiado optimista sobre todo con un tema tan delicado como el abuso infantil, pero lo cierto es que Jim Salicrup hizo todo lo posible para trasmitir con claridad un mensaje: nadie tiene derecho a tocar tu cuerpo si es que eso te hace sentir incómodo y si algo así pasa tienes el derecho de denunciarlo sin sentirte culpable. Como suele suceder, muchas víctimas de abuso sexual a menudo se sienten culpables o avergonzados y por eso nunca acusan a sus agresores.

“Fugitiva”, la segunda historia (escrita por Louise Simonson) gira en torno a Power Pack, un grupo de jovencitos que ayudan a una de sus amigas que está siendo violada por su propio padre. En este caso, la situación es incluso más complicada, ya que la niña le dice a su madre lo que está pasando y la mujer se rehúsa a creer que algo tan horrible sucede en su hogar. La conclusión de la historia de Simonson es similar a la anterior: habla de tu experiencia con tus padres, si no te creen, habla con otros adultos hasta encontrar a alguien que sí te crea. June Brigman y Bob Wiacek están a cargo del arte de “Fugitiva”, mientras que Jim Mooney y Mike Esposito dibujan y entintan "Secretos", la portada fue hecha por el renombrado artista John Byrne.


Spider-Man and Power Pack - Jim Salicrup
How to prevent sexual abuse? / ¿Cómo prevenir el abuso sexual?

Hace unos meses, Jim Salicrup fue entrevistado en Bleeding Cool. Al ser un cómic gratuito, cientos de miles de ejemplares fueron repartidos. ¿Y qué creen que ocurrió después de que tantos niños leyeran “Spider-Man y Power Pack"? Hubiera imaginado que, tal como sucede con campañas anti-tabaco, esta iniciativa sería fútil. Y me hubiera equivocado. Como afirma Jim "Me fueron enviadas copias de artículos de periódico reportando arrestos que fueron hechos como resultado directo de niños reportando abusos después de leer el cómic". Así que, en otras palabras, esto realmente funcionó. No obstante, Jim también confirma que "lo que importa es que el cómic fue publicado por Marvel en primer lugar. Incluso si ellos ahora se puedan sentir avergonzados por ello".

De hecho, 28 años después del “Spider-Man and Power Pack Giveaway”, Marvel ha eliminado esta historia de su reciente antología de 'temas sociales'; décadas atrás, Marvel solía colaborar con el Comité Nacional de Prevención de Abuso Infantil y otras instituciones similares; ahora ellos están reimprimiendo historias sobre drogadicción y otros asuntos pero están evitando deliberadamente el tema del abuso sexual. ¿Se ha convertido esto en un peligroso tabú en años recientes? ¿O será que desde que Disney se ha adueñado de Marvel, ellos prefieren suponer que si no hablan del abuso sexual infantil entonces es más fácil fingir que no existe? La verdad es que la víctima de abuso sexual por lo general reprime los dolorosos recuerdos, y siente vergüenza. Irónicamente, cuando Marvel decidió que no reimprimiría esta historia fracasaron en sepultar la verdad, porque al final, su silencio es más elocuente que cualquier otra cosa. Así que regresando a la pregunta inicial, '¿fue Peter Parker abusado sexualmente de chico?' la respuesta sería un resonante 'Sí'.

Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2012/12/spider-man-and-power-pack-jim-salicrup.html


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About the Author - Arion


Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.

 


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