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WARRING SIDES: A Young Hero Speaks Up

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Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson proudly presents: an editorial civil war exploring both sides of the most controversial topic of our time— the Superhero Registration Act. Should masked vigilantes be forced to unmask before congress? Should all super-powered individuals be documented and controlled by state and federal legislatures? Is this an idea whose time has finally come? Only one thing is certain: whether we're super or human, we're all fiercely divided upon the answer.

Mr. Jameson,

When it comes to superhero registration, all I see before me is the future. I mean, this is it; this is my opportunity to make a difference. I can come up with a name, slap on a costume, and become a hero. A government-backed hero.

Many people are up in arms about what is happening in the world today, that our heroes are being forced to come out. Well why the hell not? Why shouldn’t they? They’re citizens of the United States (or some other country) and should have to be responsible for their actions as law-abiding citizens.

The fact that such high profile heroes as Captain America… Captain AMERICA… are not obeying the law is disgraceful, and it is sending the wrong message to the world. It’s telling all the young up-and-coming superheroes that they don’t have to worry about their responsibilities. They are above the law, and can ignore the basic rules that keep our society civil. And that’s the most common fight during these trying times: that the heroes have to put themselves in jeopardy by admitting their alter egos.

Well, when I was born I had to have a birth certificate. I had to get a social security card. My car is registered to the state. My mom pays taxes on our house. As far as I’m concerned, I already am registered with the government. And soon, my status as a superhero will be too.

The truth is, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity, and I’m not going to let my chance pass me by. See, I know the real reason that is preventing heroes from registering. They say it’s to protect themselves, to protect their families, but that’s not what the real reason is.

The real reason is that registering takes away their advantage. No longer will being a superhero be like belonging to some exclusive club for only the lucky few and the privileged. With the registration, and the formation of a government-funded super force, a hero will have to prove himself. But more importantly, more then just the few will have the funding and support to choose the lifestyle, to fight the good fight.

I’ve tried to go out and do the right thing on my own. With no means of support I’ve run around the neighborhood night after night silently trying to protect the citizens of Mertztown, Pennsylvania. Let me tell you, it’s hard and unrewarding work. When I wasn’t saving someone’s house from being attacked by a bunch of bored teenagers and finding peoples lost cats, I was looked on like I was some kind of freak. And during my adventures, I didn’t make one red cent. I had to work two jobs just to get by, to be able to afford the various pieces of my arsenal I needed. Plus, out in the country, you’d never imagine how hard it is to get your hands on some of the more powerful items I’d need to be truly effective. I couldn’t find a Bo staff, let alone a particle modulation ray.

Then, every morning, I’d have to open the page of the paper and see pictures of Spider-Man swinging through New York, his costume gleaming in the sunlight because it was so clean. And Captain America? If I remember correctly, he has a shield made out of some top-secret government material, such as adamantium or vibranium or something else that the public doesn’t even know about yet. I wonder how much overtime at the local Burger Shack he had to work for that…

Spider-Man revealing himself puts him at about 15 years old, two years younger then I am. Think about how much good I could have accomplished over the past two years had the resources allowed me to use my powers to their full potential. Maybe instead of wasting their times writing about the heroes in some city a three-hour drive away, our local papers could turn their attention here, allowing me to receive the praise I so righteously deserve.

Many people fear that becoming a public civil servant will add danger to their lives, which is true. But life is dangerous every time you step outside the house. I’d never go anywhere if I thought I’d be in a car accident every time I started my car, and like that, I won’t stop going on patrol. Plus, the government will have in place a support system to shield our identities from the public if we choose that route. For years people have served in the armed forces, and yet America’s enemies have never come directly after a soldier’s family.

So now, thanks to superhero registration, those of us struggling superheroes out in the world will get a chance for their time to shine. The world is an ugly place, and heroes are needed in all corners of the country, not just New York.

And one last thing… maybe some of these heroes are scared because they realize their time is up. We’ll soon see try-outs, required physicals, tests for placement within the pantheon of the superheroes, and that scares the vets. Without the advantage of unlimited resources, they’ll have to prove themselves in other ways. And how are they going to deal with all this when the younger generation steps up? A younger, smarter, STRONGER generation? By shunning the registration act they are trying to keep new heroes down, to keep their jobs secure. Well, step aside gramps, our generation is here, and we aren’t afraid to step up and announce our attentions, to reach for the golden ring supplied by the government, to be all we can be.

- Johnny Atoms

(as told to Adrian f. Zettlemoyer)

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