Powers and the Press
By Michael Weyer
This is a short ditty that hit me after seeing some of the takes on a scene in Civil War: Frontline #11. If you've read it, you know which one. If you haven't, I'll give a quick review in the story. (Note that the comments she makes are actually from the issue). Enjoy.
Sally Floyd sighed as she unlocked the door to enter her small apartment. She and Ben were doing okay so far with their new private news endeavor but they still needed a major story to make it work. Still, it was good being her own boss, not having to put up with the paper and its editorial politics.
She threw aside her coat as she clicked on the lights and let out a loud yelp as she saw two men waiting for her. Her first instinct was to grab the taser in her purse. Then her eyes adjusted and thoughts of anything besides just staring in shock were pushed aside.
"Ya know, you can catch something that way," came the jovial voice of Peter Parker, slight muffled behind the black mask he wore. Next to him, J. Jonah Jameson just puffed on a cigar, his suit more rumpled than any of Urich's.
Having either of these men in her apartment was enough to surprise Sally. Having both of them was completely shocking. She whipped her head from one to the other, stammering. "Wh…what is this?"
Jameson took out his cigar and tapped the ashes onto the floor. "Floyd…I never liked you. I made no secret about that. But I at least admired you as a journalist. Your convictions, while skewered, were still strong and I respected you fighting for them." He turned his head to glare at her. "Until now."
Floyd shook her head. "What the hell…"
"Do you know what MySpace is?"
Floyd blinked. "What?"
Jameson reached into his pocket to pull out a sheet of paper and read from it. "Do you know what My Space is? Do you know who won the last World Series or who was the last America Idol? When was the last time you actually attended a NASCAR race? When was the last time you watched The Simpsons or logged onto You Tube to watch a stupid video? Exactly, never."
"You hold America up as some shining beacon of perfection but you know next to nothing about it," Spider-Man added, his voice bitter. "Wow…that is some interview skill, Sally."
She licked her lips. "I was just making a point…."
"About what an idiot you are?" Jameson barked. "Congrats, mission accomplished."
Sally felt her hackles raise. "Hey, listen-----"
"No, you listen!" Jameson yelled, pointing a cigar at her. "MySpace? Nascar? You Tube videos? You're saying Captain America has no right to represent this country because he doesn't know a few meaningless bits of cultural flotsam that no one's going to recall in another decade?! What, if this had happened ten years ago, would you say he had no right because he didn't own any Beanie Babies or do the Macarena?"
Floyd crossed her arms. "I was showing him that he boasts about representing the people but he doesn't understand them."
"That may be single stupidest thing I've ever heard anyone say," Spider-Man said. "And keep in mind, I've been working for Jonah for years." Ignoring the man's glare, he moved forward to point at Sally. "Contrary to what you think, he does…did know how to use a computer and program a VCR. He understood culture, he understood technology. And he also understood that fads come and go but the basic ideas that America was founded on, little things like the Pledge of Allegiance and all that, will always remain. That's what he fought for. Not the…" He turned to Jonah. "What'd she call it?"
Jonah checked the paper. "Ah, America that worships Paris Hilton and celebrities as royalty while teachers are treated like dirt."
Spider-Man nodded and turned back to Sally. "I honestly have no idea how Cap didn't rip your head off verbally after this tirade. My guess is, he just couldn't respond because he was too floored by how dumb you are saying all this."
Sally gritted her teeth and leaned in. "No, it's because I was right. I was right on that, I was right on how he was fighting for the wrong reasons and the idea of a super-hero army answering to the people isn't that far off."
"Really?" Jameson spat. "So having an army of heroes will automatically solve all problems? Like Kang wiping out half of Washington DC a few years back? Or Ultron massacring an entire nation? It was the Avengers that beat them both times if you'll remember."
"Yeah but the casualties…"
"Were still nothing compared to that big battle in New York," Spider-Man said. "Or Stanford for that matter. Yet you still think a super-hero army would be the solution? You think it's fair to draft people into this thing?"
"If it's their choice to use powers-----"
Spider-Man actually threw his head back and laughed. "Oh, please! You think anyone in their right mind would choose my life, lady? I wouldn't choose it if I had the chance to do it all over again! I'm a hunted outlaw, the hundreds of guys I made the bitch of Cell Block D know who I am, my aunt's dying and my wife's left me! And you think people will want to take this on?"
"That's why you two are here?" Sally demanded. "To yell at me about something I said to a man who's dead?"
Jameson and Spider-Man shared a look. She couldn't read the face under the mask but Jameson's was sterner than ever as he nodded to his enemy. Spider-Man stepped forward to face her. "When I helped Ben with the info on Tony…that Tony was manipulating everything to help his own goals…I assumed it'd hit the stands within days. I waited. And I waited. And it never hit and I figured, hey, maybe he couldn't get the proof."
He held up a disc. "And the I find out he did."
Sally's eyes widened as she lunged for it but Spider-Man leapt back, landing feet-first on the ceiling. "Give that back!" she yelled. "That's mine! You can't just steal it!"
"Haven't you heard? I'm an outlaw hunted by SHIELD and the Mighty Avengers. A little theft isn't much on my current plate."
Jameson shook his head. "When…Parker…" Sally could see it was still hard for Jonah to face up to the truth about the man he'd railed on as a menace. "Came to me with what he found, I didn't want to believe it." He took a drag on his cigar. "Not because I didn't think Stark could do something like this because I did. But because I didn't think Ben Urich was the kind of man who would sit on a major story like this. You, I could accept but him?"
Sally shook her head. "He told Stark he didn't want to wreck what he was trying to build."
Spider-Man scoffed. "Oh, please."
"Then old Ben finally took one too many blows to the head," Spider-Man said. "I don't envy the next time he and Daredevil talk." He flipped the disc over to Jameson, who caught it and put it into his coat pocket.
"What are you doing?" Sally asked in alarm.
"What you should have done," Jameson snapped. "Be a newsman and print this."
Her jaw dropped open in shock. "You can't! It'll wreck-----"
Jameson pointed his cigar hand right at her. "You don't tell me what to do, Floyd! You don't work for me and neither does Urich and I'm damn glad of that now! You two…" He shook his head. "I thought Parker here was the height of hypocrisy but you two quit your papers because you say we stifle the news and then you keep back information vital to the public! THAT is a disgrace to everything reporters are supposed to be."
"If you print that," Floyd hissed. "You know the damage you'll do, you bastard?"
Jameson fixed her with a hard gaze. "Our job is to inform and enlighten."
"Bull!" she snapped. "You just want to do a big story to sell more copies!"
"Yeah, I admit it," Jameson said. "But contrary to what some people," his eyes glanced up at Spider-Man. "Might think…I put my body and soul into that paper and what it stands for, Floyd. I'm not going to sit on something the people should know. They deserve to know what part in this War Tony Stark played and how he benefited from it. What happens afterward…well, that's how the chips fall."
Sally glared and moved to grab the disc. A stream of webbing suddenly hit her mouth to close it shut. Two more hit her feet, pinning her to the floor. She struggled but was stuck tight as Spider-Man landed on his feet.
Jameson leaned in to glare her, fixing her with his cold gaze. "Tell Urich…that open door I told him about at the Bugle? It's closed and locked tight from here on in. And I'm pretty sure that your editor will feel the same. And when it gets out that you two sat on this just to protect some idea that goes against everything Captain America stood for…I doubt any paper in this country will take you." He turned and marched out, Spider-Man behind, leaving Sally trapped and yelling against the webbed gag.
Outside her apartment, Jameson and Spider-Man stared at one another. "Why tell me about it?" the gray-haired man asked. "Why not take it yourself?"
"Because I knew you'd be able to publish it," Spider-Man replied. "And…well…I guess I owed you the millions in sales because of…you know."
Jameson pointed at him. "This doesn't change anything between us, you know. You're still a menace who played me for years. Just because you want to screw Stark over, don't expect me to be nicer to you."
Spider-Man just shook his head. "That's still the problem, Jonah. You think the only reason I do anything is for myself." He seemed ready to say something else, but then turned to head for the nearest window. Jameson watched before turning to head out and break the story of a lifetime.
Some may think I'm a bit harsh and Sally and Urich but after seeing them flush away any journalistic integrity keeping the whole thing quiet, I thought this was warranted. All comments welcome.