Vietnamization, Soldier Remorse, and Marvel Comics
Cathy Schlund-Vials examines how two issues of Spiderman recount and thus re-imagine (visually) the consequences of an American policy of Vietnamization instigated by President Nixon. In Nixon’s proclamations, made thirteen years into American involvement in the war, the United States was to cede control of military operations to the South Vietnamese government. However, this stance of withdrawal and non-interventionism unraveled in the eventual revelation of the devastating, clandestine bombings of Cambodia and the “secret war” in Laos. In chapter 9, The Amazing Spider-Man 108 (“Vengeance from Vietnam!”) and The Amazing Spider-Man 109 (“Enter … Dr. Strange!”) illustrate what she calls a “multivalent American policy catastrophe” that conjures up typical or accepted narratives of the soldiers’ return (especially the Vietnam veteran), Southeast Asian refugees, and the Asiatic character. Schlund-Vials devastates the expected trajectory of these concepts, arguing how both of these Spiderman issues highlight, instead, domestic (atypical, unexpected) anxieties about Southeast Asians on US soil, US foreign policy abroad, and the outcome of the war itself.
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