An Open Letter to Mark Waid
Dear Mr. Waid,
I have been a long-time fan of your writing; from Captain America to Kingdom Come, your comics have provided me as much entertainment as they have enlightenment. I am a firm believer in the power of comic books in particular and literature in general to help authors and readers alike face, come to terms with and transcend tragedy and the insurmountable odds we face as living, sentient beings. Thus, it is with this conviction held close to my heart that I am compelled to write you now.
On Sunday, May 12 of this month - Mother’s Day - my father, Niles Jules Siegel passed away due to heart failure after a battle with prostate cancer. He suffered from a litany of chronic health conditions for my entire life and for many years prior to my entrance into this world. He was the greatest man I have ever known and I credit him with many of the values I hold dead including my senses of kindness and justice. The Thursday before he passed, he had been discharged from Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital where he underwent partial hip replacement surgery to remove two malignant tumors that has metastasized into his right femur. His death came as an unexpected shock and I watched as the conscious mind of the man whom I loved disappeared forever, never to return.
Since his passing, I have felt myself overcome with inescapable feelings of grief and rage. I miss my father with all of my being and I feeling deeply resentful that he suffered so long and died so suddenly. Nonetheless, I have been forced to don a mask of bravery and serenity because I, as the son who was there in his final moments, find my family turning to me as a moral and emotional barometer. Regardless of how well I may seem to those around me, inside I feel myself falling apart.
And then I read “Punching Cancer,” the 8-page back-up story to Daredevil #26. See, I’m a very emotional person and I cry easily, especially when confronted with scenes of inspirational heroism. These pages touched me profoundly and gave me a signpost with which I can understand and cope with the pain I’m going through. It’s too true that our heroes don’t fight our battles for us. Nonetheless, they inspire us to keep up the fight ourselves, to strive so that we may stand on higher moral and (inter)personal ground. This is a lesson that my father taught me, one that I have cherished my entire life. To see it printed on the page of one of my favorite cape comics validated my struggle as a son who lost his father during a fight against cancer.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you. “Punching Cancer” will forever stand as one of the most meaningful stories to me, not just because of when I read it but because of the truth I found within. My father taught me that being a good person is a constant fight against forces that seek to overwhelm us and corrupt any noble efforts we may have accomplished. Comic books have always held a privileged position in my box of coping tools. Thank you for reminding me the meaning of true heroism.