Flash Thompson made his Space Knight #3 debut this week, with a new addition. Actually two. The Marvel comic character now has prosthetic legs.
Fodder for the update came from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), which is currently enduring a battle of its own, following a recent scathing investigative report.
But the organization, like Thompson, is powering through.
Jeremy Chwat, WWP’s chief strategy officer saw the opportunity to provide informational background for the Space Knight story line as a “chance to reach a unique audience with the challenges wounded veterans face every day.”
Chwat offered up WWP spokesperson Dan Nevins to give advice to Marvel about how to make Thompson’s adaptation to the prosthetics as true to life as possible.
Ever since Thompson lost his legs while working in Iraq in 2008, (revealed in episode #574 –Amazing Spider-man–according to Blastr) he’s been relying on his symbiote, an alien parasite in the Marvel universe that bonds with its host, for mobility. Nevins, who lost one leg below the knee after an IED explosion in Iraq, then had to have his other leg removed three years later, does not have a symbiote. He does, however, have prosthetics which made him a good candidate to help educate the comics’ writer, Robbie Thompson.
“When we were approaching this story, we wanted to make sure this wasn’t just a throwaway beat,” Marvel associate editor Jake Thomas told The Washington Post. “Flash Thompson is one of Marvel’s most dynamic and redemptive characters –he means a great deal to a lot of people– and we wanted to do right by both the character and the fans.”
Nevins is explaining some of the less obvious nuances of walking on prosthetics, like the disconnection from the ground that amputees feel when the fake foot hits the road.
“We take the experience of being grounded for granted,” says Nevins. Following his amputations, “every step becomes a thought.”
Nevins has since discovered yoga as a way to feel more centered and connected.
Robbie Thompson says Flash “is a combat veteran and there’s more to dig into” regarding how war changed him. And he says working with Nevins has been enlightening.
“Not just for writing the character of Flash, but for me it’s incredible hearing his stories and his attitude toward all of this. It’s awakening.”
Flash Thompson was co-created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962. Robbie now works with artist Ariel Olivetti.
Nevins is the recipient of the Lang Award for Courage, the WWP’s highest honor.
And, it looks like the addition has been well received by social media, too.