Thanks, Slay Monstrobot, for exposing this.
As longtime readers of the Absorbascon will know, Archie Andrew is my bête noir. His slow banishment of the heroic Shield from the pages of Pep, his mental enthrallment of the youth of America, his apostlehood of surrealism in comics—the depth and breadth of his evil are unfathomable and illimitable, unbounded as they are by either space/time or the Fourth Wall.
Yet, politics find me arm-in-arm with my Arch-nemesis in solidarity against… One Million Moms, who are boycotting Archie Comics and Toys-R-Us, which is carrying a comic in which Riverdaler Kevin Keller marries his boyfriend. First, a new editor’s notes. I do not know that there are actually one million moms in One Million Moms; I rather doubt it, the same way I’m not really concerned about any threat from Insane Clown Posse or The Butthole Surfers. Also, in the “present day” continuity of Riverdale, Kevin (like the rest of the Archie gang) is a highschooler, with limited dating experienced due to having moved around a lot with his military family. “Kevin’s Wedding” is an “imaginary story” of the future, just like the “Archie Marries Betty” and “Archie Marries Veronica” comics. I will also add that I am opposed to Kevin’s marriage because the story depicted him as a wounded veteran marrying his physical therapist, which is all kinds of professional wrong and which, as we have learned previously here at the Absorbascon, is the road to perdition.
That said, I am obviously not against gay marriage generally or against the general concept of Kevin getting married. Even if I were, I hope wouldn’t take the same stance as this pressure group/rock band One Million Moms ™. Because, even if ‘gay marriage’ is a thing you don’t like, it is still a thing that is happening in the real world—quite a lot—and as such is fair game for inclusion in comics. Of course, rape and murder happened quite a lot in the real world, but I wouldn’t want those in Archie Comics. But if you want to put gay marriage in the same box as rape and murder, One Million Moms, then further discourse on the matter would probably be fruitless. Meanwhile, good luck influencing Toys’R’Us, who I can only assume don’t give a darn what mothers thinks, or their brand name wouldn’t be a grammatical and orthographic horror-show.
What I am really interested in talking about is NOT Kevin Keller, but about the fact that Archie—friggin’ ARCHIE—is leading the mainstream comic book pack on social issues. It’s great, and we should applaud the Archie Comics folks for their efforts to be modern, relevant, but still wholesome. What bothers me is that my preferred comics genre—DC’s ‘super’ titles—are so far BEHIND the curve in representing the realities of gay people being part of modern society.
Don’t get me wrong; I have been very happy to see that the Legion folks stepped right up to the plate and unabashedly portrayed Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet as a couple (a tradition from the Giffen Five Years Later Era). And, of course, Kate Kane has her own title as Batwoman, where her personal and romantic life is very much integral to the story.
However, I cannot help feel that in the New52—so far—it feels like we have taken a step backwards in the portrayal of gay people from what preceded. In the Old52, we could at least point to a handful of gay men in the DCU; admittedly, no one as high profile as Batwoman, but still there were some. There is, to my knowledge, no one to point to in the New52. Naturally, the whole new DC universe is still unfolding and new characters (and old characters newly recast) are being revealed every week, so my observation may simply be premature. But, even if there are no main characters who are gay men, I’m still looking for some sign that gay marriage—a growing modern reality that even Archie Comics has acknowledged and incorporated into its universe—exists in the DCU. I’m not looking for a “Very Special Issue” about it; I don’t think it merits it. But as one occasionally sees straight married couples in the DCU during the course of a plot, one might expect also, at some point, to see a gay married couple as well.
I am aware that the issue is not without controversy in ‘the real world’. I am also aware that superhero comics, on average, do not court social and political controversy. However, I am also aware that DC didn’t wait until integration and ‘miscegenation’ were no longer issues before showing black Americans with white ones in their stories; or am I wrong in that?
I remember looking at the DCU when I was a kid as a more advanced placed, both scientifically and sociologically. Is that no longer the case? Am I now living in a world that’s ten years ahead of the DCU, instead of the other way around?
Archie Comics has always been about preparing young kids for the world they were going to grow into as teenagers. Is DC Comics now just about preserving for adults the world we grew up in as kids?