Monday, May 21, 2012

Mystery Date!, from Dan Didio

Well, the Gay Bloggers Union would never forgive me if I passed this conversation up without comment.  Why, it's a modern version of Mystery Date, just with a closet door.

At a convention last weekend, Dan DiDio announced "that a previously established DC character would be introduced in the New 52 universe as gay. DiDio told the audience that the character would become "one of our most prominent gay characters".

Now, there aren't that many "prominent gay characters" in the 21st Century of the New DCU; the few whom I can name quickly would be  Batwoman (and her romantic interests), the Pied Piper, and Midnight & Apollo (whom I don't count too strongly; the whole Stormwatch crew may not be segregated into their own universe any more, but I certainly don't think of them as well integrated with the rest of the DCU).  So for this "newly gay character" to be "one of our most prominent gay characters", he or she wouldn't have to be enormously famous.  But-- assuming that we're talking about a hero rather than a villain -- let's start at the top and work our our way down the pyramid of icons and consider the possible candidates.

Of the major characters we have already seen, the really big ones are already 'out of the running' because their romantic relationships with the opposite sex have already been established.  Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash, and the Martian Manhunter.

So let's press on to the next tier of icons: characters big enough to be JSA/JLA-material and who are not subsidiary members of a bigger icon's dynasty.  Among these I would include:
Shazam (as he is now called), Black Canary, Green Arrow, Hawkman, the Atom, Blue Beetle, Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, Mr. Terrific, Dr. Fate, Firestorm, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Vibe, Cyborg, Zatanna, the Phantom Stranger, Vixen, Animal Man, Metamorpho, and Plastic Man.

I haven't been following each of these characters closely in the New 52, so there may evidence I'm not aware of.  But based on what I do know, the following can be discounted (like the major icons) because of demonstrated heteroromances: Mr. Terrific, Animal Man, Captain Atom, Firestorm, Zatanna, and Booster Gold

I am sure Shazam is out because Billy Batson in under age.
Black Canary, who wears leather and rides a motorcycle?  I don't think they'll go there.

As of this writing, the commenters at the IO9 article zeroed in immediately and almost exclusively on Green Arrow (of all people), which, honestly, seems charmingly naive.  DC, in the course of many decades of publishing, has made plenty of odd or ill-considered character decisions.  Nevertheless, I cannot believe that even DC at its most benighted would ever remake as gay a character whose last name is 'Queen'. Even comic book irony has its limits.

Hawkman?  Well, that would certainly keep the character from getting sucked into the same old dead-end pattern of the Eternal Romance with Hawkgirl storyline.  But surely, there's been some evidence of Hawkman's heterosexuality in the many months since his title launched...?

I think the Atom and Blue Beetle and (sadly) Vibe care unlikely because DC won't use one character to do "double-duty" as both an ethnic minority and a gay character.  But they are possible.  Of these, Vibe would be most likely, because he's the only one who in the "Old DCU" was never shown to have been in a heteromantic relationship. 

As for Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, and Dr. Fate... .  Somehow I don't think we're talking about an Earth-2 character, because, well.... it's cheating.  Earth-2 is literally a 'different universe', even though it's part of the DCU.

Cyborg? Hm.  HMMMMMMmmm.  Does the fact that he's "the black guy" in the Justice League mean, they wouldn't also make him 'the gay icon hero'?  I am not sure.  It would certainly make quite a splash and it's the only chance a JLA-founder level character might be reintroduced as gay. .

The Phantom Stranger--well, I'm not even sure what that would MEAN in his case.  Other than making his Anderson Cooper's perfect choice as a Halloween costume.

Vixen?  BWAHAHAHAHAHAhaha. Yeah... no.

Metamorpho or Plastic Man.   Sure they are highly recognized, but they are still on the periphery of the main action in the DCU. I mean, how do you reintroduce someone as a gay character if we're not seeing them as a character hardly at all?

If' it's subsidiary character -- like Huntress or Nightwing -- famous or not, I'm going to call bullshit.

What are YOUR guesses?


Lowell Francis said...

1. GL Jon Stewart's my bet.
2. Power Girl
3. Tim Drake

Dan said...

I thi the key word is "introduce" which implies that it'll be someone who hasn't shown up yet. Vibe is one of those characters.

SallyP said...

This is a bit of a poser actually. My first thought is Hal Jordan. Seriously, he'll hump anything or anyone. Male, female, aliens and inanimate objects as far as I can tell.

Otherwise, all I can come up with is Geo-force.

God, I miss Todd and Damian

Bryan L said...

My first thought, oddly enough, was Ray Palmer. Though he has been "introduced," he's not the Atom, as yet. At least not that I've seen, anyway. And honestly, I'm all for anything that will spare the New 52 the batsh*t-craziness of Jean Loring.

Anonymous said...

My guess is Lex Luthor.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Robin is too "subsidiary" to be considered a major tier character?

--I'm thinking Tim Drake.

Jeff R, said...

As others have said, if they're playing fair with their hints it can't be anyone who's appeared post-reboot. Which is too bad, since otherwise I'd have guessed John Constantine...

So, given that constraint, Wally West springs to mind.

How many of Superman's supporting cast have we seen so far? Pete Ross would be cheap enough to be believable; Steve Lombard a bit too much so. John Henry Irons?

Dave said...

I'm thinking either Tim Drake or Hawkman. The problem with the former is that I think they'd rather avoid the whole "Are they or aren't they?" thing. But Hawkman? Golden age legacy, bad-ass unstereotypical "gay" portrayal, and no other "ethnic" issues. Fits the bill for me.

Anonymous said...

It's Jimmy Olsen.

yrzhe said...

"Nevertheless, I cannot believe that even DC at its most benighted would ever remake as gay a character whose last name is 'Queen'."

Well, we all know what happened to his sidekick named "Speedy".

CobraMisfit said...

If it's a current character, then I'm thinking it will be Kyle Rayner. He's a budding leader it would be a nice balance against the Hal Jordan version of Green Lantern.

If "Dan" is right and it's a character that hasn't been "introduced" yet, then there's a plethora of characters ripe for the picking. In that case, my money is on Donna Troy.

Scipio said...

I don't think there's going to be a Donna Troy at all, let alone a gay one.

Unless... she's on Earth-2, The Fan-Service Planet.

steve mitchell said...

"Character" doesn't necessarily mean hero or villain. So yeah, Jimmy Olsen works for me.

But why not just bring back the Tasmanian Devil?

Jacob T. Levy said...

Male, and not yet seen post-relaunch. That narrows the list of big names considerably. I'm going to say Wally West.

Scipio said...

"With those 18 words, Simmons drastically narrows the list of candidates, eliminating such popular guesses as Vibe (he’s neither a major character nor an iconic one) "


Vibe? Not major? NOT ICONIC?!

I am left speechless by the writer's cultural ignorance.

But the new criteria also leave Jimmy Olsen out of the running, since he's been all over the Superman titles.

I can't say I'm anxious to see Wally return (I don't really see where he could possibly fit into the current timeline), but if were gay, the very best thing about that would be:

we would be spared Linda Park.

Bryan L said...

Linda Park? What's wrong with her? What's not to love about a supermodel-television reporter-genius doctor-specializing-in-speed-force?

Wait, I think I just answered my own question.

Your Obedient Serpent said...

I don't think Nightwing would be a cheat, personally. I mean, he's arguably "the REAL Robin", the iconic character who held the position for forty-five years, and has made enough other-media appearances that he's more familiar to non-fans than most of the list.

On the other claw, dragging Dick Grayson out of the closet would essentially say, "Hey, that Wertham guy? All the things he was saying? Right all along."

Anonymous said...

How about Wally West with Linda Park as his beard? While we're at it, suppose Linda's been his beard all this time, and the first person narration has been an act?

"My name is Wally West, and this is the woman I love more than life itself. By the way, have I mentioned how much I enjoy vaginas?"

The mysterious origins of Wally's kids start making sense too: first Linda's pregnant then she's not then she is again, and allegedly it had something to do with Professor Zoom. Couldn't have been a snafu with the adoption agency, nope, it was a shattered time line. The childrens aging "in another dimension" is starting to look kinda suspicious too.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Linda Park was taking ProFem all those years. With Wally finally accepting himself, he can revert to being Lyndon.

Dr. Mundane said...

I have no idea who it will be, but I do like this sentence in the Hollywood Reporter (nevermind the double L in Alan):

"Allan Scott, the original Green Lantern, has been fingered as the favorite"


Dan said...

Absolutely NO ONE who has a preexisting heterosexual identity.

I hate changing a character in-story for an out-of-story (political) agenda. Every character has fans, based on the existing traits of that character.

If DC wants a prominent homosexual character, then MAKE ONE UP.

(This is the same argument I make about gender and race.)

Dan said...

My previous post notwithstanding, it should be BATMAN.

He's the PERFECT option. It certainly fits the character's past (just ask Wertham).

Anonymous said...

My guess is Alan Scott.

Which is not fair, since by now we all KNOW it's Alan Scott.

Alan Scott?!?!

They need a new dictionary with a better definition if "iconic."

Anonymous said...

This idea just irrevocably alters a 70 year old character and gains DC nothing.

Nobody outside this hobby will start buying comics because one character is revamped as gay. And nobody inside will buy more comics for it either.

It's a crass ploy to steal some media attention away from Marvel's announcement that Northstar will get married.

Odkin said...

I can't believe Warners will let DC get away with this. You know the media headline will be "Green Lantern is Gay", and no one will read beyong the headline or care about multiple versions of Green Lantern. This guarantees they have given up any hope of a do-over Green Lantern movie. I imagine there are a fair amount of GL toys still out there that certain parents will no longer be buying, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

Odkin is right that no one will care about whether it's Hal or Alan. They hear that phrase and it's stuck.

The worst thing is NOT the bigoted backlash. It's the KIDS. "Gay" now refers to "lame."

ronald said...

>>>And nobody inside will buy more comics for it either

I might. "New 52" has resulted in me pretty much washing my hands of DC -- obviously anyone who disagrees with such a move is of course perfectly entitled to their opinion -- but this at least makes it slightly more likely that I might give JSA a try than it was before I found out.

Roel said...

I don't understand the reactions of the people who think complain that having Alan Scott as a gay character won't sell more comics. Why is that the barometer? Whether comics are sold or not, isn't it good to diversify the DC Universe?

I am in favor of a more culturally diverse DC. More gay, black, Asian, Latino heroes -- all of it. If this doesn't sell comics, or if it ruins a Green Latern re-boot (? I am not quite sure I follow Odkin's logic) then so be it. Sometimes we should just worry about creating great characters, not the corporate profit margin...

Anonymous said...

Here's a problem I have with turning Alan Scott gay: it flies in the face of his established history as a father of two children by two different women. So not only are Jade and Obsidian currently out of continuity, they won't ever be in it. Not as Alan Scott's kids, anyway.

Even beyond the kids is Alan's love / hate relationship with the Harlequin. That's apparently getting junked for no other reason than it doesn't fit with James Robinson's plans.

They're doing youthful versions of the Golden Age heroes, I don't much like it, but so long as they keep enough touchstones to the past, I can deal with it. But they're altering aspects of Alan Scott's life that make the new version nearly unrecognizable. If anything he comes across like a GLC recruit who just happens to have the same name as the Golden Age Green Lantern.

Roel said...

Well, the New 52 re-boot throws out almost all of the established continuity already, so that's not really a consideration.

And, not to be pedantic here, but there are lots of ways for gay men to have kids -- adoption and being a sperm donor among them. And in those cases, I would certainly consider them "his kids."

Anonymous said...

It's even more a consideration if a huge chunk of continuity is going away. That makes each remaining scrap of continuity more important, to say nothing of reintroducing bits of continuity so there's a connection to the past. When Grant Morrison restarted "Action Comics", he didn't technically have to include a Lois Lane or a Daily Planet or even an annoying watch on Jimmy Olsen's arm; but he did, if in retooled fashion, because Superman set in Muncie Indiana (where Clark Kent works as an architect and hangs out at a local gaming store) just wouldn't fly.

And yes, you're being pedantic on the issue of kids.

What it comes down to, I suspect, is you have no particular affection for Alan Scott, so it doesn't bother you if they redo him from scratch. He's already a blank slate as far as you're concerned. Problem is, I like my Alan Scott largely the way he was. I understand the occasional need for change and will try to give it a chance, but throw us a bone already. Put in a cab driver named "Doiby Dickles".

... Actually, Doiby Dickles should have been the newly gay character. He'd be awesome as the world's least stereotypical gay man, also the world's least successful gay man.

Anonymous said...

One day, we will all will die. Some people are gay. When their obituary is written, the "gay" part out will be left out of it completely, if it suits someone's fancy. Of course, the deceased won't mind, because it will "diversify" the obituaries. Anyone who objects to this is a bigot.

Roel Torres said...

I find it a little difficult to debate anonymous commenters because, well, I'm not sure if all the anonymous posts above are from the same person or not, and I can't really tell whose viewpoint I'm receiving.

I will just say this: I like Alan Scott. But I do not feel possessive about any of the comic book characters. Any comic book character who has been written for decades develops character inconsistencies and continuity glitches. And I am okay with that. Batman started out using guns. Wonder Woman was a bondage freak. Bucky was dead. So was Superman. And Hal Jordan. And Barry Allen. Iron Man developed his armor in the Vietnam War. Nick Fury fought in WWII. Spider-Man was married to Mary Jane.

I like Alan Scott. I like a lot of characters. They all change. Sometimes they change back. Their stories are told episodically by changing creative teams. Often, their developments contradict previous information. Personally, I try not to get possessive about them.

What I am heartened by is DC's corporate intention to be inclusive. I hope that Jade and Obsidian show up as characters in the future. And in my opinion, I still think that they can be his kids. Weirder things happen in the DC universe.

Anonymous said...

Two different anonymii. I am the long-winded one who thinks turning Alan Scott gay cuts too many ties with his past.

Yes, Batman used guns for about a week 70 years ago, before they'd firmed up the conventions of the superhero genre and of Batman in particular. That is kind of the tiniest bit different from stripping Alan Scott not only of two wives and two kids, but even of any chance of having those wives and kids (I know, I know, Alan Scott could donate sperm in a story called "This Man, This Cup!").

You do raise a good point about inclusivity, so let's note how James Robinson has made a decision to remove one existing and beloved gay character (Obsidian) from the board. He feels he's making up for it by turning Alan Scott gay, but treating homosexuality like a ball that can be passed from character to character is not really doing much for inclusivity. It just turns homosexuality into a gimmick, like El Dorado's Central American-ness or Samurai's Japanesity from "The Superfriends".

John said...

Just a quick history lesson for the "he can't have kids, now." Gather 'round, kids.

When Jade and Obsidian were introduced, Alan explicitly had no idea what they were talking about (Johnny Thunder makes the supposed-to-be naive comment that a man would know about something like that), and they admitted that they were only guessing. Their "evidence" that they were siblings was a telepathic connection, and Jade's powers were like Green Lantern's ring, and that was close enough for a parental connection.

Their origins finally told, it turned out that Rose married Alan after a night of passion, got pregnant, and turned into Thorn and ran out in rapid succession, possibly hinted to be a single day. If I remember correctly, Alan didn't even remember the marriage.

So it's actually not very pedantic to suggest that he could have been a sperm donor. In fact, he basically already was.

And the Harlequin? Molly was a great character, but it's worth noting that, prior to her appearances at DC (and the later romance novel company), the traditional image most people had of a harlequin was male. Not to mention that the original Infinity, Inc., pitch included a male Harlequin suggested to potentially be comics' first openly gay character.

If Alan was unsure about his sexuality in his early days, that relationship could end up being on hell of a story.

Now, I still find the move offensive. Alan Scott of Earth-2 is hardly prominent or iconic, and Robinson's idea that Alan can be gay because it's Obsidian's gayness is on the level of schoolyard cooties. But that's another story.

Anonymous said...

"So it's actually not very pedantic to suggest that he could have been a sperm donor. In fact, he basically already was."

You mean by being attracted to a woman, having sex with her, and marrying her, but without the deliberate intention of spreading his seed and producing offspring. So I don't see it as "basically" the same thing. The only thing thing they have in common is sperm.

As for the Harlequin, so what if medieval lore had the harlequin as a male? I guess we can't have a Superman either (conflicts with Nietzsche's traditional vision of a "superman") or a Batman (conflicts with the traditional city of "Batman" in Turkey). It's a specious argument all around.

John said...

Sure, you can misinterpret what I said.

A) The relationship and marriage were at least half-forgotten. He wasn't involved in the lives of his vanished wife or his children until his daughter wildly guessed that they were related and happened to be right. If the relationship wasn't important to him, it shouldn't be important to us just because a writer filled a whole ten pages with the story thirty years ago. How you got that sex is equivalent to sperm donation, I don't know.

My real point is that the it's not central to the story of Jade and Obsidian how the mother they never knew got pregnant, let alone Green Lantern's story. The core plot of their lives is that they didn't know each other at all until adulthood.

They don't even need to be his children to be introduced, and almost every story could still be maintained trivially. I'm confident that the structure of the DCU or any character in it does not rely on Alan Scott boning Rose that one time.

B) Harlequins were male, so it shouldn't terrify anybody that there won't be a Harlequin with an awkward relationship in the future, because it could very well happen. How you got to the idea of erasing female Harlequins are somehow disallowed, I don't know.

Again, not liking the move for a whole bunch of reasons, but none of those reasons is imagined structural changes to account for sexuality. It can work, and if it doesn't, it's the fault of the writers executing it rather than in the concept.