When's the last time you saw Bunker?
Pride Month is a good opportunity to reflect on the depiction of gay characters in the DCU. Aqualad is certainly riding high lately; the process of mythic syncretism has evolved him into a hybrid of the "Kaldur'ahm" version popularized on Young Justice and the "Jackson Hyde" version from the comics proper, and we have every reason to think the character is here to stay. Likewise, a new version of Alan Scott synthesizes two previous versions, the older one, father Jade and Obsidian and the younger one, the gay guy from Earth-(NewFifty-)Two. The result seems like it will be more interesting than either of the two previous ones, and represent a slice of life not seen in DC comics before (that I'm aware of). Not only is Alan gay, his son, Todd, is back and (still) gay. My senior-year college boyfriend had that exact situation when his own father came out, so ... it happens.
But where is Bunker? He was introduced ten years ago as part of the chaos that was the New52 Teen Titans (which was part of the chaos that was the New52, period). I wasn't reading it, so I knew of him only because of press coverage and the fact that he had a Heroclix figure.
|Is it sad that I only notice how questionably sexualized this drawing is because Bunker's a gay teenager, and not a straight one?|
I guess Wikipedia does tell us the last time anyone saw Bunker:
In issue #23, Bunker leaves the team for a short while. The Teen Titans series then concluded, with #30 along with an annual in April 2014. It was then announced that the series would be relaunched in July 2014 with a new issue 1, written by Will Pfeifer and art by Kenneth Rocafort. In the annual, during an epilogue, Bunker is shown being funded by the Green Team to create the 'Spectacular Internationale'.
But it doesn't really tell us WHY. My own theory is simple, typical of me, and has nothing to do with Bunker's sexuality.
Part 1: Bunker was one of the babies thrown out with the bathwater that was the New52 and he appeared too briefly to have any fanbase to advocate for his return. 'Nuff said.
Part 2: Bunker (unlike many Teen Titans) is not part of (you guessed it) any DC iconic dynasty. I know I have been harping on the idea for 15 years now and some of you still don't (want to) believe, but it really does make a difference. If you have a connection to one of the icons who are the pillars of the DCU, there's an independent reason to bring you back: to fill out that character's cast, and at some point, it will happen.
Although I don't think I ever discussed it here, I thought Bunker was an obvious fit with Green Lantern; I mean, he makes mono-colored constructs. Doesn't get any more on point than that. Green Lantern doesn't have a teenage sidekick, but he could.
|I love that costume; Hal should have been a fashion designer.|
Particularly a teenage sidekick who isn't just "ANOTHER person with a Green Lantern ring". GL does get into trouble and his power ring has all sorts of limits, including running out of power. A teen sidekick without those limitations could have his back and be there to save his butt.
|I am SURE Bunker could have done that.|
But no one at DC ever made that happen during Bunker's brief floruit, so there's no reason to bring Bunker back. Except, of course, that he was a fun, outgoing character, with an easy-to-understand and very visual power, had a distinctive but simple and tasteful (if a bit TIGHT) costume, and would bring a nice bit of variety to the DCU landscape.
As it happens, the last time I saw Bunker...
was today. Socking Eclipso in the jaw and wearing an improved costume while surfing in the Gay Pride Parade at the end of DC Pride #1 (2021).
Let's hope it's a new start, not just a throwaway. I don't think Bunker should be a throwaway.